In the same vein as Andrew Breland’s space last week, instead of my usual column, I would like to present a letter from Natalie Portman on behalf of the Obama campaign. Ms. Portman’s letter serves as an excellent reminder of the advances both women and students have made in the last four years, as well as what is at stake in the upcoming election. Early voting began in Ohio today, so make sure you get out there and vote!
– Andrew Schriver
Op-Ed by Natalie Portman
Why Women Need to Vote
It was great to be back in Ohio last week to see my family and talk with some amazing college students about your choice, voice, and vote this November.
My mom grew up in Cincinnati and my grandmother still lives there. I look up to them so much, and I can’t help but think of generations of women who made giant steps forward for the things that matter to us: equality in the workplace, opportunities in the classroom, and control over our health care. That’s progress we’ve won and the progress that’s at stake.
The first law President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, helping women in the fight for equal pay. When women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, that costs a typical working woman hundreds of thousands of dollars over her career. That’s an economic issue that affects our families and economy, and why as a father of two daughters and son of a working mother and grandmother, President Obama will continue the fight for your economic security as you graduate and start your careers.
And he understands what you face when you graduate, especially when it comes to paying off your college loans. Both the President and the First Lady just paid off their own loans a few years ago.
And it’s why the President reformed federal student loans and is making it easier for you to pay yours back. He doubled the value of Pell Grant scholarships and extended college tax credits that have helped hundreds of thousands of Ohio families send their kids to college. He wants you to have the same pathway to opportunity he and the first lady had.
But while it’s one thing to balance loans and tuition – or a family and a job – no one should have to worry about a health crisis that forces you to choose between paying hospital bills or paying for tuition, rent, or basic necessities.
One of my best friends got into a car accident just after she graduated from college. She didn’t have insurance at the time, and 10 years later she’s still paying off her medical bills. Because of Obamacare, that won’t happen to young people like you.
Obamacare also means insurance companies can no longer charge women higher premiums than men, or deny women coverage by counting pregnancy or domestic violence injuries as pre-existing conditions. And now women can receive preventive cancer screenings, contraception, and checkups without copay or deductibles.
We’ve come so far with equality in the workplace to opportunities in the classroom to control over our health. That’s progress worth defending with our voice and our vote.
The college women I met in Cincinnati and across the country understand that we are a majority of this country. We’re half the workforce and half the electorate. And you will join them in this economy. This is your education, your health care and your economic security. So speak out and share your story.
As a granddaughter, daughter and now a mother, this election is about my son and the world I want him to grow up in. So I shared my story by writing “women’s rights” on my hand and placing it on my heart. Then I had it tweeted out as part of the campaign’s “For All” launch. Write what progress over the last four years means to you – Obamacare, Pell Grants, marriage equality, clean energy, or whatever is most meaningful to you. Then share your own photo on Facebook, Instagram, or tweet it with the hashtag #forall.
But the most important way to make your voice heard is through your vote. Women in Ohio are the center of this election. You have power to choose which direction we go – so make it count. Visit GottaVote.com to find out where, when, and how to vote. And then vote early starting on Oct. 2, so you can help get more folks to the polls on Election Day. Make sure you are registered by Oct. 9! On Case Western Reserve University’s campus, there are voter registration drives every day.
I know about the power of stories and how they tell us about who we are as Americans. And the great thing about President Obama is that he backs his word with deed and based on the values that generations of women have fought for. It’s up to us to defend that progress and keep moving us forward.