2019–21 AAUW Public Policy Priorities

Every two years, AAUW members vote on revisions to our Public Policy Priorities. The Public Policy Priorities establishes our organization’s federal action priorities, as well as guidelines for state and local action.

The AAUW Public Policy Committee (APPC) recommended changes to the Public Policy Priorities, and members weighed in during a comment period. These Public Policy Priorities represent the final version for 2019–21, as approved by the AAPC and the board. Members are asked to “approve,” “disapprove,” or “abstain” voting on these changes in their entirety.

  1. Changes that align the Public Policy Priorities with the Strategic Plan appear highlighted in yellow.
  1. Changes that streamline the Public Policy Priorities or are editorial fixes appear highlighted in blue.
  1. Changes that are responsive to member leader or APPC input and clarify or detail our support for specific issues appear highlighted in green.
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The Public Policy Priorities underscore AAUW’s mission of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy and speak to women’s needs, aspirations, and concerns across the life span. The work of AAUW builds upon more than 130 years of responsible public participation, and the following principles priorities provide a basis for AAUW members’ actions at the local, state, national, and international levels. Implicit in each of our principles is support for government agencies administering programs, including adequate appropriations, effective and accountable administration, and provision for citizen participation. We advocate public discussion to ensure enlightened decisions on these principlespriorities. We work to increase the number of women and other underrepresented populations in policy- and other decision-making positions. Our positions are shaped by our commitment to being AAUW is nonpartisan and fact-based, and act to acting with integrity. We strive for our work to be We are committed to being AAUW is committed to inclusive and intersectional, and working in collaboratingon with diverse allies and coalitions to break through educational and economic barriers for women and girls achieve equity for all.

Public Policy Principles for Action

Basic to all of AAUW’s public policy efforts is the understanding that true equity requires a balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of the community. AAUW opposes all forms of discrimination and supports constitutional protection for the civil rights of all individuals.

AAUW believes that high-quality public education is the foundation of a democratic society and the key to improving economic prosperity and gender equality. We advocate equitable access to education and climates free of harassment, bullying, and sexual assault. We support academic freedom, civic education, protection from censorship, bias-free education, and responsible funding for all levels of education, including early childhood education and programs for students with disabilities. We advocate for increased access to higher education, especially for women in poverty. We promote equitable efforts to close the persistent achievement gap that disproportionately affects low-income children and students from minority communities of color.

AAUW promotes the economic, social, and physical well-being of all persons. Essential to that well-being are an economy that provides equitable employment opportunities; reduction of poverty; a living wage; quality, affordable dependent care; paid family and medical leave; safe, livable, and affordable housing; quality, affordable, and accessible health care for all, including reproductive health care; and a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. We support a Social Security system that provides inflation-protected, guaranteed lifetime benefits with a progressive benefit formula, spousal and widow benefits, and disability and survivor benefits. We support robust and strong Medicare and Medicaid systems and oppose any efforts to undermine Medicare and Medicaidthem, including privatization and block grant proposals. AAUW recognizes that gun violence is a public health crisis.

AAUW believes in the right to privacy and freedom from violence. We firmly believe in the separation of church and state. We support a fair, balanced, and independent judiciary. We support public budgets that balance individual rights and responsibility to the community. We see an urgent need for meaningful campaign finance reform, open and fair elections, and nonpartisan voter education efforts that will promote equitable political participation and representation in appointed and elected office.

AAUW supports efforts to improve racial, ethnic, and gender justice and will work to eradicate intersectional bias as well. This includes creating a diverse culture of involvement, respect, inclusion, and connection, where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives is fully appreciated and utilized.

AAUW believes that global interdependence requires national and international policies against human trafficking and that promote peace, justice, human rights, sustainable development, and mutual security for all people. We support the civil and human rights of all immigrants, including a fair and just path to legal status. We support a strengthened United Nations and its affiliated agencies. We advocate implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action from the 4th World Conference on Women and subsequent declarations. We affirm our active participation in the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and our commitment to ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). We support international family planning programs that are consistent with AAUW policy.


Biennial Action Priorities

National priorities inform state and local action. Biennial priorities for national action are chosen according to the criteria of viability, critical need, strong member support, and potential for distinctive AAUW contribution or leadership. Based on the National Board’s adoption of the 2018 strategic plan for AAUW, national public policy priorities are focused first on our major areas of focus: education and training, economic security, and leadership. Additional policy priorities are also critical to ensure equity for all. No further order of importance for the additional prioritiesis implied.


To support a strong system of public education that promotes gender fairness, equity, anddiversity, and inclusivity, and to address the barriers and implicit biases that hinder the advancement of women and girls, AAUW advocates

  • Vigorous enforcement of Title IX and all other civil rights laws pertaining to education
  • Adequate and equitable funding for quality public education for all students
  • Opposition to the use of public funds for nonpublic elementary and secondary education and to charter schools that do not adhere to the same civil rights and accountability standards as required of other public schools
  • Increased support for and pProtection of programs that meet the needs of girls and women in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education, including strong promotion of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and comprehensive sexual health education
  • Vigorous enforcement of Title IX and all other civil rights laws pertaining to education
  • Increased support for and access to affordable higher education for women and disadvantaged populations
  • Support for practices that halt the flow of students from schools to prisons, including reforming school disciplinary practices that disproportionately punish girls and students of color
  • Increased support for programs that break through barriers for women and girls in STEM fields


To achieve economic self-sufficiency security for all women, AAUW advocates

  • Pay equity and fairness in compensation and benefits
  • Equitable access and advancement in employment, free from systemic barriers and biases, including vigorous enforcement of employment anti-discrimination statutes
  • Closing the gender and race gaps in leadership opportunities for women of all backgrounds
  • Greater availability of and access to a high standard of benefits and policies that promote work-life balance, including quality and affordable dependent care and paid family, medical, and sick leave
  • Programs that provide women with education, training, and support for success in the workforce, including nontraditional occupations and women’s entrepreneurship
  • Strengthening programs, including welfare and career and technical education, to improve postsecondary education access, career development, and earning potential
  • Strengthening retirement benefits and programs, including pension improvements and protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from privatization
  • Access for all women to the full range of health care services to ensure economic security
  • Increasing the number of quality jobs that pay a living wage


To guarantee equality, individual rights, and social justice for a diverse and inclusive society, AAUW advocates

  • Vigorous enforcement of and full access to civil and constitutional rights, including affirmative action and expanding voting rights
  • Self-determination of one’s reproductive health decisions
  • IncreasedUniversal access to quality, affordable health care and comprehensive family planning services, including expansion of patients’ rights
  • Freedom from violence and fear of violence, including hate crimes, in homes, schools, workplaces, and communities
  • Support for U.N. programs that address human rights and women’s and girls’ concerns
  • Freedom in the definition of self and family and a guarantee of civil rights for all family structures
  • Passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment