Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"When people understand that a feminist believes in political, economic, and social equality across genders, the majority identify as feminists," says Teresa Younger. (Photo: Jay Morrison/flickr/cc)

Beyond Abortion and Equal Pay: Survey Highlights Wide Scope of "Women's Issues"

'Women do not lead single-issue lives,' says Ms. Foundation president on Women's Equality Day

Deirdre Fulton

Presidential candidates who think "women's issues" are limited to abortion rights and equal pay are sorely mistaken, according to the results of a new survey released Wednesday by the Ms. Foundation for Women. 

"While just 16 percent of respondents identified as 'feminist' without hearing a definition of the word, that proportion jumped to 52 percent once the term was defined as 'a belief in political, economic, and social equality across genders.'"

"This survey tells us that policymakers, community leaders, and movements must change the way we approach problems and issues," said Ms. Foundation president and CEO Teresa C. Younger. "Women do not lead single-issue lives. For instance, access to birth control and abortion is impacted by income level, racial and cultural bias, gender discrimination and immigrant status. We must implement policies and build movements that address the totality of women’s lives, rather than creating a patchwork of silos."

The survey results were publicized Wednesday to coincide with Women's Equality Day, the national holiday commemorating passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Among the poll's more intriguing findings was that while just 16 percent of respondents identified as "feminist" without hearing a definition of the word, that proportion jumped to 52 percent once the term was defined as "a belief in political, economic, and social equality across genders."

"When people understand that a feminist believes in political, economic, and social equality across genders, the majority identify as feminists," said Younger. "We have to do a better job of defining our movements for equality—rather than letting detractors define us. We also must work to address issues where they intersect—not in isolation."

The survey also found wide recognition that women of color have fewer opportunities than white women and that there is a deficit of women in positions of power at both the community and national levels.

Unsurprisingly, two-thirds of the survey's respondents recognize income inequalities between men and women.

"There’s an awareness that economic issues disproportionately affect women that I did not fully expect," said Tresa Undem, a partner at PerryUndem Research/Communication, which conducted the survey of 1,051 U.S. adults in late May. "How the economy affects women specifically is not something we hear a lot about. But it is clearly something many people recognize firsthand."

To that end, researchers from the non-profit Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) said Wednesday that the pay disparity between men and women is lower among union members than among American workers as a whole but it still exists.

According to an IWPR analysis (pdf) of Census Bureau and Labor Department figures, women in labor unions "earn 88.7 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts, a considerably higher earnings ratio than the earnings ratio between all women and men in the United States."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Right-Wing Extremist Boebert to Guide Policy on House GOP Leadership Team

"This is the Republican Party after a catastrophic midterm underperformance," said one Democratic strategist.

Julia Conley ·


Fonda's Fire Drill Fridays Returns to DC Streets Over Manchin Dirty Deal

"The time is now to vote out the politicians like Joe Manchin that are having the dirty deal perpetuated and who think that their pollution and their profits are more important than our lives," said White House adviser Jerome Foster II.

Brett Wilkins ·


House Committee to Investigate Alito Leak, Right-Wing Lobbying at Supreme Court

"It's clear that some of these justices are simply incapable of behaving ethically or putting the law before politics, and the court is unwilling or unable to police itself," said one court watchdog.

Julia Conley ·


Fetterman Taps Person Who Literally Wrote the Book on Killing Senate Filibuster as Chief of Staff

"It will be invaluable to have a veteran of the Senate and a veteran of state politics in these key positions as we serve the people of Pennsylvania," said the Senator-elect about two key hires for his new staff.

Jon Queally ·


Climate Activists Tell Macron to Stop Using Trade Rules to Thwart Clean Energy

"Governments should be empowered to fight climate change and support the clean energy transition without fear of being undermined by antiquated trade rules," said one advocate.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo