Women’s Issues Unlikely To Determine Midterm Election Outcome
Abortion is likely the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when they hear the words, women’s issues. But that’s only one issue women are concerned about. In fact, there are other issues that many women say are more significant to them. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports on what those women want and how they are going about the process of getting it.
The year was 1972. The Equal Rights Amendment, a 24 word proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women equal rights, had been passed by congress and was sent to the states for ratification. Feminists marched in the streets for its passage.
At first, it looked like it would happen easily as 22 of the necessary 38 states ratified it in the first year. But the opposition organized quickly, and in 1977, Indiana became the last state to ratify it. Since then, the legislation has been reintroduced but it hasn’t gone anywhere. And that’s frustrating for Columbus area resident Carolyn Casper. She was fighting for equal rights back then, and she’s still fighting against gender inequalities.
"It is something that comes from the moment you pop out and they wrap you in a pink blanket," says Casper. "It’s a thing you carry and I don’t think that’s the way it’s meant to be."
There is a proposal in congress that would mandate equal pay for equal work. But it is stalled by the Republican majority. And that’s something Former U. S. House Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, lamented when she visited the Ohio Statehouse for a women’s rally earlier this year.
"We only need 17 votes….17 votes," said Pelosi.
Pelosi was part of a bus tour of Democratic women this summer that went to various cities throughout the Midwest, trying to get women to vote for Democrats on the pay equity issue. But it’s not just about passing laws to make equal pay for equal work a reality. Some women, like Marti Ridley, of Columbus say women need more affordable child care options. Ridley says she couldn’t afford to work outside the home when her two children were little.
"I did not have a stable support system to help take care of my children and could not afford the cost of child care out of pocket on my own."
For Ridley, the Head Start program provided her with the opportunity to get a good job and improve her family’s economic condition. But Democrats aren’t the only ones talking about women’s issues. Governor John Kasich is too in a new ad.
The talking points on the Republican side are different. Chris Schrimpf with the Ohio Republican Party says women are most interested in the economy, and he says Governor Kasich has improved it in Ohio. Schrimpf says the Governor has also taken action on other important issues for women.
“The Governor and others have done tremendous things for women from autism coverage to increasing access to medical health insurance and especially the Governor’s work on human trafficking has been nationally recognized.”
Schrimpf notes Kasich is leading big with women in major polls recently. So which women’s issues are most important to voters…the ones Schrimpf notes or the ones the Democrats are pushing? Democratic State Senator Charleta Tavares, an outspoken advocate for women’s issues says the answer to that question depends on each individual woman.
“It depends on what is going on in her life.”
Tavares and Casper say it’s time for women to look at their life and figure out what is important to them then vote accordingly. Casper says, for too long, women haven’t voted in their own self-interest.
“They are still playing by the rules that the women in the 50’s did.”
Women account for more than half of Ohio’s population. They are a valuable voting block if they vote together. But because women are so different when it comes to priorities and perspective, that potentially powerful voting block is split, much like it was in the 70’s.