Commentary

Women's Questions for the Next Bush-Kerry Debate

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Members of the Women's eNews community--award recipients, reporters, commentators, readers --have questions they wish they could ask at the presidential candidates' town-hall style debate televised on Friday. Here is a sample.

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(WOMENSENEWS)--Members of the Women's eNews community--award recipients, reporters, commentators, readers--have tons of questions they wish they could ask at the presidential candidates' town-hall style debate televised on Friday,

Here are some of them.

For more information:

Women's eNews Campaign 2004
http://womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/1921/

National Council of Women's Organizations--
The ABCs of Women's Issues
[Adobe PDF format]:
http://www.womensorganizations.org/pdfs/abcs.pdf

Business and Professional Women/USA --
Survey of 7,000 Working Women Define Key Voter Bloc:
http://www.bpwusa.org/template.cfm?NavMenuID=170

Women's eNews--
Campaign Coverage Ignores Women's Concerns:
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2006

Note: Women's eNews is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites and the contents of Web pages we link to may change without notice.



Afghan Women

For both candidates:

Afghan women still confront threats, intimidation and attacks when they participate in public life. One of the biggest problems--as a Human Rights Watch report released this week shows--is that lack of security outside of Kabul allows for the political dominance of regional warlords. This restricts women's ability to participate in public life and promote women's rights.

The United States and NATO could alleviate this problem by expanding peacekeeping troops throughout the country. They could also disarm warlords and end U.S. cooperation with them.

Would you support these initiatives as president?

-- Nisha Varia, Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch.



Women and the Courts

For both candidates:

Knowing that women's reproductive freedom hangs in the balance by one or two votes in the U.S. Supreme Court, would you make sure any nominee to the High Court supports the decision in Roe vs. Wade?

For both candidates:

Do you believe in a constitutional right to privacy that protects both people's personal decisions about whether to bear children and also same-sex personal relationships?

For both candidates:

It's up to you to supply the deciding vote on a federal law that would give a fetus independent rights. You know the law could interfere with a woman's health or safety and subject women or their doctors to arrest. How would you vote?

-- Cynthia Cooper, Women's eNews reporter.

For both candidates:

Thousands of battered women are sitting in prisons across the country--women who were unable to bring the proof of their abuse into their trial. Do you think this is just?

-- Sandy Kobrin, Women's eNews reporter.



Workplace Equity

For President Bush:

Your recent changes to overtime pay regulations have reclassified many workers as eligible for an earned-income tax credit and therefore ineligible for overtime. Many workers with advanced education or specialized training who are predominantly female will be affected. This group includes nurses, legal assistants and nursery-school teachers.

How will you safeguard women--especially single heads of household--who often count on overtime pay to make ends meet?

For Senator Kerry:

How do your ideas on overtime pay differ from those of your opponent, and how would you protect female workers?

-- Robin Hindery, Women's eNews reporter.

For both candidates:

How will your administration address a persistent wage gap that has kept so many women workers earning less than what they deserve?

-- Irene Natividad; president, annual Global Summit of Women and a Women's eNews 21 Leader in 2004.

For both candidates:

Despite our many gains, women still appear to be having problems in the workplace. Beyond a pay gap, there are also problems with sexual harassment and unequal promotion. What would you do to guarantee women's basic rights in the workplace? Or do you think enough is being done right now?

-- Frances A. McMorris, Women's eNews reporter and board member.

For President Bush:

Many women work for the minimum wage, which means they can work full time and still be poor. Why isn't raising the wage a part of your platform?

For Senator Kerry:

Would you support raising the minimum wage?

-- Marlene Sanders, chair, Women's eNews board.



International Women's Health

For both candidates:

One woman every minute dies in childbirth in poor countries, and 40 every minute seek an unsafe abortion. What are you prepared to do to improve reproductive health care and equal rights for women around the world?

-- Jane Roberts, co-founder, $34 Million Friends of UNFPA and a Women's eNews 12 Leader in 2004.

For President Bush:

Why has all the scientific information about the effectiveness of condoms been removed from U.S. Government Web sites? And why did a U.S. representative to an international conference suggest the use of the rhythm method as a contraceptive for the less-developed world when this method is notoriously unreliable?

For Senator Kerry:

What would you do to help family planning and reduce the spread of AIDS in the developing world?

-- Caryl Rivers, Women's eNews commentator, author and journalism professor.



U.S. Welfare

For both candidates:

Four years ago, the employment rate for single mothers with children was increasing, while poverty rates and welfare rolls were declining. Today, poverty is increasing, single mothers' employment rates are declining, and welfare figures from the Department of Health and Human Services indicate that only half of those eligible for welfare help are getting it.

Do you think that welfare should serve as a safety net in times of higher poverty and lower employment, and what changes would you propose to help more single mothers get and keep jobs?

-- Margy Waller, visiting fellow, Brookings Institution.



U.S. Women's Health Policy

For both candidates:

In 2002--the last year for which figures were available--26 percent of women aged 18 to 64 received health insurance as dependents.

Under the current system, those women are significantly more vulnerable than men to losing their health insurance if they become divorced or widowed, if a spouses loses a jobs or if a spouse's employer drops family coverage policies or increases premiums.

How will you work to protect these women, who must protect their health not only for their own sake but for the sake of the children and elderly dependents they are often primarily responsible for?

-- Robin Hindery, Women's eNews reporter.

For both candidates:

The government, through WIC programs, is the largest purchaser of baby formula in the United States. Why is the government promoting formula-feeding in this way? Why don't more tax-payer dollars go to lactation consultants and other direct support for breast-feeding?

-- Ariel Jensen-Vargas, leader, La Leche League.



Women's Political Clout

For both candidates:

Ultimately, every gain women make--whether in education or any other field--depends on our political clout. So I am concerned about the extent to which American women feel shut out of our democracy.

We see that political leadership in this country is still very much dominated by men and that many women stay away from the political process. In the 2000 election, for example, nearly 40 million women didn't vote. And more than half of women aged 18-34 did not vote; about 15 million women.

What will you do, as president, to inspire more women to go to the polls and to run for office?

-- Joanne V. Creighton, president of Mount Holyoke College.



Military Intentions

For both candidates:

Could you both begin by explaining the difference between pre-emption and aggression and then, with concrete examples, describe conditions that justify pre-emption. Then--given the fulfillment of these preconditions--would you accept pre-emption on the part of any other nation?

-- Abigail Disney; president, New York Women's Foundation; Women's eNews 21 Leader in 2004.


 
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