For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Oct 27 2016
by Melissa Cordell

NeW and IWF Millennial Women Report

By Melissa Cordell - Oct 27 2016

The Network of enlightened Women teamed up with The Independent Women’s Forum and released a new report which “presents a slate of policy reforms to create a fairer, more dynamic society with greater opportunity and freedom for young Americans, in particular young women, to prosper.”

The report includes 17 policies for improving the lives of millennial women, broken up into six parts.

1. College Costs and Student Loan Debt

“Colleges and universities should compete to provide value to students and offer opportunities to learn and earn degrees at reasonable prices.”

With employment after college on the decline and tuition-free colleges causing problems for both education and the economy, it would seem that there is no easy solution to this conundrum, albeit the report contains a policy solution holding colleges and universities accountable. This means holding them accountable for how much their students pay to attend the school and by making students pay for what they’re actually there for: an education. Scrapping the extra fluff that students pay for and shouldn’t would help, along with adjusting high student loan default rates.

2. Economic Opportunity

“Young Americans are having troubling finding jobs that put them on the career path they want.”

The unemployment rate among young women has decreased some, but is still alarming. While businesses are forced to take the heat for this, the report suggests that it’s not that clear cut. The governmental policies put in place make it difficult for companies to get out of the bind of low wage and not being able to hire more employees. The policy solution proposed for this embraces lower taxes and creating more employment opportunities for millennial women.

3. Workplace Flexibility

“According to Forbes, 72 percent of Millennials want to work when, where and how they like in jobs that offer freedom and flexibility.”

Having flexibility in the workplace sounds like a utopian joke to some, but is an integrated part of how millennials function. Policy recommendations for this are modernizing the Fair Labor Standards Act, exchanging overtime pay with paid leave and not allowing employers to micromanage workers’ schedules. Another point was to offer an incentive to businesses, specifically tax credits, to ensure they offer leave.

4. Affordability

“We want a marketplace that provides quality goods and services at prices that people can afford, with sensible regulations protect health and safety, but do not needlessly drive up costs and make everyday products prohibitively expensive.”

Young people cannot afford to live independently, or make ends meet for that matter, due to costs of commodities such as healthcare, food, housing and child care. The straightforward solutions the report offers for this particular issue are to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deregulate insurance plans. It’s recommended to rid all unnecessary regulations on food, like drink size limitations, giving people more freedom in how they spend their money on what they consume. Housing is suggested to be fixed by removing the federal government from the loop and cutting out unnecessary building restrictions. Child care is addressed by increasing tax credits for children and eliminating regulations that make child-care and day-care so expensive in the first place.

5. Equal Pay

“Americans often hear that women are consistently paid less than men for equal work. This widespread presumption is based on a misunderstanding of a statistic that compares the earnings of all full-time male workers and all full-time female workers, generally showing that women earn about 80 percent of what men do.”

The report suggests that the wage gap in earnings is due to a lot more factors that sex, like college degree and dedication. IWF and NeW policy solutions are to strengthen protections in the Equal Pay Act and amend the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to “clarify that a pregnant worker must receive the same accommodations as other workers with similar abilities and limitations.”

6. Preparing for the Future

The report concluded with tips for millennial women to empower themselves and take a hold of their life. It was suggested to consider lifestyle and earning potentials of careers, make smart decisions about marriage and family, learn how to responsibly budget and save, pursue the education you need and be patient. 

Lead Image Credit: Screenshot from Working for Young Women report

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Melissa Cordell - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Melissa Cordell is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Political Science and Peace, War & Defense, with a Women's Studies minor. She loves working on campaigns, activism and writing. Follow her on Instagram @meldelissacor and Twitter @MM_Cordell!

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