WASHINGTON - State and local elected women mapped out a plan today to help maximize the benefits of the National Broadband Plan with a report that highlights broadband policy recommendations.
In a field where the technology and policy discussions have been primarily dominated by men, a new report, Winning the Future: A Policy Framework for Empowering Women with Broadband, a joint effort of the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) and the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL/Women), identifies technology policy recommendations that benefit women, families, and children and also examines the specific importance of broadband to women.
According to Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh (D-Louisville), Chair of NFWL's National Policy Committee on Business, Housing & Economic Development, "today's release of the joint NFWL/NOBEL Women paper on broadband is a milestone in our campaign to ensure that women continue to compete on a level playing field with their male counterparts." Ward-Pugh continues, "increasing female participation in the workforce by leveraging the power of broadband to support new businesses and new work arrangements will be key in fostering economic growth both for women and for our entire nation."
Numerous studies have concluded broadband is positioned to empower individual users and serve as the basis for fundamentally realigning whole industries. A collaborative approach that leverages the core competencies and unique resources of local, state, and federal policymakers, private companies, and nonprofits is necessary to realizing the many important goals included in the National Broadband Plan and to ensuring that women are able to enjoy the benefits of broadband access.
"Broadband technology is at the core of enhancing student achievement in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. If we are to win the future, we need to bolster our focus on the STEM fields," stated NFWL Chair, Senator Swati Dandekar (D-IA). "It is encouraging to see that the FCC and the U.S. Department of Education have both included a focus on enhancing STEM education and achievement in their respective broadband and education technology plans. But more needs to be done, especially at the local and state levels, to ensure that our country is positioned for success in both the short-term and long-term."
NFWL's Chair-Elect, Representative Gayle Harrell (R-FL), who is also Chair of the Florida House's Health Committee, has been participating in state and national discussions on Health IT implementation. According to Harrell, "broadband connects women and their families to an array of healthcare opportunities. It provides access to a wealth of health information, it enables remote care for aging parents and in-home care for young children, and it supports electronic health records, which make it easier for patients and their doctors to manage their care." Harrell continued, "going forward, broadband-enabled health IT and telemedicine tools have the potential to shift the healthcare paradigm in the United States toward more individualized care and state policymakers have a large role to play in facilitating the continued development and deployment of health IT tools."
NOBEL President Senator Sharon Weston Broome (D-LA) and the Chair of NOBEL's African American Technology Caucus Representative Mia Jones (D-FL), were also instrumental in the report's release.
As Weston Broome stated "if we can harness the full power of the broadband platform, then perhaps women, especially those living in predominantly minority and low-income communities, can become ambassadors for this technology, urging others in their families and neighborhoods to adopt and learn how to use broadband to improve their lives."
NFWL and NOBEL will work together throughout the year to support elected women at the local, state, and federal levels to increase access to broadband technology and create opportunities for education, advanced healthcare, and economic growth.