Today, the National Partnership for Women & Families released a policy guide for lawmakers that provides a roadmap to honor the mandate from women across the country whose activism and advocacy secured historic victories in Congress and legislatures across the country. An Agenda for Progress for Women and Families outlines a host of critical reforms which, if adopted, would improve quality of life and increase access to opportunity for millions of families. The agenda emphasizes that these reforms are particularly necessary for communities of color who have to navigate the additional impact of hate and racial discrimination as barriers to prosperity.
"There has never been a better opportunity for lawmakers to finally break the vicious cycle of inequity preventing women from enjoying the freedom and stability they, and their families, deserve," said the National Partnership’s president, Debra Ness. "The House of Representatives flipped in favor of candidates who ran on real family values for a reason — Americans are tired of the same old status quo for women, in which their unique challenges and contributions to society are not given due attention. That’s why they elected leaders to represent them who championed health care and economic equality. Now, it’s time for our elected leaders to act, and we intend to hold them accountable."
Mid-term election exit polling confirmed strong support for women’s issues among voters. According to the national exit poll, 66 percent of voters in House races preferred to keep Roe v. Wade the way it is; and a plurality of 41 percent said health care was the most important issue facing the country today. Our own analysis revealed that candidates whose platforms included workplace issues were more likely to win, controlling for incumbency and other important factors.
A sample of the National Partnership’s recommendations to lawmakers include:
- Support policies that would help close the gap between women’s and men’s pay and promote fair, safe and equitable workplaces free from discrimination and harassment.
- Provide a sustainable, inclusive paid family and medical leave program which will allow people to care for a family member, a new child or their own serious health issue for up to 12 weeks.
- Ensure abortion coverage for women enrolled in Medicaid and other government-managed health programs, and prohibit restrictions on private health insurance coverage of abortion care.
- Work toward universal coverage for all women and families.
- Encourage efforts to educate health care providers about the impacts of bias and structural racism on health outcomes.
Women are paid lower wages relative to men, face harassment and discrimination in their jobs, and continue to do the bulk of caregiving in their families. For women of color, pay disparities, discrimination and caregiving, can have especially pernicious effects on their economic security and health.
Women also tend to live longer with a disability and are more likely to manage multiple chronic conditions, yet they are also more likely to forgo the needed care associated with these ailments because of high costs. All of these challenges are exponentially exacerbated for women of color and women who are LGBTQ.
Women’s economic security and health are essential to their full participation as equal members of society. But, the challenges they face severely undermine their financial stability, equity, dignity and agency to make decisions that allow them and their families to thrive. Lawmakers must act now to improve these circumstances.
About the National Partnership
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.
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