During the 20th century, women fought and won important battles for equality. Pioneering women challenged society to accept that women can compete and succeed in business and in politics. As legal and societal barriers fell, women gained more freedom and control over important decisions that affect their lives.

Women’s fight for independence and liberty continues. Today, to gain greater freedom and control over our lives, women must push government to return power to individuals. Too often, policymakers assume that women want the government to take care of us, to take our money and spend it on our behalf. But dependence on government is not independence.

The Independent Women’s Forum believes that people, not politicians, should control their own lives. Our pro-freedom agenda includes cutting taxes so that women keep more of what they earn; reforming Social Security so that women have more control and more options in saving for their retirement; promoting school choice so that parents determine the education their children receive; reducing regulation on business so that entrepreneurs and workers can negotiate mutually beneficial arrangements; and advancing healthcare reform that puts power in the hands of patients.

In the upcoming presidential election, women should consider which candidate will best respect their independence. What follows is a comparison of the records and proposals of George W. Bush and John F. Kerry on key issues of interest to women.

We gave the candidates a grade of A, B, C, D, or F in each area, with an “A” awarded to the candidate whose proposals maximize women’s independence by returning control of power to individuals and an F representing the opposite — the candidate whose proposals grow government and restrict choice. Each candidate received an overall grade based on an average of their grades in each of the issue areas.