Women put Democrats in power. It’s time for them to issue paid vacation
Women showed up to vote record numbers in the 2020 election that narrowly gave Democrats government control over all three branches of government. For their victories at the top and bottom of the ballot, Democratic candidates have women to thank – and they should do so by focusing directly on the priorities and needs of the women who nominated them.
You may have heard of the “gender gap” in elections, often defined as the difference between the percentage of women and men supporting a specific candidate. Indeed, in the 2020 presidential election, women voted for President Biden by a margin of 55 to 44 percent. Women of color were among President Biden’s strongest supporters, voting for himself larger margins.
But the real gender gap in politics goes far beyond voters’ preferences for candidates. Women are the majority in this country and we have been the majority of voters in every presidential election since 1964. In 2020, we have 10 million more newsletters than our male counterparts.
Women also built the network of support that placed President Biden in the White House. More 2.4 million women given to Biden’s presidential campaign against less than 1.7 million men. In addition, a majority of Biden campaign staff were women.
In Georgia, where Senate control was decided in 2020, black women voting power forced two second-round elections and ultimately elected Senators Warnock and Ossoff. Two years earlier, Democrats had overwhelmingly taken control of the House of Representatives thanks to women, who voted for Democrats by a margin of 58 percent to 40 percent.
The women who put Democrats in power live in cities, suburbs and rural America. We come from different backgrounds, and we are of different races and ages. But we share the belief that the politicians we have supported must deliver on the promises they made to advance key priorities for women and families, and that our government should represent us.
The original Build Back Better program offered a comprehensive set of interventions that could fuel transformative change. After months of negotiations, the framework announced by the White House last week includes significant historic investments in important policies for women like child care, the child tax credit, home care and child care. community services. These investments will make a big difference in the lives of millions of women, especially caregivers who are disproportionately women of color and too often underpaid and undervalued. Yet it is still deeply disappointing that a major pillar of the care program – national paid family and medical leave – is not currently included in the framework announced by the White House. Without full paid time off, we are missing an opportunity to make a transformational investment in the well-being of women and families across this country.
In the first year of the pandemic, faced with caring for children, elderly parents, sick relatives and themselves, while trying to keep their jobs, nearly 3 million women in the United States have been forced out of the workforce. One of the main reasons is that only 23 percent of workers in this country have access to paid family leave through their employers, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Those of us who have been in this position recognize that no one should be forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for a sick child or elderly family member. It is not surprising that 74 percent of women– 62 percent of Republican women – believe paid family and medical leave should be included in Democrats’ “Build Back Better” legislation.
Yet the United States remains the only high-income country in the world without any form of paid national leave. It is simply unacceptable.
The unified control of government that women have exercised for Democrats offers a chance to correct inequalities and implement initiatives that meet the needs of working families. They should not waste it by putting paid vacation time on the back burner.
The women who raised their voices at the polls have raised leaders in the White House and Congress who now have the capacity to pursue such transformational change. The women voted, and now we are watching.
Women deserve a Build Back Better plan that fully addresses the challenges women face day in and day out. Thanks to the leadership of the Speaker and the pillars of the House and Senate who refuse to give up — and the millions across the country who have spoken out and told their stories — paid leave is back on the table. Building back better means creating an economy that works for everyone, and that includes paid time off. With elections in two states this year and midterms quickly approaching, women will be watching and we will be voting again soon.
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