Policy Positions & Priorities

Right Now:
Support Stronger Equal Pay Legislation


You’ve heard the stats – women working full time in the United States are typically paid just 80 percent of what men are paid. And for many women of color, the gap is even wider, compounded by multiple forms of discrimination. While crucial laws like the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of sex, have helped to fight pay inequity, disparities persist. But federal action can help to change this.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 819/H.R. 1869) would take meaningful steps to update and strengthen existing law, including:

  • preventing employers from punishing workers who discuss their wages,
  • strengthening penalties for equal pay violations,
  • enabling effective enforcement of laws against pay discrimination through data collection,
  • prohibiting employers from relying on salary history to set wages,
  • closing loopholes that allow employers to justify paying workers unfairly, and
  • supporting negotiation skills training programs for women and girls.

The gender pay gap is persistent and it can only be addressed if  women have the tools they need to challenge discrimination and employers have the tools they need to comply with the law.
Tell Congress to support strong, effective legislation to close the gender pay gap: pass the Paycheck Fairness Act! We encourage you to personalize AAUW’s draft letter before submitting

Making your voice heard is simple.  Click here to go to AAUW-Michigan’s “Two-Minute Activist” page for The Paycheck Fairness Act.




Interested in joining AAUW MI’s Action Lobby Corps?

Visit AAUW-Michigan’s Lobby Corps page.


AAUW’s National Priorities

Basic to all of AAUW’s public policy efforts is the understanding that true equity requires a balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of the community. AAUW opposes all forms of discrimination and supports constitutional protection for the civil rights of all individuals.

AAUW believes that high-quality public education is the foundation of a democratic society and the key to economic prosperity and gender equality.  Specifically,

  • We advocate equitable climates free of harassment, bullying, and sexual assault.
  • We support academic freedom, civic education, protection from censorship, bias-free education, and responsible funding for all levels of education, including early childhood education and programs for students with disabilities.
  • We advocate increased access to higher education, especially for women in poverty.
  • We promote equitable efforts to close the persistent achievement gap that disproportionately affects low-income children and students from minority communities.

AAUW promotes the economic, social, and physical well-being of all persons. Specifically,

  • Essential to that well-being are an economy that provides equitable employment opportunities; reduction of poverty; a living wage; quality, affordable dependent care; paid family and medical leave; safe, livable, and affordable housing; quality, affordable, and accessible health care, including reproductive health care; and a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
  • We support a Social Security system that provides inflation-protected, guaranteed lifetime benefits with a progressive benefit formula, spousal and widow benefits, and disability and survivor benefits.
  • We oppose any efforts to undermine Medicare and Medicaid, including privatization and block grant proposals.
  • AAUW recognizes that gun violence is a public health crisis.

AAUW believes in the right to privacy and freedom from violence.

We firmly believe in the separation of church and state.

We support a fair, balanced, and independent judiciary.

We support public budgets that balance individual rights and responsibility to the community.

We see an urgent need for meaningful campaign finance reform, open and fair elections, and nonpartisan voter education efforts that will promote equitable political participation and representation in appointed and elected office.

AAUW supports efforts to improve racial, ethnic, and gender justice. This includes creating a diverse culture of involvement, respect, inclusion, and connection, where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives is fully appreciated and utilized.

AAUW believes that global interdependence requires national and international policies against human trafficking and that promote peace, justice, human rights, sustainable development, and mutual security for all people.  Specifically,

  • We support the civil and human rights of all immigrants, including a fair and just path to legal status.
  • We support a strengthened United Nations and its affiliated agencies.
  • We advocate implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action from the 4th World Conference on Women and subsequent declarations.
  • We affirm our active participation in the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and our commitment to ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
  • We support international family planning programs that are consistent with AAUW policy.

AAUW’s Biennial Action Priorities (National)

AAUW’s Biennial Public Policy Priorities, adopted every two years by every-member vote, establish the federal action issues on which AAUW members across the country focus their advocacy efforts and guide the work of the national staff.

1. For 2017-2019, to support a strong system of public education that promotes gender fairness, equity, and diversity, AAUW advocates:

  • Supporting adequate and equitable funding for quality public education for all students
  • Opposition to the use of public funds for nonpublic elementary and secondary education and to charter schools that do not adhere to the same civil rights and accountability standards as required of other public schools
  • Protection of programs that meet the needs of girls and women in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education, including strong promotion of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and comprehensive sexual health education
  • Vigorous enforcement of Title IX and all other civil rights laws pertaining to education
    Increased support for and access to affordable higher education for women and disadvantaged populations
  • Increased support for programs that break through barriers for women and girls in STEM fields

2. For 2017-2019, to achieve economic self-sufficiency for all women, AAUW advocates:

AAUW staff and interns rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Equal Pay Day 2017

  • Pay equity and fairness in compensation and benefits
  • Equitable access and advancement in employment, including vigorous enforcement of employment anti-discrimination statutes
  • Greater availability of and access to a high standard of benefits and policies that promote work-life balance, including quality and affordable dependent care
  • Programs that provide women with education, training, and support for success in the workforce, including nontraditional occupations and women’s entrepreneurship
  • Strengthening programs, including welfare and career and technical education, to improve postsecondary education access, career development, and earning potential
  • Strengthening retirement benefits and programs, including pension improvements and protecting Social Security from privatization

3. For 2017-2019, to guarantee equality, individual rights, and social justice for a diverse society, AAUW advocates:

  • Vigorous enforcement of and full access to civil and constitutional rights, including affirmative action and expanding voting rights
  • Self-determination of one’s reproductive health decisions
  • Increased access to quality, affordable health care and family planning services, including expansion of patients’ rights
  • Freedom from violence and fear of violence, including hate crimes, in homes, schools, workplaces, and communities
  • Support for U.N. programs that address human rights and women’s and girls’ concerns
  • Freedom in the definition of self and family and a guarantee of civil rights for all family structures
  • Passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment

View AAUW’s Public Policy Priorities brochure for 2017-2019 here.

AAUW State of Michigan Priorities

AAUW-Michigan has two positions, Government Relations Coordinator and Public Policy Director, to represent our priorities in Lansing and stay current on developments there, focusing particularly on the Biennial Priorities described above.

Every two months (approximately) the Government Relations Coordinator (currently Mary Pollock) releases a report on recent State activity that is germane to AAUW priorities.

Recent summary reports are:

April 2018
Highlights:  AAUW actions to step up voter registration, 2018 election cycle candidates in Michigan, 2018 election ballot proposals (marijuana is going forward, prevailing wage act and redistricting reform (gerrymandering) petitions are still under review; other petitions are circulating), status of the “embryo as a person” rule for calculating crime victims.

AAUW Testimony:  Mary Pollock, AAUW-Michigan’s Government Relations Coordinator, testified and submitted written testimony at the House Commerce and Trade Committee hearing on SB 353, explaining why a pre-employment salary inquiry question may contribute to continuing unlawful pay discrimination of previous employers. Until there is a statewide ban there is a need to allow local governments to regulate in this area although none in Michigan have chosen to do so. 

Ms. Pollock also submitted oral and written testimony against HB 4500, legislation that would count an embryo or fetus as a person when calculating the number of victims of a crime, arguing among other things that Michigan already has a well-written law to enhance penalties for injury to a pregnant woman, and that Including an embryo or fetus as a person in sentencing guidelines is one step toward enlarging fetal rights over a pregnant woman’s rights that could be used in other contexts by the courts and anti-abortion advocates to criminalize abortion.

January 2018
Highlights:  2017 recap, summary of 2018 Michigan elections, pending legislation and court cases regarding weapons in schools, charter schools’ access to regional enhancement millages, changes to State Income Tax personal exemption as a reaction to the federal tax changes, and many other proposed and completed issues.

November 2017
:  Results of November special elections, weapons in schools, proposed abolition of the State Board of Education, lack of progress on package of bills regarding equal pay, proposed legislation on gender violence survivor support, increased prosecution possibilities for child sexual abuse cases, extra funding for rape kit tracking.

September 2017
Highlights:  changes to nonpublic school funding, lack of progress on package of bills regarding equal pay, person status for embryo and fetus, changes to mandatory joint custody laws, possible ballot proposals for November 2018 regarding paid sick time, marijuana, the minimum wage, and anti-gerrymandering.

July 2017
:  proposed changes to various education budgets and the School Aid Act, changes to Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, possible changes to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act dealing with sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, possible changes in access to abortion, proposals for on-line voter registration, forward movement on the (federal) Equal Rights Amendment with ratification by Nevada.

March 2017

January 2017

Visit AAUW-Michigan’s Legislative Update page for other reports, including updates on women’s health and education topics.

Are you interested in joining the AAUW Michigan Action Network Lobby Corps?  E-mail to mivotered@aauwmi.org.