Thiele: Celebrate Women’s Equality Day by Advancing Women’s Rights

Fred Thiele
New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

Nearly a century ago, the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting women in the United States the right to vote. In the years since, we have made a great deal of progress on women’s rights, but there is still much more to do. Women’s Equality Day—which is August 26—is an opportunity to not only celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, and the strides we have made, but also recommit ourselves to the fight for full equality for women.

Despite the significant gains women have made throughout our nation’s history, women still lack full equality when it comes to issues like equal pay, employment, health care and access to housing. It’s time we right these wrongs by demanding equal opportunities and protections, because when women succeed our families succeed.

This year, my Assembly colleagues and I passed several important measures that made strides in the fight for equal rights for all women. One piece of legislation – which awaits action in the Senate – would strengthen women’s rights in the workplace by guaranteeing equal pay for equal work. For far too long, women have been paid less than their male counterparts. Nationwide, women earn just 78 cents for every dollar men earn. The gap is even greater for women of color, with African-American women earning only 64 cents and Latina women earning a mere 55 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. Pay equity is not just about women – it affects us all, and guaranteeing equal pay for equal work strengthens our economy as a whole.

Another measure passed by the Assembly Majority would create a paid family leave program in New York State, because no one should have to choose between their job and their family. Implementing paid family leave to care for a family member or a newborn puts New York women and families first.

I also helped pass legislation to:

· safeguard women’s reproductive health rights;
· allow expectant mothers who are uninsured the opportunity to enroll in a health insurance plan at any time, regardless of whether it falls outside a designated enrollment period;
· create more affordable child care options;
· provide additional services and support for victims of human trafficking – including safe, accessible housing – to help end the cycle of victimization; and
· protect victims of domestic violence, including measures to ease the process for obtaining an order of protection, prevent discrimination against victims and expand victims’ rights.

New York State has always been at the forefront in the fight for equal rights for women, beginning with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 right up to today. Trailblazing New Yorkers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were key figures in the suffrage movement that eventually led to the 19th Amendment. From that important legacy, the Assembly Majority continues to fight for women’s rights. The Assembly is leading the way because denying rights to more than half the population is nothing short of an injustice.

We must never stop the march to full women’s equality; I remain committed to ensuring full and equal rights for New York women. For more information about Women’s Equality Day or any other community issue, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 631-537-2583 or [email protected]

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