Strong women and families are vital to Virginia’s economic prosperity. Women make up more than 50 percent of the population, and own more than 36 percent of privately-held businesses that generate over $38 billion a year in revenue.
To ensure economic opportunity for everyone – no matter who you are, no matter where you live, a level playing field must exist between men and women.
Ralph Northam is committed to making this a reality in Virginia because what’s good for women in our commonwealth is good for our entire commonwealth.
Ensuring that women are paid the same as men is a moral and economic imperative for the commonwealth.
Currently, women are paid 78 cents on the dollar compared to men, yet they are the primary breadwinners in 38 percent of Virginia families. This gap is even worse for women of color: African-American women are paid 59 cents, Latinas are paid 52 cents, and Asian women are paid 86 cents for every dollar paid to a white man. This pay gap shortchanges Virginia women about $12,000 dollars per year.
That’s just not right.
Not compensating women fairly isn’t just wrong, it’s bad for Virginia’s economy. Ensuring women are equally powerful consumers is just plain smart; women make 85 percent of all consumer purchases in the country and the more they have to spend, the better our economy does. We’ll see that pay off across the commonwealth, across a variety of industries.
As governor, Ralph will fight for a law to make salary information more transparent, so women can fight discriminatory pay practices when they occur, rather than after the fact. It’s 2017 and well past time we got this done.
In just the first 50 days of holding office, the Trump administration has reinstated the Global Gag Rule. He is continuing the Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood by barring their ability to receive federal Medicaid reimbursements, the majority of the organization’s federal funding. Make no mistake — this is an attack on a woman’s ability to choose her provider and have access to quality, affordable healthcare.
This administration is playing political games with women’s health. That’s despicable.
As a doctor, Ralph has never wanted politicians inserting their opinions between him and his patients. All too often, legislators, most of whom are men, try to tell women what they should and shouldn’t do with their bodies.
If Donald Trump is going to increase cost and decrease access to birth control and reproductive healthcare, Ralph will be a governor that will fight to ensure all Virginia women have access to the contraception of their choosing.
It’s why Ralph has been committed to maintaining access to abortion and reproductive care and keeping those legislators out of women’s healthcare decisions.
Ralph stood up to Republicans when they proposed requiring transvaginal ultrasound exams of women seeking abortions.
When Republicans proposed banning abortion coverage in health insurance plans sold through our healthcare exchange, Ralph called the proposal out for what it was: a move to decrease women’s access to reproductive healthcare. When he is governor, Ralph will fight to overturn that amendment and any others like it.
And Ralph fought against personhood legislation that would have effectively blocked women from accessing many types of contraception and invitro fertilization.
Ralph has never wavered on choice and he never will. Ralph will continue to be a brick wall, stopping attacks on reproductive rights and access to healthcare.
Expanding Access To Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs)
This year, Ralph proposed a $6 million pilot program to provide long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to women regardless of their ability to pay. A similar program in Colorado saw teen birth rates drop by 40 percent and teen abortions by 42 percent.
This legislative session, Republicans stripped the funding at the request of right-wing anti-abortion groups despite the fact it used no state funding. As governor, Ralph will make implementing this program, and increasing access to it if we experience similar success to Colorado, a priority. Through public and private sources, we can expand access to LARCs to ensure that income is not a barrier for Virginia women seeking affordable contraception.
Paid Family Leave
Paid family leave reduces infant mortality by as much as 10 percent and increases the number of well-baby care visits and vaccinations. Mothers report fewer depressive symptoms post-childbirth, and fathers are more involved in caring for their children.
Economically, it reduces turnover and training costs for businesses, and women see faster wage increases when they go back to work and stay with the same employer. Overall, the economy will see fewer families on public assistance and more people working, which will produce economic gains and generate a larger tax base.
This is a crucial component of fighting inequality. Low-income workers are both less likely to receive paid leave and less likely to know it is an option. Even if they do have family leave options, it is often unpaid, and few low-wage workers can give up a paycheck to take advantage of it.
Both Republicans and Democrats understand paid family leave is an integral part of bringing fairness back to our economy. We can make this a reality by providing businesses incentives to offer paid family leave to their employees. This will help Virginia businesses compete for top talent and maintain the talented workforce we have in Virginia.
We can start by offering a tax credit to make it affordable for small businesses to allow full-time employees to take at least eight workweeks of paid parental leave.
Early Childhood Education and Childcare
Childcare is a huge burden on families, and those that cannot afford it are being left behind. According to Child Care Aware of America, the average annual price of sending your child to a childcare center exceeds $12,000, and this price is growing.
Ralph knows good childcare and early education are vital to kids’ success. Children experience their most significant brain development during their early childhood years, with the most learning potential before age five. That’s why Ralph wants to make early childhood education for every Virginia public school student his top educational priority—and he’s already started. As Chair of the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success, he led an effort to open up and improve classrooms for up to 13,000 more kids.
Ralph will continue efforts to expand early education and make childcare more affordable. This would go a long way towards reducing inequality through quality education and affordable childcare, bringing enormous long-term benefits to the commonwealth through increased consumer spending, a more skilled workforce, and higher wage growth.
Domestic Violence Prevention
In Virginia, we have made progress towards ending domestic violence, but we need to do more. The toll on the victims of domestic violence is immeasurable. And all too often, the emotional and mental effects on children who witness abuse are not mentioned as a consequence. However, this can be almost as devastating as children who are the victims of direct abuse.
Other states, including Mississippi and South Carolina, have passed laws to increase penalties on domestic abuse committed in front of a child, and it’s time for Virginia to do the same. Domestic abusers should pay for the damage they cause, and Virginia should require them to pay for counseling services.