We, the undersigned members of the Older Women's Economic Security Task Force of the National Council of Women's Organizations, write to request a meeting with you and the Vice President to discuss the impact of the budget on women and American families and how women can help address the economic problems that affect us all. Women rely disproportionately on Social Security and Medicare, and they must have a voice in any negotiation on these essential--and successful--programs. Yet the media reports regarding the administration's experts who are assisting Vice President Biden suggest that there are no women in the room. In 2011, it is disturbing to have to ask why women would not participate in virtually every important discussion in the White House.
The National Council of Women's Organizations is composed of more than 200 women's organizations representing more than 12 million American women. The Older Women's Economic Security (OWES) Task Force was formed in 1998 to study, monitor, and act to enhance older women's economic security. This task force represents economists and activists, service providers and community organizers, legal, political, and social networks who have vital expertise and national recognition as problem solvers and protectors of the rights and responsibilities of our nation's women and children.
The Task Force is deeply concerned about the impact of the current proposals for budget cuts and debt reduction on older women's lives. Older women would be disproportionately affected by cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Their families also face loss of income and increased costs when such vital programs and services as family planning, work training, child care, schools, and education are cut or terminated.
Women must be a party to these discussions. It is simply not enough to send a few privileged men to the table to "solve" the nation's budget problem. We welcome the opportunity to bring our voices and expertise to a discussion with you and your advisors, and we request that members of your administration with expertise on women's issues, such as Secretary Hilda Solis and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, be added to the White House's advisory team working on these negotiations.
Co-Chair, OWES Task Force
President, National Organization for Women
Dr. Heidi Hartmann
Co-Chair, OWES Task Force
President, Institute for Women's Policy Research
Eleanor Hinton Hoytt
President and CEO, Black Women's Health Imperative
Deborah L. Frett
Chief Executive Officer, Business and Professional Women's Foundation
President, Dialogue on Diversity
Bobbie A. Brinegar
Executive Director, Older Women's League
Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce
President, Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement
Susan P. Scanlan
President, Women's Research and Education Institute