Feminist groups to Congress: Women depend on government entitlements

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With women disproportionately relying on entitlements and comprising the majority of public sector employees, the nation’s big-name feminist groups are on a mission to stave off massive budget cuts.

On Tuesday the National Conference of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), a coalition of 240 groups representing 12 million women, launched a national campaign demanding that Congress leave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone.

The “Respect, Protect, Reject” campaign seeks to protect the government benefits and jobs that reportedly millions of women have come to depend upon.

“With women being left behind in the country’s anemic recovery, it’s unconscionable for leaders to slash programs that disproportionately employ women as well as disproportionately serve them,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the co-chair of NCWO’s Older Women’s Economic Security Task Force (OWES).

Joan Entmacher, vice president for family economic security at the National Women’s Law Center, told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that the budget cuts Congress is currently considering would be horrific. (Obama urges debt limit agreement to pave way for future ‘investments’)

“The kinds of cuts that are under discussion in Washington are truly terrifying, particularly when you look at the effects that the austerity program that has already begun has had, particularly on women,” she said. “When it comes to jobs it has been a slow recovery for everyone, but women have actually lost ground since the recovery started two years ago.”

According to these advocacy groups, millions of women depend on government programs to stay above the poverty line. They further cite a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research which, using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, found that men were outperforming women in recovering jobs by 25 percent to 11 percent as of June 11.

“We demand a budget agreement that will respect women’s contributions to their families and communities, protect programs that disproportionately serve and employ women, and reject cuts that threaten women’s well-being,” their petition reads. “The deficit problem should not be solved on the backs of vulnerable women.”

In addition, leaders of 28 women’s groups sent a letter to Congress on Tuesday chronicling these concerns. In the letter, they included a list of ideas to alleviate the pain women are feeling.

“This means developing a robust jobs program to address the difficulties women face, especially now as a result of the lagging recovery,” they wrote. “It means acknowledging the real causes of the federal budget deficit—two unpaid-for wars, an unpaid-for prescription drug program, continued tax breaks for the richest Americans, and a debilitating recession that resulted in massive job loss and lost revenues to governments at all levels. It means examining revenue enhancers as a means of reducing the federal debt. And it means finding ways to safeguard and strengthen the social programs that will help ordinary people recover from the extraordinary recession.”

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