NOW Looks Forward to 'Sputnik Moment' for Women

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116; cell 202-641-1906

NOW Looks Forward to 'Sputnik Moment' for Women

Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill

WASHINGTON - In last night's State of the Union address, President
Barack Obama proclaimed this point in time to be "our generation's
Sputnik moment." As the president reaches for the stars, the National
Organization for Women will be working to ensure that the women of this
nation are lifted up as well.

President Obama spoke
about creating jobs through building our country's physical
infrastructure, investing in research and development, and reinventing
our energy industry. Worthy objectives -- but currently these fields are
dominated by men. Much work remains to be done to bring women into
parity in these vocations, known as STEM (science, technology,
engineering and math). For example, when we talk about "green jobs,"
Wider Opportunities for Women found that two-thirds of all women are
clustered in only 21 of the 500 green job categories. If these jobs our
are future, women must be included.

Next month, I will take
part in the 55th session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women,
which will focus on the access and participation of women and girls in
STEM. However, until we make significant progress in this area, if we
want to talk about creating jobs for women, we have to talk about
rebuilding our human infrastructure -- including teaching,
nursing and social work. These positions not only employ women but they
serve some of the most vulnerable people in our country, those the
president promised to safeguard.

Most people may not even
be aware that women are actually losing ground in the current economic
recovery. From July 2009 to December 2010, according to the National
Women's Law Center, women lost jobs while men gained, with women losing
99.6 percent of the 257,000 jobs cut from the public sector. And
long-term unemployment is worsening for women.

For these reasons, we
are heartened that President Obama announced he would work to strengthen
Social Security without risking current retirees or slashing benefits
for future generations. Women, particularly women of color, depend
greatly on Social Security. Often it is their only income in
retirement. NOW has been vigorously campaigning to protect and reinforce
Social Security, and we are pleased to see that the steady stream of
messages from women's rights supporters has made an impact. However, the
forces behind dismantling Social Security are powerful, determined and
crafty. The president must remain firm as he stands up to the foes of
government programs that help people instead of big business.

The president said: "We
do big things." I can't think of anything bigger than guaranteeing
jobs, opportunity, security and equality to the women of the United
States and around the world.

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The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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