Chao, Hutchison Address NCPA's Women's Agenda Conference

Chao, Hutchison Address NCPA Conference On Needed Reforms To Reflect Women's Current Role In Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 4, 2002) — Many of the laws and public institutions that impact how women interact with the economy on a daily basis need to be reformed to meet the modern reality, according to a group of scholars and government officials assembled by the Women in the Economy project of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). In addition to NCPA scholars, speakers included Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

"Many of our institutions were constructed during a time when husbands worked and their wives predominately stayed home," said Celeste Colgan, director of the Women in the Economy project. "While times have certainly changed, many of our institutions have not; a fact that is adversely effecting the decisions women make on a daily basis."

Conference speakers discussed a variety of issues, from how the marriage penalty is just the beginning of how the tax law discriminates against two-earner couples, to how federal policies toward pensions discriminate against women who move in and out of the labor market and change jobs.

Discussing retirement security, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao told conferees: "With more choice over how to invest retirement savings, women can invest in ways that work best for them and their families. I've said it before: It's their money. They earned it, they sacrificed to save it; and they should have the right to decide how to invest it. It is their right."

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison noted the importance of the initiative, saying: "This conference allows leaders to exchange ideas about economic security issues important to all women – from headline news such as pension plan law to long-term goals such as strengthening Social Security."

In addition to presentations from Secretary Chao and Senator Hutchison, conferees discussed the findings of several reports released at the conference on how women are effected by the tax law, welfare reform, pension and health benefit regulations and Social Security. The position papers from the conference will be collected in a book, Women's Agenda, to be published by the NCPA later this year.

For a copy of the reports released at the conference, log onto the project's Internet site: