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

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.