Equal Opportunities for Women and Girls
Everyone deserves respect and equal opportunity. When we provide that--when we level the playing field for girls and women--we all benefit, truly. Being a husband with a grown daughter has only intensified this commitment for me. The problem is that even today, that playing field remains very uneven.
While we’ve made a good deal of progress in securing rights and opportunities for women in the US, three issues make it clear that we still have a long way to go: First, the persistent gap in both pay and opportunities for women; second, violence against women, including both domestic violence and workplace sexual harassment and abuse; and third, the push to roll back and restrict women’s access to health care, from maternal health to contraception to reproductive services.
On average, women in the US now earn about 80% of what men earn for the same job and the same level of qualifications. For an annual salary of $50,000 per year, something a professional might earn in southwest Virginia, that translates to $10,000 less per year. Keep in mind that wages for men have been pretty much stagnant, so it’s not that working men are doing great, just that women are struggling more. I support the Paycheck Fairness Act, and other measures to achieve pay equity for women.
Educational, training and career advancement opportunities for girls and women are improving, but remain stuck in outdated ideas of what women are good at, capable of. This is especially true of the tech industry and science and technology more broadly. I’ll work to remove barriers to education and career advancement through promotion of STEM education and enforcement of equal opportunity laws.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence reports no significant decrease in the numbers of women seeking help over the past two years. In rural areas, like the 9th District, domestic violence rates are more than 40% higher than in urban areas, even as victims are twice as likely not to have access to the assistance they need. I support significant increases in funding for domestic violence prevention and treatment, particularly in rural communities, along with stronger protections for victims and penalties for abusers.
To reduce workplace sexual harassment, we must strengthen and enforce laws against harassment and abuse, increase penalties against corporations that allow harassment to continue without consequence, and dramatically restrict the use of ‘non-disclosure agreements’ that force employees to remain silent while abusers go unpunished.
For women, affordable health care is especially critical both because they have unique health care needs, and because they are more likely to work at a lower wage rate than men. I support expanded access to health care, as we move towards a Medicare Choice for All system.
I support a woman’s right to choose, and I will work to support women, so that this difficult choice is made much less frequently. We know how to reduce abortion rates:
Affordable contraception, along with meaningful sex education for both girls and boys
Paid maternity leave and good quality child care to new moms (and dads); nearly 70% of women choosing abortions are low income or working women whose economic circumstances drive their decisions
Better educational and economic opportunities for girls and women, making unwanted pregnancy less likely
Read Anthony's article in Blue Virginia, "From Roy Moore to Charlie Rose, an Epidemic of Disrespect."