Washington, D.C. — Efforts by politicians during the most recent campaign season to paint themselves as strong on women’s issues such as equal pay, work-family conflicts, and access to health care have presented an opportunity for lawmakers in the new Congress to begin taking concrete steps to address key challenges facing women. Unfortunately, incoming leaders and lawmakers have shown little interest in following through by transforming the many campaign promises made to women into real solutions that can improve the economic stability and overall well-being of women and families. A new issue brief released today by the Center for American Progress calls on Congress to demonstrate that its words are more than just rhetoric by pursuing policies that respond to the challenges facing American women and their families, and it outlines some of the actions that lawmakers should explore to make a genuine difference in women’s lives.
The issue brief highlights four areas critical to women’s success—equal pay, work-family supports, early childhood and child care programs, and women’s health—all of which are issues that women frequently identify as top priorities and that many lawmakers professed their support for during the 2014 campaign season. The brief outlines concrete actions that Congress should be pursuing to improve the health and economic standing of all women and their families. Such steps include expanding access to paid leave and paid sick days; greater transparency in pay practices and more opportunities in higher-paying jobs; flexible work arrangements and scheduling predictability; affordable child care and greater investment in early learning programs; patient protections to ensure confidential discussions with health care professionals without outside interference; and improving the overall quality of jobs.
“Equal pay, workplace flexibility, affordable child care, and access to quality health care services are issues critical not only to women but also to the overall stability, health, and economic security of all women and their families,” said Jocelyn Frye, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “Last year’s campaigns are over. Women and their families need less rhetoric and more accountability from lawmakers through concrete actions to address the issues that women consistently say matter to them most.”
The early record of this new Congress in January and February yielded few results on many of the key economic and health issues important to women and families.
As outlined in CAP’s new brief, the breadth and depth of issues facing women and their families—such as earning fair wages, finding affordable child care, accessing affordable health care, obtaining a predictable work schedule, and being able to take time off to care for an aging parent or sick child—were noticeably absent from the incoming leadership’s opening agenda. But there is much work that can be done to improve the lives of women and their families—if Congress is up to the challenge.
Read the issue brief: A Challenge to Congress by Jocelyn Frye, Milia B. Fisher, and Donna Barry
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at email@example.com or 202.478.5328.