Ninety-three years ago today women officially earned our right to vote and we've been making our voices heard ever since. On this August 18, 1920 in Tennessee, the legislature ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, enshrining women's right to vote. Thanks to the intrepid iron-jawed angels of the suffragist movement Americans healed part of the original sin in the Constitution wherein the Framers excluded women.
We've come a long way in 93 years, but the recent assaults on women's health, worker's voices and voting rights signal that we still have far to go. That is why this week -- as we celebrate the 19th Amendment's ratification of August 18, 2013 and its implementation on August 24, 1920 -- today's iron-jawed angels must help all women succeed so that our country can continue to move forward.
To that end, as a proud American Democratic feminist, I'm urging my Democratic National Committee colleagues to support and embrace the Women Succeed Initiative. When we meet in Scottsdale, AZ later this week, I'll be presenting this Resolution:
WHEREAS, Democrats believe that when women succeed, America succeeds, and have created a "Women Succeed" agenda to identify problems, progress, and solutions to help move our country forward; and
WHEREAS, fifty years after President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, women continue to earn less than men; women make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, amounting to a yearly gap of $11,084 between full-time men and women; that $11,084 lost could purchase 89 more weeks of food or more than 3,000 additional gallons of gas or more than one year of rent for a woman's family; and
WHEREAS, for African American women and Latinas the pay gap is even larger; African American women on average earn only 64 cents and Latinas on average earn only 55 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men; and
WHEREAS, the minimum wage is a women's issue; nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women; yet the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation over the last 45 years - with the minimum wage now, in inflation-adjusted terms, more than 30 percent lower than it was in 1968; and
WHEREAS, workers in 145 countries around the world have earned paid sick days - but there is no policy to ensure earned paid sick days in the U.S.; the United States has no mandatory paid family leave policy -- making it one of just three countries in the world and the only country among industrialized countries to not mandate paid maternity leave for new mothers; more than 40 million private sector workers in this country - including more than 13 million working women - are not able to take a paid sick day when they or a family member are ill; millions more lack paid sick time to care for a sick child and nearly one-quarter of adults in the U.S. (23 percent) report that they have lost a job or have been threatened with job loss for taking time off due to illness or to care for a sick child or relative; fully 89 percent of the U.S. workforce does not have paid family leave through their employers, and more than 60 percent of the workforce does not have paid personal medical leave through an employer-provided temporary disability program, which some new mothers use; and,
WHEREAS, child care is a necessity for most families with preschool children because households need two incomes to pay all the bills, but while most other industrialized countries have universal preschool for three and 4-year-olds, there is a drastic lack of quality preschool for American children in the U.S.; what's more, the lack of availability of affordable and high-quality child care in this country has reached crisis proportions -- the U.S. ranks 28th out of 38 countries in the share of 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); nearly two-thirds of American women with pre-school age children work; yet in the U.S., families are generally left on their own for providing child care, while the average cost of full-time child care for one child in a day care center in 2011 ranged from $4,000 to $12,000 depending on the state;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the DNC supports the "Women Succeed" Initiative to provide concrete solutions that empower women in pay, family leave and childcare; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the DNC supports paycheck fairness and efforts to raise the minimum wage (including for tipped workers), invest in Job Training and education opportunities, protect and restore employment rights, support women entrepreneurs/small businesses, ensure pregnant workers fairness and empower adequate tools to investigate wage discrimination; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the DNC urges public officials at all levels of service to support paid sick leave paid family and medical leave, expanded family and medical leave and federal employees paid parental leave; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the DNC endorses President Obama's Preschool and Early Head Start/Child Care Initiative and efforts to promote affordable and high quality child care, adequate funding of child care programs, adequate training and pay for child care workers, expanding the child care tax credit, making the child tax credit permanent and indexed, and increasing access to child support so that all women are empowered to raise happy, healthy families and to reach their fullest human and economic potential.
During this celebration of women's suffrage we must press forward for civil rights, women's health, reproductive justice, fair pay and economic opportunity for all. A slew of corporate libertarians are fighting progress at every term, giving lip service to women but not walking the talk on fair pay, family leave and childcare so essential to American families. The ALEC and Koch Brothers-funded opposition to working families is pernicious. We must fight this fight with intersectionality and solidarity, lifting up our sisters from all races and creeds, with equal voices and equal votes. We need fresh recruits and reinforcements for feminist candidates. We need to call out the 18th century mindsets that denied women's autonomy then and deny women's autonomy today.
As we know, this fight begins with voting rights so we must ensure that more women are registered, voting, volunteering, and serving in public life. We must never drop the torch our foremothers and fathers passed to us -- and always spark the flame in a new generation of iron-jawed angels willing to advance liberty, justice, and equality for all.
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