Women are 47 percent of the workforce. A full 59 percent of families have two breadwinners. Four in 10 American households with children under age 18 are headed by a mother who is the primary -- or only -- breadwinner for the family.
With those kind of stats what I'm about to say should be obvious. Women's issues are American economic issues. Especially when we are talking about women's actual economic issues. Which exist in droves.
Considering that over 70 percent of mothers with children under 18 are in the workforce, we should start with the issue of making it possible to work and raise a family -- at the same time. Granted, there is no perfect solution that will fit every woman and every family. But a good place to start the conversation is making sure women can take time off when their family members are ill. Right now, just 11 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employers.
One of the reasons EMILY's List focuses on electing more Democratic women to office is because we know they bring a different set of experiences and a new voice to the table. The policies they champion reflect the reality of American women -- the reality they know firsthand. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently introduced the FAMILY Act, which would enhance the existing Family Medical Leave Act and provide eligible workers with 12 weeks of paid leave. Those 12 paid weeks would mean that a working mom wouldn't have to worry about choosing between spending time with a sick parent or child and working to afford their medication.
In the House, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro were joined by other Democratic leaders in introducing a new economic agenda called "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds." Among the many initiatives included in the agenda are early Head Start and preschool initiatives, funding for child care programs, expanded child care tax credits, and medical leave.
The agenda also includes an increase to the minimum wage. This is an especially critical issue for women, who account for nearly two-thirds of minimum wage earners.
And, despite the fact that it's nearly 2014, women are still earning just 77 cents to men's dollar. That wage gap adds up. And it doesn't just affect those women; it affects their families -- and our national economy. With more and more American families counting on mom to bring in a paycheck, it's more critical than ever that every woman is earning a fair wage.
Given the circumstances that working women are facing, it's of little surprise that this type of legislation appeals to them. Research from American Women found that pay equity is the number one workplace issue for women. It also found that that two-thirds of women support businesses taking on more family friendly policies like paid leave.
Other lawmakers would be smart to take notice of the work that their Democratic women colleagues are doing -- because these are the policies American women are looking for.