AAUW’s Wish List for the State of the UnionJanuary 24, 2012
On Tuesday, January 24, President Barack Obama will give the annual State of the Union address. Obama has heard from organizations all over the political spectrum about what they think his priorities should be for the next year. AAUW is no exception. Below, in no particular order, is our wish list for President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address.
- Make “women” part of the speech. In last year’s hour-long speech, the president said “women” once and “woman” twice. Our national priorities should reflect women’s priorities — and that includes acknowledging women’s critical role in our nation’s economy and civil society.
- Promote pay equity and economic opportunity for women. Obama should prioritize funding for programs that promote equal economic opportunities for women and funding for technical education for women in nontraditional fields. While passing any legislation is tough in this environment, he should take steps to prioritize all executive branch equal pay enforcement initiatives.
- Affirm women’s reproductive rights. The president should reaffirm his commitment to protecting every woman’s right to safe, affordable, and comprehensive family planning and all reproductive health services. He should warn Congress that he will vigorously oppose attempts to restrict these services or to limit coverage of preventive health services, including contraception.
- Prioritize the Violence Against Women Act. Since the Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994, it has played an enormous role in strengthening anti-violence efforts and helping to protect women nationwide. The act, which has always been bipartisan, is now up for reauthorization. The president should make it a priority and challenge Congress to pass it this year.
- Make sure higher education is within everyone’s reach. Higher education is the key to success in today’s economy. Obama should reaffirm his past pledge to increase college graduation rates, especially for women and nontraditional students, and urge Congress to fully fund the critical Pell Grant program.
- Provide a world-class education for every child. The president should urge Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to provide all students with equal opportunities to learn. Obama should also reiterate his commitment to holding schools accountable for the success of all students as Congress works on this legislation. He should challenge Congress to enact legislation to protect educational quality by preventing the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers.
- Enforce Americans’ civil rights and demand funding to do so. Obama should demand that Congress fully fund the federal agencies that protect and enforce Americans’ civil rights.
- Help women who serve in our armed forces. Women who serve in the military and women veterans face unique challenges, ranging from elevated risks of sexual assault while on active duty and higher rates of unemployment after leaving the military. Obama should commit his administration to implementing robust reforms that help these women, who have spent years serving their country.
- Call on the Senate to move on judicial and executive nominations. Obama’s judicial nominees have been confirmed at significantly slower rates than those of previous presidents, creating judicial vacancies throughout the country. Delays in confirming executive nominations mean that the government cannot operate at peak efficiency, a critical need in this economy. Coincidentally, these nominees include greater percentages of women and minorities, who are still underrepresented in these roles. The Senate should be prompted to act on judicial and executive nominations without delay.
This is our wish list. What is on your wish list for the State of the Union?
AAUW and the White House will be using Twitter to talk about the State of the Union all week. Leave questions you have about the speech in the comments section below, follow AAUW on Twitter @AAUW and @AAUWPolicy, and learn more about what the White House is doing at www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2012#get-involved.
Administrator’s note: House Republicans are hosting a State of the Union digital fact check and social Q&A on GOP.gov/SOTU tonight. Tweet your question for House Republicans using the #SOTUGOP hash tag or by visiting GOP.gov/SOTU.