With demand on the rise for measures that will make our country more healthy, fair and family friendly, the National Partnership convened a special congressional briefing this week to discuss the policies the nation’s women and families want this year. It was an energizing and tremendously successful event that highlighted the need for action on the policies we work to advance every day: paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, fair pay for women, affordable health care, comprehensive reproductive health services and more.
More than 120 congressional staff members and advocates attended the event, packing the room to hear Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D – Conn.) and Donna Edwards (D – Md.) talk about the need for a legislative agenda that supports women and families. After their rousing remarks, I discussed the National Partnership’s policy priorities and the public’s support for them with Diane Feldman, president of the polling firm The Feldman Group. We were honored to have Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus moderate the engaging conversation.
We also released our legislative agenda for the year: Standing Up for Women & Families in 2014. The agenda is both a guide and a call to action for members of Congress. Like Senator Warren, Representatives DeLauro and Edwards, and all those who already support proposals like the Women’s Health Protection Act, the Peace Corps Equity Act, the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act, the Healthy Families Act, the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, all members of Congress need to prioritize and pass measures that promote the health and economic well-being of working families. And now is the time.
Just last week, we released the results of a poll commissioned by the National Partnership, American Women and the Rockefeller Family Fund. They show undeniably that voters want and need policies that help America’s families achieve and maintain economic security. For example: Sixty-two percent of voters say they support the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would promote fair pay for women, and more than half say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports it. Similarly, 63 percent of voters say they support the FAMILY Act and the national paid leave program it would create, and 58 percent say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who does too.
Common sense public policies that address the real challenges facing women and their families – from meeting the dual demands of job and family to getting access to affordable, quality and patient-centered care – are popular with people no matter where they live or their political affiliation. And a growing body of evidence shows they are good for our economy and the well-being of the country. It is time for Congress to stand up for women and families, and we can all help by telling them just how important it is.
As Senator Warren said at this week’s briefing: “We come together and we help make a difference… by drawing attention to issues. …We speak out on behalf of tomorrow's little girls. We speak out on behalf of tomorrow's seniors. We speak out on behalf of women and families.” At the National Partnership, we couldn’t agree more. And we are committed to building on the growing momentum across the country to make this a year of great progress for women and all families.