Leveling the Playing Field

Beto’s Plan for Achieving Women’s Equality

Beto O'Rourke
Oct 9 · 9 min read

In the United States today, women make up half of the population. They are receiving more education than their male peers, and are running more Fortune 500 companies than ever before. And yet, they still face hurdles to advancement, due to the persistent wage gap that prevents women, and particularly women of color, from earning a wage equal to that of their male counterparts, and the “motherhood penalty” — where stereotypes cause women to be overlooked. As we confront these obstacles in the workplace, we must also defend a woman’s constitutionally-protected right to make her own health care decisions and ensure women have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care. Beto believes we must ensure women are afforded every opportunity to create the life they choose: pursuing their career; planning for their futures; and caring for their families.

Enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution.

Beto believes for too long, women have fought for gender equity, without legal protection to enforce their rights. Beto will champion ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution, ensuring women are equal to men under the law.

Reproductive Health Care

Beto believes everyone should have access to universal, high-quality, affordable health care, and the reproductive health care they need — including abortion.

As president, Beto will:

  • Appoint a diverse bench of Supreme Court Justices and federal court judges who respect Roe as the settled law of the land.
  • Work with Congress to pass legislation that affirms a women’s right to choose and protects the full spectrum of reproductive health care through insurance coverage. This includes prohibiting abortion restrictions on private insurance.
  • Repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the spending of federal funds on abortion services.
  • Prevent states from mandating purposeless medical procedures and protocols (TRAP laws), including unnecessary waiting periods or ultrasound requirements that are designed to prevent women from accessing abortion.
  • Enact universal, guaranteed, high-quality health care coverage, enabling all women to access reproductive health care and contraception.
  • Overturn the Helms Amendment.
  • Beto’s full plan can be found here.

Expanding Economic Opportunity

Beto believes that to ensure American families succeed, we must ensure that women have the tools they need to succeed. To ensure economic success, Beto will:

  • Ensure Equal Pay for Equal Work
  • Give the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) authority to require employers to close pay gaps: Give the EEOC the ability to require large employers, with disparate outcomes related to pay and hiring that cannot be explained by a legitimate business justification to automatically impose a remedy to close gaps, fining companies that fail to correct the disparities.
  • Sign the Paycheck Fairness Act: This legislation would ban employers from seeking salary histories, protect workers from retaliation for discussing pay with their coworkers, require employers to collect data around compensation for an annual report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and prove pay gaps are job-related business necessities, improve workers ability to participate in class-action lawsuits challenging pay discrimination, and authorizes negotiation programs for women and girls. Today, women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man earns, with Black women earning only 62 cents and Latina women earning only 54 cents. Beto will also increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • Ensure fairness for part-time workers — who are predominantly women — by making it illegal for employers to pay their part-time workers a lower hourly wage than full-time employees and deny them opportunities for promotions or time off. Employers would also be required to provide the same benefits package, prorated to reflect the hours part-time workers work.

Counter Workplace Discrimination

  • Require reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers: Pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make the same sorts of reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers that they make for disabled workers.
  • Protect women from workplace harassment. Sign into law the Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace Harassment through Education and Reporting (EMPOWER) Act, and the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination (BE HEARD) in the Workplace Act, which ban forced arbitration and nondisclosure clauses, remove barriers to reporting, strengthen workplace protections, and require transparency from public companies.
  • Guarantee Necessary Benefits to Domestic Workers. Sign into law the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act, ensuring domestic workers are recognized under federal labor law, and provided rightful benefits, including minimum wage and workplace protections.

Enable Workers to Care for their Families

  • Enact affordable child care for working families. Beto will champion access to high quality, affordable childcare, easing family budgets and boosting women’s labor force participation. In Congress, he was a co-sponsor of the Child Care for Working Families Act, and as President he will work with Congress to pass legislation enabling low- and middle-class families to afford high quality care. He will also ensure that low-income families benefit from existing federal supports by making the child care and child tax credits fully refundable. He also will champion investments in boosting the quality of care and ensure child care jobs are good jobs that pay a living wage.
  • Invest in “child care deserts.” Beto’s infrastructure plan will invest in child care facilities in areas of the country, known as “child care deserts,” without a sufficient supply of licensed child care facilities. This investment will extend to college campuses.
  • Provide universal access to high-quality preschool. Beto will also work to ensure every 3 and 4-year old can access a high-quality preschool program in their community. This will not only deliver long-term benefits by preparing every child for kindergarten, but make it easier for parents of young children to balance work.

Create a System of Guaranteed Paid Leave

  • Provide workers, including public sector workers, up to 12 weeks of paid leave when caring for their health, that of their spouse or parent, the birth or adoption of their children, and the fostering of a child, while still receiving a portion of their regular wages.
  • Sign into law the Healthy Families Act, which would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.
  • Require employers to compensate workers for last-minute scheduling changes and promote flexible work arrangements. Require employers to bear the cost associated with last-minute scheduling decisions by requiring them to compensate employees for being on call and pay workers when they change workers’ schedules with less than a week’s notice. Beto will also support giving workers a right to request flexible schedules without fear of reprisal.
  • Establish a Caregiver Social Security Credit. Beto recognizes that Social Security benefits are calculated based on an individual’s 35 highest earning years, too often punishing workers who temporarily leave the workforce in order to care for a child or an ailing parent. With women more likely to leave the workforce to care for a loved one, they often receive lower Social Security benefits.
  • Establish a Caregiver Credit to Social Security, to reduce the gender and racial gaps in Social Security benefits. Americans engaged in caring for a child under 12 or a family member of any age who needs help performing daily activities would receive a credit equal to 50 percent of the average earnings of a full-time, year-round worker under his plan. Beto’s full plan can be found here.

Support Women-Owned Small Business

  • Shift at least $100 billion in government contracts away from large corporations to small businesses, with half of that opportunity going to women and minority entrepreneurs.
  • Double the reach of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFIs), which is a proven mechanism to increase access to capital in the places that need it most, and focus the new resources on women and minority entrepreneurs in particular. The fund provides critical resources to mission-driven financial institutions to enable them to provide affordable and flexible financing products and technical assistance to businesses in low income communities. Last year, the CDFI Fund received $250 million. Beto would increase annual funding to $500 million.
  • Root out institutional sexism and racism in the small business lending market by appointing a Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) director who will prioritize implementing regulations that will make it easier to fight discrimination against small business owners who are women and people of color. Section 1071 of Dodd Frank requires the CFPB to centralize the collection of small business lending data — including the gender and race of small business owners — and make those data public. The collection of these data would make it easier for the CFPB to enforce fair lending laws when it comes to small business loans just as the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data do with mortgage fair lending cases. The CFPB has not yet implemented Section 1071 and the Trump Administration has even proposed repealing it.
  • Beto’s full plan can be found here.

Tackle the Maternal and Infant Mortality Crisis

Beto believes we cannot live in a country where black Americans face higher health care costs and lower life expectancies, where we have a maternal mortality crisis that is three times as deadly for black Americans, two and a half times higher for Native Americans, and where we have disparities in infant mortality between white Americans and black Americans that are greater today than in the year 1850.

As president, Beto will combat the maternal and infant mortality crisis in this country, by:

  • Addressing maternal health deserts — which impact more than 5 million women — through Title X and the National Health Service Corps
  • Ensuring everyone has access to the full spectrum of maternal health services from cervical screenings to access to midwives and doulas
  • Ensuring mental health services to new mothers and expanding home visiting programs so families have the support they need, expanding maternal home visits through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.
  • Encouraging cultural competence and training among healthcare providers: creating a diverse pipeline of providers; and offering resources, through grant funding, to better serve patients, including interpreter services and to collect data on patient needs.
  • Support new mothers at risk for homelessness, as mothers experiencing postpartum depression during the first year after birth are at higher risk.

Protecting the Rights of Trans Women

Across the country, transgender Americans, especially those of color, face alarming rates of violence. And at every turn, President Trump’s administration has done everything it can to roll back the progress we’ve made toward equality, including barring transgender Americans from serving in the military and accessing vital services when they are most vulnerable to undermining discrimination protections in health care. As President, Beto will defend the rights of trans women, which include:

  • Overturning Trump’s discriminatory transgender troop ban, including all resulting discharges.
  • Passing the Equality Act, which would ensure all LGBTQ+ people may fully participate in public life without discrimination in employment, housing, and access to public spaces and services, such as retail stores and banking services.
  • Protecting transgender individuals, in particular transgender women of color, from violence by:
  • Directing the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the crimes against transgender people, specifically transgender women of color.
  • Ensuring law enforcement agencies receive training related to implicit bias, use of force, and accurately reporting the gender of victims.
  • Reinstating the Bureau of Prisons’ “Transgender Offender Manual” to ensure safe housing for transgender people in BOP custody, in particular to address the violence directed at transgender women of color.
  • Modernizing laws to allow transgender individuals to update their name and gender on identity documents.
  • Ensuring transgender individuals have access to federally supported shelters, consistent with their gender identity.

Curbing Violence Against Women

Beto believes as a country, we must do more to protect women from violence and abuse that uproot too many lives. Beto will:

  • Call on the Senate to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act and continue funding for the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program.
  • Close the Boyfriend Loophole to prevent perpetrators of domestic violence from accessing firearms and confront the alarming reality that nearly 1 million women in the US alive today have been shot, or shot at, by an intimate partner.
  • Ensure individuals fleeing domestic violence, be they adults or children can access safe, accessible shelter, increasing grants for shelters providing counseling services to adults and children coping with the trauma of domestic violence and homelessness.
  • Create an inter-agency task force to address the crisis of violence against Native Women, including the occurrences of missing and murdered women and task the Department of Justice (DOJ) with launching an investigation into the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women.
  • Reform our asylum system, create a new community-based visa category, and supporting the work of the United Nations’ Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) — supporting women around the world seeking safety.

Beto O'Rourke

Written by

El Paso, Texas.

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