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Gun violence, health care among top concerns for women, especially minorities, new survey finds

Women are calling on Congress to reduce gun violence, ensure affordable health care and support pay equity, a new survey commissioned by the YWCA finds.
Image: Demonstrators attend the March For Our Lives rally on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington
Demonstrators attend the March For Our Lives rally on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington on March 24, 2018.Michael Reynolds / EPA file

Women, particularly minorities and millennials, say gun violence, medical expenses and access to affordable healthcare are among the issues that concern them the most, according to a new report released on Monday.

The survey titled “What Women Want 2018” was commissioned by the YWCA, one of the nation's oldest and largest organizations working to empower and provide resources to women, girls and families.

The survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners and American Viewpoint, interviewed 1,038 adult women nationwide of different ages and backgrounds, with over samples of minority groups. The report found that about a quarter of women are very worried about access to affordable housing, reproductive health care and paid family and medical leave.

Over two-thirds of women, regardless of party affiliation, strongly believe Congress should pass the Child Care for Working Families Act to expand access to affordable, high quality child care and invest in early childhood education professionals. They also supported legislation that would end racial profiling, protect provisions in the Affordable Care Act that cover pre-existing conditions and offer preventative health services for women and access to birth control services.

Ninety-one percent of the women surveyed agree that strengthening equal pay laws is a priority. Eighty-nine percent called for the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which help social service agencies that support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence with funding.

“Recent headlines are replete with stories of sexual discrimination and sexual violence across communities — from the highest, most prestigious institutions to the lowest paying industries,” said Alejandra Castillo, YWCA’s CEO and the first Latina to hold this position.

“When looking at all of these important data points in totality, it is no surprise that support for renewing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is so high,” said Castillo.

When it comes to discrimination, a majority of Black, Latina and Asian American women felt they experienced racial discrimination at higher rates than discrimination solely based on gender.

At least half of all women surveyed "strongly agree" Congress should protect Roe v. Wade and end family separations at the U.S. border.

At least three quarters of Latinas and two-thirds of millennials want an end to family separations. Three quarters of Latinas also want Congress to improve immigration policies, including providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers —immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. However, Asian American women are more supportive of passing the DREAM Act, which grants a conditional stay to some Dreamers.

“If we are to reach the democracy we aspire, we must listen to the voices of women of color,” said Teresa Younger, president and CEO of Ms. Foundation for Women.

Even though the survey shows that Republican women support action around immigration, they are more likely to agree with passing comprehensive immigration reform than they are to support ending family separation or detention and passing the DREAM Act.

According to the report, 80 percent of the women said they will almost certainly vote in upcoming elections.

“November will be an important time for change,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families, in regards to the upcoming midterm elections next month.

“This data shows that it is time to double down on making change,” Shabo said in reaction to the report. ”This is an agenda moving the country forward, for moving women forward.”