It was not until a little less than a hundred years ago, in 1920, that women were allowed to vote in the United States. Since then we have made a lot of great strides towards equal rights for women, but there is still more work to do. The contemporary gender debate has moved beyond simple equality under the law into the realm of the government providing the conditions for social equity. Equity is the 21st century’s equality debate, but how can we create an environment that enables every woman to pursue their happiness?
- Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. President Obama’s Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed in 2009 allowed women to take legal action against their employer if they are suspected of shorting their pay because of gender discrimination. However, most women don’t know if they are being paid less. The LLFPA provided a good foundation for fighting the gender pay gap, but more can still be done. I will pass legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act which would punish employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information, and puts the justification burden on employers as to why someone is paid less and allows workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination. There is no reason to pay someone less while they are doing the same job at the same time at the company.
- Protect Women’s Healthcare. It is fundamental that a women’s health is protected, and it is essential that their constitutionally enshrined right to their bodies are respected. I believe that we must protect funding for Title X family planning program and other women’s health initiatives that provide access to a comprehensive range of contraceptive products. I support government funding being used to provide healthcare access because I stand firmly against all types of discrimination and believe that women’s healthcare coverage should not be selective and deny services based upon a particular group’s religious beliefs in a country that Constitutionally enshrines the separation of Church and State. I will never accept Republican cuts to Planned Parenthood, or any attempt by Congress to limit women’s rights.
- Expand the WIC Program and Fight for Maternity and Paternity leave. If we can make high-quality childcare and pre-k available to all Americans a national priority, we will see the benefits throughout society and the economy. We need to take the economic burden off the mother and the father to have healthier and happier families. Low-income mothers rely on WIC to supplement their family’s nutrition, and this is essential to creating low-stress households. We need to guarantee new parents 12 weeks, or more, of paid maternity leave. The rest of the world understands the importance of this policy, and it’s time for a leader in Washington who will lead this forward-thinking policy.
- Demand Affordable Childcare and Universal Pre-K for All Americans. There is no reason that only the wealthy can provide their children a head start through pre-K. This service should be available to all Americans, equality of opportunity is essential for addressing education inequality in America. Federally mandated maternity and paternity leave are also critical to reducing stress levels and increasing family bonds.