- African Americans
- Americans with Disabilities
- American Jewish Community
- Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders
- Democrats Abroad
On Saturday, the Affordable Care Act turned 3 years old! The Affordable Care Act requires health care plans to cover preventative services like cancer screenings and birth control with no out-of-pocket costs. To celebrate the law’s anniversary, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlined the law’s future, including the new Health Insurance Marketplace:
Because the Affordable Care Act outlaws discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing or chronic condition, as of January 1, 2014, no one can be turned away by plans in the Marketplace or charged more because they’re in poorer health—or just because they’re a woman. At last, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition… And every health insurance plan in the Marketplace will cover a standard set of essential health benefits that includes, among other benefits, hospital stays, prescription drug coverage, preventive services, oral and vision care for kids.
Check out the rest of the post here.
As we celebrate Women's History Month 2013, young women across the country are taking time to reflect upon the great progress our country has made since women were granted the right to vote nearly 93 years ago, but we also recognize the work that has yet to be done. As Republicans continue to support policies that restrict access to health care, family planning, and equal pay, women find themselves struggling to have their voices heard in the most basic and critical ways. And when women's voices are silenced, our economy suffers.
President Obama and the Democratic Party have long made women a priority. The very first bill the President signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women who face pay discrimination recover their lost wages. Though women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, they still only earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. President Obama is committed to ending this discrepancy, and has proven this by creating the Equal Pay Task Force to ensure that existing equal pay laws are enforced. The President is now putting pressure on Congressional Republicans to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.
Though ensuring equal pay is a critical step in the fight for equality, the President is ensuring access to opportunities before women even enter the workforce. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of women enrolled in degree-granting institutions rose by 39 percent. Not only is President Obama working to ensure that every student is building the skills they need to enter an increasingly competitive workforce, he is taking steps to increase the number of women in underrepresented STEM fields by rewarding schools that demonstrate efforts to remove barriers to girls' participation in science and mathematics. Supporting and retaining America’s female scientists and engineers is also the goal of the National Science Foundation’s ten-year “career-life balance initiative.”
The Democratic Party knows that increasing participation in the workforce and allowing for a healthy work-life balance is just the beginning. Young women and girls need role models at the highest levels of women and government. I am so proud to serve as the President of the College Democrats of America, where I have the opportunity to speak with young women who, like me, hope to enter a career in public service. We have a strong leader in DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and President Obama has taken steps to ensure that young women across the country like us have strong role models in their government. From his previous appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State to his dedication to ensuring that women's voices continue to be heard through his second term in the Office of Management and Budget and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through new leaders Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Gina McCarthy, the President has been an advocate for gender parity in government. Young women like myself are working hard to ensure that women see more representation on the Hill and in the White House long after the President leaves office. His legacy is one of greater equality in Washington, and that legacy will be upheld for generations to come.
I am delighted to have this opportunity to recognize all the amazing women who have worked to make this world a better place. Far too often, the contributions of women go unnoticed, and I am thrilled that Congress has designated March Women’s History Month to celebrate the accomplishments of women.
Despite incredible obstacles, African American women have been quietly changing history for hundreds of years. By simply refusing to get up, Rosa Parks helped launch the civil rights movement. Dr. Mae Jemison proved that with hard work you really can touch the stars. Women have been tearing down obstacles and paving the way for other women to realize their dreams since the beginning of time.
Every time I cast my ballot, I think of the many women who fought so hard to give me a voice. We must use that voice to encourage the next generation of female warriors to enter the political arena where they can help preserve and expand the rights we've fought so hard to obtain.
Women like Shirley Chisholm paved the way for a new generation of female leaders by becoming the first women to run for president, and Senator Carol Moseley Braun became this country's first female African American senator.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge C. Delores Tucker, the woman who opened the doors of opportunity to allow me to become the chair of the DNC Black Caucus. As the first chair of the DNC Black Caucus, Tucker taught us how to make sure that the voices of all African American women are heard.
As the saying goes, we come a long way, baby, but we have a long way to go. Women still make 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, and Republicans continue to try to take away our right to choose. So we must keep fighting injustice and inequality. It is imperative that we defeat candidates who trivialize the impact of violence against women and put more people like Sonia Sotomayer on the Supreme Court to protect what we have accomplished.
There are a plethora of opportunities waiting for us, if we continue to break down barriers and work toward realizing true equality in our lifetimes.
Yesterday, President Obama and the First Lady hosted a reception celebrating Women’s History Month at the White House. The event featured women such as fair-pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter, Baltimore Mayor and DNC Secretary Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and activist Dolores Huerta. During his remarks, the President talked about the historic battles that women have fought in the last century—from getting the right to vote, to fighting against pay discrimination, to passing the Family and Medical Leave Act, and to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
And that’s what everybody deserves in this country-–the opportunity to make of their lives what they will, no matter who they are, what they look like, whether they are boys or girls, women or men. That’s why I ran for President in the first place—to put the same rights and opportunities within the reach of all of our daughters and sons. And while there’s still a lot of work to be done, I am confident that we can reach that goal, that we can make sure that every single door is open, every dream is within reach—for Malia, for Sasha, for your daughters, for your granddaughters—to make sure that they never feel like there are barriers in front of them, and that if they work hard, they can make it.
Read more about the event and the President’s full remarks here.
When I became unexpectedly pregnant with my daughter Sinatra, I was uninsured; at the time pregnancy was a considered a “preexisting condition”, so I could not receive coverage. Fortunately, I had the financial resources to become a mother without insurance coverage. But I was shocked and humbled by the amount of women and families whom were uninsured in our country facing critical choices about their health—oftentimes choices between life and death for themselves or a loved one. Millions of women and families will no longer have to choose as they are secured stronger protections and more preventive services for women under the Affordable Care Act.
From the beginning of our effort to re-elect President Obama, we knew women were going to play a large part in deciding the election. We also knew that the No. 1 source women trusted most when deciding how to vote were women like them. And we knew that the more they learned about how they benefited from the Affordable Care Act, the more they shared this with their friends—garnering more votes for the President by women.
So it was no surprise when women had the choice between President Obama, who believes women should be able to make our own decisions about our health care, and someone whose party platform included supporting a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, the choice was easy. When women had the choice between President Obama, who is working to make sure women can afford health care for ourselves and our families, and someone who had promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act on day one—we made our voice and our vote loud and clear, re-electing President Obama by a decisive margin.
And while we are made stronger knowing that President Obama will continue to fight for us during his second term, implementing health care for an additional 30 million Americans, and recently signing the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, there is still so much more work to do, and we can’t stop now.
Because women are the majority in this country, the majority of the economy, and the majority of the electorate, we decide elections and will continue to do so. But that is not the only time we should make our voices heard. This Women’s History Month, we must recommit ourselves to the struggle for true equality and opportunity by getting involved and staying involved.
As we celebrate Women's History Month, it is important to highlight the strides our nation's Latina entrepreneurs have made in recent years. Latina-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment among women-owned enterprises—starting companies at six times the national average. Their businesses alone contribute an average of $56 billion to America’s economy each year.
The impact of Latina business owners is felt across the board. In fact, they have played a major part in the 44 percent growth of Hispanic-owned businesses in recent years, which collectively boost the American economy by an estimated $465 billion annually.
Nearly 1.6 million Latinas were enrolled in college in 2010. In fact, over 64 percent of master's degrees completed by Hispanics are women. As more and more Latinas are becoming empowered through education, it is our duty to foster their entrepreneurialism by encouraging them to take on more leadership positions across both the public and private sectors. President Obama is doing just that. From promoting innovation through the launch of Startup America, to issuing thousands of microloans and investing in women-owned small businesses, the Obama administration is encouraging entrepreneurship and laying the foundation for an economy built to last.
Although Latinas are making strides in opening businesses and pursuing higher education, there is still much work to be done. Of 20 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, only four are women of color, and none are Latina. Currently, only about 5 percent of women who sit on corporate boards are Latinas.
As we move forward, it is important for the business community to adopt practices that not only empower Latinas, but all women entrepreneurs. Women are an incredible asset to the American economy and we must acknowledge their proven leadership potential in business, government, education and every sector that makes our country great.
A few days ago, I read Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective by Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This book aroused emotions from my days of playing basketball at Morehead State University and Kentucky State University. Without a basketball scholarship, I would have not been able to attend college. And without Title IX, colleges could not afford to offer me a basketball scholarship.
Title IX or the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
I salute Pat Summitt for weathering the storms and holding fast to the dreams of many girls while the University of Tennessee implemented Title IX. I also salute the late Hon. Patsy Mink for her foresight in authoring an early draft of the Title IX legislation that provided an opportunity for many girls to pursue their dreams. Title IX was more than a basketball scholarship—it was an education. In the words of Loretta Lynn, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”
This Women’s History Month, as I look forward, I am working for a President that has expanded opportunities for students to afford college, made it possible for students to stay on their parents' health insurance, and expanded tax credits to assist families with the rising cost of education.
Ongoing gun violence in the United States has galvanized women in ways few issues have in recent times. After the horrific tragedy in Tucson that almost took her life, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords stepped up to the plate to demand better gun control. Along with her husband astronaut Mark Kelly, Gabby founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, the first political action committee to support lawmakers willing to advance responsible gun policies.
Standing beside Gabby, there are thousands of women—mothers, sisters, wives, and friends—who have stepped into the limelight and demanded change. These women are fierce and brave. Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, a grassroots effort launched the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, has grown to 80,000 members and 80 chapters in just over two months. On March 13 they will converge in Washington, D.C. to “take the Hill” and demand immediate action on commonsense gun laws.
This Women’s History Month, we are recognizing these types of contributions that women from all walks of life make every day. By becoming involved, many of them have turned deeply intimate and often painful experiences into collective action that is both positive and transformative.
I identify with all of them because, for me, gun violence is both a personal and a public issue. My city of Chicago is too familiar with gun violence and so am I. Years ago, my uncle was catching up with the corner store owner who had just sold him milk when two gang members rushed in and killed both on the spot. When my daughter was six years old, we were caught in crossfire on our way to buy some ice cream. I threw her on the ground next to a car and shielded her with my body until the danger passed. It was scary, and it was rough.
More recently my city became the source of unwelcomed news when 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was gunned down in her neighborhood a week after performing at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration with her high school’s majorette team.
President Obama has proposed a series of initiatives to combat gun violence nationwide, because no locality can protect itself from gun violence by going at it alone. His proposal includes universal background checks, banning military-style assault weapons, and limiting gun magazine capacity.
As a state senator, this is an approach that I have supported and will continue to support. Passing these laws won’t threaten our right to bear arms—but not passing them will threaten the safety of our neighborhoods and families. This Women’s History Month, I salute the women who have joined me in this cause and urge many more to do the same.
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