Gwendolyn Mink



Feminist Policy Scholars Intervene in Welfare Debate

Gwendolyn Mink describes the efforts of a group of feminist social policy scholars to intervene in the national debate about “welfare reform” through lobbying, call-in campaigns, ad placements, the development of teach-in materials, and the drafting of alternative legislation. The primary message was that caregiving is work, even when performed for one’s own children and other dependents. The group worked to bring the caregiving issue to the welfare debate, and so to expose the race- and class-based double standard behind efforts to strip poor mothers of economic security through stringent welfare requirements such as mandatory work outside the home and time limits. After Mink’s introduction, the volume reproduces three primary documents to illustrate the results of their efforts: (1) the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund’s summary of HR 3113 (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Reauthorization Bill), the late Congresswoman Pasty Mink’s attempt to offer “a progressive, feminist legislative intervention” in the debates to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); (2) excerpts of HR 3113, including its main findings; and (3) the “No Promotion of Marriage in TANF!” position paper authored by Martha Fineman, Gwendolyn Mink, and Anna Marie Smith, which states their opposition to the inclusion of “marriage promotion” language in welfare legislation, “because it violates women’s right to shape their own intimate lives, diverts valuable resources, and does nothing to address poverty.”

welfare reform, welfare legislation, activism, poor mothers, economic security, TANF, marriage promotion

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 30, No. 4 (2003): 108-109