Radio Address to the Nation on Opportunities for Women

March 31, 1984

My fellow Americans:

A few weeks ago, George Gallup, who regularly surveys the pulse of America, released a poll with very upbeat news. Gallup said the current mood of the American people is the brightest in 5 years. Our citizens still feel the burdens of everyday problems, but there's a feeling among us that we've finally turned the corner. Real progress is being made, and America is moving forward again.

Better days for America may be bad news for some, but even the most committed gloom mongers can't deny the truth forever. Our economy is strong, prices are stable, jobs are increasing, and our nation is at peace. We're building a true opportunity society, and this is especially true for today's women.

Women in the eighties are a diverse majority with varied interests and futures. Some seek to pursue their own careers; some run for political office; others focus on the home and family. Some seek to do all these things. They are members of a growing group called ``working mothers,'' and sometimes their days resemble a script from ``Mission Impossible.''

Well, no role is superior to another. What's important is that every woman have the right and opportunity to choose the role she wishes -- or, perhaps, try to fill them all. And whether the choice be homemaking, career, or both, our administration is trying to help in many different ways.

We've increased training opportunities through the Job Training Partnership Act so women can secure permanent, productive employment. For those whose former spouses are delinquent in child-support payments, we've strengthened the Federal child-support enforcement system, and we have additional proposals pending before the Congress.

For all women we've provided several forms of tax relief -- relief, by the way, which could and should have been passed long ago by those in Washington who had a monopoly on power and who still claim a monopoly on compassion.

We've reduced personal income tax rates by 25 percent. We've greatly reduced the marriage tax penalty. We've almost doubled the maximum child care tax credit for working mothers. We've expanded IRA accounts, benefiting women whether they work at home or in paid jobs, and we're moving to bring even greater equity to those accounts. And we've eliminated the widow's tax, the estate taxes levied on a surviving spouse. This will help women who've been hard-working partners on family farms and small businesses.

We're also working with the Congress on historic legislation that reforms inequities against women in private pension plans. This legislation has passed the Senate, and we're waiting for final action in the House. I hope it will come soon. The reforms would lower the age employees can participate in company pension plans, protect spouses from losing death benefits without their knowledge, permit a break in service of up to 5 years without loss of pension credit, coordinate State and Federal laws so divorced spouses can collect court-awarded pension benefits more easily, and require private pension plans to survivor's benefits -- offer survivor's benefits, I should say, protection to workers after they're 45.

I've always believed the greatest contribution we can make is to get our economy moving and keep it moving. Economic growth will provide more opportunities for women than if all the promises ever made in Washington, DC, were enacted into law.

Well, economic growth is very strong. And job opportunities for women are popping up like springtime tulips. Three million more women are working today in our economy than in January 1981. One exciting area of growth is that of women-owned businesses. The number of businesses owned by women is increasing four times faster than those owned by men.

Yesterday, I met some of the people whose dreams, intelligence, and hard work are making America in 1984 the most forward-looking and successful nation in the world. I had lunch at the White House with the members of my Advisory Committee on Women's Business Ownership -- 12 women and 3 men, all successful in the professional world. They're working with the Small Business Administration on conferences across the country to help women acquire skills to own businesses and compete effectively. They're also trying to identify problems business owners and potential business owners are meeting. Now, if you've had any, please write to me at the White House, and I'll share your thoughts with the Advisory Committee.

Next Thursday, I'll be traveling to New York to attend one of these conferences to meet with and to address women business owners of that great city.

All over this country the entrepreneur is changing the face and brightening the future of America, and she's just getting started.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.