Dealing with women and family issues are key
(This guest editorial first appeared in the Delaware News Journal's "Delaware Voices" on Sunday, June 12, 2016.)
What I hear from women all across Delaware is awfully familiar to me.
Whether concerned about their own careers to being a single parent, balancing the family checkbook, worrying about their children’s safety or paying for college, I know the struggle in these stories. I was a single mother myself for a time, balancing a career and family in an economy that makes it harder and harder for women to get by – let alone get ahead. That’s why I’m proposing an economic agenda for women and families.
Why this agenda?
The challenges faced by women are barriers to success for families and for our economy. I saw these challenges firsthand, both as Delaware’s secretary of labor and as state personnel director. In Delaware today, I see families struggling with economic factors beyond their control. In Washington, however, I see something entirely different – and much worse.
The lives of women and families in this country are made harder by a Congress that doesn’t understand women's lives – and refuses to see that economic equality for women is the right thing for families AND our economy. These proposals are so long overdue, but the people who need this plan the most are the ones whose stories fuel my campaign and give me the energy to keep fighting – no matter how tough the battle.
Women earning only 81 percent of what men are paid for the same work is not only a moral outrage but an economic disadvantage for families. How many of the mothers, sister, aunts and friends who you know could actually start saving for their families’ future rather than scraping by to make ends meet if they had a bigger paycheck? In Congress, I will fight to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act because the economic well-being of Delaware families depends on it.
Unpaid family leave often means the difference between balancing the checkbook or taking on more debt. I agree with President Barack Obama that paid sick days to the 43 million Americans who currently have no access to them will mean fewer women have to lose a paycheck to care for their family. That is why I support the Healthy Families Act, which guarantees workers the ability to earn up to seven paid sick days.
Additionally, the rising cost of childcare, coupled with declining wages, has made it harder for people to work and care for their families. The cost for infant care in Delaware is almost the same as public college tuition. Providing tax credits so middle-class and lower-income workers can find quality, affordable childcare is a step in the right direction. These tax credits, together with an increase in the minimum wage, will lift women out of poverty and help families succeed.
Last but not least, the Republican nominee for president calling for women to be punished for having abortions and the assault on Planned Parenthood are stark reminders that women’s health care is constantly under attack. We must stand strong so women can make their own decisions and access quality, affordable health care.
We cannot talk about moving our country forward without dealing with women’s economic security. Women’s issues are family issues and economic issues, and that is why I’m running for Congress – to create opportunities to help everyone get ahead.