Increasing the minimum wage would assist women and those of color in particular, who make up a disproportionate share of lower-income jobs.
Maternal Discrimination in the Workplace
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) may have attempted to account for the mistreatment of pregnant workers, yet it has fallen short in effect. Too often, women are fired upon returning from pregnancy leave, discriminated against when they need to pump breastmilk at work, or burdened by employers who refuse to make accommodations for them which would otherwise be made for employees in need. We must prevent employers from using “pregnancy-blind” arguments to circumvent the well-intended PDA, which is only in effect in 23 states. A bill that has been circumventing Congress for several years is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would increase protections and instead do it at the federal level.
Sexual and Physical Violence Against Women
Violence against women has seen a spike since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as stay-at-home measures have forced women to remain at home with their abusers. Our mission to create a public broadband system may aid victims of abuse.
“The Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated a lack of access to services for migrant and Black, Asian, and minority ethnic women. Governments should ensure that, as more services move online to reach women during Covid-19 lockdowns, women without access to safe, private internet or mobile resources can continue to access services. Women who work in homes, including domestic workers who live with their employers or women now telecommuting from home, may face particular risks of abuse without being readily visible to policymakers or service providers.”
We must also increase regulations on gun sales and ownership for domestic abusers to protect victims of domestic abusers.
Some highly visible sexual offenders are employed by our government, and they must be held to a high standard as protectors rather than violators of the law. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has commented with apathy toward reports that staff had sexually abused women in immigrant detention centers. Though is it legally recognized in all 50 states and Washington D.C. as a crime for correctional facility staff to engage in any sexual activity with detainees, ICE has denied liability for constitutional violations because the facilities were not jails or prisons, and claim the acts were “consensual.” We are advocating for increased oversight and accountability in immigrant detention centers.
When it comes to sexual assault and human trafficking, we must take a victim-centered approach.
Healthcare is a human right, and women have unique anatomies that require more individualized care. It is important, for everyone in society, that women have unrestricted access to the reproductive healthcare that they need.
One in five women has chosen to seek reproductive healthcare at Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives, yet this organization is crippling under pressure to defund them and restrict access to abortions. Planned Parenthood leads communities in sexual education, preventative health care, and abortions. We must continue to fund this important asset to society, as it provides affordable reproductive healthcare and information to women who may not otherwise have access to it.
Florida’s infant and maternal mortality rates are higher than the national levels, indicating a need for more funding and proactive legislation.
Paid family and sick leave is a must in order to restore the American value of family. In addition, to alleviate the pressure of working new mothers, we must provide affordable, high-quality child care. This is not only an investment in women but also the children who will benefit in terms of their development.
Rooted in reproductive healthcare are racist medical practices that put pregnant women of color at a higher risk for maternal mortality.
Low-income and immigrant women face distinct challenges in obtaining reproductive healthcare in diverse communities. “Immigrants who are undocumented or who are not proficient in English face heightened challenges in seeking services due to language barriers, fear of deportation, or concerns about jeopardizing their immigration proceedings due to changes in the public charge rule.”
As 56% of Planned Parenthood’s 600 nationwide medical centers are in “rural or medically underserved areas,” it is important that we support this organization’s efforts. We also stand in solidarity with black trans women of color, supporting policies that will lower their death-rates and increase awareness of the severe injustices they face.
Schools provide the necessary sexual education for our students to learn about safe sex practices and puberty. We aim to push policymakers to implement empirically-sound, data-driven approaches to sexual education. Research has shown that teaching about abstinence-only measures is ineffective and can have backfiring results on our youth’s sexual health. Therefore we must ensure that we provide our young generations with accurate and comprehensive knowledge about sex in order to reduce the frequency of unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.
We advocate for the implementation of LGBTQ-inclusive sex education. The current sexual education practices in place selectively cover heterosexual relationships between cisgender people. We would be doing a grave disservice to our youth by leaving out key components of sexuality in “comprehensive” sexual education. In an effort to prevent students from seeking this information from unreliable and medically incorrect sources, the LGBTQ conversation must be opened in our schools and communities.
Investing in community programs that are empirically supported can have doubly beneficial results. For one, research has shown that implementing a do good, be good approach can have positive results for decreasing rates of unwanted teen pregnancy:
“..Teens who feel alienated and disengaged from their community are at particular risk of getting pregnant (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol. 57, No. 11, 2003). But involving at-risk teens in volunteer work, such as in soup kitchens or nursing homes, helps them revise that narrative and instead view themselves as valuable members of the community. This reduces the likelihood of risky behaviors, including unprotected sex. There are several well-tested programs showing this approach works, such as one called Teen Outreach, which has been used effectively in a number of cities.”
The growing prison population of women is currently housed in the few existing federal prisons for women, which are overcrowded and hostile environments. They often lack access to female hygiene products and adequate conditions for pregnancy as well.