What is the Femme Agenda

What is the Femme Agenda

A Femme Agenda by Us for Us

The Femme AgendaThe feminization of poverty describes two sides of the reality that women both live in unequal and fundamentally oppressive economic structures and social relations, and it points the way to a solution:  to tackle poverty and economic justice through a feminist analysis and women centered action.  . Poverty in the United States is determined by a combination of generational income and class status, geography, race and ethnicity, citizenship status, and access to education and credit.   Women, and women of color in particular, are at the fulcrum of those factors, and often at the bottom. ,

Floridian women are a huge contributor to the economy.  65% of Florida women are in the labor force. The Shriver Report states that 4 out of 10 mothers are the primary breadwinners in their home. In a country, that has yet to pass an Equal Rights Amendment, the law still allows employers to pay a woman less than a man. In almost every indicator, women are fairing worse than men, and women of color are especially vulnerable.   Women’s economic inequality has severe implications on women’s ability to care for themselves and their children. White women make 80 cents to every dollar that a white man makes. On the contrary, when you look at the pay gap through a racialized lens, it shows that Hispanic women make 53% of what non-Hispanic white men make and Black women make 64% of their white male counterparts, while white women make 78% of what white men earn. Race plus gender determines financial well being, and is fundamental in how we think and articulate women’s issues.

The feminization of poverty goes beyond jobs and pay.  Much of the cause of feminized poverty has directly to do with access and power.  Women of color are highly vulnerable in their relationship to economic capital, family wealth, housing, and education access.  Health care, especially in states like Florida are highly restricted, especially rights to reproductive choices.  These factors, in addition to their primary role as child bearers, constrict the range of possible choices that women can make.  To take this gender analysis further, the impact of poverty on transgender and gender non-conforming people, cannot be overstated enough. Transgender individuals are four times more likely to living at or below the federal poverty line of about $10,000 and below. The risk of suicide is also 41 % higher compared with 4.6% of the general public with transgender people having a 35 age of life expectancy.

The feminization of poverty requires a feminization of the solution.  The Institute for Women’s Policy and Research looked at the pay gap by state to determine on a state level, what would it take to close the gender pay gap? And, in Florida they surmised that the gender pay gap could be closed by the year 2038 if correct policies were put in place.  This generational change can take place and can happen in our lifetime, at least on a statewide level. It is with this hope and the ability to dream and conceptualize a new economy, rooted in a gender framework, which is the impetus for why the Miami Workers Center and allies are creating a Women’s Economic Congress that will be the birthplace of a Florida femme agenda.

An agenda that is made by us for us. An agenda that centers the lived experiences of low-income Black and Brown women and girls and that is inclusive of trans women and gender non-conforming people. The Women’s Economic Congress seeks to shift and raise consciousness around the understanding of the feminization of poverty and to continue a process to define a comprehensive Florida women’s economic agenda that centers the rights and lived experiences of women, and to use this agenda to keep our local and national elected officials accountable.

A brilliant committee of women helped put this Congress together.  They were multi-sectorial, multi-racial, and multi-generational femme and women. They convened to talk about the issues that need to be looked at through a gender lens. The following areas were outlined as top priorities: Living wage, affordable housing, quality affordable childcare, access to comprehensive reproductive health care, paid family leave, drivers license for undocumented, comprehensive immigration reform, free public transportation lines, free skills training, access to affordable mental health, quality public education, a path to higher education for girls that includes, comprehensive sex ed in public school, access to technology, coding.    I’d like to honor that committee, would the women who have worked to put this together please stand up and be recognized.

When looking at economics with a gender lens we start to understand that lack of affordable housing, affordable daycare, the inability to raise your children in a safe environment, hinders women from realizing their full potential. Also, how being undocumented and being paid low wages keeps women scratching and surviving at the margins.  Those are reasons why we need a comprehensive Femme Agenda to:

  • Define a path to end poverty;
  • Engage with elected officials and institutions responsible for the design and implementation of public policies and programs that are used to discriminate and to maintain the structure that keeps women and girls at the bottom of the social stratification;
  • Design changes that will use multidimensional approaches that combine concrete economic initiatives to get economic security for women, girls and femme;
  • Build a new economy that meets the real needs of low-income women and girls in Florida;

 

The femme agenda: Women, girls and femme economic congress  is the start of something big, but it is also simply the continuation of what as women have been doing for a long time.it is the initiation of a process to get us organized, excited, and working toward a common agenda.  It is the work that so many women and their organizations and their networks have been doing. This is a contribution to that ongoing effort to equality and respect.  This is for us, by us, and toward the freedom we and our daughters, and sons, deserve. 

 

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