Pete Buttigieg: Four ways I'll make America a better place for women
I pledge to nominate at least 50% women to my Cabinet and to the judiciary. Gender equity will be at the forefront of our policies at home and abroad.
Pete ButtigiegOpinion contributor
Every day, millions of women in the United States go to work — as first responders, doctors, teachers, CEOs or caregivers. Some do so in jobs they love, and many others do so just to make next month’s rent. Women go to work even when they have a sick child at home because they can't take time off to go to the doctor. They worry that, once again, they will be overlooked for a promotion, even though they deserve it. And far too many women have to protect themselves against harassment and assault at home and at work. Despite all of this, women continue to support their families and lead in their communities.
Throughout history, we’ve watched women lead powerful movements for justice. In the past few years, women organized the Women’s March, insisted on the importance of black lives and raised their voices to hold powerful abusers accountable. The 2018 elections marked historic gains for women in Congress, propelled by the activism of women voters — particularly black women.
But we’ve also seen that women, overall, continue to earn just 85 cents on the dollar — and women of color even less. Women today are more likely to die from pregnancy than their mothers were; black and Native American women die from pregnancy at much higher rates than white women. And all over the country, women’s right to control their own bodies has been under assault by largely male legislatures.
At an event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this year, a woman in the front row asked what I’d do for women if elected president. It’s a question I get wherever I go on the campaign trail. The answer, laid out in a plan I’m releasing Thursday, is that my administration will work systematically to build women’s power in our economy, our political system and in every part of our society.
1. Close the pay gap
First, our plan will close the pay and wealth gaps. That means guaranteeing equal pay for equal work. But it also means addressing all the ways women are excluded from opportunity. We will invest $10 billion to end workplace sexual harassment and discrimination against women, and double the funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to hold employers who discriminate accountable. We'll make sure every family has access to affordable child care and make 12 weeks of paid family leave available to every worker, so women don’t have to choose between a career or their kids. And with women receiving less than 3% of venture capital funding — despite starting businesses at similar rates to men and generating better returns for their investors — we’ll make available over $50 billion to grow women-owned businesses so we can all benefit from that economic growth.
2. Protect women's health
Second, our plan will advance women’s health and protect a woman’s right to choose. As president, I will guarantee every woman affordable health coverage by offering Medicare for All Who Want It. My administration will tackle disparities in health, whether that means ensuring that LGBTQ+ people receive respectful care or eliminating racial disparities in maternal mortality.
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And as women’s reproductive rights are under attack all around the country, we will write abortion rights into law because a woman — and only a woman — should make decisions about her own body.
3. Make America safe for women
Third, as we mark National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, our plan will also prioritize safe, inclusive communities. Every woman should be able to live free from violence or harassment, whether online, on campus or in her own home. That’s why, in addition to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, my administration will take a 21st century approach to gender-based violence. We’ll close the boyfriend loophole that allows partners convicted of domestic abuse to purchase firearms, teach consent in school to change our culture of harassment and discrimination, and tackle online harassment.
4. Put women in power
Finally, we’ll close the leadership gap so that women can secure equal power and influence. I am committed to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment during my administration to formalize women’s legal equality. Because personnel is policy, I pledge to nominate at least 50% women to my Cabinet and to the judiciary. We’ll put gender equity at the forefront of our policies at home and abroad. We’ll pursue campaign finance reform that will make it easier for women to enter politics and create a more representative government. And we will push companies to increase transparency and make sure women and diverse leaders can rise to the top, because it is unacceptable that women make up 45% of workers at S&P 500 companies but just 5% of S&P 500 CEOs.
Dear Taylor Swift:You are not a victim, so stop acting like one.
Recently, I received a note from a girl named Lia, who told me she’ll be turning 13 years old soon. She said that she thinks everyone should have equal rights, but that in some places, people act as though men are at a much higher level than women, which is not right. I couldn’t agree more.
It’s time to break with the past so that when Lia grows up, she can be confident of entering a workplace where she’ll get paid what she deserves and what she has earned. She’ll know that the decisions we made in 2020 paved the way for women of every background to exercise full economic, social and political power. She, along with millions more women and girls like her, will know what real equality in America feels like. And the whole country will be better off.
Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a candidate for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination. Follow him on Twitter: @PeteButtigieg