Center for American Progress

What Women Need: An Agenda to Move Women and Families Forward

What Women Need: An Agenda to Move Women and Families Forward

The next president should move quickly to advance key priorities for women and their families.

Part of a Series

See also: What Women Need in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic” by Nora Ellmann, Robin Bleiweis, and Shilpa Phadke

This interactive was last updated on June 8, 2020, to include additional policies that women need in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While these additions distill some of women’s most pressing needs during this crisis, women continue to need the broader policy solutions originally detailed in this interactive—solutions that, together, will ensure their long-term health, safety, economic security, and equality. 

To view the interactive, scroll down on this page. Click here for a PDF version of this interactive.

The Trump administration has unleashed an unprecedented set of attacks against women and the programs and policies upon which they depend. Such attacks include policies that deny women access to abortion and contraception; weaken protections against sexual assault; and undo equal pay reforms. The administration—and the president in particular—has shown a lack of respect for women’s autonomy, dignity, and most basic rights. In response, Americans have witnessed an extraordinary level of civic engagement and political activism by women and those who care about women—from the rise of the #MeToo movement and the historic Women’s March, to mobilization to defend the Affordable Care Act and youth-led movements for communities free from gun violence. But in order to build the kind of future women need, it isn’t sufficient to simply resist and undo the harm from the Trump administration. It is equally important to offer women—particularly working women of all races and income brackets—an affirmative agenda that addresses the economic and social challenges they continue to face in building a more secure and stable life. For women and their families to get ahead, we must focus on what women say they most want and need—including economic security, good health care, fair treatment, and workplace structures that can help them better combine work and family life. These issues are interconnected, and for too long, efforts to promote progress on the issues affecting women’s lives have been fragmented and inadequate.

On January 20, 2021, a new president could take office and have the ability to not only undo the harm from the Trump administration’s anti-women agenda but also to reimagine what is possible to invest in and empower women. There are a number of concrete steps the next president should take beginning the first day she or he takes office.

This interactive presents, in no particular order, more than 100 bold ideas to move women and families forward. The goal is to highlight the depth and breadth of the ways the next president and other policymakers, including Congress, can advance a pro-women agenda through affirmative policies on women’s health, economic security, bodily autonomy, and other civil and human rights.

Shilpa Phadke is the vice president for the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress. Robin Bleiweis is a research associate for women’s economic security for the Women’s Initiative at the Center. Nora Ellmann is a research associate for women’s health and rights for the Women’s Initiative at the Center.


The authors would like to thank Osub Ahmed, Frank Bewkes, Diana Boesch, Marcella Bombardieri, Maggie Jo Buchanan, Brooke Butler, Maura Calsyn, Colleen Campbell, Rebecca Cokley, Laura Durso, Jamille Fields Allsbrook, Rejane Frederick, Jocelyn Frye, Sarah Jane Glynn, Katie Hamm, David Madland, Katrina Mulligan, Chelsea Parsons, Lily Roberts, Maggie Siddiqi, Scott Sargrad, Danyelle Solomon, Jamila Taylor, Karla Walter, and Philip Wolgin for their assistance with this product.

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Shilpa Phadke

Vice President, Women\'s Initiative

Robin Bleiweis

Former Research Associate, Women’s Economic Security

Nora Ellmann

Research Associate, Women’s Health and Rights

Explore The Series

Rachel Bryan of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers holds a sign next to the podium in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of the Women's March, January 2018. (Getty/J.M. Giordano)

Advancing gender equality is critical to the success of families, communities, and the nation. As country celebrates the progress it has made thus far—including historic firsts such as the elevation of Vice President Kamala Harris as the first woman, Black person, and Indian American person to serve in the second-highest office in the land—it’s also clear that the work to achieve equity, fairness, and justice for all women is far from done. Too many women—across race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, and economic level—still face obstacles that limit their opportunities, impede their progress, and interfere with their ability to lead healthy and productive lives. The Biden-Harris administration and all policymakers must advance concrete solutions to address these problems at all levels—whether it’s the gender wage gap, racism in maternal health care, lack of access to reproductive health care, increasing rates of gender-based violence, or the double standards deployed to hamstring women of color in positions of power. Only then can the country make meaningful progress for women—and all people.


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