by Marianne Schild
YWCA Correspondent at DNC
Staff, volunteers and YWCA supporters from across YWCA’s national network submitted questions to me during the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Here are some of the highlights:
Q: What will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) do to support women’s health issues, such as access to affordable healthcare if you have a preexisting condition, or access to affordable healthcare for those who are unemployed or underemployed?
Under the ACA it is illegal to deny someone coverage for a preexisting condition; this act of denying someone coverage had a greater impact on women’s health because of health issues unique to women, such as pregnancy and childbirth. When Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) addressed the crowd, she stated “Being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition.”
At CarolinaFest, conversations about women’s health were ongoing. I asked people that I encountered on the streets of Charlotte what they thought of a map that depicted 12.8 million women who were previously uninsured who are now insured under the Affordable Care Act. Some responded positively. One mentioned having a sister who is a student and too old to fall under their parents’ health insurance, so this new policy will benefit her since the new law allows students until the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ coverage. Others questioned the validity of the numbers represented in the map and asked how I came to these figures.
Q: How did the Convention address topics of college affordability?
At the DNC, we learned of a new policy to make student loan payments more affordable for graduates. Student loan payments will not go above a certain percentage of one’s income for the first 20 years they are out of school. As a nonprofit staffer, I recently read an article in Philanthropy Journal about college grads who go to work for nonprofits and cannot afford their living expenses in addition to college loan payments on their lean salaries, yet they find their work so fulfilling they do not want to quit. President Obama mentioned in his speech that this new policy to subsidize loans for college education will encourage people to work in jobs serving the public which are vital to our society.
President Obama has also doubled Pell Grants for college education.
Q: How is the food at the DNC? The weather?
The food at the DNC Delegate welcome party was marvelous, but the food at the convention was not that great. I arrived at the arena each evening by 5 p.m. to see the gavel initiate the programming, and I was there until the gavel came down to close the evening usually between 12 midnight and 1 a.m. Dinner each night in the arena consisted of chicken fingers or cheeseburgers and water gulped quickly on the concourse so I wouldn’t lose my seat in the arena. (I normally eat locally-grown, organic foods with more vegetables that anything else, as a point of reference.)
Q: How did the Convention address improving the lives of working families? While we are focused on the important attacks on women’s reproductive rights, the courts have ruled and Roe v. Wade stands. While it is important to not allow legislation that chips away at that, the larger issues include fair pay, comprehensive VAWA, voter restriction laws and deferred action that allows young people to succeed.
Convention speakers did address fair pay, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), voter restriction laws and the issues uniquely faced by women and young people.
Regarding fair pay, Lilly Ledbetter herself spoke on Tuesday evening and told her story about fighting for equal pay and losing in court. Women in the U.S. only make $0.77 for every $1.00 men make. The law that President Obama signed in January enacting fair pay for women bears Ledbetter’s name.
When Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden introduced her husband, she mentioned his writing the Violence Against Women Act as a Senator. Vice President Biden also mentioned VAWA as a proud achievement in his speech Thursday evening. The full reauthorization of VAWA is at stake in Congress, and it is vital to supportive programming for women – and for YWCAs across the U.S. who provide support services for women — that it be passed.
Speakers addressed voter restriction laws and questioned the Republican platform that they felt aims to limit the voting capacity of those on the margins of our society, as voter restriction laws would do.
Regarding young people and women specifically, convention speakers encouraged young people to vote. Under 40 percent of voters ages 18 to 24 voted in the most recent election. If we want our voices heard, we must get out and vote!
Marianne Schild, YWCA correspondent at the DNC, is the donor relations manager at YWCA Central Carolinas.
YWCA correspondents attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Follow our Twitter updates by using these Twitter hashtags: #ywcaDNC and #ywcaRNC. Learn more.