I have been accused of being a one issue voter. My one issue? Women.
Why? Well, it is quite simple. I believe (and research shows) when women are empowered, society wins. What does empowerment mean to me? It means access to education, job opportunities, pay equity, and control of our reproduction in order to take advantage of said education and those, hopefully, well-paying jobs.
So, when my friends tell me that we have to look beyond “women’s issues” to focus on the economy, well I get so mad, I see green. I’d thought for my good health I would take a few breaths and explain how women’s issues are economic issues.
We already know that 47% of the workforce is women. We also know that women make only 83% of what men make (for equal jobs with equal education, schooling, and life situations). We also know that 40% of married women are the primary breadwinners in their families. We also know that stay-at-home moms are not the Ann Romney’s of the world, but are in fact more likely to be poor, foreign born, and non-white. And, we also know women consumers control 85% of all purchase decisions and are responsible for $7 trillion in spending. Given all of this, what part of the economy is not about women?
Consider these facts:
- The Center for Women’s Business Research reports In the U.S., nearly 10.1 million firms are owned by women (50% or more), employing more than 13 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales.
- Women-owned firms represent 30% of all U.S and home-based businesses owned by women provide full- or part-time employment for 14 million people.
- And women aren’t just good at buying things, they help the bottom line. According to Catalyst (a think tank that focuses on women in the workforce), companies with the highest representation of women board members attain significantly higher financial performance than those with the lowest representation: 53% higher Return on Equity; 42% higher Return on Sales; and 66% higher Return on Invested Capital.
- A recent study on the greying of America shows two key trends. The first reveals how the growth in our economy these last fifty years can be linked to the rise of women in the workforce – more workers mean more consumers and more tax payers. The second trend shows with the aging of our society, we lose workers (and consumers and tax payers) so we will need every worker we can get. That means helping women get into the workforce and stay in the workforce is good for our economy.
So, if in fact it is economy, then why are women’s issues called social issues? Consider these supposedly women’s issues:
- According to the Brookings Institue, for every $1 spent on birth control, the tax payer saves $6;
- Guttmacher Institute reports that 47% of pregnancies are unplanned and those unplanned pregnancies cost the tax payers $11 billion (you read that right) a year.
- It costs between $10,000 and $14,000 a year to find care for a child under the age of five. According to MomsRising, the prohibitive cost and lack of availability of child care is the number one reason women do not go back into the workforce after giving birth.
We can race down a rabbit hole indicting the current Republican party and its candidates for their anti-women stance (heck I don’t need to do this, just read this great article by one of their own in Newsweek that asks “What the *#@% is wrong with Republicans; How the GOP Men are Ruining the Party”). Rather than do that, it is time to understand that voting pro-women is voting for the financial future of our country.
On Tuesday, I’ll be voting for the pro-woman candidate. For the health of our economy, you should too.