A Women's Agenda for the 21st Century
Women have always been at the forefront of American progress—especially when that progress has required struggle. In the last three years, we’ve watched women lead powerful movements for justice: organizing the Women’s March, insisting on the importance of Black lives, and continuing to drive the #MeToo movement. The 2018 elections marked historic gains for women in Congress, propelled by the activism and commitment of women voters—particularly Black women and women of color.
Women are 51 percent of the U.S. population and nearly half the workforce. Their participation in the labor market over the past 50 years has sparked historic economic growth. But progress for women has come despite systemic, persistent sexism and racism that excludes women from economic, political, and social power.
Women’s freedom can’t depend on Washington; it can only come from systematically building women’s power in our economy, our political system, and in every part of our society.
At the current rate, we won’t close the gender pay gap for all women—including women of color, for whom the gap is largest—for over 200 years.Holtzman, Tessa, Ariane Hegewisch, and Claudia Williams. “Women's Median Earnings as a Percent of Men's, 1984-2017 (Full-Time, Year-Round Workers) with Projections for Pay Equity, by Race/Ethnicity.” Institute for Women's Policy Research. June 1, 2019. Women today are more likely to die from pregnancy than their mothers were; Black and Native American women die from pregnancy at rates three times higher than white women.Rabin, Roni Caryn. “Huge Disparities Found in Deaths Linked to Pregnancy.” The New York Times. May 7, 2019. Overwhelming numbers of women continue to face illegal harassment and discrimination at work and in their personal lives. Women’s right to control their own bodies is under assault all over the country.
Women’s freedom can’t depend on Washington; it can only come from building women’s power in our economy, our political system, and in every part of our society. And while we must create opportunity for all women, we know that women of color, trans women, and low-income women face unique barriers that require intentional policy solutions.
As president, Pete will:
From first responders to CEOs, women make up nearly half the American workforce. But across the board, women aren’t paid equally for the work they do. On average, women are paid 82 cents for each dollar paid to a white man; Black women are paid 62 cents and Latinas 54 cents.“America’s Women and the Wage Gap.” National Partnership for Women and Families. September, 2019. By retirement age, that means women of color have lost $1 million in earning compared to men. And the pay gap gets bigger as women advance in their careers.
The injustice goes beyond pay: for every dollar of wealth held by men in the United States, the average woman has 32 cents.McCulloch, Heather. “Closing The Women's Wealth Gap.” January 2017. Women start businesses at similar rates to men, but receive less than 3 percent of venture capital funding—even though women-led businesses generate better returns.Abouzahr, Katie Brooks, Frances Brooks Taplett, Matt Krentz, and John Harthorne. “Why Women-Owned Startups Are a Better Bet.” BCG. June 6, 2018.; Hinchliffe, Emma. “Funding For Female Founders Stalled at 2.2% of VC Dollars in 2018.” Fortune. Fortune. January 30, 2019.; Unnikrishnan, Shalini, and Cherie Blair. “Want to Boost the Global Economy by $5 Trillion? Support Women as Entrepreneurs.” BCG. July 30, 2019. The pay gap is further widened by illegal discrimination and workplace harassment, which rob women of income and opportunities to advance at work. Over 40 percent of women have faced discrimination at work, and 35 percent say sexual harassment is a problem in their workplace.Parker, Kim, and Cary Funk. “42% Of US Working Women Have Faced Gender Discrimination on the Job.” Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center. December 14, 2017.
To invest in equal opportunity for women, Pete will address the following issues:
Pete will make the pay gap—for women and people of color—at every large company public information, giving visibility into whether women are being fairly paid and promoted. Transparency puts power in the hands of women as they make decisions about where to work and salary negotiations. It also puts pressure on companies to hire, promote, retain, and pay women equally. Pete will also reinstate pay data collection by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and act aggressively to hold employers accountable for evidence of discrimination.
Pete will ensure that jobs and industries that disproportionately employ women of color have strong workplace protections, provide fair pay and opportunities for advancement, invest in training and apprenticeship programs that provide access to jobs in growth industries, and ensure that data analyses from federal agencies are performed with an intersectional lens to make visible the distinct experiences of women of color.
Pete will ensure that all working Americans have access to 12 weeks of comprehensive paid family and medical leave by supporting the FAMILY Act to create a national paid family and medical leave fund. He will also make sure benefits for lower-income workers are high enough that workers can afford to take leave and still pay their bills. Pete’s forthcoming comprehensive child care plan will make high-quality child care free for families most in need, and affordable for all.
Two-thirds of the over 40 million unpaid caregivers in the United States are women. Pete’s plan will provide new support for long-term care, including removing barriers to home- and community-based services for individuals in need of long-term services and supports. Under Pete’s plan, Social Security will finally recognize caregiving as work by providing unpaid caregivers credit toward Social Security benefits for a given period of years.
60 percent of low-wage workers are women, the majority of whom are single, supporting children under 18, or both.National Women’s Law Center. “Interactive Map: Women and Men in the Low-Wage Workforce.” 2019.; Patrick, Kayla. “Low-Wage Workers are Women: Three Truths and a Few Misconceptions.” National Women’s Law Center. August 31, 2017. Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025 will benefit 13.6 million women with direct wage increases.Cooper, David. “Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $15 by 2025 Would Lift Wages for over 33 Million Workers.” Economic Policy Institute. July 17, 2019.
Many industries that disproportionately employ women have low wages—even when they require expensive credentials. Pete will invest in workforce development for K-12 teachers, early childhood educators, and caregivers to ensure fair wages and pathways to advancement.
We cannot wait any longer to pass this bill, which was introduced 20 years ago and will ban employers from using salary history to determine wages, ensure that workers have the right to discuss wages without retaliation, and require employers to justify any pay discrepancies.DeLauro, Rosa. “The Paycheck Fairness Act of 2019.” January 24, 2019.
Expanding access to capital, particularly for underserved women of color—who are starting businesses at increasingly fast rates—will kickstart business growth to generate returns for women and their communities.Cheng, Michelle. “Why Minority Women Now Control Nearly Half of All Women-Run Businesses.” Inc. November 2018. A Buttigieg administration will increase access to capital and mentorship for women entrepreneurs by over $50 billion; require business and consumer lenders to disclose demographic information about submitted and approved loan applications to reduce discrimination; and increase federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses.
Pete will ensure that women can compete for high-paying fields like computer science and construction through investments in workforce development and education programs. The path to STEM and technical careers starts early, so he will invest in relevant training for young girls, particularly girls of color.
Pete will make social services easier to navigate and better-integrated across programs, ensuring that benefits like WIC and SNAP reach those who need them most. He will also ensure that women don’t bear the brunt of criminal legal fines and fees of their loved ones by eliminating for-profit bail and ending the privatization of phone calls.
Pete will increase accountability and prevent workplace discrimination by banning forced arbitration and non-disclosure clauses, treating workplace violence as a safety issue, and guaranteeing that workers in small companies are federally protected from sexual harassment. Pete will also endorse the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act so no woman has to risk economic security for her health.
Increased EEOC funding will enable the Commission to fully investigate claims, proactively address potential employment discrimination patterns, and modernize data management practices. Pete will also appoint his EEOC Chair as a member of the White House Council on Women and Girls. His administration will ensure that women across the country have resources near where they live by providing funding to EEOC field offices and local worker rights organizations.
A Buttigieg administration will improve transparency around sexual harassment by requiring public companies to disclose the aggregate number of workplace sexual harassment incidents reported and investigated annually. Pete will require companies in industries with the highest risk of harassment to conduct climate assessments and create or update harassment prevention plans every three years.U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Chart of Risk Factors for Harassment and Responsive Strategies.”
90 percent of people who experience workplace harassment never file a formal complaint—meaning that perpetrators and the companies that enable them can’t be held to account.Lilia M. Cortina and Jennifer L. Berdahl. Sexual Harassment in Organizations: A Decade of Research in Review, The Sage Handbook of Organizational Behavior 469, 469-96 (J. Barling & C. L. Cooper eds., 2008). Pete will work to pass the EMPOWER Act, which stops companies from hiding sexual harassment and discrimination by banning nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses that cover workplace discrimination and harassment.
Pete will allow multi-employer bargaining to protect workers by ensuring bargaining rights for independent contractors, supporting the right for temporary and contract firm workers to bargain directly with the firm that sets their terms of employment, and cracking down on employee misclassification that hurts women workers.
Health care is a human right. Yet across the country, more than 10 million women still do not have health insurance— especially women with low incomes and women of color.
Women are increasingly subject to health care policies that restrict their freedom, threaten their safety, and jeopardize their lifelong well-being. Many federal and state-level policies prioritize women’s health only within the context of pregnancy. Some rely on abstinence-only education, which leaves young people unprepared to plan for families, prevent sexually transmitted diseases, have healthy relationships, and much more. Other policies attack a woman’s access to abortion and comprehensive reproductive care or limit family planning options under Title X. And still others impose work requirements to obtain Medicaid coverage. All of these policies are closely associated with poor health outcomes for women.
To advance women’s health and choice, Pete will:
Through Pete’s Medicare for All Who Want It plan, anyone will be able to opt in to an affordable, comprehensive public plan. The public plan will cover preventive and comprehensive reproductive care for women, including abortion. This approach gives the American people a choice and trusts them to set the pace at which our country moves in a better direction on health care.
A Buttigieg administration will ensure that women permanently have access to safe, affordable, and legal abortions by codifying the right into law to protect women from state-level interference, abolishing the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting interference in public and private insurance coverage of abortion, and increasing the number of clinicians capable of providing abortions. Pete is committed to appointing judges that share his vision of freedom and choice for all Americans, which includes reproductive rights.
Pete’s Medicare for All Who Want It plan will guarantee contraception coverage and cover all family planning methods at no cost sharing. Pete will also ensure that Title X funding only goes to grantees that provide comprehensive and evidence-based family planning services and the full range of methods.
A Buttigieg administration will ensure coverage to improve pre-pregnancy and postpartum health; increase access to maternal health services in rural, Tribal Nations, and other underserved areas; reduce the closure of obstetric units; and protect the health of women who are incarcerated while pregnant. Pete will support policies that provide implicit bias training and expand the maternal health workforce, research into disparities in pregnancy outcomes, and Medicaid coverage for pregnant women to one year postpartum.
Pete will enact policies that not only require coverage of gender-affirming care but also address care shortages. He will support initiatives that ensure clinicians understand sexual orientation and gender identity, use inclusive language, appreciate the unique health needs of the LGBTQ+ community, and provide trauma-informed care—particularly for LGBTQ+ people of color.
Significant disparities in women’s health outcomes and access to health care services result from systemic racism,Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women. “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Obstetrics and Gynecology.” as well as the marginalization of women of color, women living in rural areas, and transgender women. Pete will address these disparities by establishing Health Equity Zones, diversifying the health workforce, expanding funding for research into conditions that affect women and communities of color differently, and supporting states in repealing taxation on menstrual hygiene products.
A Buttigieg administration will not only restore and increase investments in global health, but also end all policies meant to restrict access to family planning and abortion services abroad.
When women are an equal part of decision-making, better decisions are made. Women are 51 percent of the American population, but are shut out of leadership positions in government and beyond—meaning that decisions about their health care, economic opportunities, and communities are made by male-dominated state legislatures and a U.S. Congress with three men for every one woman. Women of color are particularly underrepresented, holding fewer than one in ten seats in Congress.Warner, Judith, Nora Ellman, Diane Boesch. “The Women’s Leadership Gap.” Center for American Progress. November 20, 2018.
Pete understands that policy only works when it’s informed by diverse experiences. He is committed to fielding a full team of America’s most talented leaders and pushing the private sector to do the same.
To secure women’s power and influence, Pete will:
Pete will nominate a gender- and racially-diverse Cabinet to ensure meaningful representation across federal agencies and throughout government. He will challenge governors, mayors, and county executives to do the same.
The ERA establishes that the rights granted in the Constitution apply equally to women and men, creating a strong legal standard for reviewing sex discrimination. Introduced 96 years ago, it is time to remove the ratification deadline and work with states and Congress to finally get it ratified.
Pete’s Council on Women and Girls will work closely with senior staff on the White House Domestic Policy, National Economic Council, and National Security Councils to ensure that every policy is analyzed with an intersectional lens. Pete will charge its leadership to work with agencies and the White House to coordinate, monitor, and report the progress of federal efforts to close the wage gap, wealth gap, and leadership gap between men and women across racial and ethnic backgrounds.
By pursuing campaign finance reform, implementing a small-dollar matching program for federal elections, and expanding paid entry-level and service opportunities in the federal government to build the next generation of talent, Pete will fight for women’s opportunity in government.
Everyone deserves to live in safety. But one in four women in the United States experiences domestic violence over the course of their life, and a woman is murdered by a male intimate partner with a gun every 16 hours.DePas, Penney. “Shocking statistics show need for congressional action on domestic violence.” The Progressive Pulse. July, 16, 2019. Sexual violence and harassment are pervasive on college and university campuses.New forms of online harassment like revenge porn move faster than existing legal remedies.Dills, J., Fowler D., and Payne G. “Sexual Violence on Campus: Strategies for Prevention.” National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/campussvprevention.pdf Not only are women of color, transgender women, and poor women at higher risk of being targeted for violence, but they are also less likely to receive support from law enforcement.Martinez, Gina and Tara Laws. “Two Recent Murders of Black Trans Women in Texas Reveal a Nationwide Crisis, Advocates Say.” Time. June 12, 2019.
We need a 21st century approach to ending gender-based violence, one that recognizes how technology and culture interact. The federal government must do more to both hold institutions accountable for protecting women at risk of discrimination and violence, and proactively build safe communities
To support women’s right to live free from violence, harassment, and discrimination, Pete will:
This will provide federal resources for addressing and preventing domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking, and for supporting survivors of those crimes. Pete will also ensure that future VAWA reauthorizations cannot be held up for political reasons by implementing automatic reauthorization.
Pete will support the SHIELD Act to criminalize revenge porn at the federal level, increase funding for law enforcement training, and work with industry to eradicate online harassment on their platforms.
College consent and bystander intervention training have reduced incidence of sexual assault and harassment,Coker, Ann L., Bonnie S. Fisher, Heather M. Bush, Suzanne C. Swan, Corrine M. Williams, Emily R. Clear, and Sarah Degue. “Evaluation of the Green Dot Bystander Intervention to Reduce Interpersonal Violence Among College Students Across Three Campuses.” Violence Against Women 21, no. 12 (2014): 1507–27. but long-term culture change requires starting earlier. Pete’s Department of Education will collaborate with states to ensure that students in public schools learn how to identify and address gender discrimination and bias.
Pete will immediately close federal loopholes to prevent abusive partners and convicted stalkers from possessing guns, and strengthen existing laws that require domestic abusers to relinquish their guns. Pete also supports federal legislation requiring notification of state or local law enforcement whenever a domestic abuser or convicted stalker tries to buy a gun.
Pete’s administration will defend—not undermine—Title IX. He will enact a student-centric process to amend Title IX regulations, focusing on early intervention and prevention programs, offering supports like counseling and academic accommodations, and making clear that schools owe each student a transparent, full investigation.
So far this year, at least 18 transgender individuals have been murdered, including 17 Black trans women.“Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2019.” Human Rights Campaign. Accessed September 30, 2019. Pete will vigorously enforce the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He will also train law enforcement and require reporting on issues specific to LGBTQ+ people.
We need to build women’s power in our economy, our political system, and in every part of our society. If you’re with us and want to learn more, text POWER to 25859.
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