Throughout March, NewDEAL Leaders celebrated Women’s History Month by highlighting the contributions of women in state and local office across our social media platforms. As a woman-founded and woman-led organization, we recognize that we stand on the shoulders of trailblazing pioneers.
Here are some key facts, spotlights, and stories we have showcased.
- Women make up about a third of state legislators across the country (2,414 out of 7,383 seats)
- Nevada has the highest percentage of women legislators (60.3 percent), while West Virginia has the lowest (11.9 percent)
- NewDEAL Leaders are breaking barriers, including:
Sen. Sarah McBride: The first openly transgender woman elected to any state Senate (Delaware), who spearheaded paid family leave and medical leave legislation.
Sen. Winnie Brinks: The first woman to be Majority Leader in the Michigan Senate, who has helped pass both gun safety and LGBTQ equality bills through her chamber.
Rep. Fentrice Driskell: The first Black woman to lead the Florida Democratic House caucus, who has fought to uncover and restore forgotten African American cemeteries.
Tishaura Jones: The first Black woman elected mayor of St. Louis, Missouri. Housing, who is making progress on investments in affordable housing in her city.
Michelle Wu: The first woman and first non-white person elected as mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, who has drastically increased the city’s investment in green jobs.
NewDEAL Leaders Making History:
Maternal & Infant Mortality: With Kentucky facing a “maternal mortality crisis,” NewDEAL Leader Rep. Nima Kulkarni has championed a legislative package that strengthens resources that address urgent challenges facing mothers and their children. The 21 bills address a range of issues, including increased Medicaid coverage and the elimination of the sales tax on feminine products. Rep. Kulkarni has specifically highlighted the state’s high incarceration rate for women and the need to improve care for those who are incarcerated while pregnant.
Paid Leave and Caregiver Support: In Maine, Rep. Kristen Cloutier is fighting for a statewide paid family and medical leave program. Her efforts have already led to the launch of the Respite for ME Grants pilot program, which provides caregivers with $2,000 grants and other services to better balance a job or other responsibilities with their caregiving duties.
Pregnancy Fairness: Pittsburgh councilmember Erika Strassburger, a NewDEAL Leader, sponsored legislation to expand protections against discrimination related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. The bill, which passed unanimously, allows those who feel they have been discriminated against to file a claim with the city’s Commission on Human Relations.
As we celebrate the excellence of these determined and effective women leaders, we also recognize that the fight for gender equality is far from over. There is still a substantial pay gap between men and women, and that gap is even larger among Black and Brown women. Women continue to face subtle and overt discrimination in the workplace.
And in the last year, we saw legislatures across the nation rush to rip away reproductive rights and economic opportunity in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade.
Women’s History Month may be ending, but NewDEAL will continue identifying, embracing, and uplifting women who are fighting every day to help build a more perfect union.