Women’s Political Participation
In 2015, women represent only 19% of North Dakota state legislators and women hold 21% of statewide offices. To achieve a better balance in our representative government, NDWN supports an increase in women’s political participation at all levels of the political process and advocates:
- Fair, clear, and accessible information for all people to exercise their right to vote;
- Campaign finance reform policies that set an equitable political stage;
- Recruitment of female candidates by political parties, boards, commissions, and other organizations;
- Fair and equal media treatment for male and female candidates;
- Reactivation and investment in the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women; and
- Policies that level the field for women candidates and office holders.
Economic Fairness and Security
Women’s earnings are consistently lower than men’s earnings in North Dakota. North Dakota women earn 70.2 cents for every dollar a man makes (National Women’s Law Center, 2014). Additionally, North Dakota women’s poverty rate is 13.1% (National Women’s Law Center, 2014). NDWN seeks to achieve economic self-sufficiency for all women and advocates:
- Enforcement and improvement of equal opportunity and employment laws;
- Increased awareness among women of their employment rights;
- Equality in compensation, lending and borrowing;
- Equitable access and advancement in employment;
- Greater availability of and access to quality, affordable dependent care and preschool programs;
- Programs that provide women with education, training, and support for success in the work force, including nontraditional occupations;
- Public policies that will build assets and provide a safety net for low and moderate income individuals; and
- Social Security and Medicare reform that guarantees improved retirement security for women.
A women’s right to decide if and when to have children and access to affordable birth control are under constant threat in North Dakota. In 2013, seven bills were introduced in the North Dakota legislature to severely infringe on a woman’s right to choose. Four were enacted into law, with legal challenges pending in some instances. To preserve women’s reproductive justice, NDWN seeks to advance women’s reproduction health and advocates:
- Ensuring reproductive choice, comprehensive birthing options, and full access to all reproductive health services and education;
- Challenges to incrimination, prosecution, and/or penalizing pregnant women for what would otherwise be treated as health issues;
- The advancement and implementation of comprehensive sex education in school systems and the broader community; and
- Increased funding for services and research regarding women's reproductive health care needs.
Women’s health status is not adequately and equitably addressed, particularly among Native American women. NDWN seeks to improve all women’s health and well-being, including mental and behavioral health, and advocates:
- For full health care plan coverage, regardless of plan status, for the unique health care needs of women, including preventative screenings, vaccines, mammograms and well-woman visits;
- Expanded public health efforts to reach a wider range of at-risk, under-, and uninsured women and link them to clinical services;
- Increased investment in targeted preventative health and treatment programs, especially among Native American women; and
- Increased investment in health education to empower women to take an informed role in their own health and health care decisions.
Women’s success and equality is tied to a quality education. NDWN supports a strong system of public education that promotes advanced education for women of all ages, race, and class and advocates:
- Adequate and equitable funding for quality public education for all students;
- Opposition to the use of public funds for nonpublic elementary and secondary education;
- Vigorous enforcement of Title IX;
- Protection of programs that meet the needs of girls in elementary and secondary education;
- Increased support for women’s involvement in nontraditional educational programs;
- Increased state support for quality early childhood education programs: and
- Increased support for, and access to, higher education for women and other disadvantaged populations.
Freedom from Violence
In 2013, there were at least 5,714 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in North Dakota (CAWS North Dakota, 2014). Additionally, more than one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes (Office on Violence Against Women). NDWN supports efforts to provide intervention and prevention of violence against women and advocates:
- Freedom from violence and fear of violence in homes, schools, workplaces, and communities;
- Support for programs that work to prevent violence;
- Support for community programs that provide services to victims of violence; and
- Strengthening enforcement of criminal and civil laws to protect women and hold violent offenders accountable.
Women in North Dakota experience discrimination based on gender (including sexual harassment) as well as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status and other demographics that are beneficial for a strong and diverse society. NDWN encourages a guarantee for equality, individual rights, and social justice for all members of North Dakota society and advocates:
- Vigorous protection of and full access to civil and constitutional rights;
- Amendment of the Fair Housing and Labor law to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes;
- Repeal or overturning of North Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriage; and
- Full ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in every state, which has been done in North Dakota.