The Republican idea that cutting government at all levels and reducing taxes on business will free capitalism to work its mythical magic and create jobs, is also a back door to cutting back the empowerment of women. In the present political climate, who is even talking about the Lilly Ledbetter Act to ensure equal pay for equal work? Who in federal, state and local governments Republicans are working to emasculate is going to enforce it?
The New York Times published September 15 the results of a study that finds that government contracting out its services to the private sector is more expensive than performing the services with government employees. Although not a part of any study I am aware of it, is obvious that privatizing public sector jobs also would reduce pressure on fair employment practices and the availability of jobs for women.
When I lived in Norway in the early nineties, my colleague’s wife delivered triplets, one of whom had Downs Syndrome. They were visited almost immediately by a social worker whose responsibility was to work with health problems in the area where they lived. Even though they were not Norwegian they continued to enjoy valuable and intensive help. These health and welfare offices and departments were disproportionately staffed by women. This was directly connected with the fact that a very significant portion of Norwegian members of Parliament had had backgrounds in public service. While the US Congress is dominated by male lawyers, Norway’s Parliament had then almost 50% women, many with experience in the public welfare sector. Norway’s funding priorities reflected this gender composition.
If the Republicans succeed in reducing government it will reduce American democracy – the less government, the smaller the area for democratic accountability and the less pressure to build a fair and compassionate society. When we look at the impact various plans for job creation will have it is important to link the opportunities for women with the Republican drive to reduce public sector employment.
— Elizabeth Spiro Clark