YWCA Sponsors Debates



The YWCA is a sponsor of this year’s presidential election debates, a move the organization’s leaders hope will engage more women and girls in discussions about issues that affect them.

“We thought it would be great to have a women’s group sponsoring the debates again,” said Nancy Loving, public affairs director of Washington-based YWCA USA. There are three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.

Sponsoring the debates entails solely putting up money, Loving said, but she said the group got a special nonprofit rate. Loving declined to say how much the organization paid, and Janet Brown, executive director of the commission that oversees the debates, did not return calls asking for information about the price of sponsorships.

The YWCA is one of at least nine sponsors; others include the Kaiser Family Foundation, The Kovler Fund and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Loving said the YWCA is using its sponsorship as a springboard for more discussion about issues that involve women, including violence against women, child care and education. It is urging its 300 affiliates to encourage members to hold debate-watching parties that include sessions on the stands taken by Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.

The cost of the four debates runs into the millions of dollars. Washington University in St. Louis, for example, is paying the commission $1.35 million to host this year’s vice presidential debate, and it is responsible for providing technical support for the several thousand journalists who will cover the debate. Those costs are offset by charges to the news organizations for Internet access, phone lines and space to park their satellite trucks.

The debates, long sponsored by the League of Women Voters, are now held under the auspices of the Commission on Presidential Debates, a joint venture of the national Republican and Democratic parties.

For more information, see http://www.ywcavote.com.