Women’s History Month was a good time to remember the work of great women and men who helped to make the country fairer and more equitable for women and for all people throughout our nation’s history. It was also a good time to consider how we can continue building on their efforts.
At the National Partnership, we were energized by the incredible momentum around the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the spirited rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to protect contraceptive coverage and President Obama calling on Congress to advance fair pay, paid leave and paid sick days.
We are proud to work with allies in the women’s, health, civil rights, labor, faith, advocacy and other communities to continue to make history on these issues, which are of paramount importance to women and their families. With recent victories, continuing challenges and great potential, there is much to inspire all of us.
The ACA is the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation. It is moving us closer to the day when essential women’s health services are covered by health insurance without co-pays, prevention is a priority, and care is high quality, affordable and coordinated. We need Congress to stop the partisan bickering and focus on making the law work well for everyone.
We must also continue fighting to secure women’s access to quality reproductive health care. That means coverage for birth control with no co-pays in all our health plans, access to comprehensive reproductive health services in all our communities, and no state or federal laws that mandate that women seeking reproductive health care have unnecessary medical procedures or be given false or misleading information.
We must build on the momentum around policies that support women – and men – in the workplace. Nationwide, eight paid sick days laws and three paid family leave programs are now in place. And campaigns promoting similar policies are running strong in more than 20 other jurisdictions. State and local victories are paving the way for the federal standards the country urgently needs – like the Healthy Families Act and the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act.
There is also remarkable energy around policies that would combat gender-based pay and pregnancy discrimination in the workplace – like the Paycheck Fairness Act and Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. These measures are matters of basic fairness and, like paid sick days and paid leave policies, they have a direct impact on the financial security of women, their families and our economy.
We have already seen historic support for these proposals from members of Congress and the president this year. President Obama called for fair pay, paid sick days and paid leave in the State of the Union and, this week, he took executive action to combat pay discrimination among federal contractors.
With growing support for health and economic programs and policies that benefit women and families, let’s honor those women and men who made historic advances for women by doing what it takes to build a healthier, fairer and more family friendly society. At the National Partnership, we couldn’t be more inspired to make history.