The National Committee’s “Eleanor’s Hope” initiative will mobilize women of all ages to advocate for income equality, income security and health protection equal to their male counter parts. Through grassroots advocacy and education in our communities and on Capitol Hill, we will raise awareness, recruit and train new activists, highlight female leaders who are making a difference and generate media interest in women’s health and retirement security issues.
While Social Security is a program that is vitally important to all Americans, it is especially important to the financial security of women. There are a number of reasons why this is so. First of all, women live longer than men. On average, women today who reach age 65 outlive men by two years. These additional years of longevity increase the risk that women may outlive their savings or that their pensions may lose their purchasing power.
Women’s lifetime earnings are generally lower than those of men. In 2012, the median earnings of women working full time were $38,000 compared to $48,000 for men. Additionally, women are less likely than men to have an employer-provided pension. On average, only 22 percent of women receive a pension compared to 28 percent of men. Moreover, when women do have pensions, they tend to be smaller on average than those received by men. In 2012, nearly 50 percent of elderly unmarried women receiving Social Security relied on it for 90 percent or more of their total income. Stated simply, women depend substantially in retirement on the benefits they receive from Social Security. These benefits last a lifetime and unlike many pensions, are adjusted for increases in inflation.
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Roosevelt, was a key figure in several of the most important social reform movements of the twentieth century: the Progressive movement, the New Deal, and the Women's Movement. Franklin and Eleanor’s son, James Roosevelt, founded the National Committee in 1982 and in doing so launched one of the most formidable national organizations responsible for protecting earned Social Security and Medicare benefits for American workers, retirees and their families.
It is the National Committee’s Roosevelt heritage and in the spirit of Eleanor’s work on women’s and social issues that our new project will honor her name. We believe that if she were alive today, Eleanor would be leading efforts to achieve parity in Social Security benefits, along with fighting for income equality, and caregiver credits in Social Security for women who leave the workforce to raise a family or care for their aging relatives. With our team of lobbyists, our effective petition and letter writing campaigns, strong social media influence and progressive efforts such as our Boost Social Security Now campaign, the “Eleanor’s Hope” initiative will communicate, educate and advocate on each of these critical women’s issues.