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Edwards Campaign Press Release - Edwards Launches "Women For Edwards"

May 15, 2007

Receives Support from Women Leaders from Across the Country; Announces Agenda to Address Issues Facing Women

Des Moines, Iowa – At a town hall in Des Moines today, Senator John Edwards launched "Women for Edwards" and laid out his agenda to ensure fairness and equality for women. Edwards also received support from 140 national women leaders from across the country, and more than 1,500 women from Iowa. Edwards encouraged women to join Women for Edwards at

"We need to make the idea of America—equality of opportunity, regardless of race, gender or income—real for all Americans," said Edwards. "Today, too many women are separated from the opportunities of our country because of their gender. We need to ensure fairness and equality for all women and work to lift up working mothers."

"I believe in John's deep and profound commitment to the issues that matter most in women's lives," said Kate Michelman, President Emeritus of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "From health care, to Iraq, to poverty, to our environment, I know John is the most effective national messenger for the values we share and I have complete confidence that—with our help—he will win the White House and improve the lives of women everywhere."

Women still make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men and they are 45 percent more likely to live in poverty. Edwards believes we need to make a commitment to helping working women and strengthening our families. Today, he detailed his plans to improve the lives of women at work and at home.

Specifically, Edwards called for:

  • Guaranteeing that every woman has health insurance by providing universal health care.
  • Ending poverty. Edwards has called for an end to poverty within 30 years, with policies rooted in the core American values of work, opportunity and responsibility.
  • Helping women balance work and family by expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act to let parents take time off from work when they need it. Edwards also supports more resources for childcare and after-school programs to give children a safe place to learn while their parents are at work.
  • Fighting discrimination by enacting the Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen the remedies for sex discrimination and deter wrongdoing, and expanding resources for female entrepreneurs.
  • Protecting a woman's right to choose.

In addition to Michelman, prominent women leaders endorsing Edwards include Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and former New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid.

"Too many women are not getting the health care they need," said Johnson. "John Edwards is the only candidate to outline a specific plan to provide universal coverage and I'm proud to be part of a campaign—the only campaign—with a detailed plan to cover all Americans."

"John Edwards has laid out detailed proposals to strengthen families and help working women," said Herseth Sandlin. "John Edwards understands the need to prioritize families through good public policy that recognizes the contributions of America's women.

"I am proud to endorse my friend, Senator John Edwards," said Madrid. "He has always stood to fight for real change in women's lives—working tirelessly to raise the minimum wage, end poverty and guarantee universal health care."

The national women leaders endorsing Edwards for president are:

  • Martha Alexander, North Carolina State Representative
  • Terri Austin, Indiana State Representative
  • Liz Martinez Baldick, Clinton Whitehouse Liaison, Department of Labor
  • Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, Georgia State Representative
  • Sue Berkowitz, South Carolina Community Activist
  • Beth Bernard, Oregon Trial Lawyers Association Executive Director
  • Linda Byrne, Fairfax County Providence Magisterial District Democratic Chair (VA)
  • Emily Cain, Maine State Representative
  • Margaret Carter, Oregon State Senate President Pro-Tem
  • Mary Lee Cerillo, Fairfax County Sully Magisterial District Democratic Chair (VA)
  • Kimberly Chiapetto, Floyd County Democratic Chair (VA)
  • Judith Christensen, California Democratic Party Executive Board Member
  • Lori Church, Democratic Women's Council of Horry County Vice President (SC)
  • Eva Clayton, Former U.S. Representative (NC)
  • Beverly Clyburn, Aiken City Council Member (SC)
  • Courtney Clyburn, South Carolina Community Activist
  • Lorene Coates, North Carolina State Representative
  • Cheryl Conway, San Luis Obispo County Democratic Central Committee Vice Chair (CA)
  • Sylvia Conwell, South Carolina Community Activist
  • Tricia Cotham, North Carolina State Representative
  • Meighan Davis, Lead Organizer, Youth Activist, SEIU (IN)
  • Carrie Rachel Dean, South Carolina Young Democrats Former President
  • Ann DeLaney, Former Indiana Democratic Party Chair
  • Chris Desser, Women Donors Network Board Member (for identification purposes only)
  • Margaret Dickson, North Carolina State Representative
  • Linda Dogan, Spartanburg City Council Member (SC)
  • Gail Dorfman, Hennepin County Commissioner (MN)
  • Jenny Durkan, Seattle Lawyer and community leader, Trial Counsel Governor Election litigation (WA)
  • Gayatri Eassey, Washington Young Democrats Former President
  • Beth Edmonds, Maine State Senate President
  • Barbara Ehrenreich, Author, Nickel & Dimed
  • Linda Elliott, Human Rights Committee Board of Directors Member (AZ)
  • Susan Fisher, North Carolina State Representative
  • Linda Foster, New Hampshire Deputy Speaker of the House
  • Edna Frady, Falls Church Democratic Committee Former Chair (VA)
  • Libby Garvey, Arlington County School Board Chair (VA)
  • Keesha Gaskins, Minneapolis DFL Chair (for identification purposes only)
  • Lori Gramlich, Portland School Committee Member, Maine Democratic State Committee Member
  • Shirley Green, 1st CD Women's Council President (SC)
  • Lisa Gruwell, Skyline Public Works Chief Operating Officer (CA)
  • Betty Hamby, South Carolina Community Activist
  • Kay Hagan, North Carolina State Senator
  • Pricey Harrison, North Carolina State Representative; Energy & Energy Efficiency Committee Chair
  • Renee Haugerud, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of the Galtere International Fund (NY)
  • Alice Hausman, Minnesota State Representative
  • Kiku Hayashi, Washington Community Activist
  • Michelle Henson, Georgia State Representative
  • Lyn Hilfenhaus, California Democratic Party Women's Caucus Chair
  • Lucy Hodder, Former Chair, New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Women (Commissioner 1998-2004, Chair 2003-2004); Board Member, Women's Policy Institute.
  • Helen Honorow, New Hampshire State Board of Education Member; Prominent Attorney & Activist.
  • Margo Horner, 8th CD Democratic Committee Chair & DPVA Steering Committee Member (VA)
  • Sally Howard, Former South Carolina Democratic Party Executive Committee Member
  • Janet Howell, Virginia State Senator
  • Dee Hozel, Former Humboldt County Chair (NV)
  • Fern Hurst, Philanthropist (NY)
  • Mary Hynes, Former Arlington County School Board Chair & Current Arlington School Board Candidate (VA)
  • Verla Insko, North Carolina State Representative
  • Jeanette Jamieson, Georgia State Representative
  • Anniebell Jeffcoat, South Carolina Community Activist
  • Maggie Jeffus, North Carolina State Representative
  • Connie Johnson, Missouri General Assembly Democratic Minority Whip
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson, U.S. Representative (TX)
  • Julie Johnson, Human Rights Campaign Public Policy Committee Co-Chair (TX)
  • Mary Jung, California Democratic Party Executive Board Member
  • Ellie Kinnaird, North Carolina State Senator
  • Susan Kitsu, Civil Rights Attorney & Community Leader (HI)
  • Sheila Klinker, Indiana State Representative
  • Stephanie Kornegay, LGBT Community Activist; business owner
  • Eileen Kotecki, Managing Member of Juniper Capital; Finance Director for Al Gore's Presidential Campaign (NY)
  • Betsy Kenney Lack, Board member, Channel 13 (NY)
  • Sandra Lang, San Mateo County Committee (CA)
  • Amanda Lawson, Indiana Political Activist
  • Linda Lawson, Indiana State Representative
  • Malia Lazu, Boston Votes Founder
  • Dottie LeClair, Wisconsin Democratic Party 2nd Vice Chair
  • May Lee, Advertising Executive (NY)
  • Lucinda Abbott Letro, Media Consultant (NY)
  • Jen Little, Matthews County Democratic Chair (VA)
  • Becky Lourey, Former Minnesota State Senator
  • Ana Ma, Senior Counsel to U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ)
  • Blair MacInnes, Philanthropist (NJ)
  • Patricia Madrid, Former New Mexico Attorney General
  • Maureen Raiche Manning, Founder & President of the New Hampshire Women's Bar Association; Former Vice Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party; former Chair of the New Hampshire Women's Lobby.
  • Karen Marchioro, Democratic National Committeewoman, Former Chair, DNC Western Caucus
  • Donna Dewitt Matthew, South Carolina Community Activist
  • Judy Eason McIntyre, Oklahoma State Senator, Education Committee Co-Chair
  • Marian McLawhorn, North Carolina State Representative
  • Gloria Negrete McLeod, California State Senator, Committee on Local Government Chair
  • Nancy Michael, Mayor of Greencastle, Indiana
  • Laura Michaels, Local Businesswoman (IN)
  • Kate Michelman, President Emeritus of NARAL Pro-Choice America
  • Erin Murphy, Minnesota State Representative
  • Lisa Naito, Multnomah County Commissioner (OR)
  • Laura Nevitt, Minnesota Dean State Director 2004
  • Cathy Newell, Oxford County Democratic Committee Chair (ME)
  • Katherine Newman, Princeton University Professor of Sociology & Public Affairs
  • Jadine Nielsen, Clinton White House Liaison, FDIC & Small Business Administration (HI)
  • Sharon Nordgren, New Hampshire Former Deputy Minoryt Leader; Chair of House Finance Committee - Div. III
  • Lucy O'Brien, Economist (NJ)
  • Sarah O'Hagan, Board Member, International Rescue Committee (NY)
  • Arlene Oki, International Examiner Board Member, Seattle Japanese American Citizens League Past President. (WA)
  • Nancy Poole, Democratic Women's Council of Horry County Past President (SC)
  • Sondy Pope-Roberts, Wisconsin State Representative
  • C.J. Prentiss, Former Ohio State Senate Democratic Leader
  • Ann Rest, Minnesota State Senator
  • Linden Rhoads, Chair of Washington Women for Choice
  • Dory Richards-Waxman, Portland Democratic City Committee Former Chair & Former Member Portland School Committee (ME)
  • Amy Rosen, Chief Operating Officer New Visions for Public Schools (NYC); Board Chair of Kipp/TEAM Schools in Newark
  • Mary Rosenthal, Duluth AFL-CIO Former President
  • Laura Ross, Attorney and Political Activist (NY)
  • Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, U.S. Representative (SD)
  • Dawn Marie Sass, Wisconsin State Treasurer
  • Donna Seidel, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Jennifer Shilling, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Susan Smith, President of the Waccamaw Neck Democratic Club (SC)
  • Mary Snider, Human Rights Campaign Executive Committee Board of Directors
  • Ginger Johnson Sotille, Charleston County Democratic Party Executive Committee (SC)
  • Peggy Stamey, Former North Carolina State Representative
  • Maureen Strafford, Pediatric Anesthesiologist and Cardiologist; Tufts University Professor (MA)
  • Marsha Swails, Minnesota State Representative
  • Kate Sweeney-Bell, Indiana Political Activist
  • Leah Landrum Taylor, Arizona State Senator, Chair, Arizona Legislative Black Caucus
  • Mary Lou Terrell, Former Indiana Democratic Party Vice Chair , 8th CD Vice Chair
  • Donna Thompson, Lancaster County Democratic Chair (VA)
  • Jessy Tolkan, Campaign Director, Energy Action Coalition (DC)
  • Marian Van Landingham, Former Virginia State Delegate
  • Sarah Vogel, Former North Dakota Agriculture Secretary
  • Amy Sue Vruwink, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Molly Joseph Ward, Hampton City Treasurer (VA)
  • Marjorie Warnick, 3rd CD Vice Chair (IN)
  • Edith Warren, North Carolina State Representative
  • Vivian Watts, Virginia State Delegate
  • Patti Wheeler, Television Producer (NY)
  • Elizabeth (Beth) White, Marion County Clerk (IN)
  • Lynne Wiggins, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) National Leadership Council Member; Former Human Rights Campaign Board of Governors Member. (CA)
  • Ruth Woo, Washington Community Leader
  • Krystal Wood, Washington State Young Democrats President
  • Patty Yount, Indiana Political Activist

For more information about Edwards' Agenda for Women, please see the fact sheet below.

An Agenda for American Women

The reality of women's lives in America today is that they still face greater challenges in the workplace and greater responsibilities at home. Women still make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men and they are 45 percent more likely to live in poverty. More than 18 million adult women lack health insurance. Working women struggle to balance their jobs with the needs of their families. John Edwards believes that we must do more to strengthen families and help women succeed at work to build a larger, more secure middle class. He also supports stronger laws protecting women's rights. [Census Bureau, 2007]

Guaranteeing Health Care for Every Woman in America: More than 18 million adult women lack health insurance. Two-thirds of uninsured women fail to get care they need because of its cost. While more than 40,000 women die from breast cancer every year, more than half of uninsured women have not had a mammogram for two years. John Edwards has announced a specific plan to guarantee universal health care for every man, woman and child in America. His plan requires employers to cover their workers or help pay the cost; expands subsidies for insurance premiums; creates Health Care Markets so families and businesses will have a choice of competing plans, including a public plan; and, once insurance is affordable, requires individuals to buy insurance for themselves and their families. [Census Bureau, 2007; KFF, 2005; RWJF, 2006; ACS, 2007]

Ending Poverty for Women: The 37 million Americans living in poverty include 21 million women. More than 4 million of those women are single mothers, heading more than half of all poor American families. John Edwards has called for an end to poverty within 30 years, with policies rooted in the core American values of work, opportunity and responsibility. He has proposed an ambitious set of goals, including new housing policies to promote economic integration, 1 million stepping stone jobs, lower taxes for low-income working families, and other initiatives to promote education, savings, and strong families. [Census Bureau, 2006 and 2007]

Helping Women Balance Work and Families: Two-thirds of mothers are working, most of them full time. Families are working 10 more hours a week than they did a generation ago. There are also 9 million senior citizens who need long-term care. Edwards will expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to let parents take time off from work when they need it. He supports more resources for childcare and after-school programs to give children a safe place to learn while their parents are at work. His health care plan will also strengthen Medicaid's support for long-term care and emphasize home- and community-based care to allow caregivers to keep their parents nearby. [Gerson and Jacobs, 2004; New America Foundation, 2005; KFF, 2006]

Raising the Minimum Wage: Women account for 61 percent of minimum-wage workers in the United States. The minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour for almost a decade. A full-time minimum-wage worker earns only about $10,700 a year, barely more than the poverty line even without any dependents. Since the minimum wage was last changed in 1997, members of Congress have raised their own pay by more than $30,000. In 2006, Edwards campaigned for six state ballot initiatives designed to increase the minimum wage, all of which were successful. As president, he will raise the national minimum wage to at least $7.50 an hour, giving 8 million women a raise. [BLS 2007, Lovell 2007]

Fighting Discrimination: Despite the progress we have made, women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Mothers and particularly single mothers do even worse. Edwards supports the Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen the remedies for sex discrimination and deter wrongdoing. He will expand resources for female entrepreneurs through his new REACH Fund and by prioritizing the needs of women-owned businesses in existing programs.

Protecting Women's Right to Choose: The decision about whether to become a parent is one of the most important life decisions that a woman can face. Edwards believes that she should make it with her family, her doctor, and in the context of her religious and ethical values. As president, he will protect and defend the right to choose and reverse the damage that has been done by President Bush's anti-choice agenda. The ban on abortion procedures recently upheld by the Supreme Court without an adequate exception to protect a woman's health is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Edwards supports a federal freedom of choice act codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law so that the right to choose is protected, no matter what the Supreme Court does, and supports access to family planning services.

John Edwards, Edwards Campaign Press Release - Edwards Launches "Women For Edwards" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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