Working for Women: A Modern Agenda for Improving Women’s Lives

A Positive Conservative Agenda for Building a Stronger, Healthier Economy – and Securing a Better Future for Women

WASHINGTON, D.C. – While women in America have more opportunities than ever before, significant challenges and hardships remain. Today, millions of American women are jobless; their labor force participation rate is at its lowest level since 1988. Many women aren’t working because they can’t find jobs that pay enough or offer the hours and flexibility that they need. Moreover, everyday living expenses – the cost of goods, services, home, and energy – have steadily increased leaving families stretching their budgets further.

That’s why today the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) is releasing Working for Women: A Modern Agenda for Improving Women’s Lives. The report presents a slate of policy reforms to improve the workplace and help more women and their families thrive without growing government.

While Democrats are once again using today—"Equal Pay Day"—to convince American women that society is overwhelmingly sexist and more top-down government regulation is necessary to protect women and correct inequities, IWF is providing an alternative vision that empowers women by focusing on job creation, true workplace flexibility, and returning resources to individual women.

"We want to change the conversation," said Sabrina Schaeffer, IWF’s executive director. "Working for Women lays out an alternative vision for helping women, in which they have more control over the most pressing parts of their lives. Our call to modernize laws and roll-back burdensome labor regulations is the best way to ensure women can pursue their own vision of happiness and success."

IWF worked with an advisory committee comprised of leading academics, policy experts, and industry specialists and has the support of a wide coalition of leaders in the conservative movement.

The report details 20 specific policy reforms that encourage real workplace flexibility and job creation so that women have truly fulfilling employment opportunities. Most importantly, these policies return resources and control to individuals so that they can make decisions that work best for them.

Working for Women recommendations include:

  • Reform the Tax Code to Reduce Burdens on Families and Businesses
  • Fix Tax Brackets to Make Work Pay for More Women
  • Create More Employment Opportunities for New Workers
  • Reform Licensing Regimes
  • Create "Personal Care Accounts" to Encourage Saving for Leave Time
  • Offer Tax Credits for Small Businesses Providing Leave
  • Reform the Fair Labor Standard Act
  • Pause the Overtime Regulations Pending More Study
  • Pass Compensatory Time for the Private Sector
  • Allow Employees to Agree to an 80/14 Schedule
  • Change Direction on Independent Contracting
  • Remove Other Barriers to Flexible Scheduling
  • Consolidate and Reform Tax Credits for Children
  • Eliminate Regulations That Make Day Care Needlessly Expensive
  • Encourage Saving for Early (and Lifetime) Education
  • Expand Catch-up Contributions to Retirement Savings Vehicles
  • Reduce Capital Gains Taxes
  • Reform Social Security to Protect the Safety Net; Encourage Savings
  • Strengthen Protections in the Equal Pay Act
  • Clarify Pregnancy Discrimination Act

"The goal behind Working for Women is to give all women more opportunities to find job opportunities that make sense for them," said IWF managing director Carrie Lukas. "Instead of creating top-down reforms or expanding government programs, policymakers need to trust individual women and give them more options so they can craft the lives we want. Of course we want there to be a safety net to protect the most vulnerable members of society. But government should focus support on them while giving women more freedom to decide how they wish to work and to be compensated, and how to use resources for their families. This is truly empowering for women."