AAUW Policy

Members: Please read


The Public Policy Program underscores AAUW’s mission of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research and speaks to women’s needs, aspirations, and concerns across the life span. The work of AAUW builds upon more than 130 years of responsible public participation, and the following principles provide a basis for AAUW members’ actions at the local, state, national, and international levels. Implicit in each of our principles is support for government agencies administering programs, including adequate appropriations, effective and accountable administration, and provision for citizen participation. We advocate public discussion to ensure enlightened decisions on these principles. We work to increase the number of underrepresented populations, including women, in policy- and other decision-making positions. AAUW is committed to working in partnership with diverse allies and coalitions to break through educational and economic barriers for women and girls.

2013-15 Public Policy Principles for Action
2013-15 Biennial Action Priorities
How the AAUW Public Policy Program Is Developed
Spread the Word About the AAUW Public Policy Program

Download a copy of the Public Policy Program brochure.


Basic to all of AAUW’s public policy efforts is the understanding that true equity requires a balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of the community. AAUW opposes all forms of discrimination and supports constitutional protection for the civil rights of all individuals.

AAUW believes that quality public education is the foundation of a democratic society and the key to economic prosperity and gender equality. We advocate equitable climates free of harassment and bullying, academic freedom, civic education, protection from censorship, bias-free education, and responsible funding for all levels of education, including early childhood education and programs for students with disabilities. We advocate increased access to higher education, especially for women in poverty. We promote equitable efforts to close the persistent achievement gap that disproportionately affects low-income children and students from minority communities.

AAUW promotes the economic, social, and physical well- being of all persons. Essential to that well-being are an economy that provides equitable employment opportunities, reduction of poverty, a livable wage, quality affordable dependent care, paid family and medical leave, decent and affordable housing, quality affordable and accessible health care, and a clean and healthful environment. We support a Social Security system that provides inflation-protected, guaranteed lifetime benefits with a progressive benefit formula, spousal and widow benefits, and disability and survivor benefits. We oppose any efforts to undermine Medicare and Medicaid, including privatization and block grant proposals.

AAUW believes in the right to privacy, freedom from violence, and choice in the determination of one’s reproductive life. We firmly believe in the separation of church and state. We support a fair, balanced, and independent judiciary. We support public budgets that balance individual rights and responsibility to the community.

AAUW supports affirmative action to improve racial, ethnic, and gender diversity and affirms our commitment to passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. We see an urgent need for meaningful campaign finance reform and nonpartisan voter education efforts that will promote equitable political participation and representation in appointed and elected office. AAUW values and is committed to the arts and humanities, which develop and enhance our pluralistic cultural heritage.

AAUW believes that global interdependence requires national and international policies against human trafficking and that promote peace, justice, human rights, sustainable development, and mutual security for all people. We support the civil and human rights of all immigrants, including a fair and just path to legal status. We support a strengthened United Nations and its affiliated agencies. We advocate implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action from the 4th World Conference on Women and subsequent declarations. We affirm our active participation in the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and our commitment to the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). We support international family planning programs that are consistent with AAUW policy.

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Biennial priorities for federal action are chosen according to the criteria of viability, critical need, strong member support, and potential for distinctive AAUW contribution or leadership. No order of importance is implied.

To support a strong system of public education that promotes gender fairness, equity, and diversity, AAUW advocates

  • Adequate and equitable funding for quality public education for all students
  • Opposition to the use of public funds for nonpublic elementary and secondary education and to charter schools that do not adhere to the same civil rights and accountability standards as required of other public schools
  • Protection of programs that meet the needs of girls and women in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education, including strong promotion of STEM education and comprehensive sex education and vigorous enforcement of Title IX and all other civil rights laws pertaining to education
  • Increased support for and access to affordable higher education for women and disadvantaged populations
  • Increased support for programs that break through barriers for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields

To achieve economic self-sufficiency for all women, AAUW advocates

  • Pay equity and fairness in compensation
  • Equitable access and advancement in employment, including vigorous enforcement of employment anti-discrimination statutes
  • Greater availability of and access to a high standard of benefits and policies that promote work-life balance
  • Programs that provide women with education, training, and support for success in the workforce, including nontraditional occupations and women’s entrepreneurship
  • Strengthening programs, including welfare and career and technical education, to improve postsecondary education access, career development, and earning potential
  • Strengthening retirement benefits and programs, including pension improvements and protecting Social Security from privatization

To guarantee equality, individual rights, and social justice for a diverse society, AAUW advocates

  • Vigorous enforcement of and full access to civil and constitutional rights, including voting rights
  • Choice in the determination of one’s reproductive life
  • Freedom from violence and fear of violence, including hate crimes, in homes, schools, workplaces, and communities
  • Increased access to quality, affordable health care and family planning services, including expansion of patients’ rights
  • Support for U.N. programs that address human rights and women’s and girls’ concerns
  • Freedom in the definition of family and a guarantee of civil rights in all family structures

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Purpose of the Public Policy Program

AAUW’s Public Policy Program establishes the federal action priorities on which AAUW members across the country will focus their advocacy efforts and guides the work of the national staff.

Member Input

The strength of the two-year AAUW Public Policy Program is that it originates and ends with the membership. The adoption of AAUW’s two-year Public Policy Program at each national convention is the culmination of a process involving AAUW members nationwide.

  • Member survey: Individual members complete the survey published in AAUW Outlook and published on AAUW’s website.
  • Ongoing feedback mechanisms: Leaders and staff receive feedback on AAUW issues through branch and state reports, committee calls with state leaders, member response, and Connect2AAUW calls.

Development of the Public Policy Program

In the fall of even-numbered years, AAUW develops a proposed two-year Public Policy Program using the results of the member survey, ongoing feedback, and advice from staff on likely legislative action before the Congress in the next biennium. Criteria used for developing the program priorities include viability, critical need, strong member support, and potential for distinctive AAUW contribution.

Once developed, the proposed program priorities are presented to the AAUW Board of Directors for approval. Upon approval, the proposed program is then sent to state public policy chairs and sent to every member through AAUW Outlook. States and branches are encouraged to discuss the program with their members prior to convention.

At the Convention

AAUW conducts convention briefing sessions on the proposed program prior to the business session in which it is considered and voted on by delegates. The briefings allow delegates the opportunity to receive background information, have questions answered, discuss any concerns or proposed changes, and work with the committee to draft any proposed amendments. By the time consideration and adoption of the Public Policy Program come to the convention floor, delegates have had time to participate in briefings, discuss the program informally, and understand its importance to AAUW’s work in the public policy arena.

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Download and print the public policy program brochure and distribute it at branch and coalition meetings, voter education events, community gatherings, or anywhere else where women gather. Up to 10 copies of the brochure are available to members free of charge from Connect2AAUW at connect@aauw.org. For additional copies, contact Shop AAUW at 800.225.9998. For more information, call 800.326.AAUW (2289) or e-mail votered@aauw.org.