U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene and Adam Smith joined hundreds of workers and parents for a forum on Pelosi’s economic plan: When Women Succeed, America Succeeds.
“For too long, women in Seattle and across the country have been waiting to receive the equal treatment and opportunities they deserve,” said Pelosi. “The House Democratic economic agenda for women and families knocks down barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential at home and in the workplace. When women receive equal pay, our economy prospers. When women can balance their work and family life, American society thrives. When all women succeed, America succeeds.”
It’s a bold agenda – one that recognizes the key role women play in the nation’s workforce. Nearly half of all workers are women and 40 percent of working women are the primary breadwinners in their families.
Introductory remarks from Representatives DelBene and Smith were buttressed by stories from Washington women working to improve local and statewide policies impacting their families.
Evelin Vargas-Bogarin shared how limited access to paid leave created a family crisis when her father needed kidney surgery. Kristin Bennett discussed how her family’s inability to afford childcare forced her husband to quit his job in order to care for their three young daughters. And Makini Howell, owner of Plum Bistro, shared how smart family policies for working families benefit local businesses like her own.
“My employees are a big part of my success as a businesswoman,” stated Howell. “Commonsense workplace policies – like strong wages and paid sick leave – allow my employees, my business and my customers’ businesses to thrive.”
The Seattle-Bellevue metropolitan area has the worst gender wage-gap in the country, with women earning only 73 cents to every dollar earned by men. Yet, childcare in Washington state is the ninth-most expensive in the country, consuming 14 percent of median income for married families and over 46 percent of income for single mothers. Further, an estimated one million Washington workers, one-third of the state’s workforce, have no access to paid sick leave. Pelosi’s plan seeks to address those economic insecurities, faced by a growing number of Washington women and families.
Reflecting broad support for such measures, a total of twenty-nine local organizations sponsored the event, including the Washington Work and Family Coalition, MomsRising and EOI. All three are working to pass state-level policies that address the economic insecurities facing Washington women and their families.
“As much progress as we’ve made, we still have antiquated policies that assume every household has a full-time caregiver. That doesn’t match reality,” stated Marilyn Watkins, policy director at the Economic Opportunity Institute and spokesperson for the Washington Work and Family Coalition. “Together, we can pass public policies that support working families and create opportunities for upward economic mobility,” said Watkins.
Full list of sponsoring organizations:
- American Association of University Women – Washington
- American Association of University Women – Seattle
- Children’s Alliance
- Economic Opportunity Institute
- El Centro de la Raza
- Faith Action Network
- Healthy Tacoma
- King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- League of Women Voters of Washington
- Legal Voice
- Main Street Alliance
- Seattle & King County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
- NARAL Pro-Choice Washington
- National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington
- Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest
- Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action
- Seattle Human Services Coalition
- Seattle Office of Civil Rights
- SEIU 1199
- SEIU 775NW
- SEIU 925
- Teamsters 117
- Teamsters Joint Council 28
- UFCW 367
- Washington Bus
- Washington State National Organization for Women
- Washington Work and Family Coalition
- Women’s Funding Alliance