When President Obama established his Council on Women and Girls, he noted that the problems facing women today are not just women’s issues – they are everyone’s issues. I agree, and as a Board Member of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte I stand by the position that there can be no compromise when it comes to women’s rights.
Guarantee access to reproductive health care. I strongly believe that all women should have access to reproductive health care – as well as birth control and sex education. A woman’s right to choose is a fundamental constitutional right that is protected under the 14th Amendment, and should be safeguarded as a matter of privacy.
Ensure fairness in the workplace. Women must be assured equal pay for equal work, and we need to implement better support systems to help women climb the corporate ladder and establish themselves in STEM fields. We should pursue and promote family-friendly workplaces and employment policies like mandatory paid parental leave, expanded access to childcare, and tax deductions to companies that help families find childcare.
To read more about my bold initiatives to support women in the workplace: http://www.rokhanna.com/womenintheworkplace
Safeguard women from domestic violence. The Violence Against Women Act, which was reauthorized earlier this year, is a comprehensive federal law recognizing the severity of violence women face. It has strengthened federal penalties for repeat sex offenders, covered costs of rape exams for victims, and focused on the needs of underserved communities, among several other provisions. Since it was enacted in 1994, the rate of intimate partner violence has declined by 67% and states have reformed their laws to implement greater protections for violence against women.
Unfortunately, we still have a tremendous amount of work to do. In 44 of our 50 states, one can be fired for being a victim of domestic violence – only Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island have laws that prohibit employment discrimination against victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault. Here in California, a non-discrimination bill was introduced in February. I encourage Governor Brown to support the legislation and urge other states to adopt comprehensive laws that protect victims of domestic violence, but it is also essential for Congress to take a firm stance.
Although an employment protection bill has been introduced in almost every session of Congress, no substantive legislation exists. It is essential that Congress pass the Security and Financial Empowerment Act, a bill currently in committee that would promote the economic security and safety of victims of domestic violence.
Address women’s global issues. Women make up nearly 70% of the world’s one billion poorest people. One in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence from men. Every year, 60 million girls are sexually assaulted either at or going to and from school. 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime. 130 million girls and women alive today have undergone Female Genital Mutilation – and two million girls per year are at risk of mutilation.
We need a global solution for these broad-reaching problems. It is essential for individual countries to pass legislation to protect their own citizens, and for the UN to increase its campaigning efforts to promote equality and fair treatment for women worldwide. If nations work together and sign onto international conventions, we can develop laws for women’s rights and gender equality in countries that do not have them, and strengthen laws in countries where they exist.