Women and girls are literally the foundation of our society. Women give and nurture life, as well as provide, protect and lead within families, organizations, communities and our greater society. Yet, women still face unique challenges to be able to fully live, thrive and contribute. When we remove the barriers for women to thrive, we remove the limitations on our society.
Following are the priorities I believe will remove barriers and create limitless opportunities for women, and thus our communities. I will fight, with women and in community, for the following outcomes:
- Improve access to quality health care with a focus on health equity, reproductive health and maternal health. Quality health care access should be a baseline for the wellbeing of women and babies. We must continue to address issues of maternal mortality and morbidity in the District. Reproductive health is not exclusively about birthing. I feel very strongly about being a champion for the expansion of reproductive health and family planning services for women in the District. This can be accomplished through the expansion of Medicaid and the passing of legislation to require the same expansion of commercial insurance benefits for family-planning. We can explore ways to fully leverage the benefits for District residents who receive Medicaid. From transportation support to thinking about the intersection of housing and health care, I would like to further explore its potential benefits.
- Making sure maternal mental health is supported, as well as the wide variety of mental health supports that our community needs; Expansion of mental health access points in our community through an increase in mental health facilities in our communities is one solution; Another solution is pushing for tele-health access to expand the pool of providers. We must also increase funding to build upon the mental health workforce pipeline, to meet the growing demand of mental health care providers.
- Increase support and resources for victims of domestic violence; this includes expanding DC Paid Family leave to support the medical needs and recovery of victims of intimate partner violence. Furthermore, we have to double down on our support for their housing needs to be able to leave their abusers.
- Expose our young girls and women to career options for the changing workforce. Often, women do not access certain careers because we have no knowledge of them. We must do more to ensure our women and girls are able to be a part of our city’s prosperity, whether through traditional careers, or careers where women have not been represented. Let’s prepare for the changing economy/workforce (such as green, tech jobs and more). This must start with career training and exposure within our public schools and also include robust offerings of workforce training and higher education pathways. Let’s also support lifelong education, with opportunities for career change, with linkages to our evolving workforce, with specialized support for our more seasoned neighbors who are not as tech savvy. I strongly believe we need a system of education that supports the needs of women, and our entire community, from birth throughout life and that system must be interconnected.
- Require Pay Equity – far too often women make less money than their male counterparts. I want to make sure that women are experiencing fairness in career opportunities and wages.
- Acknowledge the critical role that domestic workers – who are often women – play in our community, and be sensitive to their needs. Let’s make sure there are fair labor practices, to include fair wages and treatment.
- Work to ensure that employer benefits meet the needs of the women they employ. Paid leave, paid family leave, and sick days are one part of ensuring employees have robust benefit packages that support their holistic needs. This could also include exploring innovations for work schedule flexibility in the workplace.
- Eliminate harassment in the street and in the workplace, and prepare women (young and old) to protect themselves. I will drive community awareness of and responsibility for this issue. Removing sexism, harassment, and discrimination from the workplace and within the community will be a priority.
- Support entrepreneurship for women through economic development opportunities to start and grow local businesses. We can focus on targeted grant funding and technical support for women-owned and operated businesses.
- Improve access to quality, affordable child care, through the funding and implementation of the Birth to Three for All Act and other supports and practices. Access to child care makes it possible for working moms to return or enter the workforce knowing their children are in a safe place. This also means ensuring that all women know about our city’s broad access to universal PreK for their children when they age out of child care. I would continue to focus on the improvement of educational quality for children and families, and ensuring the equitable wages for early education teachers (who are overwhelmingly women). This need could also be extended to elder/senior care.
- Create access to affordable housing and housing policy that supports the needs of women and families. This includes ways to mitigate the issues of housing insecurity for women and families through increased access to community-based organizational support, improved access to social services and increased access to transitional and permanent supportive housing. Furthermore, we can increase access to housing counseling programs and providers, to prepare women for the opportunity to experience homeownership in the District.
I will push to increase funding for first time home buyer assistance programs; the development of workforce-focused housing; the generation/building of wealth through homeownership; and next step/step up programs to help women who are homeowners stay in the District by offering homebuyer assistance for their next home.
- Study the benefits and impacts of direct cash transfers and pilots that have been conducted in DC and in other jurisdictions. Through both refundable tax credits (like the child tax credit), universal basic income, and other examples, women have experienced positive outcomes from the support. I would like to explore this further along with wraparound services. Gaining a better understanding of the range of approaches, from moderate to aggressive, would help us better support the needs of women and girls in the District.
When we ensure that women are healthy, secure and prosperous, our entire community will thrive.