Tag Archives: gender equality

New Yorkers Need to Demand State Legislators Support Cuomo’s Women’s Agenda

New York State Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul addresses the Council on Women and Girls Regional Forum at Long Island University: “The torch has now been passed to us. Our job is not just to pass it along, but to make sure it glows even brighter, so we look back 100 years from now, and can say, yes, we made a difference in lives in a profound way © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

New York State, the birthplace of women’s rights, is pushing for a second round of legislation to address persistent and institutional gender inequity. The state legislature needs to hear from advocates before the April 1 budget deadline.

It is laudable that these initiatives – in categories of Health, Safety, Workplace, Girls, and Family being forcefully advanced by Governor Cuomo – came after months of information gathering, listening tours, and the formation of regional Women’s Councils, coordinated by the governor’s Director of Women’s Affairs, Kelli Owens. Just having such a position is notable.

As Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a singular champion of women’s rights in New York State, said in her remarks that opened the Council on Women and Girls Regional Forum at Long Island University on March 1,The genesis for the Council of Women and Girls came because of Washington – on the day the president said ‘We don’t need to be concerned’ and abolished the [Obama-era] Commission on Women and Girls, our governor, as in so many cases [climate action, environmental protection, gun control], stepped up to fill void created by Washington.”

Trump has moved aggressively to roll back gains women have made: restoring being a woman as a “pre-condition” for medical insurance, overturning the mandate that insurance companies provide contraception without co-pays, attacking Title X funding for health clinics including Planned Parenthood, advocating for legislation to curtail access to abortion.

Unless Congress takes action, the Violence Against Women Act will run out of funding in September. This landmark piece of legislation is a life-saver. Since its original passage, domestic violence cases are down by more than 65% nationally. If Congress’ “action” on reauthorizing CHIP is an indication, the Republican-controlled Congress will likely let this lapse as well, even as they cut billions of dollars for programs that directly affect women and families.

New York State – which Cuomo never fails to point out has been a progressive leader for the nation, a status he has worked to reclaim – has made some important gains during his administration, including aggressively pushing for economic development opportunities for Minority & Women-owned Enterprises, for wider access to pre-K programs, gun control, access to health care and guarantee for women’s reproductive rights.

In this second round of legislation and policies – notably several of which need to be adopted by the State Legislature before the April 1 deadline for adopting the budget – he is going after sexual harassment, pay equity, domestic violence, expanding access to child care, educational opportunities, job training and business investment.

New York has been celebrating the centennial of Women’s Suffrage since 1917, the year the state on its own gave women the right to vote, three years before the nation adopted the 19th Amendment.

But despite New York’s progressive policies, New York women still earn less than men for the same work: white women 89c, African American 66c, Hispanic women 54 c in New York, “and we’re the good state, where people are better off. Does that not tell you we have a long way to go?” Hochul said.

“We are convening forums around the state, to drill down why this is happening – part is institutional, cultural, part is that women don’t have childcare but want to continue on a career track, have talent, brilliance, but are primarily responsible for making sure kids are okay and there is not enough child care.” Also parental leave, not just for a newborn or adoption, but when a child or parent gets sick.

“You should be proud your state recognizes this challenge – we now have the most generous paid family leave policy – to relieve the stress of possibly losing a job when you are home with a new baby.”

“It’s about economic empowerment: getting more girls into STEM education and careers. It’s about safety and security – domestic violence” – something that has been crystallized in the Trump White House, notably with the tolerance of a credibly accused wife-beater as Trump’s secretary.

Budget initiatives (see details at https://www.ny.gov/2018-womens-opportunity-agenda-new-york/womens-opportunity-agenda-proposals) include:

Health initiatives: passing Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act codifying access to contraception; codifying Roe v. Wade into state law and constitution to insure health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty; mandating insurance coverage and insuring access to IVF and fertility services; combat maternal depression and establish a maternal mortality review board (NY ranks 30th in maternal mortality); add experts in women’s health and health disparities to the State Board of Medicine.

Safety: pass the Equal Rights Amendment to add sex as a protected class; remove firearms from domestic abusers; combat sextortion and revenge porn; extend storage timeline for forensic rape kits at hospitals (from 30 days to at least five years, or when the victim turns 19); advance legislation to amend the Human Rights Law to protect all public school students from discrimination.

Workplace: combat sexual harassment in the workplace; call on NYS Common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with women and minority leadership; reauthorize the State’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program; close the gender wage gap; support women returning to or advancing in the workforce with job training and placement services; invest $20 million in Women-Owned Businesses;  encourage more use of flexible work schedules.

Girls: expand access to computer science and engineering (STEM); launch “If You Can See It You Can Be It,” a day for girls to see what is possible; create K-12 learning module on healthy relationships; legislation requiring school districts to provide free menstrual products, in restrooms, for girls in grades 6 through 12.

Family: invest $25 million to expand pre-K and after-school programs; increase state funding by $7 million  to provide working families with affordable child care; continue enhanced Child Care Tax Credit for working families; establish a new Child Care Availability Task Force.

“All these areas converge,” Colleen Merlo, Executive Director, Long Island Against Domestic Violence, said. “Gender equality cannot be achieved unless we address all these buckets….We see that women lose time at work because of domestic violence, so if we don’t create safety at home, they are losing time at work, so are not advancing, not getting equal pay or promotion – all are interconnected with safety.”

It’s also about making it easier to vote, adding early voting (which NYS doesn’t yet have), so women who work and care for children aren’t shut out of casting a ballot – part of Cuomo’s “Democracy Agenda.”

“The torch has now been passed to us,” Hochul stated. “Our job is not just to pass it along, but to make sure it glows even brighter, so we look back 100 years from now, and can say, yes, we made a difference in lives in a profound way, that we spoke up for people without voices.”

What to do? First: contact state representatives to urge them to vote on the budget and legislation bolstering the Women’s Agenda. Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, among others, is mounting a lobbying day in Albany on March 13, to join Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and more than 1,000 activists from across New York State, to advocate for pro-reproductive health legislation.

Call and write representatives, yes. March, yes, Protest, yes. Spread the word with social media, yes. Vote, absolutely.

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Womens March NYC 2018 Draws 200,000 – Here are Highlights

The line-up for the Womens March NYC extended along Central Park West to 86th Street for an official total of 200,000 © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

On the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration and the first Women’s March that was the largest single day of protest in history, women came out in force again in New York City and more than 250 locations around the country.

They marched for womens rights, reproductive freedom, for health care; for #MeToo and #TimesUp to take a stand against sexual assault, harassment, rape and extortion. They marched for gun control and against domestic violence. They marched for families, for immigrants, for Dreamers, for the LGBTQ+ community. They marched for Mother Earth and the environment, for science and facts. They marched for voting rights, for a free press and for truth. They marched to assert basic American values- its better angels – of tolerance, diversity, and for economic, environmental, political and social justice.

MILCK with Yoko Ono on stage at the rally launching the march © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

200,000 was the official count in New York City – marchers were lined up from 63rd Street to 86th Street, but all along the side streets as well, where it took as much as 2 hours just to get onto the Central Park West march route.

MILCK on the March in NYC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Voting is my Super Power © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And unlike last year’s march which brought out millions, reflecting the despair of the aftermath of the 2016 election and was supposed to send a message to Trump and the Republicans who controlled Congress and the Courts (they didn’t get it), this day of marches – some 250 around the country bringing out some 2 million – was about action: it kicked off a voter registration drive to add 1 million to the rolls, the candidacies of a record number of women running for office (16,000 women have reached out to Emily’s List for support in 2017), and a Get out the Vote drive for the 2018 midterms.

“My vote is my Super Power,” several announced in their signs. “My Button is Bigger than Yours,” echoed another.

Marching for a Blue Wave © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vulgarity, misogyny, bigotry and racism that Donald Trump brought to the Oval Office came down to the streets, with bursts of profanity in words (“shithole” was a popular one that Trump just introduced to the vernacular only a week ago) and gestures, with marchers giving the finger as they passed Trump International Hotel, the closest incarnation they would ever have. The tone was decidedly more angry, more outraged than a year ago.

Our Button is Bigger than Yours 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Over the past year, basic rights for women, immigrants, LGBTQ+, the religious and nonreligious, people of color and even Mother Earth have struggled to survive under the weight of the current administration. America’s First Amendment has been challenged and healthcare for millions has been threatened. We must stand together to demand and defend our rights. We will not be silent. We must remind everyone that red, white, and blue are the colors of tolerance,” stated Womens March Alliance.

And they marched with a purpose: to get people to register to vote, to run for office, and to cast their ballot.

“My vote is my Super Power,” several announced in their signs. “My Button is Bigger than Yours,” echoed others.

Welcome to the Resistance © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hillary Clinton tweeted, “In 2017, the Women’s March was a beacon of hope and defiance. In 2018, it is a testament to the power and resilience of women everywhere. Let’s show that same power in the voting booth this year. #PowerToThePolls 

Here are highlights from the Womens March NYC:

Girl Power: A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Let Our Dreamers Dream; My Vote is My Super Power © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Not My Shithole President © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Revolution is Coming © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Pride Not Prejudice © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Never too young to respect women © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Ladies Liberty © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Pussy Hats 2018 with attitude © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Trump salute © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Follow the Money © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dope. Grope. Nope. Hope. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

Our Rights are Not Up for Grabs © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rise and Resist © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dream Act Now © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Human Wall © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
No Glass Ceilings. Future President © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See also:

Women’s March Redux Jan. 20 Kicks Off Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign to ReMake Government

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

New York’s 2018 Women’s Agenda Could Be Model for Nation to Advance Equality, Opportunity

Women’s March on Washington, Jan. 21, 2017: On the eve of a second Women’s March, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo unveils a 2018 Women’s Agenda with 30 proposals to advance equal rights and opportunity. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What would a pro-woman agenda look like?

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled the 2018 Women’s Agenda for New York: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity and released the Report on the Status of New York Women and Girls: 2018 Outlook. The Agenda consists of 30 proposals addressing health, safety, workplace, girls and family to advance equality and promote opportunity.

Health: pass comprehensive contraceptive coverage; codify Roe v Wade into state law and Constitution; improve access to IVF and fertility preservation services; launch a multi-agency effort to combat maternal depression; establish the Maternal Mortality Review Board to develop policies that will save lives; add experts in women’s health and health disparities to the State board of Medicine

Safety: Pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the state’s constitution to protect against discrimination on the basis of sex; remove firearms from domestic abusers; end sextortion and revenge porn; extend the storage timeline for forensic rape kits a hospitals from 30 days to at least five years or when the victim turns 19; extend human rights law protections to all public school students.

Workplace: combat sexual harassment in the workplace, including a uniform code binding on state government; prevent taxpayer funds from being used for settlements; cal on the NYS common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with women and minority leadership; reauthorize the Minority Women Owned Business Enterprise Program; create a new Women Lead Fellowship; close the gender wage gap; support women returning to or advancing in the workforce with training and job placement services;  close the financing gap for women-owned businesses; make NYS as a model employer for working parents.

Girls: Close the gender gap by giving youngest learners access to computer science and engineering ; launch a new program to enable young girls to shadow women leaders in “non-traditional” fields; continue the NYS mentoring program; create a new a K-12 learning module on healthy relationships; ensure access to menstrual products in public schools;

Family: invest $25 million to expand pre-K and after school programs; increase state funding for child care subsidies; continue the enhanced child care tax credit; establish a Child Care Availability Task Force; ensure equal access to diaper changing stations in public restrooms.

The full Report on the Status of New York Women and Girls: 2018 Outlook reflects the feedback, voices and opinions of women all over the state and is available here.

“From the birth of the women’s rights movement at Seneca Falls to the most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy in the nation, New York leads the nation in championing women’s rights and breaking down barriers to equality,” Governor Cuomo said. “In 2018, we will build on this progress and continue to advance equality across all areas of life. While the federal government seeks to roll back women’s rights, New York State looks toward the future, with this bold set of proposals to create opportunity for women to succeed in every area: work, health, safety, education and family life.” 

Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor and Chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, said, “I know how demoralizing the 2016 election was for many of us. But in many ways it was also the empowering wake-up call we needed. It helped us find our voice, and our backbone. And for our mothers and grandmothers who came before us and our daughters and my nieces who come after, I promise you this: we will not let this moment pass us by. We have an obligation to ourselves and to them. We will be the change required by this moment: in policy, in practice, in the workplace and all across society. With words and with action. If last year was a reckoning, this year is a battle. And in that fight, New York will lead the way.”

“New York State is serious about changing a culture that enables sexism and violence against women,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chair of the New York Women’s Suffrage Commission, said. “As the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, New York just marked the centennial of women’s suffrage and we are using this moment to bring about our vision of a world where women’s and men’s lives and potential are equally valued.” 

Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, Legislative Ambassador to the New York State Council on Women and Girls said, “Everyone deserves a fair shot at the American Dream, and Governor Cuomo has shown his dedication to achieving that promise for all of New York’s hard-working women and girls. By implementing this all-encompassing agenda to ensure every woman has the opportunity to earn an education, attain a decent job and lead a quality life – New York is setting an example for the rest of the nation and the world on the true worth and value of every citizen of this state.”

Many of the policies and laws that Governor Cuomo has already set in motion to advance women’s equality and opportunity will go into effect in 2018, including Paid Family Leave, raised minimum wage and regulations to protect access to contraception no matter what happens at the federal level.

Here are more details about the specific proposals:

Health 

Pass the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act: Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to codify access to contraception, including emergency contraception, into New York State law, by passing the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act.

Codify Roe V. Wade into State Law and Constitution: This year, the Governor will again call for the passage of legislation to ensure the right of women to make personal health care decisions to protect their health in addition to their life and ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. The Governor will also continue to champion a constitutional amendment to codify these protections into the state constitution. 

Improve Access to IVF and Fertility Preservation Services: Governor Cuomo will direct the Superintendent of Financial Services to evaluate the best approach for incorporating coverage for in vitro fertilization into New York’s infertility mandate and update New York Law to ensure individuals have access to fertility preservation services when appropriate. 

Launch Multi-Agency Effort to Combat Maternal Depression: To strengthen and support the ability of New York’s health care providers to deliver care to mothers experiencing maternal depression, Governor Cuomo will advance an aggressive strategy to ensure that all new mothers have access to screening and treatment. 

Establish the Maternal Mortality Review Board to Save Lives: The Governor will launch a Board that will implement an enhanced multidisciplinary analysis to review each and every maternal death in the New York State and to develop actionable recommendations to improve care and management. 

Add Experts in Women’s Health and Health Disparities to the State Board of Medicine: The Governor will propose legislation to require that one of the doctors on the State Board of Medicine be an expert on women’s health and one of the doctors be an expert in health disparities. 

Safety 

Pass the Equal Rights Amendment: Nearly a century after it was first proposed, New York State has still not passed the Equal Rights Amendment to protect against discrimination on the basis of sex in our State constitution. To right this decades-old wrong, Governor Cuomo will push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to add sex as a protected class. 

Remove Firearms from Domestic Abusers: To ensure that no domestic abuser continues to possess a firearm, Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to update the list of prohibited offenses to include those domestic violence misdemeanors which are shockingly absent from current law. 

End Sextortion and Revenge Porn: Governor Cuomo proposes a two-pronged approach that will criminalize disclosing or threatening to disclose sexually compromising images or videos with the intent to cause material harm to the victim’s mental or emotional health or to compel the victim to undertake some sexual act; and compelling a person to expose him or herself or engage in sexual conduct by threatening to harm the victim’s health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships. 

Extend the Storage Timeline for Forensic Rape Kits at Hospitals: Governor Cuomo will advance new legislation to extend the length of time sexual offense evidence collection kits are preserved from 30 days to at least five years, or when the victim turns 19.

Extend Human Rights Law Protections to All Public School Students Statewide: New York has the proud distinction of being the first state in the nation to enact a Human Rights Law, affording every citizen “an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” However, the law does not currently protect public school students due to a court ruling. Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to amend the Human Rights Law to protect all public school students from discrimination. All students in the State of New York must have the right to pursue an education free from discrimination. 

Workplace 

Combat Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: The Governor proposes a multi-pronged plan that targets sexual harassment in the workplace. Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to prevent taxpayer funds from being used for settlements against individuals relating to sexual assault or harassment and to ensure that individual harassers are held accountable; propose a uniform code of sexual harassment policies binding on all State branches of government, agencies and authorities; and propose legislation to prohibit confidentiality agreements relating to sexual assault or harassment for all public entities and branches of government—State and local—unless it is the express preference of the victim. 

Call on the New York State Common Retirement Fund to Invest in Companies with Women and Minority Leadership: Governor Cuomo will call for the New York Common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with adequate female and minority representation in their management and on their boards of directors. The Governor will work with Comptroller DiNapoli to put in place processes and standards to systematically invest in companies that invest in women and minority leadership. 

Reauthorize MWBE Program Legislation and Expand the MWBE Program to All State-Funded Contracts: The Governor will advance legislation that will seek the reauthorization of the State’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program, which is due to expire this year, and increase the participation of minority and women-owned businesses in all levels of State contracting—both prime contractors and subcontractors, and propose legislation during the 2017 session that will expand the MWBE Program to more contracts entirely funded by the State. 

Establish the Women Lead Fellowship for Women in Government: To recruit more talented women to work in the highest levels of New York State government, the Governor proposes creating the new Women Lead Fellowship. Ten new fellows will be placed alongside some of the most senior female officials within the Executive Branch.

Close the Gender Wage Gap: In 2017, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Labor to launch a gender wage gap study to identify the root causes of the gender wage gap—as well as strategies to close it. To review the causes, scope and economic impact of the gender pay gap in New York State, DOL held hearings and stakeholder discussions across the State and solicited testimony from a diverse array of academic experts, women’s groups, workers, business owners and the public. In 2018, DOL will unveil the results of their analysis, as well as a comprehensive suite of policy recommendations to help close the gap. 

Support Women Returning to or Advancing in the Workforce: As part of a new Fund for the Future, Governor Cuomo will pursue a new Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, supporting female-headed households and providing training and job placement services accompanied by the critical wrap-around services women need to move toward economic self-sufficiency.

Power Women-Owned Businesses by Taking Steps to Close the Financing Gap: At the Governor’s direction, New York State’s Innovation Venture Capital Fund will set a goal of investing $20 million to support women as they grow and scale their businesses. 

Establish New York State as a Model Employer for Working Parents: Recognizing that a 21st century workforce requires a 21st century workplace, Governor Cuomo will take new actions to establish New York State as the best employer for working parents, including issuing a memo about increasing the use of flexible work schedules and establishing permanent, private, nursing mothers’ rooms and designate priority parking spots for pregnant people at all OGS buildings with dedicated parking lots. 

Girls 

Close the Gender Gap by Giving the Youngest Learners Access to Computer Science and Engineering: This year, Governor Cuomo will launch the Smart Start Computer Science Program, New York’s largest state investment to expand high-quality computer science education and create model computer science standards. 

Launch “If You Can See It You Can Be It,” A Day for Girls to See What is Possible: As part of Take Our Daughters to Work Day, born over 25 years ago in New York, New York State will enhance internal programming and partner with top New York companies to give more young girls the opportunity to shadow women leaders in “non-traditional” fields. The State will also be working to connect homeless youth, youth in foster care and young people from low-income areas to programming where they live.

Continue the Successful New York State Mentoring Program: Recognizing the importance of the role of a supportive adult in a child’s life, Governor Cuomo relaunched the New York State Mentoring program in 2015. In 1984, at the request of her husband, Governor Mario Cuomo, Mrs. Matilda Raffa Cuomo created and implemented The New York State Mentoring Program, the nation’s first statewide unique school based one-to-one mentoring program to prevent school dropout. Today, the New York State Mentoring program serves 1,766 students in 97 school-based sites across New York State. 

Create the “Be Aware-Be Informed” Learning Module to Empower Young People to Forge Healthy Relationships: Governor Cuomo proposes that State Education Department and the Department of Health coordinate to create a K-12 learning module on healthy relationships. Such curriculum will include the same definition of consent used in the successful Enough is Enough law to foment a common understanding for all students. 

Ensure Access to Menstrual Products in Public Schools: Governor Cuomo will propose legislation requiring school districts to provide free menstrual products, in restrooms, for girls in grades 6 through 12. This important step will make New York State a leader in addressing this issue of inequality and stigma, ensuring that no girl’s learning is hindered by lack of access to the products her biology demands. 

Family 

Invest $25 Million to Expand Vital Pre-K and After-School Programs: In order to fulfill the promise of universal pre-kindergarten, and alleviate the child care burden on working families, Governor Cuomo will invest $15 million to continue to expand universal pre-kindergarten for high-need students around the state, creating 3,000 new slots. To ensure that as many students as possible have a safe and supportive place to go after-school, the State will launch an additional $10 million round of Empire State After-School Grants to create 6,250 new slots in high-need areas—especially communities with high rates of homelessness. 

Increase State Funding to Provide Working Families with Affordable Child Care: Child care subsidies help parents and caretakers pay for some or all of the cost of child care. Families are eligible for financial assistance if they meet the State’s low income guidelines and need child care to work, look for work or attend employment training. This year, Governor Cuomo will increase State support for child care subsidies by $7 million above FY 2018 Budget funding levels, restoring recent cuts and sustaining a record level of funding. 

Continue the Enhanced Child Care Tax Credit for Middle Class Families: In 2017, Governor Cuomo created the Enhanced Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit to reduce child care costs for working families. This expansion more than doubled the benefit for 200,000 families. This year, Governor Cuomo will continue the Enhanced Child Care Tax Credit for working families to continue to alleviate costs for families and support the needs of working parents. 

Establish the Child Care Availability Task Force: To build on his investments in child care and the development of safe, accessible, and affordable child care, the Governor is establishing a new Child Care Availability Task Force. This task force, which will include representatives from the child care provider community, the advocacy community, representatives of the business community, unions that represent child care providers, representatives from several state agencies and local departments of social services, will be responsible for examining access to affordable child care; availability of child care for those with nontraditional work hours; statutory and regulatory changes that could promote or enhance access to child care; business incentives to increase child care access; and the  impact on tax credits and deductions relating to child care.

Ensure Equal Access to Diaper Changing Stations in Public Restrooms: Governor Cuomo proposes to change New York’s Uniform Building Code to require all new or substantially renovated buildings with publicly accessible restrooms to provide safe and compliant changing tables. Changing tables will be available to both men and women, and there must be at least one changing table accessible to both genders per publicly-accessible floor.

Senator Catharine M. Young, Legislative Ambassador to the New York State Council on Women and Girls said, “I am honored to work with the strong, principled and extraordinarily dedicated women of the Council to address the everyday challenges faced by women in communities across this state. We bring to our discussions, varying viewpoints and ideas on how best to advance the equality and opportunities that we all want for women and girls across New York. The Governor’s 2018 Women’s Opportunity Agenda unveiled today reflects a shared commitment to these ideals and new ideas for building on New York’s historic record of fighting for the rights of women in this state and nation.”

See also:

Women’s March Redux Jan 20 Will Kick Off Midterm Campaigns to ReMake Government

White House Highlights Actions to Expand Paid Sick Leave, Gather Data to Fight for Equal Pay

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez discussed two new actions to support working Americans.   First, the Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.  Second, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is collecting data to improve enforcement of our nation’s equal pay laws © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez discussed two new actions to support working Americans. First, the Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. Second, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is collecting data to improve enforcement of our nation’s equal pay laws © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.  She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job.  A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too.”— President Barack Obama, 2014 State of the Union Address 

Today the White House is highlighting two new actions to further support working Americans.   First, the Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.  Second, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is publishing its final and approved collection of summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees to improve enforcement of our nation’s equal pay laws.

In a White House conference call with reporters, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania applauded the Administration’s actions, noting that he has been in public office for less than two years, but prior, “I was a business owner, employed up to 600-700 employees. We did all these things – paid sick leave, personal time off, holidays, long vacation time. These were not a cost to the business, they made business sense with lower turnover, better morale, healthier employees, better productivity.

“One of the things we must acknowledge: it’s not just a fair thing, a matter of public health, public good, but something that is good for business. “

More than one million workers will not have to depend on the kindness of employers because of these new rules. “Workers shouldn’t have to win the boss lottery or geographic lottery to win access to paid sick leave,” commented Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Jenny Yang.

Contrary to the “sky is falling” reaction of many private employers, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez noted, in places where earned sick leave has been implemented – including San Francisco, Tacoma Washington, New York City and Connecticut – employers are by a wide margin satisfied.  “When the law into effect [in these places] they had trepidation, but what they saw was that were able to adjust and in fact thrive.” Indeed, customers may be miffed if a waiter sneezes on their plate; other employees can be taken ill because of a worker with a flu could not afford to stay home.

“The beauty of incubators of innovation like Philadelphia, Connecticut, San Francisco, and Tacoma is that we have track record to build on and tremendous confidence that building on this part of the social contract is both good for workers, public health, families and not an undue burden on business.

“Bringing fairness and balance to workplace is really not something that should be seen as expense.”

FACT SHEET: Helping Working Americans Get Ahead by Expanding Paid Sick Leave and Fighting for Equal Pay

Since taking office, President Obama has promoted policies to grow and strengthen the middle class by supporting working families.  Despite tremendous changes that have transformed America and its families over the past 50 years, our workplaces have not kept pace.  In most families today, both parents work and share in the responsibilities of caring for children or other family members. Recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that these efforts have resulted in strong progress for America’s working families.  Today, a record share of private sector workers now have access to paid sick leave, increasing from 61 to 64 percent over the past year.  Furthermore, this increase was driven almost entirely by increased access in low-wage jobs: in just one year, the share of workers in the lowest-paid quarter of occupations that had access to paid sick leave jumped from 31 to 39 percent.  Since the President took office, the number of private sector workers with paid sick leave has grown by 10.6 million.

Despite this progress, millions of Americans still do not have access to even a single day of paid sick leave, so when workers get sick they may have to choose between caring for themselves or paying their bills.  Too many parents must make the painful choice between staying home to take care of a sick child—and losing out on a day’s pay—or sending their child to school sick.  For that reason, President Obama has repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act—which would guarantee most Americans the chance to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave each year—and urging states, cities, and businesses to act where Congress has not.

Similarly, despite a woman’s pay being just as critical for a family to make ends meet, women make less than their male peers.  The President has fought to close that gap, and the first legislation he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, an important step in ensuring that Americans can effectively challenge unequal pay in the courts.  Since then, he has taken numerous other steps to advance equal pay, including issuing a 2014 Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees who discuss their pay, and announcing a White House Equal Pay Pledge that has now been signed by more than 50 of America’s leading businesses.

Similar to the expansion of paid sick leave, progress has been made on the gender pay gap.  In 2008, a typical woman working full-time earned only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a typical man; today, that has risen to 80 cents.  That means that for a woman working full-time, the pay gap has shrunk by more than 10 percent, or about $1200, since the President took office.

Yet much work remains.  Too many women and workers of color are still not paid equally for equal work, with African-American women earning 63 cents and Latina women earning 54 cents for every dollar earned by a white non-Hispanic man.  And 41 million private sector workers do not have access to even a single day of paid sick leave.   Today’s actions mark critical progress to support the needs of working Americans and their families.

EXPANDING SICK LEAVE

Last September, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring federal contractors (and subcontractors) to allow their employees working on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days each year.  Today, the Department of Labor is finalizing its rule implementing the order.  It takes into account extensive public comments from employers, business associations, small businesses, workers, unions, and worker advocates.  The final rule, which goes into effect for new solicitations issued on or after January 1, 2017, will:

  • Give additional paid sick leave to 1.15 million people working on federal contracts, including nearly 600,000 employees who do not currently have even a single day of paid sick leave.  Workers will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked on (or in connection with) a covered federal contract, up to 56 hours in a year or at any point in time.
  • Allow workers to use paid sick leave for their own illnesses, preventive care, or other health care needs; to care for a family member or loved one who is ill, seeking preventive care, or otherwise in need of care; and for absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Employers may not retaliate against employees for using paid sick leave or require them to find replacements in order to take it.
  • Improve the health and performance of employees of federal contractors and bring benefits packages offered by federal contractors in line with leading firms, ensuring they remain competitive in the search for dedicated and talented employees.
  • Protect public health by reducing the transmission of illnesses in the workplace from sick employees to coworkers or their customers.
  • Respond to employers’ concerns by ensuring coordination with existing “paid time off” policies that give workers a flexible bank of leave; existing collective bargaining agreements; and multi-employer plans. 

This action reflects leading practices by major employers, states, and localities throughout the country.  Since the President’s call to action in 2014, four states and more than 25 cities and counties have taken action to expand paid sick leave in their community, and many businesses small and large have adopted similar policies.  For example:

  • Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota passed ordinances in May and September, respectively, requiring businesses to offer their workers an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.  Both ordinances go into effect on July 1, 2017 with phased implementation periods.  The Twin Cities have a joint population of nearly 700,000 residents, though the ordinances cover anyone who does work within the respective city limits.
  • Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), a nonprofit clean energy consulting company and federal contractor in Vermont, testified in support of Vermont’s new paid sick leave law, passed earlier this year.  VEIC’s founder pointed to the monetary, physical, and cultural value of paid sick leave to employers.
  • Cava Grill, a fast-casual national restaurant brand headquartered in Washington, DC, announced in July that it began offering paid sick and parental leave to its hourly workers, for whom it also raised its starting wage to $13 an hour.  Employees will now receive up to six days a year of paid sick leave, up to four days of paid parental leave, and one day for community service.
  • Microsoft, a federal contractor, took a similar step last year by announcing it would require suppliers with at least 50 employees doing business with the company to provide employees who handle its work with 15 days of paid leave annually (including 5 paid sick days).  In announcing this change, Microsoft pointed to research showing that paid leave contributes to the health and well-being of workers and their families, strengthens family ties, increases productivity, improves retention, lowers health-care costs, and contributes to the health of colleagues.

ADVANCING EQUAL PAY

Today, the EEOC, in cooperation with the Department of Labor, is publishing its finalized revisions to its EEO-1 form, which for the first time will collect summary pay data, broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity, from all businesses with 100 or more employees.  This data collection, which stems from a recommendation by the President’s Equal Pay Task Force and a Presidential Memorandum issued in 2014, is expected to cover roughly 63 million employees and 60,000 employers.

Today’s action will promote improved voluntary compliance by employers with existing equal pay laws.  It will also help EEOC and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) better focus investigations on employers who are illegally shortchanging workers’ pay based on their gender, race, or ethnicity.

The data will be a tool not only for the federal government, but for employers as well.  It will help employers evaluate their own pay practices to prevent pay discrimination in their workplaces.  The EEOC will also compile and publish aggregate data that will help employers in assessing their pay practices relative to others in the same industry and geographic area.

Businesses have long used the EEO-1 form to report demographic information on their workforces.  With the revised EEO-1, businesses also will report summary data on the range of compensation paid to employees of each demographic group.  Businesses will not be required to disclose individual employees’ salaries.

Employers will first be required to submit pay data for 2017 by March 31, 2018, giving them 18 months to prepare for the change.  This revision does not impact the 2016 EEO-1 report, which is due on September 30, 2016 and is unchanged.  EEOC will be offering webinars and technical assistance to employers, payroll and human resource information system providers, and other stakeholders in preparation for the new submission requirements.

Today’s publication of the revised form comes after the EEOC approved this action by a vote of the Commission, and follows final approval by the Office of Management and Budget pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act.  The EEOC is an independent government agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.

BUILDING ON A RECORD OF SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES

Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have taken a number of actions to support working families and combat the pay gap, including:

  • Publishing a final regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. The program provides subsidies to working families and last year provided services for roughly 1.4 million children aged 0-13, most of whom are younger than 5. The rule, which has not been comprehensively revised since 1998, will provide a roadmap to states on how to implement the new law and clarify ambiguities around provisions that deal with eligibility for services; health and safety requirements; and how best to support the needs of parents and providers as they transition to the new law.  It also clarifies that worker organizations can provide professional development to child care workers and contribute to discussions around the rates states set for subsidies.
  • Signing his first piece of legislation as President, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pair Act, in January 2009 making it easier for employees to challenge unfair pay practices.
  • Creating the National Equal Pay Task Force in January 2010 to implement his pledge to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, which included representatives from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, and the Office of Personnel Management. The Task Force has issued reports on its progress, including Fighting for Equal Pay in the Workforce, Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward, and Fifty Years After the Equal Pay Act.  In addition, since the creation of the Equal Pay Task Force in 2010, the EEOC has received over 18,000 charges of sex-based pay discrimination, and through its independent enforcement efforts, the EEOC has obtained over $140 million in monetary relief for victims of pay discrimination on the basis of sex.
  • Calling on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, commonsense legislation that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing loopholes in the defenses for equal pay violations, providing stronger remedies, and expanding protections against discrimination for employees who share or inquire about information about their compensation at work.
  • Signing a Presidential Memorandum in May 2013 directing the Office of Personnel Management to develop a government-wide strategy to address the gender pay gap in the federal workforce, leading to a report in April 2014 and new guidance in July 2015—which cautioned against reliance on a candidate’s existing salary to set pay, as it can potentially adversely affect women who may have taken time off from their careers or propagate gaps due to discriminatory pay practices by previous employers.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in April 2014 and publishing a Department of Labor rule in September 2015 prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees who discuss or inquire about their compensation.
  • Announcing a White House Equal Pay Pledge, with more than 50 leading businesses signing on to take action to advance equal pay.  By signing the pledge, these companies are committing to conduct an annual company-wide gender pay analysis, review hiring and promotion processes, embed equal pay efforts in broader equity initiatives, and identify and promote best practices that will close the wage gap.
  • Hosting a White House Summit on Working Families in June 2014, highlighting the issues that women and families face, setting the agenda for a 21st century workplace, and announcing of a number of steps to help working families thrive.
  • Hosting the United State of Women Summit in June 2016, highlighting the progress that has been made over the course of this Administration and discussing public and private sector solutions to the challenges that still lie ahead.
  • Signing a Presidential Memorandum in January 2015 directing federal agencies to advance six weeks of paid sick leave to federal employees with new children, calling on Congress to grant another six weeks of paid leave for federal employees, and calling on Congress to pass legislation that gives all American families access to paid family and medical leave.
  • Publishing a final Department of Labor rule in May updating outdated overtime regulations, expanding overtime pay protections to 4.2 million additional Americans, boosting wages for workers by $12 billion over the next 10 years, and allowing workers to better balance their work and family obligations.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in February 2014 requiring federal contractors to raise their minimum wage initially to $10.10 an hour, indexing it, and lifting the tipped minimum wage (which disproportionately impacts women)—and urging Congress, states, cities, and businesses to do the same.
  • Directing the Office of Personnel Management and federal agencies to enhance workplace flexibility for federal employees to the maximum extent practicable, including enshrining a right to request flexible work arrangements.
  • Signing into law the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, which requires agencies to support and establish policies for telework by eligible employees.
  • Calling on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to workers who have limitations from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer). The legislation would also prohibit employers from forcing pregnant employees to take paid or unpaid leave if a reasonable accommodation would allow them to work.
  • Finalizing a Department of Labor rule updating its sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors for the first time since 1978, to align with current law and address barriers to equal opportunity and pay, such as pay discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environments, a lack of workplace accommodations for pregnant women, and gender identity and family caregiving discrimination.
  • Announcing the Department of Labor’s award of $54 million in “Strengthening Working Families” grants to help low- to middle-skilled parents access the affordable, quality child care they need to earn an education, participate in training programs, and compete for better-paying jobs in emergency industries.
  • Expanding access for women to higher-paying jobs through a proposed rule updating equal employment opportunity requirements in registered apprenticeships and through a Mega-Construction Projects (MCP) Initiative at the Department of Labor.

President Obama Marks Equal Pay Day by Designating National Monument Honoring Women’s Equality

Women's Suffrage Rally at Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s Marble House, Newport, Rhode Island, 1914 (credit: The Preservation Society of Newport County)
Women’s Suffrage Rally at Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s Marble House, Newport, Rhode Island, 1914 (credit: The Preservation Society of Newport County)

On this year’s Equal Pay Day, April 12, President Obama is designating a new national monument at a historic location in Washington, D.C., to honor the movement for women’s equality. The new Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument will protect the iconic house that has served as the headquarters for the National Woman’s Party since 1929. From this house, known in recent years as the Sewall-Belmont House, members of the Party led the movement for women’s equality, authoring more than 600 pieces of federal, state and local legislation in support of equal rights.

The designation will permanently protect one of the oldest standing houses near the U.S. Capitol and help preserve an extensive archival collection that documents the history, strategies, tactics and accomplishments of the movement to secure women’s suffrage and equal rights in the United States and across the globe.

The new monument is named for former Party president, activist and suffragist Alva Belmont (known also as Alva Vanderbilt), who was a major benefactor of the National Woman’s Party, and Alice Paul, who founded the Party and was the chief strategist and leader in the Party’s ongoing fight for women’s political, social, and economic equality.

After playing an instrumental role in the passage and ratification of the 19thAmendment guaranteeing women’s suffrage, Paul led the Party’s advocacy work from the house, including drafting updated Equal Rights Amendment text, writing provisions that were later included in the Civil Rights Act to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender, and working to get women’s equality language incorporated in the U.N. Charter. A fierce advocate for women’s equality her entire life, Paul died in 1977 at the age of ninety-two.

Efforts to protect the site date back to the early 1970s, and more recent proposals to include the site in the National Park System have garnered Congressional support – including bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Mikulski – as well as strong support from local elected officials, community leaders, women’s organizations, conservation groups and historians. The National Park Foundation will announce that David Rubenstein is contributing $1 million dollars to support the site and address immediate restoration needs.

In 1997, the National Woman’s Party became an educational organization and today, seeks to educate the public about the ongoing women’s rights equality movement.

In addition to protecting more land and water than any President in history – more than 265 million acres – President Obama has sought to protect places that are diverse, culturally and historically significant, and that reflect the story of all Americans. By honoring the history and accomplishments of the movement for women’s equality, tomorrow’s designation will build on this effort towards a more inclusive National Park System and tell the story of women’s fight for equality for generations to come. Our national parks and other protected sites that represent America’s diverse history and culture will continue to be an important priority for the Administration as the country celebrates the National Park Service Centennial this year.

About Equal Pay Day 

Equal Pay Day is the date in the current year that represents the extra days a typical woman working full-time would have to work just to make the same as a typical man did in the previous year. Since taking office, President Obama has made equal pay a top priority and has taken a number of steps to fight for pay equity. In addition to signing his first piece of legislation as President, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, President Obama has created the National Equal Pay Task Force, called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, issued an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees who discuss or inquire about their compensation, and worked with the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to better target enforcement of equal pay laws though enhanced employer reporting of pay data.

To highlight key gender equality issues and set the agenda for the future, next month, the White House will host a Summit on “The United State of Women” together with the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute, and Civic Nation. The summit will create an opportunity to mark the progress made by and for women and girls domestically and internationally over the course of this Administration and to discuss solutions to the challenges they still face. The Summit is being held with additional cooperation from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, the Tory Burch Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Building on Steps to Help Women in the Workforce and Working Families 

President Obama has taken a number of actions to combat the pay gap, as well as other issues that affect women in the workforce, including:

  • Working with the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January 2016 to publish a proposal to annually collect summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees, potentially covering over 63 million employees.  This step will help focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations. The Council of Economic Advisers also released an issue brief,“The Gender Pay Gap on the Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” that explores the state of the gender wage gap, the factors that influence it, and policies put forward by this Administration that can help address it.
  • Signing a Presidential Memorandum in May 2013 directing the Office of Personnel Management to develop a government-wide strategy to address the gender pay gap in the federal workforce, leading to a report in April 2014 and new guidance in July 2015—which cautioned against required reliance on a candidate’s existing salary to set pay, as it can potentially adversely affect women who may have taken time off from their careers or propagate gaps due to discriminatory pay practices by previous employers.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in April 2014 and publishing a Department of Labor rule in September 2015 prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees whodiscuss or inquire about their compensation.
  • Hosting the first-everWhite House Summit on Working Families in June 2014, highlighting the issues that women and families face, setting the agenda for a 21st century workplace, and announcing of a number of steps to help working families thrive.
  • Signing a Presidential Memorandum in January 2015 directing federal agencies to advance six weeks of paid sick leave to federal employees with new children, calling on Congress to grant another six weeks of paid leave for federal employees, and calling on Congress to pass legislation that gives all American families access to paid family and medical leave.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in September 2015 requiring federal contractors to provide employees working on federal contracts up to seven paid sick dayseach year—and urging Congress, states, cities, and other businesses to do the same.
  • Publishing a proposed Department of Labor rule in June 2015 updating outdated overtime regulations, which, if finalized, would expand overtime pay protections for nearly 5 million Americans, promoting higher take home pay, and allowing workers to better balance their work and family obligations.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in February 2014 requiring federal contractors to raise their minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and lift the tipped minimum wage (which disproportionately impacts women)—and urging Congress, states, cities, and businesses to do the same.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in July 2014 and publishing a Department of Labor rule in December 2014 prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating in employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Directing the Office of Personnel Management and federal agencies to enhance workplace flexibility for federal employees to the maximum extent practicable, including enshrining a right to request flexible work arrangements.
  • Calling on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to workers who have limitations from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer). The legislation would also prohibit employers from forcing pregnant employees to take paid or unpaid leave if a reasonable accommodation would allow them to work.
  • Publishing a proposed Department of Labor rule that, if finalized, would update its sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors for the first time since 1978, to align with current law and address barriers to equal opportunity and pay, such as pay discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environments, a lack of workplace accommodations for pregnant women, and gender identity and family caregiving discrimination.
  • Increasing investments to expand access to high-quality early care and education, including efforts under the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge program, Preschool Development Grants, Head Start and Early Head Start, and a landmark proposal that helps all eligible working families with young children afford high-quality child care.
  • Expanding access for women to higher-paying jobs through a proposed rule updating equal employment opportunity requirements in registered apprenticeships and through a Mega-Construction Projects (MCP) Initiative at the Department of Labor.

Additionally, the President’s Council of Economic Advisers has continued to spotlight the pay gap and other challenges women face in the workforce as well as policy solutions proposed by the Administration to address these persistent challenges. Those materials include:

See also:

Women of Newport: Alva Vanderbilt Belmont turns Marble House into weapon of feminism

Newport’s Gilded Age Mansions Provide Narrative to Women’s Rights Movement