Economic Concerns, Gender- and Race-Based Discrimination and Sexual Harassment, Healthcare, and Gun Violence Top the List
October 1, 2018
Washington, D.C. — Today, YWCA USA launched its report, What Women Want 2018, a new national survey of American women commissioned by the organization to identify women’s public policy priorities. The survey is part of YWCA’s newly-launched civic engagement effort to register 10,000 women to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, and to ensure women’s issues are at the forefront of policy discussions. This survey includes an important focus on the voices of Black, Latina, Asian American, Native American, and millennial women.
The report highlights that the lives of women — across race, age, education, and party affiliation — are deeply connected around their needs and concerns for their families and their future. Currently, in our country women face critical challenges in multiple areas:
- The numbers of women who reported experiencing sex discrimination increased nine percent from 2012.
- Black, Latina, and Asian/Pacific Islander women experience racial discrimination at even higher rates than they experience gender discrimination.
- Half (50 percent) of millennial women experience discrimination because they are women; 36 percent experience racial discrimination.
The survey tells us what weighs on the minds of such an important constituency in our country. Top concerns for all women surveyed include:
- keeping their families safe from gun violence,
- having enough to cover medical expenses for themselves or their families
- and having affordable and secure health insurance for their families
“Recent headlines are replete with stories of sexual discrimination and sexual violence across communities — from the highest, most prestigious institutions to the lowest paying industries,” said YWCA USA CEO Alejandra Castillo. “The damaging, long-lasting impact of these issues was evidenced clearly in women’s responses to survey questions related to gender-based violence.”
The survey results identified that:
- there is broad, deep, and bipartisan support for Congress to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA),
- more than one in five women are very worried about having access to job-protected leave to access legal, medical, or other needs after experiencing sexual or domestic violence, and,
- well over a quarter of all women of color surveyed reported being very worried about sexual harassment at work.
Other research also confirms that women’s experiences of gun violence are inextricably linked to domestic violence.
“When looking at all of these important data points in totality, it is no surprise that support for renewing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is so high,” said Castillo. “YWCA continues to lead the fight for key policy solutions like equal pay and VAWA that are intended to protect women and their families.”
Linda DiVall, of American Viewpoint, explained that, “despite reports touting economic recovery, women are overwhelmingly concerned about their economic status in this country. They worry about affordable housing, being able to pay their rent or mortgage, and having access to paid family and medical leave. Most importantly, women are concerned their family income will not be enough, especially when gender-based pay discrimination is still a reality.”
Women are calling on Congress to act. “The broad bipartisan support for these legislative solutions is remarkable,” said Celinda Lake, of Lake Research Partners. “Across the board, women are calling for Congressional action to reduce gun violence in their communities, ensure pay equity, support survivors of domestic abuse, provide access to affordable housing and health care, and to ensure economic mobility for women.”
“The good news story from this survey is that women believe that the issues YWCA works on every day are critical to improve life outcomes for all women and girls,” said Castillo. “For 160 years, YWCA has been helping women lead the way to a better future.”
The launch event today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, will be followed by a series of webinars and briefings in the coming weeks to further explain the results of the survey.