iOS app Android app

Debra L. Ness
Debra L. Ness is the President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Throughout her career, Ness has fought for social justice and equality for women, people of color, workers, seniors, immigrants, people living in poverty, and all those who too often are ignored or left behind. Her extensive background in public policy makes her a remarkably effective advocate with a deep understanding of what women and families need at home, in the workplace, and in the health care arena. She is a highly respected and oft-quoted expert who testifies frequently before Congress, speaks before prestigious audiences, and serves on the boards of some of the nation's most influential organizations.

Entries by Debra L. Ness

200 Million Reasons to Support Paid Family and Medical Leave

(2) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 12:13 PM

22 years ago this week, President Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) -- the country's first and only federal law to address the dual demands of job and family. As the organization that drafted and helped lead the fight for the FMLA, we at the...

Read Post

The Supreme Court Should Say 'No' to Pregnancy Discrimination

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 1:19 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service (UPS) this week, a case that could help secure -- or erode -- pregnant workers' right to equal treatment. A ruling against Young could pose a significant threat to the health and economic security...

Read Post

Reasons to Celebrate -- and to be Vigilant -- this National Work and Family Month

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2014 | 6:15 PM

Since 2003, Congress and the president have designated every October "National Work and Family Month" -- a time to reaffirm that making the country's workplaces more fair and family friendly should be a national priority. As the month draws to a close, there are clear signs of progress since last...

Read Post

Why the Failed Paycheck Fairness Act Vote Matters

(3) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 6:32 PM

It has been quite the week for fair pay for women. On Monday, we witnessed a shameful act when opponents blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate. On Tuesday, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that there has been no significant progress in...

Read Post

The Dignity and Value of Work and Family

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 1:14 PM

Amable Alvarez grew up in a poor, rural village in Spain. As a child, he never got the chance to attend school because his family couldn't afford to be without his help on the farm. But, every once in a while, Amable would slip away to listen outside the village...

Read Post

Women's Equality Matters

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2014 | 5:41 PM

August 26, Women's Equality Day, commemorates the day when women in the United States took a giant step toward equality by winning the right to vote. Sadly, it's all too clear 94 years later that it was just one step on the long road to equality -- and we're not...

Read Post

America's Families Expect and Deserve Better: 31 States Get Grades of 'D' or 'F' in New Study

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 12:26 PM

On Monday, hundreds of lawmakers, businesses, workers, advocates, administration officials and President Obama will gather for a historic White House Summit on Working Families in Washington, D.C. The National Partnership is proud to be participating in the event, and our new state-by-state analysis of laws that...

Read Post

#WhatMothersNeed This Mother's Day

(0) Comments | Posted May 11, 2014 | 3:08 PM

Mother's Day is here. That means that if you're like many people, you've recently spent some time asking yourself what your mother (or the mothers in your life) need. Flowers, brunch and chocolates tend to be the gifts of choice, but there is much more that can and should be...

Read Post

Let's Leave Mad Men-Era Pay Policies in the Past

(2) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 4:56 PM

There is a reason many of us bristle at the thought of what the nation's workplaces were like for women during the Mad Men era: the almost universal recognition that it was a time when sexism was rampant, when women were routinely devalued, disrespected and blatantly discriminated against. The good...

Read Post

Congress Must Heed the President's Historic Call for Paid Leave, Fair Pay and a Stronger Health Care System

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2014 | 2:03 PM

President Obama's State of the Union address was a compelling call for a nation that is more family friendly and fair, with a health care system that provides quality care and coverage people can rely on. He asked lawmakers to advance the most fundamental of American values: equal...

Read Post

A Strong Start to 2014 for Working Families

(0) Comments | Posted January 2, 2014 | 3:38 PM

2013 was a year of great progress for America's working families. Laws guaranteeing people the right to earn paid sick days were passed in Portland, Oregon, New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey. Rhode Island passed the nation's third paid family leave program. We saw new attention and support...

Read Post

Then and Now: Pregnancy Discrimination Hurts Women and Their Families

(8) Comments | Posted November 1, 2013 | 10:47 AM

It's the early 1970s. The women's movement has made great strides. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," featuring independent, career woman Mary Richards, is climbing the ratings charts. Women are entering the workforce in record numbers. And yet, women face significant barriers to success and equality in the workplace, including being...

Read Post

A Bitter Pill: New Census Data Show Gender-Based Wage Gap Is Largely Unchanged Since 2002

(1) Comments | Posted September 18, 2013 | 2:06 PM

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau's annual survey released this week reveal that the gap between the wages paid to women and men in this country has not improved in the last 11 years. This is a bitter pill for the nation's women and families, and a...

Read Post

A Bittersweet Labor Day

(0) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 4:23 PM

For more than a century, Labor Day has been a time to pay tribute to the enormous contributions of working people in this country. It is also a time for those of us who seek fairness and equality for all workers to consider how far we've come, and how far...

Read Post

One Step Closer to Equity for Peace Corps Volunteers

(21) Comments | Posted July 26, 2013 | 5:58 PM

Here's a fact that may surprise you: Women who work for the Peace Corps at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and women who volunteer for the Peace Corps and serve overseas receive different health care coverage from the federal government. Currently, a woman who works for the Peace Corps in...

Read Post

Messages That Matter This Mother's Day

(1) Comments | Posted May 10, 2013 | 6:18 PM

"For everything you've taught me..." "For always being there..." "For all the sacrifices you've made... thanks, Mom." These and messages like them are what mothers across the country will be reading in greeting cards and hearing from loved ones this weekend. But, for mothers who hold jobs, one reality is...

Read Post

Mothers, Working Families Aren't Fooled

(1) Comments | Posted May 6, 2013 | 6:26 PM

Working people today face serious challenges when it comes to managing job and family: Nearly 40 percent of workers in the private sector -- and more than 80 percent of those who are low-wage workers -- cannot earn a single paid sick day. Forty percent of...

Read Post

From Seattle to New York City, Women and Families Need Action on Fair Pay

(6) Comments | Posted April 10, 2013 | 2:32 PM

It's that time of year again. A time when those of us who are committed to achieving equality for women are reminded of the work left to do. That's because, this week, we recognize Equal Pay Day -- the day that marks how far into the new year women have...

Read Post

20 Years Ago Today, America Became a More Family-friendly Nation -- And We Must Do It Again

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 2:53 PM

Today, we mark a historic and celebratory moment in our nation's history.

Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton signed into law the very first bill of his administration, and its first word is "family." Since then, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has enabled millions of...

Read Post

The Flu Thrives Without Paid Sick Days

(14) Comments | Posted January 14, 2013 | 9:43 AM

By now, we have all heard about or been affected by the influenza outbreak that is sweeping the country and taking a staggering toll. At least 44 states have been hit, thousands of hospitalizations and dozens of deaths have been reported so far, and some are...

Read Post