NEW LONDON, N.H., Nov. 17, 2011 – Affordable and accessible heath care, including reproductive health care, emerged as the top issue on the platform of the 2011 New Hampshire Women’s Caucus, held Saturday, Nov. 12, at Colby-Sawyer College.Timed to precede the first-in-the-nation primary and 2012 state and national elections, the New Hampshire Women’s Caucus identified critical issues for women and families and ways to effect positive change and ensure their priorities become part of the political dialogue. Nearly 175 women and a smaller number of men from the state and region participated in an energetic caucus in which they debated and adopted an issues-based platform aimed at improving the status of women.
Participants expressed strong support for workplace equality and flexibility, especially equal opportunities and pay for women, who earn an average of 20 percent less than men. They also called for affordable, high quality child care, the lack of which stymies the capacity of women across the socioeconomic spectrum to provide adequate financial support for their families and to advance their careers.
Additionally, the platform calls for the U.S. to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), an international bill of rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, which defines women’s rights as human rights. The U.S., along with Iran, Somalia and Sudan, remain among the seven nations yet to ratify the treaty.
The platform demands that the medical community vastly improve its efforts to prevent, detect and treat domestic and sexual violence. Protection of the Social Security program is part of the platform, as is the call for greater support for micro-financing, health care and education for poor women and girls in the U.S. and globally. Participants also called for the elimination of human trafficking, in which 70 percent of the victims are women and girls forced into prostitution; 50 percent of all victims are children.
The caucus participants also seek greater public support for Planned Parenthood programs and other reproductive health services that are seen as vital for healthy women, families and communities. Additionally, they stress the need for improvement and expansion of sexual health education programs in U.S. schools; an end to discrimination and violence against members of the LGBTQ community; and strong support for marriage equality. The platform also conveys an urgent need for more women in leadership positions at all levels of society, including as U.S. president; for more leadership education for young men and women, especially in examining gender roles; and for greater support of progressive candidates and issues.
Participants called for an examination of pervasive negative depictions of minorities and women in the media, and specifically, of violence perpetrated against women. They also expressed support for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment; for increased awareness of domestic abuse of women and children; and for addressing the exploitation of women, children and men by the sports industry. Finally, the platform calls for more affordable housing; sustainable jobs; accessible health care and insurance for treatment of mental health issues; increased non-partisan education and communication focused on women’s issues; and more research focused on environmental toxins as carcinogens.
~Kimberly Swick Slover, director of Communications, Colby-Sawyer College
This is an excerpt of the 2011 NH Women’s Caucus Platform press release, read the full press release here.