We at AAUW are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on our members, supporters, fellowship alumnae and their families around the world. Your health and safety are our top priority.
We are all only beginning to wrap our heads around the unprecedented repercussions in the months and possibly years ahead, as well as the economic and social rebuilding efforts that will be needed.
AAUW has been at the cutting edge of fighting for economic equity for nearly 140 years. And what we’re witnessing is how the pandemic is amplifying and exacerbating all of the nation’s inequities.
The issues we’ve long been fighting for are now alarmingly urgent, and our efforts are needed now more than ever. Consider:
- Close to 30 percent of working Americans have no sick leave and have to choose between a paycheck and potentially losing their job or risking exposure to infection.
- Women comprise more than 70 percent of the healthcare industry, including more than 85 percent of nurses. They are on the frontlines, putting themselves and their families at risk to care for others.
- More than 10 million Americans have already filed for unemployment due to the outbreak – and women may well be the majority. The female labor force accounts for a large proportion of service jobs: more than 80 percent of waitstaff, 65 percent of retail cashiers and 65 percent of hotel and hospitality workers. These fields are among those most likely to face furloughs and layoffs.
- Part-time workers and hourly wage workers will face job loss, hourly wage loss and will need reskilling and retraining as we move beyond the immediate pandemic crisis.
- Education is being upended, exacerbating existing education gaps for lower-income and students of color.
- Women in college and graduate schools will be entering one of the worse economies in modern history, while still holding two-thirds of the nation’s $1.3 trillion of student debt.
- Retirement and other savings have been hard hit. Already, retired women are twice as likely as men to live at or below the poverty level. As the economy falters, retired women’s ability to pay monthly bills and survive will be at risk.
AAUW has always used our collective influence to fight for economic justice from grassroots to national and international fields. But never has our work been as badly needed as it is right now. So my promise to you is that, when things finally settle down, we will be on the front lines of the coming battle to ensure equity and economic security for all.
These are trying times for everyone: for us as individuals, for our families and friends and for our fellow AAUW members. But we are part of a community that is there for each other – as we have been since our inception.
Please stay well, be kind to one another, and know that I along with the AAUW national staff are available and thinking of you.
We’re all in this together. And together, we can make a difference.