Sunday, January 04, 2009

Women want stimulus, too!

In our Viagra culture, it does not surprise your blogstress that women could easily be left out of the economic-stimulus-qua-jobs-building program that President-elect Obama has promised us. With their emphasis on infrastructure and green retrofits for job creation, the ideas being batted about appear to heavily favor jobs whose prerequisite skill sets belong largely to men. In the meantime, our health-care and educational infrastructures are also coming undone; these are sectors where women predominate, and little attention has been given to job creation in these human spheres.

Linda Hirshman, with whom your blogstress sparred most vigorously during the primary season, first brought this state of affairs to our attention on the op-ed page of the New York Times not very long ago.

Now, a group of women, including feminist economists, have launched an online petition to the president-elect, politely asking that half of the population be dealt into the new New Deal. Here's the text:

To President-Elect Obama:

We applaud your intention to establish a sizable and productive program that will help to stimulate the economy, and that will provide improved infrastructure for the country. However, we are concerned that, unless specific steps are taken, your program will provide jobs almost exclusively for men. Women are 46 percent of the labor force. Their unemployment rate is rising with that of men. Moreover, many millions of women are raising children without a husband or partner, and unemployment for them will mean great deprivation, and possible homelessness, for them and their children.

We suggest three lines of action that will insure that women get a fair share of the benefits from your program:

1. Revive and enforce the Labor Department regulations that require government contractors to institute affirmative action plans that provide a share of the jobs for women and minorities. Closely monitor the contractors for compliance.

2. In connection with the infrastructure projects, institute apprenticeships, and ensure that at least one third of the positions go to women.

3. Add projects in health, child care, education, social service that will both provide jobs to women, and also provide needed services to them.

Hat-tip to Katha Pollitt for spreading the word.

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