with the Women of the U.S.A.
The downsizing of women off the national
political agenda is being challenged in
a new and exciting campaign. The "Contract
with Women of the USA" is gathering
momentum across the country.
Even though we are a majority of the U.S.
population, women are being attacked, trivialized
and ignored in much of the current political
debates. Modest gains that we have won in
years of struggle are in jeopardy. The time
has come to put women's needs and concerns
up front, in actions as well as words.
Initiated by the Women's Environment
and Development Organization, of which
I am a co-founder, and the Center for
Women Policy Studies, the Contract campaign
is endorsed by growing numbers of women's
organizations, women members of Congress,
state legislators and others. Our target
is a thousand endorsements by this fall.
Even more important, the Contract provides
a flexible organizing and advocacy vehicle
for addressing state and local issues of
importance to women.
Women state legislators are taking the
lead in supporting the Contract and working
with women and other public sector groups
to develop their own state contracts. Kicking
off the campaign on International Women's
Day on March 7th were women legislators
in Arizona, California, Iowa, Maryland,
Minnesota and New York.
Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America"
has run into stalemate and massive rejection
by the American people. Our "Contract
with Women of the USA" reflects the
realities of American women's lives in all
our family, economic, political, social,
racial, age, religious and educational diversity.
It offers an alternative and unifying vision
in which women and men work together on
an equal basis for our mutual benefit.
The 12 principles and action commitments
in our Contract are based on the Platform
for Action, approved by consensus last
September at the U.N. Fourth World Conference
on Women by the United States and 188
other governments, as well as by 30,000
nongovernmental women, including 7,000 from
The dozen commitments outlined in the
"Contract with Women of the USA"
call for economic, social and political
equality for women; access to affordable
health care and reproductive rights; an
end to discrimination and violence against
women; continuation of social safety nets
for poor women and children; inclusion of
women in peace-making; educational opportunities
for women; and mechanisms to monitor and
further women's gains.
Women legislators in the six kickoff states
have signed on to the Contract. Similar
actions are being planned in other states.
We welcome the support of women legislators
and activists throughout the country and
urge them to join us in this important effort.
The Contract serves as a reminder to women
of the potential power of our vote and also
sends a message to all candidates: "Downsizing
of women's concerns is a loser."
For information, contact:
and Development Organization
355 Lexington Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10017
tel: (212) 973-0325
Center for Women Policy Studies
2000 P Street
Washington, D.C. 20036
tel: (202) 872-1770.
This article is an exclusive excerpt from
WOMANSWORD , a
newsletter for activists, Vol. 1, May Issue.