By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com
Thousands gathered in Foley Square, in front of the federal court house, to hear calls for justice, equal rights and full personhood for women in face of the assault on abortion rights from Texas and dozens of states and the right wing majority Supreme Court’s deference and then marched up to Washington Square Park, bringing their messages of “Save Roe” “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries”, “Hands off Our Privates” “We Won’t Go Back” and “Ruth Sent Us.” (See: NYC Joins Millions Across Country in Rallies, Marches for Women’s Reproductive Freedom)
The Office of Management and Budget issued a statement strongly supporting passage of H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) with 182 co-sponsors.
The statement comes as news reports circulate about a Georgia man who murdered 8 women in a shooting spree in Atlanta, March 16.
The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that was first enacted in 1994 and that was reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013. VAWA has transformed the Nation’s response to violence against women and has brought critically needed resources to States, Territories, Tribes, and local communities to help prevent and improve the response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Strengthening and renewing VAWA, however, is long overdue. As many as 1 in 3 women are subjected to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking at some point in their lives, and the rate is even higher for women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, and transgender people. VAWA reauthorization is more urgent now than ever, especially when the pandemic and economic crisis have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States.
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1620 continues to build upon previous VAWA authorizations, and includes new provisions to enhance efforts and address identified gaps and barriers. H.R. 1620 would authorize funding for VAWA grant programs for fiscal years 2022 through 2026 and would continue to invest in, and expand, strategies that advance access to safety, justice, and economic stability for victims and survivors. The bill would maintain established and effective protections and programs, while also addressing persistent gaps through more holistic approaches in order to address the complex realities and intersecting issues that impact survivors’ lives.
H.R. 1620 would reauthorize grant programs that support the development of a coordinated community response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. It would expand the categories for which funds may be used in various grant programs to provide additional pathways to safety and support for survivors. Further, the bill seeks to reduce intimate partner homicides committed with firearms by expanding protections for victims and enhancing support for law enforcement agencies and courts to improve the enforcement of court orders. The bill would also improve the health care system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and their children. Without the ability to access affordable housing, a victim must often times choose between becoming homeless or remaining in an abusive situation. H.R. 1620 includes provisions that would provide important housing protections to allow survivors in federally assisted housing to relocate to safe housing with victim relocation vouchers, maintain their housing after a perpetrator leaves, or terminate a lease early. The bill also would expand economic security protections for survivors.
H.R. 1620 would authorize increased funding to enhance culturally specific services for victims. This would include developing culturally-relevant training and education programs for health care professionals that are designed to be inclusive of the experiences of all individuals, including people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. It would also include training on equity and anti-racism approaches to health services delivery, disparities in access to health care services and prevention resources, and current and historic systemic racism in health care services.
The Rape Prevention & Education (RPE) formula grants, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, authorize essential funding to States and Territories to support rape prevention and education programs conducted by rape crisis centers, sexual assault coalitions, and other public and private nonprofit entities. H.R. 1620 would authorize higher levels of funding for prevention through the RPE program grants, as well as grant programs focused on prevention efforts with youth administered through the Department of Justice. It also would expand grants to support implementation of training programs to improve the capacity of early childhood programs to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among the families they serve. H.R. 1620 would also support institutions of higher education in developing and disseminating comprehensive prevention education for all students and expanding training for school-based personnel and campus health centers to meet the needs of young victims of sexual violence.
The Administration strongly supports measures in H.R. 1620 that would expand access to justice for Native American victims. Native women are victimized at rates higher than any other population in the United States, and the vast majority of Native victims report being victimized by a non-native individual. This bill would build on the effectiveness of special criminal jurisdiction for domestic violence cases that was included in prior VAWA reauthorization laws and address other significant co-occurring crimes. It recognizes tribal jurisdiction that will allow participating Tribes to hold accountable non-native perpetrators of sexual violence, sex trafficking, domestic violence against child victims, stalking, elder abuse, and assault against law enforcement officers when they commit such crimes on tribal territory.
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1620 recognizes the need to provide protection and services to all victims of abuse and includes proposals to strengthen existing policies that were supported by both Democrats and Republicans last year. The Administration urges swift passage of this legislation.
President Joe Biden issued this statement on International Women’s Day, saying, “Elevating the status of women and girls globally is the right thing to do — it is a matter of justice, fairness, and decency, and it will lead to a better, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all. On International Women’s Day, let us recommit to the principle that our nation, and the world, is at its best when the possibilities for all of our women and girls are limitless.”
President Biden then signed two Executive Orders establishing a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world.
On Saturday, President Biden also nominated two female generals – Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost and Army Lt. General Laura Richardson – to oversee four-star commands, after their promotions were delayed under former President Trump due to concerns that he “would reject the officers because they were women,” according to the New York Times.
Here is President Biden’s statement:
Women’s history is American history — and world history. On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements, contributions, and progress of women and girls in the United States and around the globe.
My Administration is committed to honoring women by investing in their opportunity, security, and wellbeing. I was proud to issue an Executive Order today establishing the White House Gender Policy Council, to ensure that every domestic and foreign policy we pursue rests on a foundation of dignity and equity for women. My Administration is also committed to ensuring that women are represented equally at all levels of the federal government. That starts with Vice President Harris, who broke through a barrier that stood for more than two centuries. And it includes a record number of diverse women whom I’ve nominated to serve in Cabinet-level roles and appointed to senior-level positions.
In our nation, as in all nations, women have fought for justice, shattered barriers, built and sustained economies, carried communities through times of crisis, and served with dignity and resolve. Too often, they have done so while being denied the freedom, full participation, and equal opportunity all women are due. Their contributions have been downplayed. Their stories have been neglected. That is why International Women’s Day is also a time for us to recommit ourselves to the cause of equity and equality for women the world over, and to shine a light on the systemic obstacles that fuel gender disparities and undermine women’s potential.
Despite persistent obstacles, women are leading every day. Over the past year, women have played a critical, often outsized role in responding to the global coronavirus pandemic. They are our vaccine researchers and public health officials. They are our doctors and nurses. They are our essential workers — so many of whom are women of color — in fire stations and nursing homes, on farms and in grocery stores, in schools and in shelters.
Around the world, we are seeing decades of women’s economic gains erased by this pandemic. It’s forcing millions more girls out of school, which could impact economic growth for decades to come. Incidents of violence against women in their homes and communities have spiked. And, as is so often the case, COVID-19 is hitting the poorest and most marginalized women the hardest. These global trends damage all of us, because we know that governments, economies, and communities are stronger when they include the full participation of women — no country can recover from this pandemic if it leaves half of its population behind.
Elevating the status of women and girls globally is the right thing to do — it is a matter of justice, fairness, and decency, and it will lead to a better, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all. On International Women’s Day, let us recommit to the principle that our nation, and the world, is at its best when the possibilities for all of our women and girls are limitless.
President Biden then signed two Executive Orders establishing a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world.
FACT SHEET: Executive Orders Establishing the White House Gender Policy Council and Ensuring Education Free from Sexual Violence
The full participation of all people – including women and girls – across all aspects of our society is essential to the economic well-being, health, and security of our nation and of the world. This is a matter of human rights, justice and fairness. It is also critically important to reducing poverty and promoting economic growth, increasing access to education, improving health outcomes, advancing political stability, and fostering democracy.
Today, President Biden will sign two Executive Orders. The first establishes the White House Gender Policy Council to ensure that the Biden-Harris Administration advances gender equity and equal rights and opportunity for women and girls. The second directs the Department of Education (ED) to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance, and policies for consistency with the Administration’s policy to guarantee education free from sexual violence.
A year into COVID-19, women are still contending with the public health crisis, an ensuing economic crisis, and on top of those challenges, a caregiving crisis. The pandemic has exacerbated barriers that have held back women, especially women of color, forcing many to leave the workforce, manage virtual schooling, and absorb additional caregiving responsibilities. Many women are also on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19 – as essential workers keeping our economy, communities and families going. As the country continues to grapple with the pandemic and reckons with the scourge of systemic racism, President Biden knows that we need a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world, restoring America as a champion for gender equity and equality.
Today’s actions will:
Establish the Gender Policy Council. The first Executive Order formally establishes the Gender Policy Council within the Executive Office of the President, with a role in both domestic and foreign policy development. The Council will work in coordination with the existing policy councils to advance gender equity and equality, including by:
Combatting systemic bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment;
Increasing economic security and opportunity by addressing the structural barriers to women’s participation in the labor force, decreasing wage and wealth gaps, and addressing the caregiving needs of American families and supporting care workers, predominantly low-paid women of color;
Ensuring access to comprehensive health care and preventing and responding to gender-based violence;
Promoting equity and opportunity in education and leadership; and
Advancing gender equality globally through diplomacy, development, trade, and defense, and by recognizing the needs and roles of women and girls in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, democratic rights-respecting governance, global health and humanitarian crises and development assistance.
The White House Gender Policy Council will be an essential part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to ensure we build a more equal and just society – by aggressively protecting the rights and unique needs of those who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including individuals who are Black, Latina, Native, Asian American and Pacific Islander, people with disabilities, and LGBTQI+.
The Executive Order requires the Co-Chairs of the Council to submit to the President a Government-wide strategy to address gender in policies, programs and budgets, and an annual report to measure progress on implementing the strategy. To prevent and respond to gender-based violence, wherever it occurs, there will be a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence on the Council staff. The Executive Order also requires engagement with non-profit and community-based organizations, state and local government officials, Tribal Nations, foreign government officials and multilateral organizations.
Ensure education free from sexual violence. President Biden will sign an Executive Order that will direct the Department of Education (ED) to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance, and policies to ensure consistency with the Biden-Harris Administration’s policy that students be guaranteed education free from sexual violence. It also directs ED to specifically evaluate the Title IX regulation issued under the previous administration and agency action taken pursuant to that regulation, to determine whether the regulation and agency action are consistent with the policies of the Biden-Harris Administration.
The “Women’s Agenda” has always been complex and complicated, going way beyond reproductive freedom and the rights to control one’s own body and therefore one’s own destiny. These basic rights are fundamental to all others, particularly women’s ability to fulfill their full potential and accumulate the economic and political resources they could. But Women’s Issues have always crossed over to a range of economic rights (income parity, gender discrimination, parental leave), legal rights to housing and property, gun violence prevention, domestic violence, climate justice, criminal justice, voting rights, health care , the list goes on and on.
Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, understands the complexity, so has unveiled a detailed plan, an agenda, for how his administration would address all these categories.
He has won the endorsement of many women leaders, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, as well as scores of organizations.
In her endorsement, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, stated: “The choice is clear: In his four years in the White House, Donald Trump has exhibited unprecedented cruelty and put lives and freedom on the line time and time again—and this November, we have the opportunity to elect Vice President Joe Biden, a deeply compassionate and thoughtful leader who knows that fighting for reproductive freedom for every body is part and parcel of a just society. NARAL Pro-Choice America and our 2.5 million members are committed to powering Vice President Biden to victory this November and working with his administration to protect and expand access to abortion care and birth control. Joe Biden will stand for freedom over Donald Trump’s desire to control women. He will put a stop to Trump’s dangerous anti-choice political agenda when so much hangs in the balance. As we continue to face a public health crisis, a national reckoning with entrenched white supremacy, and attacks on reproductive freedom, another four years under Trump would be devastating—to our rights, our families, and our democracy. Vice President Biden will lead our nation forward with dignity and vision at a time when our freedoms are under unprecedented assault.”
This extremely detailed agenda is from the Biden campaign:
Joe Biden is going to build our country back better after this economic crisis and that includes ensuring we get closer to full inclusion of and equality for women. Women — particularly women of color — have never had a fair shot to get ahead in this country. Today, too many women are struggling to make ends meet and support their families, and are worried about the economic future for their children. This was true before the COVID-19 crisis, but the current global health crisis has exacerbated these realities for women.
For Biden, it’s a simple proposition: his daughter is entitled to the same rights and opportunities as his sons. He believes every issue is a women’s issue — health care, the economy, education, national security — but women are also uniquely and disproportionately impacted by many policies. As President, Biden will pursue an aggressive and comprehensive plan to further women’s economic and physical security and ensure that women can fully exercise their civil rights. Biden will:
Improve economic security. Biden will start by fighting for equal pay, investing in women-owned small businesses, expanding access to education and training, and strengthening pay and benefits in careers disproportionately filled by women.
Expand access to health care and tackle health inequities. Biden will expand access to high-quality, affordable health care for all women.
Help women navigate work and families. Biden will expand access to affordable child care and care for older Americans and people with disabilities, and provide paid leave and other important workplace benefits and protections.
End violence against women. Biden will work to end violence against women, continuing his leadership on this issue since he authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.
Protect and empower women around the world.
Biden will start on day one of his Administration leading by example, making sure his political appointees, including his Cabinet, and our entire federal workforce look like the country they serve. Biden has committed to selecting a woman to be his Vice President and an African American woman to be his first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, but his commitment to ensuring women help lead his Administration does not end there. As President, Biden will nominate and appoint people who look like the country they serve. He will reissue and mandate strict compliance with the Obama-Biden executive order to promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce, which President Trump has ignored. He will modify it to mandate that Cabinet agencies and other executive branch agencies work with federal employee unions to create and implement a diversity and inclusion plan for the federal workforce. And, he will provide more training and mentoring opportunities to improve retention, and collect better data about who is applying for federal service positions as well as being promoted.
Biden will also structure his Administration to ensure women’s issues remain at the forefront of policy efforts. Biden knows that addressing the challenges faced by women and girls is more than just a campaign promise — it’s an imperative if the Administration is going to succeed in its broader efforts to make sure the government and economy work for all Americans. Biden will ensure that his administration aggressively protects the rights and addresses the unique needs of all women, including Black women, Latina women, Native women, Asian American and Pacific Islander women, women with disabilities, and lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer women. The Obama-Biden Administration created the White House Council on Women and Girls to make sure the federal government was doing its best to tackle issues like equal pay, paid family leave, and poverty in an effective manner. The Trump Administration then disbanded it and put nothing in its place. Biden will create a White House Council on Gender Equality, chaired by a senior member of the Executive Office of the President tasked solely with guiding and coordinating government policy that impacts women and girls, such as economic policy, health care, racial justice, gender-based violence, and foreign policy.
As President, Biden will work with advocates across the country to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) so women’s rights are once and for all explicitly enshrined in our Constitution. Biden co-sponsored the ERA nine times. As President, he will work with advocates across the country to enshrine gender equality in our Constitution. Now that Virginia has become the 38th state to ratify the ERA, Biden will proudly advocate for Congress to recognize that 3/4th of states have ratified the amendment and take action so our Constitution makes clear that any government-related discrimination against women is unconstitutional.
Biden will tackle this wealth gap, including by fighting for equal pay, ending other forms of workplace discrimination and harassment, encouraging and supporting women entrepreneurs and small business owners, making education and training more affordable, providing pathways into high-paying professions, expanding access to paid leave and child care, and strengthening union organizing and collective bargaining.
The Lilly Ledbetter Act Fair Pay Act was the first piece of legislation the Obama-Biden Administration enacted, and Biden will continue to prioritize closing wage gaps and ending paycheck discrimination. He strongly supports Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman DeLauro’s Paycheck Fairness Act, which codifies and expands critical Obama-Biden protections for workers’ paychecks. He will build on it as President and protect workers against retaliation for discussing wages. Today, one in four private-sector workers are in a workplace where they can’t talk about their current wage rate with other employees without fear of retribution from their employers. Many states and the District of Columbia outlaw employers from retaliating against workers who talk about pay. Under a Biden presidency, it will be national. Biden will also:
Strengthen enforcement and accountability. Biden will take action to strengthen the ability of employers to challenge discriminatory pay practices and hold employers accountable. He will make it easier for employees to join together in class action lawsuits, shift the burden to employers to prove that any gender-based pay gaps exist for job-related reasons and business necessity, and increase penalties against companies that discriminate. And, he will hold companies accountable by expanding funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to increase the number of anti-discrimination investigators, litigators, and enforcement actions.
Make wage gaps transparent. The Obama-Biden Administration required medium and large employers to collect and disclose compensation information by race, gender, and ethnicity to the federal government so it had better insight into pay disparities and could better target enforcement. The Trump Administration only continued to collect this data at the order of a federal court, and has announced its intent to stop collecting pay data for future years. Biden believes improving pay transparency is one essential step to ending the gender pay gap.
Level the negotiating playing field. By enacting the Paycheck Fairness Act, Biden will ban the use of salary history to set wages and make hiring decisions, so employers have one less false justification for under-paying women and people of color.
Make it easier for women and all workers to organize unions and bargain collectively. Unions help close the pay gap between women and men. Women in unions earn 23% more than non-unionized women. Because Biden knows we need to build back better, he will include in the economic recovery legislation he sends to Congress a series of policies to build worker power to raise wages and secure stronger benefits. This legislation will make it easier for workers to organize a union and bargain collectively with their employers by including the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, card check, union and bargaining rights for public service workers, and a broad definition of “employee” and tough enforcement to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. It will also go further than the PRO Act by holding company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts. And, he’ll restore the ability of federal workers to unionize and collectively bargain. Read Biden’s full plan to encourage unionization and collective bargaining at joebiden.com/empowerworkers.
Ending Other Forms of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment
End discrimination against pregnant and nursing workers. When businesses refuse to give workers small, reasonable accommodations, like short breaks or easy access to water, pregnant workers are forced to choose between work and the health of their pregnancies. This is all too common in American workplaces, especially in industries where jobs are inflexible and physically demanding — and more likely to be held by women paid low wages, women of color, or immigrant women. Biden will follow the lead of more than two dozen states and support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, ensuring that employers offer women employees with reasonable workplace accommodations when their abilities are limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.
Address harassment in the workplace. Tens of millions of workers, most of whom are women of color, report being sexually harassed at work. This harassment often leads to devastating consequences, including mental health problems and fewer opportunities for career advancement. In some egregious cases, women are forced out of their jobs. While harassment is illegal, there are too many barriers for people to seek justice. For example, 60 million workers have been forced to sign contracts waiving their rights to sue their employer and over one-third of the workforce is bound by nondisclosure agreements that stop workers from speaking out about harassment and discrimination. As President, Biden will make systemic changes to address sexual harassment and other discrimination so workplaces are safe and fair for all. He will advocate for and sign into law the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace (BE HEARD) Act.
Better protect domestic workers, including care workers, from harassment and discrimination. Biden will work to pass the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights so these workers — many of whom are women or people of color — are treated with dignity and respect.
Investing in Women-Owned Small Businesses
Women start businesses at two times the rate of men and now represent 42% of the nation’s businesses. But, they still raise much less capital — with only about 2% of all venture capital funds going to women-owned businesses — and are more likely to rely on personal funds. Biden will ensure women-owned small businesses have the capital, technical assistance, mentorship, and support they need to ensure they are able to grow. For example, Biden will:
Direct federal funding to women-owned businesses, including through his new historic $400 billion investment in additional federal purchases of products made by American workers, in his first term. This will be the largest mobilization of public investments in procurement, infrastructure, and R&D since WWII, and it will critically be designed to support small businesses and those owned by women and people of color.
Double funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative. The Obama-Biden Administration created the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to support small businesses, driving $10 billion in new lending for each $1 billion in SSBCI funds. Biden will extend the program through 2025 and double its federal funding to $3 billion, driving close to $30 billion of private sector investments to small businesses all told, especially those owned by women and people of color.
Improve and expand the Small Business Administration programs that most effectively support women-owned businesses, especially those owned by women of color. Immediately after taking office in 2009, the Obama-Biden Administration started to make billions of dollars in capital available to women-owned businesses as part of the Recovery Act, and the Obama-Biden Administration’s Small Business Administration (SBA) made expansive investments in the growth of women-owned small businesses. Recognizing that women, and particularly women of color, face disproportionate and systemic barriers to securing capital for their small businesses, the Obama-Biden Administration also redesigned SBA loan programs to better serve women business owners. Biden will build on this work and expand SBA programs that target women.
Expand Access to Education and Training
Biden will ensure that women receive educational opportunities to unleash their full potential to grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class. He will aggressively enforce Title IX protections to ensure that women and girls receive full access to these opportunities, from admissions to financial aid to sports. In addition, he will:
Provide two years of community college or other high-quality training available without debt, invest in community college students’ success, and tackle the barriers that prevent students from obtaining their degree or credential. Women make up nearly 60% of the students who attend community college. Working with limited resources, community colleges have figured out how to provide a high-quality, cost-effective education to students often juggling additional responsibilities, such as jobs or child care, many of whom are single mothers. But as a country, we haven’t invested enough in making sure community colleges reach women who could benefit from their programs, or improve their quality and completion rates. Biden will provide two years of community college or other high-quality training programs without debt for any hard-working individual looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work. And, he will create a new grant program to assist community colleges in improving their students’ success, while also taking steps to tackle the barriers — like juggling a job and taking care of children — that prevent women from completing their community college degree or training credential. He will give states financial incentives to foster collaboration between community colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services ranging from public benefits and additional financial aid to cover textbook and transportation costs, to child care and mental health services, faculty mentoring, tutoring, and peer support groups. And, Biden will establish a federal grant program to help community colleges create emergency grant programs for women who experience an unexpected financial challenge that threatens their ability to stay enrolled.
Make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000. Biden will make public colleges and universities and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000. This proposal will help roughly roughly 8 out of every 10 families, including 91% of Black households, 88% of Latino households, and 91% of American Indian/Alaska Native households.
Support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their Communities. Biden will invest over $70 billion in HBCUs, Tribal Colleges And Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American And Native American Pacific Islander-serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions (ANNHs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and Native American-serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs), building the high tech labs and facilities and digital infrastructure needed for learning, research, and innovation, and expanding career pathways for graduates of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in areas that meet national priorities, including building a diverse pipeline of public school teachers.
Provide educational opportunities for women to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Too few women and people of color have been provided with the pathways to the high-skill, high wage, in-demand jobs that STEM careers offer, including in manufacturing and innovation. To address this disparity, Biden will invest in school vocational training and partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and employers. These partnerships will create programs that allow students to earn an industry credential upon high school graduation, a credential that readies them for a good-paying career. And, he will fund state-of-the-art workforce skill development, such as funds for the creation or expansion of technical training programs around digital, statistical, and technology skills, funded by the Labor Department. This will increase pathways for those — including women and workers of color — who are too often under-represented in critical technology jobs. Biden will make investments in pre-apprenticeship programs so that women have additional pathways into high-paying, union jobs in everything from designing to building infrastructure to manufacturing to technology to health.
Help develop pathways for diverse workers to access training and career opportunities. A study of Labor Department-funded individual career services — which included assistance looking for a job, help developing career plans, and one-on-one career coaching — found that earnings for workers who were provided these services increased 7 to 20%. Biden will ensure these services are universally available to all workers and people entering the workforce who need them. And, he will increase funding for community-based and proven organizations that help women and people of color access high-quality training and job opportunities.
Alleviatestudent debt burdens on women. Women, primarily Black women, hold two-thirds of the nation’s student debt. Biden will address the student debt crisis, which disproportionately affects women, by:
Forgiving all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities for debt-holders earning up to $125,000. This will also apply to individuals holding federal student loans for tuition from private HBCUs and MSIs.
More than halving payments on undergraduate federal student loans by simplifying and increasing the generosity of today’s income-based repayment program. After 20 years, the remainder of the loans for people who have responsibly made payments through the program will be 100% forgiven.
Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and making it more generous by offering $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of national or community service, up to five years. After working in public service for 10 years, the remaining debt will be forgiven.
Stopping for-profit education programs and private lenders from profiteering off of students.
Permitting the discharge of student loans in bankruptcy.
Ensure college campuses are safe for women. Survivors and advocates have fought to hold schools accountable and give young people truly fair access to education. When survivors step forward, they should be treated with dignity and respect and heard, not silenced. The Obama-Biden Administration worked with survivors and advocates to help bring violence against women on college campuses out of the shadows and required schools change their practices. Now, the Trump Administration’s Education Department — led by Betsy DeVos — is trying to shame and silence survivors, and take away parents’ peace of mind. Instead of protecting women, they have rolled back the clock and given colleges a green light to ignore sexual violence and strip survivors of their civil rights under Title IX, guaranteeing that college campuses will be less safe for our nation’s young people. They have let colleges off the hook for protecting students by permitting them to choose to investigate only more extreme acts of violence and harassment and requiring them to investigate in a way that dissuades survivors from coming forward. Biden will immediately put this to an end and stand on the side of survivors, who deserve to have their voices heard, their claims taken seriously and investigated, and their rights upheld.
Promote financial literacy programs to support female entrepreneurs. Biden will promote high school programs designed to help students — particularly students of color and girls — develop proficiency in with respect to financial planning, student loans, and debt management.
Expand Pay and Benefits for Jobs Disproportionately Filled by Women
Biden will focus on improving women’s economic security by expanding the pay and benefits for underpaid jobs that are disproportionately filled by women, starting by:
Making sure educators receive a competitive wage and benefits. During the 2017-2018 school year, approximately 76% of public school teachers were women and in 2018, public school teachers made 21.4% less than workers with similar education and experience. Teachers and school personnel do some of the most important and hardest work, but too often they aren’t justly rewarded. As President, Biden will correct this wrong. Biden will triple funding for Title I, the federal program funding schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families, and require districts to use these funds to offer educators competitive salaries and make other critical investments prior to directing the funds to other purposes. Read Biden’s full plan to give our educators the resources they deserve at joebiden.com/education.
Supporting our caregivers and early childhood educators. Caregivers and early childhood educators — who are disproportionately women and people of color — are poorly compensated. Direct support professionals and child care workers earn on average less than $12 an hour and $25,000 annually. This low pay contributes to extremely high rates of turnover in the care workforce, which hurts these workers and those for whom they care. Biden will maintain and grow a diverse, talented care and education workforce by providing increased pay and benefits and access to collective bargaining, training and education, and career ladders. Read Biden’s full plan for our caregivers and early childhood educators at joebiden.com/caregiving.
Stopping exploitation of low-wage working women, including women of color. Low-wage workers make up nearly half of all workers between the ages of 18 and 64. They are more likely to be women or people of color. Biden will:
Increase the federal minimum wage to $15 across the country, disproportionately benefitting women and people of color who make up the majority of workers earning under $15 an hour. This increase will include workers who aren’t currently earning the minimum wage, like the farmworkers who grow our food and domestic workers who care for our aging and sick, and people with disabilities. Biden will also support indexing the minimum wage to the median hourly wage so that low-wage workers’ wages keep up with those of middle income workers.
Eliminate the tipped minimum wage.For 25 years, the federal tipped minimum wage has been stagnant at $2.13, declining in value by over 40%. This perpetuates inequality for women and people of color: two in three tipped wage workers are women and more likely to live in poverty, and tipped workers of color are tipped even less than white tipped-wage workers. As President, Biden will end this discriminatory practice of a tipped minimum wage and ensure all workers have the same wage floor. He will also support small businesses like restaurants during this economic crisis, helping them get back on their feet so they can keep their doors open and pay their workers.
Stop employers from denying workers overtime pay they’ve earned. The Obama-Biden Administration fought to extend overtime pay to over 4 million workers and protect nearly 9 million from losing it. The Trump Administration reversed this progress, implementing a new rule that leaves millions of workers behind — including 4.2 million women. Since Trump walked away from protecting these workers who are fighting for a place in the middle class, they have lost over $3.2 billion in foregone overtime wages. As President, Biden will ensure workers are paid fairly for the long hours they work and get the overtime pay they deserve. And, he will ensure that domestic workers and farm workers receive overtime protections.
EXPAND ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE AND TACKLE HEALTH DISPARITIES
The Affordable Care Act was — and still is — a big deal, especially for women. Because of Obamacare, millions of women gained the peace of mind that comes with insurance. And, over 100 million people no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have a pre-existing condition like high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, or even pregnancy. Insurance companies can no longer charge someone more because they are a woman — a practice which costs women $1 billion more than men annually. Young adults can get coverage through their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. Insurance plans have to cover essential benefits like maternity care. And, insurance plans now have to cover critical recommended preventive services free of charge.
But now, in the middle of a pandemic, Trump is trying to strip away all health care protections for the millions of Americans who depend on the Affordable Care Act.
As President, Biden will protect and build on Obamacare — to expand access, lower costs, and make quality, affordable health care a right for all. Read Biden’sfull plan for building on Obamacare with a new public option at joebiden.com/healthcare.
Before the pandemic, the U.S. already had one of the highest rates of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth relative to other developed countries, especially among Black women, who were 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women, and Native women, who from 2011 to 2016 were 2.3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than were white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. As President, Biden will reduce our unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, starting by taking the California strategy nationwide.
Maternal mortality is just one example of the types of health disparities that Biden will direct his Secretary of Health and Human Services to address.
The Affordable Care Act made historic progress ensuring access to free preventive care, including contraception. The Biden Plan will build on that progress. Vice President Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment because health care is a right that should not be dependent on one’s zip code or income. And, the public option will cover contraception and a woman’s constitutional right under Roe v. Wade. Biden will also:
Stop state laws violating Roe v. Wade. Biden will work to codify Roe v. Wade, and his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade.
Restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The Obama-Biden Administration fought Republican attacks on funding for Planned Parenthood again and again. As President, Biden will reissue guidance specifying that states cannot refuse Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood and other providers and reverse the Trump Administration’s rule preventing these organizations from obtaining Title X funds.
Just as the Obama-Biden Administration did, rescind the Mexico City Policy (also referred to as the global gag rule) that President Trump reinstated and expanded. This rule currently bars the U.S. federal government from supporting important global health efforts — including for malaria and HIV/AIDS — in developing countries simply because the organizations providing that aid also offer information on abortion services.
Restore the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate in place before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision makes it easier for the Trump-Pence Administration to continue to strip health care from women — attempting to carve out broad exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s commitment to giving all women free access to recommended contraception. Biden will restore the Obama-Biden policy that existed before the Hobby Lobby ruling: providing an exemption for houses of worship and an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious missions. The accommodation will allow women at these organizations to access contraceptive coverage, not through their employer-provided plan, but instead through their insurance company or a third-party administrator.
Health Care Protections for All
LGBTQ+ women. The Obama-Biden Administration ensured that insurance companies could no longer increase premiums merely due to someone’s gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. But President Trump rolled back these basic health care protections for LGBTQ+ Americans. As President, Biden will defend the rights of all people — regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity — to have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination. He will also ensure coverage for comprehensive care, including covering care related to transitioning such as gender confirmation surgery. In addition, he will ban so-called “conversion therapy.”
Women with disabilities. Biden will provide greater access to home and community-based services and long-term services and supports in the most integrated setting appropriate to each person’s needs. He will end the institutional bias in the Medicaid program and build the capacity of our system to deliver home and community-based services. In addition, Biden will direct his Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights to issue guidance for states and health insurance programs clarifying how the American with Disabilities Act applies to benefits and reimbursement decisions. Also, as directed by Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Biden will ensure that entities funded by HHS do not deny medical care based on disability or age.
Incarcerated women. Women inherently have different basic health care needs than incarcerated men. Biden will condition receipt of federal criminal justice grants on adequate provision of primary care and gynecological care for women, including care for pregnant women.
Women veterans. Women currently make up 10% of the veteran population, but they are projected to be more than 16% by 2043. The Veterans Administration (VA) must continually improve its ability to meet the unique health needs and care challenges faced by the growing number of women veterans. Biden will ensure that each VA Medical Center has at least one full-time women’s primary care physician; and, within 200 days of taking office, make available a women veterans training module for community health care providers. Biden will also work with Congress to eliminate co-pays for preventive health care for women veterans and to enact the Deborah Sampson Act and ensure that the safety and privacy concerns of women veterans are addressed throughout his Administration. He will provide funding to ensure safe, reliable child care is available at all VA Medical centers.
Native women. The Indian Health Service (IHS) has been underfunded for decades, and does not have enough doctors or nurses to provide necessary care for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Indigenous women are particularly susceptible to a lack of preventive care, while also being far too likely to experience gender-based violence. Biden has called for dramatically increasing funding for IHS and making that funding mandatory, critical for helping Native American women access comprehensive health care, including preventive screenings, such as mammograms, trauma-informed care, and mental health treatment.
HELP WOMEN NAVIGATE WORK AND FAMILY
Biden has taken care of aging parents, and he’s been a single parent. He knows how hard it is to raise a family and to care for a sick family member. And, he knows how hard it is for millions of Americans who are just trying to make ends meet. The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for women in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members.
In the United States, women overwhelmingly take on the responsibilities of caring for their families, and thus are disproportionately impacted by the gaps in our caregiving system. Only one in six American workers typically has access to paid family leave if they need it. Black and Latino individuals are even less likely to be able to take paid leave. And, when parents are forced to choose between their jobs and caregiving responsibilities, the costs are great — both to them and to the economy. Women who need to work part-time on average earn lower hourly wages and benefits. And, the lack of family friendly policies is causing many women to leave the workforce completely.
These decisions have real costs for families. A recent study found that a woman in her twenties who left the workforce for five years to care for her young children earns nearly 20% less over her lifetime. A similar study estimated that the absence of paid family and medical leave costs workers and their families roughly $22.5 billion a year in wages. Consequences can be especially severe for women of color who are more likely to be both breadwinners and caregivers, all while earning lower-pay to cushion the loss of work.
Biden will make substantial investments in the infrastructure of care in our country. He will make child care more affordable and accessible for working families, and make it easier for aging relatives and loved ones with disabilities to have quality, affordable home- or community-based care. And, he will ensure all workers have access to up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, can earn 7 days of paid sick leave, and have fair and flexible schedules so they can more easily manage their families and careers.
Ensure mothers and all parents can access high-quality, affordable child care. Biden will build our child care infrastructure back better for the long-term, including by making high-quality child care affordable and preschool available for three- and four-year-olds. His plan will cultivate the potential of young children, provide parents — primarily mothers — with career opportunities and economic security, create an additional 1.5 million early education jobs, and improve the existing jobs for the essential workers who educate our young children. Biden will:
Provide 3- and 4-year-olds access to free, high-quality pre-kindergarten, laying a strong foundation for children and saving parents thousands of dollars a year on child care costs. Students who enter kindergarten school-ready are nearly two times more likely to master basic skills by age 11. One study found students who enter kindergarten school-ready are also less likely to repeat a grade and are more likely to graduate from high school. And studies show that high-quality preschool reduces the school readiness gap caused by systemic racism. So parents and guardians can choose what works for them, Biden will partner with states to provide a mixed delivery system that includes public school systems, child care centers and family child care providers, and Head Start.
Offer low-income and middle-class families an up to $8,000 tax credit to help pay for child care. Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, up to a total of $8,000 for one child or $16,000 for two or more children. The tax credit will be refundable, meaning that families who don’t owe a lot in taxes will still benefit, and Biden will actively work with child care experts to explore ways to make it advanced, so cash-strapped families can immediately benefit from the credit. The full 50% reimbursement will be available to families making less than $125,000 a year. And, all families making between $125,000 and $400,000 will receive a partial credit ensuring that in no case will they get less under the Biden plan than they are eligible for today.
Provide access to affordable, high-quality child careon a sliding scale for low-income and middle-class families who would prefer this option over the tax credit for young children. For young children ages 0-5, Biden will adopt the child care program envisioned in Senator Murray and Congressman Bobby Scott’s bipartisan Child Care for Working Families Act. He will:
Save families money by helping them with child care costs. Biden will partner with states to provide sliding scale subsidies so that the cost of child care for low-income and middle-class families will be based on what they can afford. For children under the age of 5, no family earning below 1.5 times the median income in their state will have to pay more than 7% of their income for quality care, which was the affordable child care benchmark set by the Obama-Biden Administration. Biden will also set aside a portion of the funds for tribes to expand access to quality child care for Native children, as well as for outlying areas including U.S. territories.
Invest in quality child care standards and a well-trained and well-compensated child care workforce. The quality of care matters: nearly all of brain development happens before a child turns three-years-old. For low-income children, every dollar invested in high-quality child care can result in a $7.30 return with lifetime impacts for children, as they grow up healthier, do better in school, and earn more over the course of their lifetimes. Biden will ensure families have access to the quality care their children need by working in partnership with states to ensure providers meet rigorous quality standards. These standards will include a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and support positive interactions between educators and children that promote children’s socio-emotional development. He will also provide funding reflective of the true cost of quality care. Recognizing that quality begins with supporting the early childhood workforce, Biden will invest in strategies to retain and grow the pool of diverse, talented early childhood educators and give them the time, resources and support – like coaches, training and education opportunities for certification, and financial stability – that they need to provide children an excellent education. (Read more about his plan to elevate the compensation, benefits, training and education opportunities for certification, and dignity of early childhood educators educators.)
Expand access to care that works for working parents. Many women are working in low-wage jobs with nontraditional hours, making it especially hard to find care that works with their schedules. Biden will fill critical child care shortages, including in the early mornings, evenings, and weekends, and in many rural communities and other child care deserts that do not have enough providers today. He will build safe, energy-efficient, developmentally appropriate child care facilities, including in workplaces and in child care deserts, and renovating existing facilities, so that parents and guardians never again have to search in vain for suitable child care options again. (Read more about his plan for building and renovating child care facilities). He will also offer bonus payments to providers who operate during nontraditional hours and create a Child Care Growth and Innovation fund that will provide grants to programs filling essential needs, including expanding access to high-quality care for families with high barriers to care. And, he will ensure all families are able to choose high-quality child care that works for them, whether a child care center, home-based care with a family child care provider, or an informal arrangement with a friend, family member, or neighbor. Biden will build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s efforts to ensure Early Head Start is an option for families that will benefit from comprehensive family support and child development resources, including through doubling Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
Ensure families with school-aged children have expanded access to after-school, weekend, and summer care. Biden will expand Child Care Development Block Grant subsidies to increase the number of school-aged children up to age 13 in low-income families who can benefit from the program. Low- and middle-income families will also be able to take advantage of Biden’s expanded, refundable tax credit to help cover after-school, weekend, and summer care costs. And, Biden will expand support for community schools, which often provide before, after-school, and summer learning opportunities, and increase funding for after-school programs, community centers, and extracurriculars to keep children safe, learning, and having fun when school is not in session.
Make sure more military children have access to the quality child care Department of Defense provides. Biden will fully fund installation-based child care facilities and expand awareness of the U.S. Department of Defense fee assistance program, as supported by leading advocates for military families, so that military spouses can more easily pursue their education and careers and tap into respite care to relieve the stresses of deployments, and members of our military can rest easier knowing their children are well cared for.
Expand access to dignified care for older Americans and those with disabilities. Biden will help ease the financial burden on families caring for aging relatives and loved ones with disabilities and reduce unnecessary and costly hospitalizations, while providing people who need care with better, more dignified services and supports that meet their specific needs and personal choices. Biden will:
Eliminate the current waitlist for home and community services under Medicaid. Approximately 800,000 people are on the waitlist for home and community care under Medicaid. It can take as many as five years for these individuals to get the services they badly need. Biden will increase Medicaid funding to states, the District of Columbia, and outlying territories to pay for the full cost of ensuring these 800,000 individuals and families receive long-term services and supports in the most appropriate setting, with the support of qualified care providers. Following the elimination of the current waiting list, states will be given a choice to convert their current home and community based care services waivers into a new state plan option with an enhanced federal match. This will enable states to make home and community-based services more available to more people in need.
Establish a long-term services and supports innovation fund to help expand home- and community-based alternatives to institutional care. Biden believes we must move aggressively to eliminate the institutional bias that pervades our public program and will dedicate substantial resources to this fund to help states and locally based entities test and scale up innovative models that expand home- and community-based alternatives. These could include a number of approaches that provide care while allowing individuals to retain independence, such as day programs and respite services that enable unpaid caregivers to work, alternative home and community models that coordinate or directly provide care, and Medicaid buy-in models.
Biden will also ensure women and all workers have comprehensive paid leave and fair and flexible schedules.
Guarantee up to 12 weeks paid leave for all workers.Eight in ten workers don’t have dedicated paid family leave to care for a new child or loved one. Biden will create a national paid family and medical leave program to give all workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave, based on the FAMILY Act. Workers can use this leave to care for newborns or newly adopted or fostered children, for their own or family member’s serious health conditions, or for chosen family; or to care for injured military service members or deal with “qualifying exigencies arising from the deployment” of a family member. During their time away from the job, workers will receive at least two-thirds of their paycheck up to $4,000 so they can better afford to take leave — with low- and middle-wage workers receiving larger shares of their paycheck. All workers will qualify for the program, including public- and private-sector workers, part-time workers, independent contractors, workers who change jobs, and small business employees. Biden’s plan will also guarantee paid leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, to give them time and space to seek physical or mental care or counsel, find new housing, or take other steps to recover. Biden will pay for this national paid leave program by making sure the super wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. Biden will also make sure small businesses get the support they need to survive the crisis, keep their workers employed, and come out the other side stronger.
Require employers to permanently provide up to seven days of paid sick, family, and safe leave. As women and all workers go back to work, they need to know that they can take time off if they get sick with COVID-19, and that their co-workers can take off as well. But current emergency paid leave law leaves out tens of millions of workers, with women and workers of color more likely to be excluded. Biden would ensure paid leave for all workers who get sick with COVID-19, for as long as they need to recover and complete quarantine — leave paid for by the federal government, for a worker’s full salary up to $1,400 a week. He would also guarantee federally-funded paid leave for workers caring for family members or other loved ones sick with COVID-19. We also need to provide all workers with permanent, paid sick leave. Biden will call for the type of sick leave called for in Senator Murray and Congresswoman DeLauro’s Healthy Families Act, requiring employers to allow workers to accrue seven days paid sick leave for workers to go to the doctor, get a flu shot, recover from an illness, or care for a sick child or family member, or a family member with disability-related needs; and to provide survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking the ability to use their sick leave as “safe days” to get the services and assistance they may need to heal.
Support workers’ ability to have fair and flexible schedules. When parents choose to take a more flexible job, they are generally penalized by earning far less per hour than if they worked in jobs with inflexible and long hours. And millions of workers, especially low-wage workers, have to work in jobs where they often do not know their work schedules until days or hours ahead of their shifts, making it harder for them to count on a predictable paycheck and plan for family or professional needs like child care, elder care, or education. When companies ensure stable schedules, research has shown it can be a win-win for employers and employees, as productivity and sales increase and workers’ lives improve. Biden will work to ensure more workers have fair, predictable schedules and flexible schedules when they need it. Biden will build on the work of many cities and states around the country that have already passed fair workweek laws to give workers more stable and predictable schedules, treat part-time workers with dignity, and provide workers with options for more flexibility.
Support informal or family caregivers. Biden will ensure that informal caregivers — family members or loved ones who do this work unpaid — are supported with a $5,000 tax credit for informal caregivers, Social Security credits for people who care for their loved ones, and professional and peer support for caregivers of wounded, injured, or ill active duty service members and veterans.
END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
One of the driving forces throughout Biden’s career has been fighting back against abuses of power — whether economic or physical power. That force motivated him to write and champion the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). He wrote and spearheaded the groundbreaking VAWA in 1990 at a time when few in Washington cared about domestic violence and sexual assault. He lifted survivors’ voices, won over the skeptics, and pushed until the bill became law in 1994. The Act created a national hotline for victims. It funded shelters and crisis centers. It trained law enforcement in communities across the country so they were better prepared to investigate violence against women and support survivors of violence. And, it helped change the way Americans understand and fundamentally view violence against women.
Since then, Biden has continued this work by leading efforts to ensure Congress passed legislation renewing and strengthening the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) three times: in 2000, 2005, and 2013. Each time, the VAWA reauthorization has upped the ante and ensured that especially vulnerable communities — from Native women to LGBTQ+ individuals — are included in the Act. Also while in the Senate, Biden introduced and helped pass the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in 2008. As Vice President, he established the first White House Advisor on Violence Against Women and started a national effort to change the culture on campus sexual assault. After leaving the White House, Biden continued his work to change the culture of violence and end campus sexual assault through the Biden Foundation.
As President, Biden will build on his strong track record of getting things done for survivors of gender-based violence by pursuing a bold plan to save more lives and make communities safer for all. He will:
Reauthorize VAWA and keep guns out of the hands of abusers. One of Biden’s top first 100 day priorities will be to reauthorize VAWA if Leader McConnell has still refused to bring the bill to the floor in the Senate. This reauthorization includes significant, forward-looking improvements and innovations, such as reforms to keep firearms out of the hands of abusers by closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and “stalking loophole.”
Expand the safety net for survivors of domestic and sexual violence by establishing a new coordinated housing initiative, expanding access to housing assistance, and protecting survivors from housing discrimination; providing cash assistance to survivors to help build safety and security; allowing survivors to access their retirement savings as they rebuild their lives; and guaranteeing paid domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking safe leave.
Empower and protect our young people. Biden will expand requirements for comprehensive sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence prevention education on college campuses; expand survivors’ reporting rights and options on college campuses; restore Title IX guidance for colleges and increase fines imposed on colleges for Clery Act violations (failing to report statistics about campus safety) as well as develop stronger enforcement protocols to oversee reporting under the U.S. Department of Education; and expand prevention and services to public K-12 schools.
Support the diverse needs of survivors of violence against women. Biden will strengthen and expand VAWA’s reach to women in marginalized communities. He will:
Expand grants to enhance culturally-specific services for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Since 2005, VAWA has funded a grant program to support targeted, community-driven strategies that include trauma-informed and culturally-specific programs that focus on the development of holistic prevention and intervention services for survivors from racial and ethnic minority communities. The Biden Administration will expand the resources available to scale up these initiatives and integrate a broader array of community-based organizations to address complex community needs in order to expand pathways to safety for survivors and continue to build community leadership to prevent and address domestic violence and sexual assault.
Reaffirm Tribal sovereignty to support victims and hold offenders accountable, and expand federal resources for Alaska Native and American Indian women and girls impacted by violence and abuse. More than 1 in 2 Native women are subject to sexual violence in their lives, with more than 1 in 7 experiencing it in the past year, and murder is the third leading cause of death of Native women. Biden fought for tribes’ rightful authority to protect Native women from abuse, a battle won in 2013 with the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that recognized tribes’ inherent power to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders who commit domestic violence, dating violence, or violate a protection order. Biden will reaffirm tribal sovereignty and expand the crimes for which tribes can exercise special criminal jurisdiction, including sexual assault, stalking, child violence, and trafficking, through signing into law VAWA 2019. And, Biden will take a comprehensive approach to end the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. He will work to close the data gap, increase funding and support for tribes in building their own programs, expand tribal authority, grow coordination among law enforcement agencies and provide additional resources to tribal enforcement, and expand access to culturally sensitive resources for survivors. He will ensure that federal law enforcement prioritizes public safety in Indian Country and with engagement from tribal communities. And, he will ensure Native people are at the table, listened to, and part of the solution.
Invest in the well-being of adolescent girls of color to reverse the upward trend of young women impacted by trauma becoming caught in the juvenile justice system — and offering pathways for their justice and healing to reduce their likelihood of experiencing incarceration as adults. The Biden Administration will take action to recognize the disproportionate rates of harsh school discipline practices and juvenile justice responses to adolescent girls of color who are often struggling to cope with trauma, including trauma from sexual abuse, dating violence, or trafficking. These survivors may run away from home to escape an abusive caregiver, or repeatedly miss school due to violence, and rather than being provided trauma-informed counseling, victim advocacy, or other supports, they are punished and thrust into a cycle of justice-system involvement — most of the time for non-violent behavior. As President, Biden will reinvest in the National Girls Initiative of the Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to support communities and schools to develop gender-specific and trauma-informed prevention and treatment programs and services as alternatives to girls being placed in juvenile detention. To complement the revival of the National Girls Initiative, Biden will also expand funding for the VAWA Consolidated Youth Program.
Combat the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color and reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking against LGBTQ+ individuals.Lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women experience high rates of physical or sexual violence by a partner at some point in their lives. Biden will reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking against LGBTQ+ women by enacting the VAWA reauthorization and working to include sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination protections in the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act reauthorization. And, he will seek permanent funding for the National LGBTQ Institute on IPV to prevent and address LGBTQ+ intimate partner violence. He will also combat the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color. The Biden Administration will make prosecuting their murderers a priority and direct federal resources to help prevent violence against transgender women, particularly transgender women of color. He will also enforce and strengthen the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and support LGBTQ+ survivors of violence. Read Biden’s full plan to advance LGBTQ+ equality in America and around the world at: joebiden.com/lgbtq-policy/.
Support older women. Biden will commission the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct the first-ever national prevalence study on intimate partner and sexual violence on women and men ages 50 and older, expand the Elder Justice AmeriCorps program to include a dedicated focus on legal advocacy for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, including the sexual abuse of older adults in nursing homes, and increase funding for communities to build multidisciplinary teams to prevent and address violence against older women, with a focus on investing in rural communities with aging populations.
Push to repeal extreme, anti-immigrant state laws that have a chilling effect on the ability of immigrant domestic violence, sexual assault survivors, and other victims of crimes to seek safety and justice. Some state laws drive victims and witnesses into the shadows and threaten public safety. As documented in a recent national survey, immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking are increasingly afraid to contact police, pursue civil or criminal cases, or go to court to seek safety. This traps victims who either ask for help and risk deportation, retaliation by an abuser, and separation from one’s children, or stay with a violent partner and risk one’s life. Biden will work in partnership with cities, states, nonprofits, and law enforcement to build trust and push for states to repeal the laws that chill the reporting of domestic violence incidents and threaten public safety. While in U.S. care, Biden will ensure that women migrants are safeguarded against abuse or sexual assault and treated with dignity, including by providing feminine care products, banning the shackling of pregnant women, and protecting access to reproductive health care services. Biden will also follow the advice of public health experts to vastly reduce the number of people in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol during a pandemic by releasing to their families or community-based care organizations those individuals in immigration detention, parents and children, who pose no risk to the community.
Ensure asylum laws protect people fleeing persecution. Biden will end Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols and restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do — protect people fleeing persecution and who cannot return home safely. He will make sure women refugees and asylum seekers have access to necessary services and protections. And, he’ll reinstate explicit asylum protections — rescinded by the Trump Administration — for domestic violence and sexual violence survivors, whose home governments cannot or will not protect them.
Increase visas for domestic violence survivors, ending processing delays, and tripling the current cap of 10,000 on U-visas. Biden will also protect immigrant survivors who have applied for U-visas under the Violence Against Women Act and Trafficking Victims Protection Act by ensuring they are not detained or deported while their applications are in process. Read Biden’s full plan to secure our values as a nation of immigrants at: joebiden.com/immigration.
Supporting women service members and veterans. Women who sign up to wear the uniform of the United States military serve our country with the same bravery and courage as male service members. They face all the same dangers and make the same sacrifices to serve —deployments overseas, long separations from loved ones, stresses on their families — while also navigating the same types of harassment and sexism that women face in every work place. Today, women make up 16% of enlisted troops and 19% of the officer corps, and those numbers are on the rise. Every service branch of the Armed Forces must do more to address the specific needs of women service members, especially when it comes to curbing the horrific rise in reports of sexual harassment and assault in the military during the Trump Administration. Biden believes that ending assault in the military requires determined leadership and accountability at every level — starting with the commander in chief. As Vice President, Biden advocated for the creation of the Special Victims Counsel for sexual assault cases in the military. As President, he will insist that the Department of Defense leadership take urgent and aggressive action to make sure that survivors are supported and abusers are held accountable for their crimes. He will immediately appoint a commission comprised of current and former military leaders, military sexual assault survivors and their advocates, and prominent sexual assault experts, to make concrete recommendations to him within 90 days. All options will be considered to end this scourge, including how these cases should be reported and prosecuted. A Biden Administration will not tolerate the sexual assault culture that has become all too common in the veteran sector, and which can prevent women veterans from seeking out the support and services they have earned.
Confront online harassment, abuse, and stalking. Biden will shine a light on the online harassment, stalking, and abuse that now is a too-frequent reality for Americans, particularly for young people and women. He will convene a National Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse, allocate new funding for law enforcement training to tackle online abuse, and support federal and state legislation creating a civil and criminal cause of action for unauthorized disclosure of intimate images.
End the rape kit backlog. Biden has been on the forefront of the fight to harness the power of DNA testing and bring justice and security to victims of sexual violence. He will create Regional Sexual Assault Investigative Training Academies, which will provide cutting-edge, evidence-based and trauma-informed training, increase funding for the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, and ensure that law enforcement training addresses attitudes that lead to the neglect of testing for rape kits.
Change the culture that enables sexual violence. Biden has long believed that lasting change starts with addressing the culture and engaging everyone to stand up and speak out against harassment and assault. As President, he will launch a new friends and family public awareness campaign. The campaign will highlight information about evidence-based bystander intervention, including what to do if you witness or become aware of abuse taking place, how to safely intervene, and when to get help.
Governments, economies, industries, and communities everywhere are made stronger when they include the full participation of women. Yet, women are underrepresented in positions of power in most countries around the world. Trillions of dollars are lost each year from the global economy because women are excluded from full economic participation. One in three women worldwide will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime. Globally, 130 milliongirls between the ages of 6 and 17 are not in school; one in five girls are likely to marry before she turns 18. These statistics are bad for women, they’re bad for countries and economies, and they are likely to worsen post-pandemic.
That’s why the Obama-Biden Administration put a direct focus on women’s and girls’ empowerment to enhance our national security. The Administration created the first U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security; the first U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally; as well as the first U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls. As a Senator, Biden introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which provided a framework for the United States to address gender-based violence globally. The Obama-Biden administration implemented many of IVAWA’s provisions via executive action and adopted its comprehensive approach to gender-based violence.
Yet, instead of building on the progress of the Obama-Biden Administration, Donald Trump has abandoned American leadership and adopted policies that directly harm women, including some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. The effects of Trump’s policies are compounded as women and girls disproportionately bear the negative impact of the pandemic, particularly those in already-marginalized communities or living in fragile states or as migrants, displaced persons, and refugees.
Biden believes that we must support women through the current health and economic crises, draw on their expertise to ensure an effective recovery, and address the factors that leave them vulnerable in the first place. Biden will restore America’s leading role as a champion for women and girls around the world and return to a government-wide focus of uplifting the rights of women and girls at home and abroad. He will:
Support women’s leadership globally. The Biden administration will break down barriers to women’s political empowerment, supporting civic education and leadership development for women and girls around the world. Biden will ensure the voices of women leaders help shape and spearhead the global COVID-19 response and recovery, leveraging their expertise, networks, and skills to optimize our efforts around the world. Biden will ensure full implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security Act, recognizing the security benefits of women’s participation and inclusion in decision-making roles. Biden has pledged to strive for gender parity and full diversity in his own national security and foreign policy appointments, elevating women into senior national security positions and ensuring that women of color are well-represented in senior ranks.
Increasing access to education as a driver of empowerment and accumulation of wealth. Biden will build on the work of the Obama-Biden Administration to promote girls’ education, and ensure girls have the same opportunities as boys to reach their full potential.
Enhancing financially inclusive banking and increasing women’s access to capital, so that women have the resources they need to start and expand businesses.
Working with partners in countries and multilateral organizations to systematically tackle and eliminate legal and attitudinal barriers to equity and inclusion.
Incorporating the particular challenges faced by underrepresented communities into our development policies globally, including of indigenous and ethnic minority women, Afro-Latina women, and women in the LGBTQ+ community.
Confront gender-based violence globally. Gender-based violence is a barrier to girls’ education, and inhibits women’s full participation in politics and the economy, holding back entire communities and countries. Globally, women are experiencing higher levels of domestic violence due to COVID-19, while at the same time facing increased difficulty accessing resources, support, and essential sexual and reproductive health information and services. Biden will work with our partners to coordinate a global response to the crisis of gender-based violence during the pandemic and beyond by:
Restoring U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund.
Launching multi-sectoral efforts to confront gender-based violence globally.
Training law enforcement to root out the corruption that enables gender-based violence and teaching authorities to effectively investigate and prosecute these crimes.
Reviving America’s commitment to refugees and displaced persons and ensuring that women and girls fleeing gender-based violence are given the opportunity they deserve to seek asylum in the United States.
Pursue ratification for the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), so that we can better advance the rights of women and girls here at home and around the world.
Former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman to lead a major party’s ticket for President (winning 3 million more votes and the most votes of any white male candidate to run for president, who Biden introduced as “The woman who should be president now”), endorsed Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy for president during a Women for Biden town hall, saying, “More than ever, these tumultuous times reveal how desperately we need level-headed, solutions-oriented leadership. We need someone who listens to scientists, who acts with kindness and compassion, and who recognizes that America can and must lead the world in responding to this pandemic.
“The world today looks very different than the one so many of us fought for in 2016. Like many of you, I’m concerned — not only about our current health crisis, but about the deep-seated problems in our democracy that it lays bare, from inequity in our health care system to the high-wire act demanded of too many working parents.
“When I think about who I want leading us through this challenging time, there is no question: Joe Biden has the bold ideas, the smart plans, and most of all, the character to tackle this crisis and any others that come our way.”
The two discussed many issues of particular concern to women, including women’s reproductive rights and access to affordable health care, pay parity, food security, protection from domestic violence at a time of enforced sheltering with an abuser, and most significantly, how women, who make up the vast majority of health workers, frontline workers and minimum wage earners, are the most in need of protection during this health and financial crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic. And have been most derided and held in contempt by Trump and his administration.
“80% of all healthcare workers are women, one out of three jobs held by women has been classified as essential.” Clinton said. “This is an issue that affects all of us, young and old, every background, walk of life, but has disproportionate impact on women on frontlines, working, caring for others, holding down their home.”
Noting that there has been a rise in domestic abuse as women are forced to shelter with their abusers amid a time of increased stress, she noted that Biden championed the Violence Against Women Act during the Clinton administration.
“Violence against women, a huge problem, has been one of leading causes of my life,” Biden said. “ wrote the law, met thousands of abused, know the suffering they are experiencing, how much courage they have. Our support has to match the courage they show every day and let them know they are not alone.” He flashed the number for the national domestic hotline, 800-799-SAFE, but because women may be too afraid to call, they can also text Love to 22522, or chat online (thehotline.org).
“I add my voice to the many who have endorsed you to be president,” Clinton said. “What a difference it would make now if we had a president who not only listened to science, facts over fiction, but brought us together, showed us the kind of compassion, caring we need from our president, which Joe Biden has exemplified throughout his life. What it would mean if had real president, not someone who plays one on TV, but someone who wakes every morning, worried about people responsible for leading.”
Immediately after the town hall, the Biden campaign released a fact sheet highlighting Biden’s plans to support women during the COVID-19 crisis: – Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
Highlights of Biden Plans to Support Women
Women in the United States are acutely impacted by this pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs or had their hours slashed and are worried about making ends meet. Others are doing essential work that has so often been unseen, underpaid, and undervalued. And, while this virus can hit anyone, anywhere, it doesn’t impact every community equally. It hits hardest those who are most vulnerable and who have the fewest resources, including women of color and low-income women.
We cannot unsee what this pandemic has highlighted about the way our society fails women and their families. As President, Joe Biden will act so that essential workers are safe. He will act so women don’t struggle as much financially through the pandemic. He will act so women can get the health care they need and domestic violence survivors have a safe place to call home. And, he will act so that when the United States begins to recover from COVID-19, women are not left out of the recovery.
Joe Biden has long been a champion for women — for their safety, their health care, their paychecks, and their families. He has released several plans that support women through a decisive response to the COVID-19 crisis at joebiden.com/covid19-leadership. Biden is calling for the following steps to be taken immediately to support women and families. As this crisis continues and evolves over the coming weeks and months, Biden will release additional plans and proposals to address the challenges facing women as a result of this crisis.
PROTECT WOMEN PROVIDING ESSENTIAL SERVICES
Women are working in essential jobs in overwhelming numbers — as health care providers, home health aides, child care workers, domestic violence and other social service workers, grocery store workers, and so many more. One in three jobs held by women are essential, and women of color are the most likely to have those jobs. These women are the best of America — running toward the danger, lifting people up when they are at their most vulnerable, and fighting to protect the health and safety of their neighbors. That’s always been true—but now there’s not a single person across this country who doesn’t see exactly what they are: heroes.
It’s unconscionable that the Trump Administration has failed to do everything in its power to protect the health, safety, and well-being of women working on the frontlines. If Biden was President today, he would:
Get our essential workers the protective equipment, testing, and support they need to reduce their risk of getting infected by the virus. All essential workers — health care workers, first responders, homecare workers, child care workers, domestic violence and other social service workers, pharmacy workers, government workers, postal workers, farmworkers, food packagers and processors, grocery store clerks, transportation workers, and many more — should have priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus. The Trump Administration should ramp up capacity to produce masks and other PPE for all essential workers by fully using the Defense Production Act. And, the Trump Administration should appoint and empower a Supply Commander to take control of the national supply chain for essential equipment and gear and to ensure equitable distribution so that at-risk communities and particularly vulnerable populations are fully taken care of.
Implement and enforce standards to keep all women safe on the frontlines and ensure that their civil rights are protected. Biden would direct his Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard to ensure employers provide safe workplaces, and his Administration would work closely with state occupational safety and health agencies and state and local governments, and the unions that represent their employees, to ensure comprehensive protections for frontline workers. He would also ensure the needs of vulnerable populations are considered in the enforcement of all federal workplace protections. This means funding robust enforcement of civil rights protections, including under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, and fighting to secure passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to better ensure pregnant workers receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace so they don’t have to choose between work and their health. Biden would also extend Equal Employment Opportunity Commission deadlines for women to file discrimination and harassment complaints during and after the pandemic.
Provide a boost in essential workers’ paychecks. There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work, in addition to a permanent $15 minimum wage and overtime protections. Women, who make up the vast majority of the low-wage workforce, should never have to worry about making ends meet for their families — and especially not while protecting our communities during a pandemic.
Ensure all essential workers qualify for child care assistance and other emergency support.
Provide every worker with emergency paid leave so workers don’t have to go to work because they’re worried about a paycheck. Biden would provide all workers – no exceptions – paid leave for 14 days or for the duration of their quarantine or isolation, while also ensuring that employers will not bear any additional costs for such additional leave in the midst of this crisis.
PROTECT WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY
Hospitality workers, service industry workers, and millions of other women have already lost their jobs through no fault of their own because of this pandemic. Women — many of whom were economically insecure even before the crisis — are worried about making rent, paying bills, and keeping food on the table while waiting for relief checks. If Biden was President today, he would:
Keep as many women on payroll as possible by transforming unemployment insurance into Employment Insurance for millions of workers. Biden would take steps to get all 50 states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs. Here’s how it works: A business keeps a worker on payroll, but at reduced hours – and the federal government makes up the difference in their wages. The worker gets the same pay – but the burden on the business is much less. The Obama-Biden administration championed this approach – so far more than half of states have created work-sharing programs. The Trump Administration should boost assistance to them, to save or restore millions of jobs.
Make women who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. Biden would create a “Banks Defense Production Act” to make sure the banks that work with states prioritize and deliver unemployment payments quickly and require the use of electronic payments and prepaid debit cards to deliver direct cash relief fast. Families shouldn’t have to wait for President Trump to sign a check. Biden would also work with Congress to extend the boosted unemployment benefits (the extra $600) for however long this crisis lasts.
Ensure that all small businesses – not just those with the right connections – can access relief quickly. On April 3, Biden asked the Trump Administration to “produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans – to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses.” They have not done so. It is unacceptable to have a small business program that is leaving minority and women business owners out in the cold, and that firms with fewer than 20 employees have received only about 20% of the first allotment of funding disbursed from the Paycheck Protection Program – even though they make up about one third of payroll.
Ensure housing security, including by immediately freezing rent for qualifying individuals and halting foreclosures and evictions as people get back on their feet during this crisis.
Forgive at least $10,000 of student debt per person through the duration of the crisis, including for women, who hold two-thirds of all student debt in America.
Ensure food security by increasing SNAP benefits by 15% during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.
Boost Social Security payments to $200 per month to help older women with any additional expenses they may incur during the pandemic.
Provide additional funds to state, local and tribal governments that are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Biden would make sure the federal government helps communities with their public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety. Biden would also expand assistance to schools facing extra costs – particularly Title I schools — including efforts to continue remote education or remote activities normally done after-school.
PROTECT CAREGIVERS AND ACCESS TO CHILD CARE AND LONG-TERM SERVICES AND SUPPORTS
In the United States, women overwhelmingly take on the burdens of caring for their families, and they make up the vast majority of the care workforce. Many women are taking care of children, as well as elderly parents. If they are lucky enough to have a job during this crisis, they may not be able to take paid time off to care for sick loved ones. Meanwhile, many care facilities, especially child care providers, have been forced to close their doors.
If businesses that provide care do not survive the pandemic, it will be harder for women to go back to work when we recover. It will be even more difficult for the women who make a living by providing care to get by. We must protect workers who are caring for others during the pandemic, and move aggressively to shore up our care infrastructure so it can better support families during the recovery.
Prioritize child care providers, home health care workers, direct support professionals, personal care attendants and other care workers for personal protective equipment and supplies, testing, and premium pay, depending on their risk of exposure. The nature of care work makes social distancing challenging, and we owe these caregivers the safety protections they need.
Protect and Expand the Availability of Long-Term Services and Supports. The majority of family caregivers – those caring for a loved one with a disability or chronic condition – are women. Caregiving imposes significant costs – economic and health-related – on these women. At the same time, the risk of getting COVID-19 is even greater for older Americans and individuals with disabilities living in group homes and other care facilities, increasing the demand for care in a home and community-based setting. Biden would increase resources to enable more seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their own home and community.
PROTECT ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE, INCLUDING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
The pandemic has put additional stress on women’s ability to access the health care they need. Before the pandemic, roughly one in four women experienced financial barriers to accessing health care. As women are now laid off or face wage cuts, they may have even more trouble paying for health care. At the same time, several states have used the crisis as an excuse to restrict women’s access to reproductive health, including timely and essential abortion care. The Trump Administration and all states must ensure all women have access to all the health care they need. Building on Joe Biden’s plan to protect and build on Obamacare [read the full plan at: joebiden.com/healthcare], as President, Biden would:
Ensure access to health care by:
Ramping up testing and ensuring that not only testing, but also treatment and any eventual vaccine for COVID-19, is free for all individuals regardless of insurance or immigration status.
Collecting racial, gender and ethnic data on testing and treatment so we can identify and address disparities.
Helping women who have been laid-off keep their health insurance by picking up the full cost of COBRA premiums.
Opening a new Obamacare enrollment period, so women who so badly need insurance can get it, instead of fighting in the courts to gut that landmark law like the Trump Administration is doing.
Stop states from using the pandemic to curtail access to abortions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Medical Association agree that states should not be using the pandemic as an excuse to delay abortions. In this case, health care delayed means health care denied. States should not be using a public health crisis to infringe on women’s constitutional rights. If Biden was President today, he would put science over fiction and ensure states treat abortion as the essential health service it is. This builds on his existing women’s health care agenda. His Justice Department will stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade. And, he will work to codify Roe, repeal the Hyde Amendment, restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood, including through Medicaid and Title X, and restore access to contraception coverage.
Reduce our unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, which especially impacts people of color. Before the pandemic, the U.S. already had one of the highest rates of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth relative to other developed countries, especially among Black women, who were 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. As President, Biden will take the California strategy nationwide. And, he will expand access to high quality health care for the populations that need it most, providing access to a public option and doubling America’s investment in community health centers.
SUPPORT SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND PROTECT CHILDREN AND YOUTH AT-RISK FOR ABUSE
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk for domestic violence, sexual assault, and abuse for women and girls nationwide. For many women and children, home is not a safe place, and sheltering in place restrictions further isolate those at risk of domestic violence. At the same time, community-based supports like domestic violence shelters, sexual assault programs, and child advocacy centers have had to limit in-person services to keep staff and clients safe, while adapting to provide text, chat, and phone-based assistance. The economic fallout of the pandemic will likely increase financial insecurity for survivors, creating further obstacles for leaving an abusive relationship. Shelters and other service providers need support to adapt to the pandemic, and keep pace with the increased demand for assistance to survivors that is expected to only go up after the lockdowns have been lifted.
Survivors and the courageous frontline advocates working to ensure their safety need immediate support. While Biden would work with Congress to provide additional funding, women and vulnerable youth across the country cannot wait another day for the support they need. He would do everything in his power to immediately get funding to service providers and survivors, including by enlisting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and he would encourage governors to recognize survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse as vulnerable populations in need of state funding.
Provide survivors and their children with a safe place to live, and support shelter staff and residents to stay healthy. Not everyone has a safe place to call home. Shelters, which often have shared bathrooms and communal cooking spaces, need new avenues for providing survivors with a safe living space that adheres to social distancing requirements. Biden would:
Empower FEMA to work with states toimmediately increase shelter options, including contracting with hotels and motels and providing shelter modifications like sleeping and bathroom trailers.
Encourage states to ensure all shelters, not just the larger ones, receive funding. Smaller shelters serving communities of color, tribal programs, or shelters for immigrant and refugee survivors may have less capacity to access federal grant funding and need support.
Fund programs providing shelters and other housing options including the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), VAWA transitional housing, Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Domestic Violence Bonus to provide housing for survivors experiencing homelessness, and VAWA emergency transfer tenant protection voucher assistance for rental assistance for survivors.
Provide personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to victim services providers, including domestic violence and sexual assault programs, child welfare professionals, and other essential social services workers.
Expand the safety net for survivors – including by providing cash assistance, unemployment insurance flexible to their needs, and paid safe days and sick leave – as well as ensuring service providers who support them have adequate health coverage, paid sick leave, and overtime compensation.
Provideemergency cash assistance to survivors through grants to community-based organizations, and make longer-term investments in cash assistance, as Biden called for in November in his plan to End Violence Against Women. Biden would also direct FEMA to work with states to provide shelters with food, including prepared food.
Work to ensure that survivors who quit their job because they are unable to telework are able to access and obtain unemployment insurance from the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Provide safe days and 12 weeks of paid safe leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking who need time to seek physical or mental care, seek counsel, find new housing, or take other action related to the violence they experienced.
Provideemergency funding to the Office on Violence Against Women for domestic violence and sexual assault programs, ensuring enhanced funding streams for tribes and culturally specific victim services, and provide funding for non-residential programs, in addition to shelters, under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).
Ensure survivors are able to access and service providers are able to provide remote victim advocacy through text, chat, phone, and other virtual services.
Provide funding to expand the reach of the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s texting and chat services, and create a texting service for the National Sexual Assault Hotline. The National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Sexual Assault Hotline are both available to those that need it. For those who cannot call their local shelter or the hotline because they are living in close proximity with the person harming them, the National Domestic Violence Hotline offers both online chat and texting services, the latter of which Biden premiered in 2011 by sending the first text ever for the service. The National Sexual Assault Hotline offers chat-based support; Biden would fund a texting service. He would also provide funding for both hotlines to hire more advocates.
Ensure service providers and survivors have all the tools they need to connect virtually and safely. Domestic violence and sexual violence programs, including rape crisis centers, offer tele-advocacy and crisis support through text, chat, video, and phone services. To do this, they need technology including computers, upgraded broadband, hotspots, teleconferencing licenses, and other software licenses. And although technology-based services have the benefit of reaching survivors where they are, they also introduce new risks for victim privacy, safety, and confidentiality and need support to mitigate those risks. As President, Biden would:
Get technology to service providers immediately. Biden would direct FEMA to consider technology that is eligible for emergency support and work with Congress to increase funding for domestic violence and sexual assault service programs, including for the Sexual Assault Services Program and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act so they can boost their capacity to provide virtual services. And he would leverage private-public partnerships where possible.
Expand the Office on Violence Against Women’s training and technical assistance for domestic violence and sexual assault programs so that service providers can safely use technology-based services with survivors.
The Federal Communication Commission should reverse changes that reduced access to wireless service to people who need it most — including domestic violence survivors. The Lifeline program offers low-income adults subsidies for wireless services, but under the Trump Administration, the FCC scaled back help from this program. In November, Biden called for the FCC to reform its Lifeline program to increase the number of participating broadband providers, reduce fraud and abuse, and ultimately offer more low-income Americans the subsidies needed to access high-speed internet. And now, connection couldn’t be more important.
Ensure telehealth is widely accessible to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including through expanded funding for Sexual Assault Nurse Exams, and pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Exams for child victims of sexual abuse.
Ensure that people who need it most and are often underserved are receiving funding.
Expand funding for culturally specific services. Since 2005, the Violence Against Women Act has funded domestic and sexual violence programs offering trauma-informed and culturally specific services for survivors from racial and ethnic minority communities. Given the pandemic’s disparate impact on communities of color, it is imperative these programs have all the funding they need.
Protect immigrant women. In addition to ensuring that testing and treatment for COVID-19 is readily available to everyone, regardless of immigration status or English-language ability, Biden would take proactive steps to protect immigrant women, who are often the most vulnerable and least able to access supportive resources. The Trump Administration should immediately halt the implementation of its un-American new Public Charge rules, which may discourage immigrant women from seeking vital food and housing support they need to remain safe and healthy. It should also automatically extend immigration statuses and work authorizations set to expire within one year of the declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020, and Congress should ensure that no immigrant who loses their status during this time, or during the 90 days after the national emergency declaration is ended, accrues unlawful presence that could impact their future immigration status. The Trump Administration should also follow the recommendation of public health officials and vastly reduce the number of people in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol by releasing to their families or community-based care organizations those individuals in immigration detention who pose no risk to the community. Neither should Trump be wasting resources on ICE enforcement actions to terrorize immigrant families, especially during a pandemic. Sensitive locations should always be protected against ICE actions, and immigrant survivors who have applied for protection under the Violence Against Women Act and Trafficking Victims Protection Act should not be detained or deported while their applications are in process.
Ensure tribes receive sufficient resources in all funding streams, and reaffirm Tribal sovereignty to support victims and hold offenders accountable. The Obama-Biden Administration ensured tribal governments have the power to investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence non-Native Americans who assault indigenous women on tribal lands, through the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. This must be reaffirmed, and the federal government should provide emergency financial support to tribal governments and service providers so they can support Native women.
Make services accessible for older survivors and survivors with disabilities. Funding should be provided to ensure remote advocacy services are accessible to people who often cannot or do not wish to leave home, including for the National Deaf Domestic Violence Hotline and other adaptive and inclusive services for survivors who need accommodation.
Enhance protections for vulnerable children and youth at-risk for abuse. Before the pandemic, at-risk kids had protective support from teachers, coaches, and other caring adults who were most likely to report abuse. Now, families are homebound under increasingly stressful circumstances, adding to the risk of child abuse or neglect. The National Parent Helpline is available to support overwhelmed parents and caregivers. As President, Biden would work with Congress to fund the Helpline to add texting service, as well as increase funding for child advocacy centers, and other child welfare programs that prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse.
Establish an Emergency Anti-Violence Task Force that includes representatives of advocacy groups, community-based organizations, and state and local governments, along with legal, housing, and public health experts, to consult with stakeholders, track the unique problems happening now, identify best practices and guidance for responding to them, work with agencies and Congress to adapt to them, and eventually create a report with both an analysis of the problems faced during the pandemic and shortcomings of policy levers, as well as a roadmap for future emergencies. The Task Force would also immediately work on ways to help leverage the private sector to play a role in the response. As President, Biden would immediately task his Office on Violence Against Women with using this information to create a preparedness plan for future national emergency, which should include ways to make programs and funding streams sufficiently flexible, and to determine ways to leverage public-private partnerships, such as with hotel chains and technology and telecommunications companies.
Ensure an Equitable Recovery Women and people of color have historically been left out or left behind in times of recovery — and we can’t make that mistake again. To rebuild a stronger, more inclusive middle class that will make our economy more resilient in any future crisis, when it comes time for economic recovery we must:
Require jurisdictions that receive funding to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial and gender disparities, and the Small Business Administration and Treasury should similarly track Paycheck Protection Program and other SBA program lending to ensure that minority and women business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are treated fairly.
Stop the exploitation of low-wage workers – most of whom are women – and who everyone now sees are essential and should be compensated as such. Biden will increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, support the elimination of the tipped minimum wage, ensure overtime protections, and dismantle the barriers to higher-paying jobs for these workers.
Finish the Obama-Biden Administration’s work on ending unequal pay. The first bill signed into law during the Obama-Biden administration was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for women to fight back if they were unfairly paid less than their male coworkers. The Obama-Biden Administration also protected more workers against retaliation for discussing wages and required employers to collect and report wage gaps to the federal government. As President, Biden will build on this critical work by increasing pay transparency, making it easier for workers to join together in class action lawsuits, shifting the burden to employers to prove pay gaps exist for job-related reasons, and increasing penalties against companies that discriminate, as called for in Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s Paycheck Fairness Act.
Provide access to affordable, high quality child care. Biden will increase the child care tax credit to as much as $8,000 per family and expand access to quality, affordable child care through increased funding for grants to states to ensure low and moderate-income families can afford child care. And, he will expand funding for after-school programs, community centers, and national summer jobs programs, to keep kids active and learning after school hours. Biden also will provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds.
Permanently provide family, medical, and safe leave as well as sick and safe days. As President, Biden will work to provide the type of comprehensive 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave envisioned in the FAMILY Act sponsored by Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Representative Rosa DeLauro. Biden will pay for this proposal by returning the estate tax to 2009 levels. Biden will also work to provide the type of coverage in the Healthy Families Act spearheaded by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Patty Murray, which will ensure workers receive seven days of paid sick leave for routine personal and family health needs, as well as time for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to seek services.
Ensure women have access to fair and flexible scheduling, in addition to providing permanent paid sick and safe leave, and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Transform our education system by tripling funding for disadvantaged schools, fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, offering universal pre-K, providing 4 years of tuition at public colleges and under-resourced Minority Serving Institutions to families earning less than $125K per year, investing in community college and workforce training, and easing the burden of student debt.
Protect and build on Obamacare, ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, quality health insurance.
Provide retirement security. Biden will preserve and strengthen Social Security, including by providing a higher benefit for the oldest Americans, protecting widows and widowers from steep cuts in benefits, and eliminating penalties for teachers and other public-sector workers. And he’ll allow caregivers to make “catch-up” contributions to retirement accounts, even if they’re not earning income in the formal labor market.
Expand long overdue rights to domestic workers and farmworkers. More than a million women and 700,000 women farmworkers – many of whom are immigrants – care for our children, elderly, and people with disabilities, and pick our fruits and vegetables so we can put food on the table. Now more than ever the world sees just how essential they are. But they have far too long been left out of basic workplace protections. Biden will change that, starting by signing into law:
Senator Harris and Congresswoman Jayapal’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which, among other things, establishes a federal wage and standard board to set fair wage levels and define working conditions for domestic workers across the United States;
and Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act, to help provide immigrant women who are feeding the nation a path to legal status, workplace protections, and much-needed housing support.
He will also protect the pay of migrant farmworkers, unlike the Trump Administration, which has considered cutting it during a pandemic.
Address International Impacts of the Pandemic
COVID-19 isn’t just a threat to women across the United States. This is a global health crisis that also disproportionately impacts women around the globe. Domestic violence is rising, both in the developed world and in the developing world. For example, in Bogotá, Colombia, violence against women reports have increased 225% during lockdowns, while in Afghanistan, domestic violence rates that were already as high as 50% are compounded by reports of women’s shelters shutting down to protect against the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, women constitute an estimated 70% of workers in the health and social sectors globally, putting them on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19 and increasing their risk of contracting the virus. The COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to mean dramatically increased caregiving responsibilities for women, extended unemployment, and lost business and income as well as greater income inequality. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 provides insight into the impacts we can expect to see on adolescent girls, which include an increased vulnerability to physical and sexual abuse, an increase in domestic responsibilities, a loss of pathways to prevent child marriage or early childbearing, and a lower rate of return to school, limiting economic opportunity. And, among the more than 70 million displaced people around the world, women and girls are already among the most vulnerable. Now, in fragile states, displaced persons camps, or tightly populated migrant neighborhoods, they are among the least able to protect themselves against COVID-19. A Biden Administration will reassert global leadership and return a government-wide focus to championing the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, including by:
Elevating the voices of women in the response. As President, Biden will ensure the voices of women leaders help shape and spearhead efforts globally, leveraging their expertise, networks and skills to optimize the global response and recovery.
Prioritizing responses to gender-based violence internationally, human trafficking, and survivors’ lack of access to humanitarian assistance and employment opportunities. In addition, as President, Joe Biden will ensure that domestic violence victims once again have a pathway to claim asylum and will support the Safe from the Start Act, which calls for attention to preventing gender-based violence in humanitarian response.
Ensuring that global health and humanitarian aid prioritize women and remove barriers to accessing reproductive health services. As President, Biden will call on leaders globally to ensure that “essential services” — including sexual and reproductive health clinics, domestic violence shelters, and abortion service providers — remain available to serve women.
Calling for an expanded emphasis on education for girls and boys in refugee and displaced persons camps and supporting programs generally to help teachers, school staff, and communities implement inclusive learning methods for girls, reinforcing the message that girls and boys need equal access to opportunities. Already, research warns that girls in many countries will be less likely to go back to school once this pandemic ends. As President, Biden will build on the work of the Obama-Biden Administration to promote girls’ education, and ensure girls have the same opportunities as boys to reach their full potential.
Essential workers are providing life-saving medical care, cleaning our hospital rooms, delivering our food and other essential goods, stocking our grocery store shelves, getting us from place to place, keeping our cities’ lights on, and so much more. They have been on the frontlines of this pandemic.
Joe Biden has said since the beginning of this campaign that American workers are the heart and soul of this country— too often, though, we’ve taken these workers and the work they do for granted.
But the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted this critical truth: all across this nation, it’s often our lowest-paid workers who have stepped up during this crisis.
Donald Trump’s foot-dragging and delays have only made it more challenging for workers.
These workers are putting themselves on the line every day. They are essential to our society – in times of crisis and beyond, and deserve not just our thanks and respect, but our support.
Joe Biden has a bold agenda to give these workers the long-term support they deserve — raising wages, guaranteeing quality, affordable health care, providing free tuition for public higher education, and encouraging unionization and collective bargaining.
But these workers can’t wait. They need emergency help now. Today, Joe Biden is calling on President Trump’s Administration to take four immediate actions to protect and support our essential workers:
(1) Ensure all frontline workers, like grocery store employees, qualify for priority access to personnel protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus, as well as child care assistance, and other forms of emergency COVID-19 support.
(2) Expand access to effective personal protective equipment, including through use of the Defense Production Act.
The Trump Administration should ramp up capacity to produce masks for all frontline workers – from health care workers to grocery store workers – by fully using the Defense Production Act. And, the Trump Administration should fully empower a Supply Commander to coordinate the production and delivery of essential supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. The Supply Commander would be tasked with ensuring equitable distribution so that at-risk communities and particularly vulnerable populations are fully taken care of.
(3) Establish and enforce health and safety standards for workplaces.
During the H1N1 epidemic, the Obama-Biden Administration tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) with issuing detailed guidance for how employers should protect their workers. Then, OSHA enforced the law based on those guidelines. The Trump Administration has only started enforcement efforts this week and is still refusing to do everything it can and should to protect workers’ health and safety.
The Trump Administration should:
Immediately release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) to give employers and frontline employees specific, enforceable guidance on what to do to reduce the spread of COVID.
Finalize a permanent infectious disease standard. After H1N1, the Obama-Biden Administration spent years preparing a new, permanent infectious disease standard, which would have required health facilities and certain other high exposure workplaces to permanently implement infection control programs to protect their workers. It handed it to the Trump Administration, but instead of moving it to rulemaking, it readily shelved it. They should immediately get to work bringing it to conclusion and expanding it to include all relevant workplaces.
Double the number of OSHA investigators to enforce the law and existing standards and guidelines. Under President Trump, OSHA currently has record low inspectors. Given the exigencies of this crisis, and the need for rigorous enforcement of workplace standards across the country, at least twice the number of inspectors are needed.
Work closely with state occupational safety and health agencies and state and local governments, and the unions that represent their employees, to ensure comprehensive protections for frontline workers.
(4) Enact premium pay for frontline workers putting themselves at risk.
There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work. The Trump Administration should immediately work with Congress to pass a bold premium pay initiative. Under the Senate Democrats’ “Heroes Fund” proposal, the federal government would step in and give essential workers a raise, with additional funding to attract workers to serve as health and home care workers and first responders. This premium pay should be in addition to paid sick leave and care-giving leave for every worker, which Joe Biden called for in his March 12 plan, and $15 minimum wage for all workers.
Today, as the nation is too consumed with the coronavirus pandemic to mark Equal Pay Day, Lilly Ledbetter, for whom the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed as Barack Obama’s first order of business as President upon taking office 2009, endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States:
“This is the first time in more than 12 years that I am at home on Equal Pay Day. I’m usually in some part of the country with a huge crowd of women and men who are dedicated to closing the pay gap. Instead I am staying home, watching along with so many other people as the current president shows Americans just how little he cares about working families.
“As Equal Pay Day reminds us, women are paid far less than men. This pandemic is only increasing the inequalities facing women in this country. As the majority of the health care workforce, women are on the frontlines of this crisis, at times putting their own health at risk or separating from their families, while taking care of our country’s sick and vulnerable. And, as this crisis forces women to work from home, work fewer hours, lose their jobs, many at the same time are taking care of their families or trying to teach their kids at home. Yet they still face paycheck discrimination, just like I did so many years ago.
“I know Joe Biden. He understands what it’s like to be a single parent. And, he will fight for equal pay and working women, just as he always has. That’s why I am proud to endorse him to be our next president.”
Ledbetter won a historic gender pay discrimination case against her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubbery Company, after she was paid less than her male counterparts simply because she was a woman. When the Supreme Court overturned the case, she took her fight to Congress and lobbied for a legislative fix. She is the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first piece of legislation signed into law during the Obama-Biden Administration.
Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into 2020 the average woman has to work to make what the average white man made in 2019.For every dollar a man makes, the average woman makes 82 cents. For a woman who works full time, year round, that’s a gap of more than $10,000 annually and over $400,000 over a forty-year career. The pay gap is even wider for women of color.
The pay gap has significant impacts on American families and our economy overall. If women earned as much as men, the poverty rate for working single women and the children who live with them would be cut in half.
Biden for President has previously announced more than 2,500 endorsements from national, state, and local leaders, including current and former U.S. senators and representatives, governors, state elected officials, community leaders, and national security professionals.
Though it is unlikely that women will re-create the 750,000 who marched on Washington with millions more around the world who turned out in 2017 in the largest single day of protest in history, vastly outnumbering those who came out the day before on the National Mall to watch Trump swear to uphold the Constitution and protect the nation against enemies foreign and domestic, it is crucial that people turn out for the women’s marches in Washington, DC (Meet at Freedom Plaza, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave. at 10 am, womensmarch.com), New York City (at Central Park West & 72nd Street, 11 am, womensmarchalliance.org) and many other cities in 2020, taking place on Saturday, January 18.
The disappointing reality after that
first spectacular Women’s March is how little it accomplished. Lawmakers could
care less, based on the policies they enacted, including moving so close to
repealing Obamacare except for Senator McCain’s last-second vote, and tax
policy that discriminated against women’s health, and shifted $1 trillion in
resources from infrastructure and services for everyday Americans to the
richest 1% and corporations. They could care less for the hundreds of
thousands who pleaded for sensible gun laws, or for climate action and
There isn’t even the same buzz as in
the 2018 march in Washington and around the country (200,000 attended in New York City,
alone) , so much more significant because the protest was less about
“converting” lawmakers than mobilizing voter registration, inspiring
women to run for elected office, and driving turnout in the November mid-terms.
And they did in historic numbers, putting Democrats back in control of
the House which put the brakes to the extent possible on the worst impulses of
Trump and the Republicans. “I can do whatever I want as president,” Trump
declared at a Turning Point event with young Republicans. (After the House
Republican majority’s first success in repealing Obamacare in 2017, Trump said,
‘I’m president. Can you believe it?”)
In 2019, tens of thousands
marched in New York City, calling for action on a Woman’s Agenda
that encompasses everything from pay parity, paid parental leave, affordable
child care and pre-K to immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate
action, criminal justice reform – in other words, the gamut of social,
political, environmental and economic justice. And yes, reproductive freedom.
During 2019, which opened with Trump
declaring a “national emergency” to justify shutting down the federal
government in order to extort billions to build his wall, migrants continued to
be separated and die in custody, thousands were sent to horrific and dangerous
conditions in Mexico; gun violence reached new heights; climate disasters have
exploded around the globe; and reproductive freedom has been further
600,000 women lost birth control
coverage last year because of the Trump Administration’s attacks on your
healthcare; funding for women’s health clinics has been eliminated and
artificial barriers to their operation have forced many to close. The Hyde
Amendment which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, serves as a
de facto ban for a quarter of low-income women.
Even more is at stake in 2020, when
Trump and Trumpism is on the ballot. Over this first term, he has been
increasingly emboldened and unbridled, to the point where he believes he can
unleash a war while schmoozing on the golf course.
So far, the organizers of this
Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, took out a permit for 10,000.
The women’s movement, inexplicably
and yet probably not, has gotten wound up, bogged down and even subverted with
other issues – racism, anti-Semitism. Leaders are bending over backwards to
show how progressive, how inclusive they are, and moving away from the key
issues that women are fighting for.
Women’s issues wind up being about
all these other issues because all of them affect women’s ability to have equal
opportunity, earn what they deserve in order to provide for their families: war
and peace, climate change, living wage, public education, health care,
affordable pharmaceuticals, clean air and water, voting rights, gun safety,
DACA and immigration reform.
But at the heart of all of them is
women’s reproductive rights, under threat as never before by a radical
right-wingers in Congress and on the courts determined to disregard law and
precedent and overturn Roe v Wade (along with Obamacare) with a Supreme Court
that has been shifted radically right because of the illegitimate appointments
secured by Trump and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (along with hundreds of
judges throughout the federal court system that are long-lasting bombs to
womens rights and civil rights.
The Roe v Wade decision in 1973
ruled that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to
have an abortion without excessive government restriction – in other words, it
was built upon some extrapolation of privacy and property rights, rather than
Overturning Roe v Wade would mean
that women, unlike men, are not entitled to the same right to
self-determination, to make their own judgments and choices for their health,
their body, their family or their lives. And like all those other cases that
Ginsburg argued as the leading gender rights lawyer for the ACLU before
becoming Supreme Court Justice, it would re-establish the systemic barriers to
women (not men) to fulfill all their aspirations and abilities. It is as
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for president, said, when women
are forced out of the career track, they never get back to where they were if
they return at all. This I s the result of unaffordable, inaccessible quality
child care and the lack of universal pre-K.
It would essentially make women a subject
of the state, forced to give up professional aspirations to care for a child,
or spend inordinate amounts of money and resources on child care, put women
into poverty because all of these social services are also being tied to work
while doing nothing to make childcare affordable, taking away food stamps and
school lunch. It’s not one thing, it’s many different elements.
As Justice Ginsburg said, “The
decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her
well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the
government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a
fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”
And the Supreme Court decision would
not necessarily mean that the state you live in would determine if you might
have access to abortion, which would set up a different category of unequal
protection – their ruling could make abortion illegal nationwide by
establishing “personhood” rights of a fetus, in which case the fetus would have
more rights than its mother.
Women are marching for affordable
child care, quality public education, affordable and accessible health care
without higher cost for women or for pre-existing conditions (which before
Obamacare rendered women of child-bearing age), or lifetime caps on coverage at
a time when middle class families are spending 20% of income ($12,000/year) on
health insurance, 35 million can’t afford life saving drugs they are
prescribed, 30,000 die prematurely because of lack of access to health care,
and 500,000 go bankrupt because of medical bills.
Women are marching for environmental
justice at a time when the Trump Administration is making it easy for polluters
to destroy the air and water producing creating public health issues such as
asthma affecting a child’s ability to succeed in school, and worker
productivity. It means climate justice at a time when the Trump Administration
is actually prosecuting those who would try to reduce carbon emissions (they
are trying to prosecute the four auto manufacturers who said they would comply
with California’s emissions standards for anti-trust violations), while
families are losing their homes, their workplaces and communities have to spend
fortune to rebuild after climate disasters.
Women are marching for gun safety so
that parents and children don’t have the constant anxiety and school districts
and communities don’t have to spend a fortune on security rather than programs
that benefit people.
This year’s march may be the most
important one, just as the 2020 election is the most important one of our
lifetimes (and yes, 2016, as we now know, was the most important election up
until this one).
The march is an affirmation, brings
like-minded people together, validates our case, and yes, motivates and
provides a platform for people to run for office, as in 2018, and win their
The march is not about “them” it is
That is why it is so very important
to have a strong turnout for this year’s marches, the fourth year in a row,
especially in 2020, the centennial of women winning the right to vote,
especially in this election year when the nation faces an existential threat
from its own government. Women must turn out, and continue the momentum
of 2018 into the 2020 election.
Virginia could be the 38th
state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make the ERA the 28th
amendment to the Constitution, though the opponents argue that the votes by the
other 37 states have expired, and we’ll have to go through this entire 60-year
process all over again. (Trump’s
The opponents argue there is no
reason for an amendment that certifies the equal rights of all people. But
based on the policies, laws and lawsuits at the federal and state level, an ERA
is more necessary than ever, because as we have seen from the Supreme Court,
precedents like Roe v Wade and one-person, one-vote, or equal protection for
all are fungible.
This is a crucial year for women to
turn out, not allow the momentum of 2018 to be lost, but rev up for the 2020 election.
So whip out those pink pussy hats
and march for women’s rights on Saturday, January 18. March as if your ability
to determine your own future is at stake.
came in incontrovertible triumph, a study in strength, talent, perseverance,
grit, discipline – celebrated role models for girls and women everywhere. True
champions, the US Women’s National Team battled on the to become four-time
World Cup Champions, winning two consecutive titles, pitch as well as off,
their fight for equal pay elevated to national politics.
Just before stepping off for their ticker-tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes through New York’s financial district to City Hall where they would receive the Keys to the City from Mayor Bill De Blasio, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law prohibiting unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work and forbidding employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history. He also called on U.S. Soccer to pay the women’s national team the same as the men’s national team
“There is no
rationale why women should not get paid what men get paid. These are
women’s soccer players, they play the same game as the men’s soccer players,
and they play it better – so if there is any economic rationale, the men should
get paid less than the women,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York will continue to lead the way
forward and stand in solidarity with women and girls in every corner of this
state. By signing this legislation, we are not only doing the right thing, we
are also doing the moral thing and equal pay for equal work is now the law in
the State of New York.”
were signs calling for “Equal Pay,” but few chants could be heard over the squeals
of delight when the 2019 World Cup Champions came into view.
the parade, US Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro was all smiles, and when it was his
turn to come to the stage – greeted by chants of “Equal Pay, Equal Pay” – was
conciliatory, suggesting that prayers – or rather, the court case – would be
answered to the women’s satisfaction.
“To our Women’s National Team and the
millions who support them, in recent months, you’ve raised your voices for
equality. Today, on behalf of all of us at U.S. Soccer, I want to say, we
hear you, we believe in you and we’re committed to doing right by you.
“That’s why, over the years—from our
development programs to our youth national teams to our professional leagues to
our women’s national team—U.S. Soccer has invested more in women’s soccer than
any other country in the world. We will continue to invest more in
women’s soccer than any country in the world. And we will continue to
encourage others, including FIFA, to do the same.
“We believe that all female athletes
deserve fair and equitable pay. Together, we can get this done.
“Because as this team has taught us
all, being the greatest isn’t just about how you play on the field, it’s about
what you stand for off the field. It’s about who we are—as a sport and as
a country. The 2019 Women’s World Cup Champions! The United States
of America! One Nation, One Team! Go USA!”
Megan Rapinoe came to the stage, a glittering star among stars not just for
winning the Golden Boot for most goals and the Golden Ball as the tournament’s
most valuable player and co-captaining the team to their victory, but for her
bold stand for equal pay, for social justice (she was one of the few athletes
who knelt in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick), and her rejection of any
invitation by Donald Trump to visit the White House, prompting his twitter ire.
went out of her way to express appreciation to Cordeiro. “Thank you, you were incredible
during the World Cup….. everyone gets booed in a position of power. I will
stick my neck out, endorse Carlos. I think he’s on the right side of things. I
think he will make things right…”
speech, delivered on the City Hall steps extemporaneously and without notes,
was a call to action, and a call to come together.
is my charge to everyone. We have to be better, we have to love more, hate
less, listen more, talk less, we got to know that this is everybody’s
responsibility – every single person here, every single person who’s not here, every
single person who doesn’t want to be here, who agrees and doesn’t agree, it’s
our responsibility to make this world a better place.
think this team does an incredible job of taking that on our shoulders, and
understanding the position we have and the platform we have in this world. Yes we play sports, yes we play soccer, yes
we’re female athletes, but we’re so much more than that. You’re so much more
than that. You’re more than a fan who supports sports, who tunes in every four
years. You’re someone who works these streets every single day, you interact with your community every day. How do
you make your community better, how do you make the people around you better,
your family, your closest friends, the 10 closets people, the hundred closest
people to you. It’s every single person’s responsibility
been so much contention in these last years. I’ve been a victim of that. I’ve
been a perpetrator of that. If I’ve (hurt) the Federation sorry for some of the things I’ve said – not
all the things. But it’s time to come together. This conversation is at the
next step. We have to collaborate. It takes everybody.
“This is my charge to everybody: Do what you can. Do what you have to do. Step outside yourself. Be more, be better, be bigger, be better than you ever have been before. If this team is a representation of what you can be when you do that, please take that as an example. This group is incredible. We took so much on our shoulders to be here with you today, to celebrate with you today. And we did it with a smile. So do the same for us.”
she ended with classic, mischievous outrageousness: “New York City! You the mother-[expletive] best!!!”
It was a day to celebrate grit, determination, perseverance
and pure excellence, as tens of thousands turned out to cheer the United States
Women’s National Team on their 2019 World Cup victory as they floated through Lower
Manhattan’s “Canyon of Heroes,” the second of the team’s ticker-tape parades,
with the first only 2015. Notably, the vast majority of parade watchers were
mothers and daughters. They held signs thanking the team for being such
wonderful role models, and signs that called for Equal Pay.
As women rallied across the country in a national
day of action against the rush of abortion bans, New York City said New York
State would become a sanctuary and the city would seek to create a fund to help
women who cannot afford to obtain abortion services.
Hundreds turned out in downtown Manhattan across from the US Court Building at a rally to #StopTheBans – the epidemic of increasingly draconian anti-abortion legislation designed to force the Supreme Court to render a new decision they believe will overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade which established that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy up until the time the fetus was viable outside the womb, 24 weeks. Many states not only put significant barriers that have forced clinics to close, chipping away at the “undue burden” provision that has endured subsequent Supreme Court scrutiny, leaving only one or two clinics in a state, but all but 15 states deny Medicaid funding to cover abortions, while many private insurance companies also do not cover abortion services.
“A right without true access is merely a privilege,”
said New York Abortion Access Fund’s Maddy Durante.
At the federal level, Republicans in Congress have
tried multiple times to end funding to Planned Parenthood despite the Hyde
Amendment’s prohibition of any federal funds to be spent on abortion services,
is . Now, the Trump Administration is allowing private insurers to offer
policies that do not cover maternity care, dismissing the rising rates of
maternal mortality, especially among minorities and lower income women, as
Trump reverses the gains in access to care made under Obamacare.
But though New York State’s recently adopted
Reproductive Health Act not only allows for abortions beyond 24 weeks of
gestation in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is not
viable, and also expands the professionals authorized to conduct abortions to
certain physicians assistants, nurses and midwives, if the Supreme Court adopts
the concept of fetal personhood, as these new extreme laws propose, that could
jeopardize the legality of abortions everywhere.
That is a reason that many of the speakers at the
Tuesday Stop the Bans Day of Action rally in New York called for a renewed rise
in a nationwide movement to protect reproductive freedom, and insisted, “We are
not going back.”
Here are highlights from the rally:
“From Alabama to Ohio, extremist politicians are
trying to ban safe, legal abortions,” declared Leann Risk, associate director,
community organizing for Planned Parenthood, NYC. “Activists in all 50 states are engaged in a massive
show of strength. We will not stand for the bans, not now, not ever, no way.”
President and CEO Of Planned Parenthood NYC, declared, “We say to delusional politicians, stop the
abortion bans. ..We are facing a sick attempt to strip us of fundamental
humanity and autonomy. This is a coordinated attempt to drive care underground,
to force a showdown in the Supreme Court…
“Fact: 73% of Americans do not want to overturn Roe;
nearly one in four women in the United States will have an abortion in her
“These are not lawmakers, but lawbreakers, trying to
dismantle rights we have had for nearly five decades. We won’t stand for
blatant injustice against our reproductive rights. Abortion is the law of the
land – legal today, will be legal tomorrow, as long as Planned Parenthood
(which has existed over 103 years) and ACLU and so many others exist.”
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer declared, “It’s time
for NYC to become the first in the nation to directly fund abortion care –
guarantee access to abortion regardless of the ability to pay.” He is
advocating a New York City Abortion Access Fund.
Gloria Allred, the high-profile attorney, revealed
her own terrifying experience, nearly bleeding to death when she was in her 20s
because of a back alley abortion after being raped at gunpoint.
“As I lay hemorrhaging in a bathtub, [the
abortionist] said, ‘It’s your problem now.’ Back then, the only time you would
be admitted to a hospital is if you were bleeding to death. I was running 106
degree fever. I was put in a ward with others suffering after an illegal
abortion” where the patients were shamed.
“The nurse told me, ‘This should teach you a
lesson,’” Allred said. “It taught me a lesson all right: abortion should be
safe, legal, affordable and accessible!
“We will never allow abortion to be criminalized
again.. No elected official has the right to make a choice for us. Resist.
Insist. Persist. Elect Pro Choice candidates.”
New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, said, “The
bans are about control. The people pushing the bans are chipping away at our
rights…We cannot be silent. Women are more than half the population. We will
tell [these politicians] ‘Women brought you into this world and women can take
you out [pause] of office. We will march, organize, donate and vote.”
She was soon joined by Mayor Bill DiBlasio who said,
“New York respects women. We are not going back. This is a fight for our lives.
We know women will die because of these laws. We know the American people will
support freedom of women. The rights of women matter most.”
Eve Ensler playwright, performer, feminist, and activist, best known for her play “The Vagina Monologues,” shared her own experience getting an abortion. “That abortion was the smartest thing I have done…. Tell that predator-in-chief and those misogynists, ‘Get your invasive, violent hands off our bodies. Our vaginas, uterus, minds are out of the bottle and we ain’t going fucking back. My body, my choice. Are you up for the fight?”
“We are here because we are outraged,” said Andrea Miller, president and CEO of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH). “These anti-abortion extremists tell women they can’t be trusted to make our own decisions. They don’t believe we should have the right to control our bodies, our families, our futures. That we are not able to choose our destiny. We say no. The decision whether, when, with whom to have children belongs to us, not politicians.
“New York State passed the Reproductive Health Act.
We knew what was coming, coming for our rights. We aren’t just seeing things go
back. We are partnering with people moving forward. New York is not done if
reproductive rights are not accessible, affordable.”
The NIRH is partnering with New York City on the
first Abortion Action Campaign Fund – seeking $250,000 in the city’s budget to
fund abortion care for those who cannot afford it. Call the City Council to
“We know our health, our lives, our futures depends
on stopping the bans. Make sure abortion is safe, legal, accessible,
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer urged
support for the city to pass the funding. “To say we’re livid is an
understatement… [The impact of these fetal personhood bills means] that a
woman who suffers a miscarriage could be in the middle of a criminal investigation.
Before Roe, women died, now abortion is one of the safest medical procedures
that can be performed.
“A frigging tough fight is ahead but we will never
back down,” she declared, prompting chants of “Won’t go back. Won’t go back.”
Clara Williams, a Planned Parenthood patient,
related how difficult, how complicated and how personal the decision to seek an
abortion is. At the time of her abortion, she was very young, her partner had
left her, she did not feel she could properly care for a child.
“That is a decision no one can make for you, least
of all a politician,” she said. “The rash of bans sweeping the nation, to force
a showdown with the Supreme Court, make abortion inaccessible to communities of
color, people of low income. Banning doesn’t end abortion, just marginalizes
“Abortion is nobody’s business. Whatever the reason,
it is not undertaken flippantly. But what kind of life is it if we aren’t the
authority, don’t have the right, to control our own destiny?”
“Abortion is necessary health care, and health care
is a human right. Punishing those who provide health care, the doctors, is
inhumane and cruel.”
Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties
Union said, “We won’t let them turn the 21st century into Handmaid’s
Tale. It is ironic that those who would ban abortion claim to care about life,
but Georgia has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country, Alabama has
the highest infant mortality rate. If they cared about life, they would be
expanding health care, not making it a crime.
“I am fortunate to live in New York. New York has
stepped up to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which codifies Roe, protects
New York from criminals led by the philanderer-in-chief and his sanctimonious
minions. He may have stacked the court, but we won’t let them turn back the
The ACLU is mounting legal challenges in Georgia and
“We will tell the philanderer in chief, ‘We’ll see
you in court.’”
The vast majority – almost three out of four Americans
– support a woman’s right to choose and preserving Roe, and they vote.
“We know New York supports women’s right to control
their own bodies. We rallied to make New York a sanctuary city against the
Trump crusade against immigrants. We must also be a sanctuary for women. Thanks
to the effort of the ACLU and others, abortion is legal in all 50 states and we
have stopped the bans [from being enacted] so far. New York City, New York
State must be a sanctuary..”
But even though New York State was one of the first
to legislate reproductive rights, before the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, the laws
were still surprisingly repressive, criminalizing abortion after 24 weeks.
Garin Marshall related his experience when he and his wife learned at 30 weeks that the fetus she was carrying, “a baby that was very much wanted”, was not viable. “We were denied care in New York State [because of the 24-week ban].” But they had the means to seek services elsewhere. Nonetheless, their experience helped change the law in New York, passing the Reproductive Health Act.
“Abortion was the right choice for our family.
People are deserving of autonomy, dignity, respect,” Marshall said.
But, he argued, this is not just women’s issue. Men
have much at stake as well, for the women in their lives they love, and their
“Men benefit from access to legal, safe, affordable
abortion. Men created this problem, especially white men, who held on to power
and used it. Good men who do nothing have allowed this situation…This is our
problem, too. The house is on fire, but it is our house.
“Fight for access to abortion throughout pregnancy,
with no person left behind.”
Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who has been fighting
for abortion rights for 20 years, declared, “We can’t let these men who have no
idea what they’re talking about get away with this crap.
“I used to walk around with a necklace with a
hangar. We won’t go back, but only if we become a movement. Abortion access
Planned Parenthood of NY Chief Medical Officer Ila Dayananda, “This is an attack on all of
us. Under these laws, the fact a doctor can receive jail time for providing
service is horrific. One in four women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
Health care is a fundamental human right.
“There is no banning abortion, only banning safe,
legal abortion. These bans particularly hurt women of color, low income. They
should receive nothing less than compassion, expert health care, and to be able
to make the decision for themselves. There are many complicated factors in this
decision. People deserve to be empowered to make their own decision.
“We won’t go back. Smash the patriarchy.”
[Poster: Keep your filthy laws off my silky drawers]
New York Abortion Access Fund’s Maddy Durante urged
financial support for those in New York seeking abortion.
“Abortion access is out of reach for many for a long
time – both financial and legal access. If private insurance doesn’t cover an
abortion, it is a potentially astronomical cost. Often, people can’t use
insurance because of privacy and safety, because they fear partner violence.
“Our clients are immigrants, people living in
affordable housing, undergoing family separation, parents and caregivers, and increasingly,
people traveling to New York. They may have Medicaid but many states don’t
allow Medicaid coverage for abortions.”
She said her organization has already provided
assistance to 590 people through grass roots fundraising.
“Care has been inaccessible for a long time. A right
without true access is merely a privilege. Petition the City Council to fund
[Poster: I wish my uterus shot bullets, so the government wouldn’t regulate it.]
Director of Operations for Black Lives Matter, NYC,
Shaavronna Newsome. “People imposing bans are hiding behind Christianity, but
this is really about declining birthrate, capitalism, patriarchy. I am grateful
to be in New York where I can choose.”
Celia Petty, a founding member of NYC for Abortion
Rights, told how she has had three abortions in her life – the first when she
was very young and had just broken up with her boyfriend. “This was the 1970s.
I wasn’t capable of raising a child. I was afraid I would regret. But I was
relieved that I could wait until ready.”
Her second was when she found she was pregnant with
a six month old baby (don’t believe you can’t get pregnant if you are nursing).
“I was trying to work full time and still care for a new baby. I couldn’t
The third time was again, despite using birth
control, when she got pregnant with a 10-month old baby in the house. “I had to
work to make ends meet. An abortion saved my life,” she says as her young
granddaughter, clings to her leg as she speaks at the podium.
“A lot of women have abortions out of more desperate
An active founding member of New York for Abortion Rights, she said, “We seek full reproductive justice, the right to bear children in a safe, healthy environment. We want a grass roots movement to demand reproductive freedom – the right to control our bodies and our lives.”
That prompts the chant: “Without this basic right, women can’t be free.
Abortion on demand, without apology.”
The New Yorkers who
rallied in front of the US Courthouse in downtown Manhattan, were among tens of
thousands of people gathered at more than 500 events in all 50 states, DC, and
Puerto Rico on the Stop the Bans Day of Action.