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Network Puts Spotlight on Women’s Issues

Apr 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Iraq, terrorism and jobs may be grabbing most of the headlines thus far in Campaign 2004, but Lifetime has begun its quadrennial quest to ensure that the candidates for the office of U.S. president don’t ignore women voters and women’s issues.
Lifetime polled 800 women voters before mounting its nonpartisan Every Woman Counts campaign for 2004 and before January’s New Hampshire primary. The poll indicated that most women voters felt issues that are important to them were not being addressed by the candidates.
In its first step aimed at changing that, the programmer and ABC News’ “Good Morning America” co-hosted the Every Woman Counts 2004 Democratic Presidential Candidates Forum at Dartmouth College two days before the primary. In covering that discussion among candidates Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman and Dennis Kucinich, a headline in New Hampshire’s Manchester Union Leader read, “Three candidates discuss a rare topic-women’s issues.”
Back in 2001 Lifetime ran Caring With Kids, a child-care initiative designed to promote access to affordable, quality child care and early childhood education. That campaign continues, said Meredith Wagner, Lifetime’s executive VP of public affairs and corporate communications, though it has now been coupled with education and absorbed into the voting initiative.
Other issues that Lifetime sees as having a women’s stamp on them include breast cancer treatment, equal pay and violence toward women, including sexual assault.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., took note, writing to the network, “Once again, Lifetime is at the forefront on issues affecting women’s lives.” Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, agreed. Speaking at a Washington event co-hosted by Lifetime, she said, “Without a cable network that is focused on women, we wouldn’t continue to make progress.” As measures of success in this advocacy campaign, Lifetime will be eyeing not only the number of women turning out to vote on Election Day but how many are added to the voter registration rolls. Women can even begin the voter registration process on Lifetime’s Web site.
At least one citizens’ advocacy group has already judged the cable programmer’s efforts a success. “Lifetime’s support of the League of Women Voters’ effort to protect the voting rights of all Americans has strengthened our outreach and influences,” said Robin Bahr, League of Women Voters president, in a statement.
Ms. Wagner lamented another result from Lifetime’s poll-that most female respondents still do not expect a woman to be elected president.
In part because of that finding, Lifetime is both “looking to get out the women’s vote and get more women to run for offices” she said. Toward that end, the network plans to hold events on that topic at the Democratic and GOP national conventions this summer.