Last year the Federal Communications Commission released the National Broadband Plan, a document that boldly outlined the FCC’s vision for increasing national broadband deployment and adoption. It also echoed the Obama Administration’s desire that every American be able to access and use this transformative technology to improve their lives.
Study after study has shown that broadband Internet access and use promises to enhance every aspect of modern life. And because of its importance, a group of women leaders have come together to ensure that women have a seat at the table as the vision for universal broadband access and adoption comes to fruition.
In a joint effort, the National Foundation of Women legislators (NFWL) and the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL) recently released a new report entitled Winning the Future: A Policy Framework for Empowering Women with Broadband.
Timed to coincide with Women’s History Month, the report examines the importance of broadband and its benefit to women, families and children. It also lays out legislative recommendations for local and state policymakers with regard to technology and describes how elected leaders can facilitate access and promote adoption of the technology.
Yesterday, NFWL and NOBEL convened a teleconference to announce the release of the report. Speakers from NFWL, NOBEL and various supporting organizations highlighted the life changing impact broadband can have on women.
Representative Mia L. Jones, of the Florida House of Representatives, began by noting that broadband can help women “find jobs, care for elderly family members, start a business, monitor their children’s progress at school and quickly access information to make more informed decisions for their families.”
NOBEL President and Louisiana State Senator, Sharon Weston-Broome stated that NOBEL and its partners are “taking a seat at the table” when it comes to discussions about broadband “for the benefit of the nation.” She went on to note,
We have only just begun in an area that has been dominated by men. We recognize that when you look through eyes of women leaders, America will develop better, more innovative solutions for our new Internet ecosystem…I’ve seen it change lives in my district and across my state…It’s a vital platform for bolstering our lives. For women it’s a real game changer.
Robin Reed, President of NFWL, echoed the need for “collaboration across political, gender and racial lines” in order to bring to fruition the inspiring vision put forth in the National Broadband Plan.
She also highlighted the need for policymakers to eliminate barriers to broadband access and adoption, like excessive and discriminatory taxes on wireless services that hinder progress in the expansion of broadband services and make them less affordable for everyday Americans.
While many Americans are still without high speed Internet access, especially those living in rural communities, 98% of Americans have access to 3G wireless technology. The report encourages elected officials to leverage the opportunities created by wireless technologies by eradicating burdensome taxes and other obstacles that prevent the deployment and adoption of such technologies.
The report provides background information on the ways that broadband can be and is being used in areas of family and community engagement, healthcare, education and economic development. For each of these areas, the legislators have made policy recommendations intended to help those in elected office make decisions that will enable women and children to better leverage broadband opportunities.
Ultimately, the report positions women, particularly female policymakers, as essential stakeholders and key resources in our nation’s continuing and evolving dialogue about integrating broadband into our daily lives.