“All work performed by women is important – paid and non-paid.”
Convenors: Sonia Melara and Renee Williams

“All work performed by women is important (paid and non-paid) and women should be empowered to have a share of the wealth of this country. This includes the equitable opportunity (equal pay for equal work) to earn an income whether they work inside or outside the home. We must develop laws to address inequalities that have existed in our society regarding specific marginalized groups (ie. low-income, women of color, older women, women with disabilities, Lesbians, etc.). In this spirit, we offer strategies for action to enable women to create their own economic justice.

“We call on governments to support and uphold Affirmative Action in order to ensure adequate representation of women and all other minorities within the workplace, in higher education, in all other institutions, and to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act. We ask that affirmative action be reinstated in the areas that no longer uphold it within their institutions. We also urge all women and the citizens of California to vote against CCRI because of the adverse affects it will have on women and all underrepresented individuals.”

In 1994, the US Department of Labor Women’s Bureau conducted the “Working Women’s Count” survey. This survey found that while most women enjoy working outside of their home, a high number gave priority to paid leave to care for children and elderly relatives. It was also found that the women see a number of barriers on their path towards equal opportunity in the job market. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Bureau of the Census reports, women outnumber men and have almost achieved parity in educational attainment but not earning equality.

The Women’s Bureau report found that 97% of senior managers of Fortune 1000 and Fortune 500 companies are white; 95% to 97% are male. In fortune 2000 industrial companies, 5% of senior managers are women-and of that 5%,virtually all are white. Sixty one percent say they have little of no ability to advance. This increases to 69% for blue collar workers and 70% for technical workers. 14% of white women and 26% of women of color report losing a job or promotion on the basis of their gender or race. In 1960, 35.5% of women were in the U.S. Labor force, while in 1993 it had grown to 54.1%.

The surge in women’s business ownership is an irreversible force. While this trend creates greater economic freedom for women, there continue to be obstacles which women entrepreneurs must face. Despite the evidence that women-owned businesses are secure and solid investments, access to capital, Especially for start-ups, remains difficult. Areas targeted for growth include: continuing development of planning and management skills, access to capital, and creation of helpful government regulations.

1. Actions to be taken by Legislative Bodies, Regulatory Agencies and other Government Organizations:

1.1 Government, employers and other appropriate institutions (labor unions, schools) should create and expand employment counseling for career self-reliance and “on job training” opportunities (specially in non-traditional fields) for women of all ages and girls. This may include hiring from temporary employment agencies, internships, etc. as they represent employment experience oppurtunities for women. Provide tax incentives for gender and family-friendly businesses.

1.2. Foundations and governments should fund programs that promote gender equality, loans to older women, and offer women and girls economic independence.

1.3. Goverment should enforce existing laws and promote legislation that insures economic equity for women, including laws promote access to employment and promotions, rights to a living wage, access to health care, equal pay for work of comparable worth, requiring nondescriminationon the basis of sex and sexual orientation. Government should provide a safety net for all people (universal health care, medicare, medical). Funds for these specific items could come from reduction of 25% of military expenditure.

1.4 Governments should measure and value the unwaged work of women in satellite accounts of the GDP, including work done simultaneously, specifically paragraphs 206(g)(ii), 206(g)(i), 209, 178(n), 263 of the Beijing Platform for Action.

In light of the commitment of governments at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women to measure and value unwaged work in national statistics, we include this historic decision in the California Women’s Agenda, as well as its vital and varied uses in strengthening other issues in the Platform for Action and outside. This commitment by governments to recognize the economic and social contribution of women’s unwaged work, and how much of women’s lives are spent on it in every country South and North, and community, urban and rural, was won for the Housework Campaign and later the International Women Count Network which the Campaign coordinates, with the backing of more than 1200 NGOs representing millions of women and men worldwide. Valuing all women’s unwaged work – caring for children, people who are ill or frail, volunteer work in the community, on family farms or businesses, and much more, in the face of sexism, racism and other discrimination – will establish how dependent the California economy is on the waged and unwaged work of women. It will also reveal just how much unwaged work women actually do in the waged workplace.

1.5 Government should adopt laws thatprovide tax breaks for volunteer work, and extension of the age of IRA withdrawal, that is now compulsory at at 70 1/2. To convert to a peace time economy, retrain military people to function as productive citizens with the purpose of diminishing violence and poverty from this sector.

1.6 California state and local governments should immediately take steps to publicize the text of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the human rights commitment in the U.N. Charter (articles 55 &56), the International Labor Organiztion relevent conventions, and three treaties recently ratified by the U.S.: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Elimination of all Form of Racial Descrimination, Conventiion against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The State of CA should prepare reports on enforcement and violations of these treaties in CA in order to help insure the insure and inforce the rights and duties of women and all people under these laws, and to monitor their progress.

CA Senators should complete ratification of CEDAW which include many rights not included now under CA law.

2. Actions to be taken by NGOs and the Local Community

2.1 Employers and other appropriate organizations should develop “women positive and family friendly” work environments by increasing education and guidelines to enforce laws such as for Sexual Harassment and other forms of descrimination in employment. Explore and implement child care and family leave programs to provide women with flextime programs. Urge employers to decrease the wage gap, address the widening gap between rich and poor, make global wage agreements (implemented throught International Labor organziations and international regulation); address the problem of occupational segregation, guarantee paid maternity/ family/ parental leave, recognize the importance fo upholding anti-sex descrimination laws and affirmative action policies, implement part-time work possibilities with benefits, provide access to health and family planning care.

2. 3 Schools and adult education programs to develop curricula that reflect programs that teach money issues to women and girls, insuring women’s long term economic independence. Educate older women regarding other options regarding withdrawals of IRAs and other such accounts. Establish educational programs that teach business related skills to women and girls. While understanding different levels of need, curriculum and community outreach programs should include subjects such as business as an option, potential failures, valuing life experience as education, self-esteem, money management, the role of technology, access to capital, working with banks, insurance, bonding, cooperatives, labur unions, etc. To avoid an intergenerational conflict educate younger women regarding the Social Security System, how it will affect them and how it can be preserved. Oppose enforcement of Proposition 187 and discrimination against some children because there can be no such thing as an “undocumented child.” Encourage Youth Corps, Americorp, etc. so post high school women/youth can work for community college and college credit, or college or technical school tuition, expanding their self-esteem.

2.4 The Government should insure the preservation of governmental agencies and programs addressing women’s concerns, including the Women’s Bureau, Children’s Bureau, Small Business Administration, the Advocate’s office, National Labor Relations Board, Wages and Hours Division, Civil Rights Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Civil Rights Division of Atty. General’s Office, Legal Services Corporation, etc., to insure that women’s voices are heard. In addition, to insure implementation of recommendatins such as the White House Conference on Small Business recommendations affecting women-owned businesses.

2.5 Government and other appointing bodies should insure that women are represented on all decision making bodies, including legislative and university boards and commissions, labor union councils, private and corporate foundation boards, business associations, and corporate boards. Government should insure the appointment of more women to decision-making bodies of influence, especially to organizations with influence over economic opportunities for women and girls. Women’s organizations should develop talent banks to promote the appointment of women.

2.6 Women, Women’s Organizations and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) should expose disinformation by the media regarding social security insolvency and boycott products which demean the wages of older women and women of color. Promote use of older women as role models.

3. Actions to be Taken by Business/ Industry and Unions

3.1 Encourage women to join organizations for lobbying and encourage advocacy and new businesses to affiliate with organizations. Encourage umbrella business certification (mandatory for license/niminal fee), to provide resources, listings, loan opportunities.

3.2 Encourage ties between CA labor unions and international labor unions.

3.3 Raise awareness to recognize that women w/ disablities are often in positions of poverty, abuse, etc. and have specific issues that must be addressed to even get them to the “playing field”. Reemphasize that women with disabilities have a right to the same opportunities as other women, and are not a drain but an asset to society. With access, they can be contributing members of society.

3.4 Support unions fighting the privatizing of governemt functions.

4. Action to be taken by NGOs and Business/Industry

4.1 Conduct public awareness campaigns focused on women and girls learning about money, investing, entrepreneurism. Prepare PSA’s on how/who to contact for information and resources, and access to technology. Encourage booklets an dpink pages — listings of women business owners on a state and national level. Encourage curriculum for public schools on money, economic independence, banking, finance, etc. Disseminate information on how to establish sustainable business practices that are socially responsible – reecycling, reducing consumption, using proper disposal, and following socially-responsible hiring and community practices. Propose continuation of contracting opportunities for women through affirmative action and easy and efficient ways to participate in government contracting through streamlining regulations and paperwork.

5. Actions to be taken by Government and Industry

5.1 Consider impact of U.S. international economic policies and the impact of U.S. multinationals on workers both in the U.S. and throughout the world. Violators of U.S. laws and international agreements should have their charters lifted. U.S. should change it policies regarding the IMF and the World Bank and their impact on women.

5.2 Recognize collective bargaining as a right and as an important mechanism for eliminating wage inequality for women and to improve working conditions. “Promote the election of women trade union officials and ensure that trade union officials elected to represent women are given job protection and physical security in connection with the discharge of their functions;..” Recognize the the right of workers to withhold their labor is a human right; the right to strike is fundamental.

5.3 Governments, Banks and other lending institutions should create women’s directed capital and develop programs to address the inequalities suffered by women, especially those in businesses that are start-ups, as well as in on-going “proven” businesses. Governments to set aside funds for women-owned businesses, as well for development of partnerships with banks to support such businesses. To support the development of investment portfolios to finance women’s business enterprises, including micro-enterprise loans similar to the Grammin Bank, Accion, etc. To include loans and grants for re-entry women, including domestic parners. To provide access to capital through community partnerships/programs featuring private sector capital investments (by corporations, non-profits, service organizations, employers, unions). to provide pensions/retirement benefits by changing/researching legislation to provide access to pensions for women, disseminating information on spousal partners, educating and providing information on planning retirement for women business owners.

Adopted by the Economic Task Force of the California Women’s Agenda Assembly on June 29, 1996