SEIU Documentary Calls on Lawmakers to Fight Retirement Inequality for Women

“I Am Not Margaret Mead: Protecting Women’s Access to Financially Secure Retirement” highlights plight of working women

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–March 11, 2014.  A new web documentary from SEIU’s retirement security campaign is calling for solutions to the retirement security crisis that threatens working women across the country.

“I am not Margaret Mead” explains why women are twice as likely to retire in poverty than men through interviews with retirement security experts, advocates and working women. Interviews include SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker, Cindy Hounsell, president of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), and Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center.

Retirement insecurity disproportionally affects women, who live longer, earn less and spend less time in the workforce than men. Women also take on more family obligations and have less financial education than their male counterparts; making them more vulnerable to poverty in old age.

In addition to the gender pay gap, lack of access to secure retirement plans also plays a significant role in a woman’s retirement insecurity.

“While there have been great strides for women in the workforce that have enhanced retirement security, there have been equal numbers of back steps,” said Friedman, who narrates the documentary. “For instance, when guaranteed pension plans were the dominant plan, women not only had protections as workers but also as spouses.”

Over a span of years, pension and union advocates won a number of protections for women in pension plans–particularly for widows, low-income workers and divorced spouses,” she said. “But many of those protections have been decimated as employers have dropped good old-fashioned guaranteed defined benefit pension plans in favor of do-it-yourself 401(k) plans which do not have adequate spousal protections and which do not provide guaranteed lifetime income.”

With policy intervention as critical to the fight against elder poverty, “I am not Margaret Mead” calls on lawmakers to address the retirement disparities for women by strengthening Social Security and expanding retirement plan options for women.

“Women are counting on lawmakers, employers and advocates to do more to deliver retirement security to them and their families,” said Walker. “I’m proud to say that California is making significant strides addressing this issue through our Secure Choice Retirement legislation. It’s exciting to see this effort catching on across the nation as other states work to create solutions to America’s retirement security crisis.”

“Building a secure financial future does not happen overnight, but we hope this video will start a dialogue among women that will help them understand the importance of taking next steps,” says Hounsell.

Watch the documentary short “I am not Margaret Mead” at


The Service Employees International Union is the fastest growing labor union in North America, with a membership of over 2.1 million members



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