On the first stop on our national roadshow to ensure women’s priorities are heard in the 2020 election, we convened surrogates from the Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang campaigns, as well as local advocacy and community leaders in Manchester, New Hampshire to discuss paid family and medical leave.
Our goal was to ensure women’s voices are at the forefront of policymaking and to remind people about the findings from our YWomenVote 2020 survey. But we also wanted to hear from working moms, women of color, millennials, Generation Z, and others on the forefront of this issue to discuss how inadequate or limited access to paid family and medical leave affects them and to learn their views on urging leaders and shifting the dialogue around policies that impact women.
Here’s what we learned from the conversation in New Hampshire.
Christina D’Allesandro, Statewide Director for Moms Rising in New Hampshire
Nationally and in New Hampshire, most leaders have a positive perspective on paid family leave policies. It is no longer a question of whether or not this is a good policy. Instead, they’re focusing on when the policy will be instituted and, more critically, what is it going to look like for working moms. Working moms want to clarity on how they will be able to continue providing for their families when needing to take care of a new child, an ill family member, or their own personal illness. Working moms also want to be sure that policies offer a level of wage benefit that is going to let those who are the lowest paid utilize that benefit. In New Hampshire, the minimum wage is $7.25. Policies that offer 60% of that do not provide adequate income for women and their families to live. Creating a policy that benefits working moms regardless of career level and whether they are full-time or part-time benefits us all.
Women of Color
Brenda Lett, President, NH Black Women’s Health Project
Kile Adumene, Adjunct Faculty Instructor, Southern New Hampshire University
Women of color only make up 10% of the population in New Hampshire. As a result, their voices are often left out of decisions on policies that directly impact them. Failure to include their voices in paid family and medical leave policies exacerbates the problems women of color face — but access to paid leave can promote racial equity in the labor force and enhance the economic security of women of color and all those struggling to make ends meet. Leaders cannot make decisions on behalf of women of color without understanding their backgrounds, experiences, and what they desire for their families. A comprehensive paid family leave policy over time can help promote racial equity and justice.
Millennials and Generation Z
Yasamin Safarzadeh, Underserved Populations Program Specialist, YWCA New Hampshire
Millennial and Gen Z women living in New Hampshire desire a paid family and medical leave policy that does not force them to make an impossible choice between education, work, and family. They seek policies that allow flexibility and work-life balance and will not force them to choose between being a mother, caregiver, or a student. Millennial and Gen Z women also want leaders to also consider paid leave policies that is inclusive of non-traditional students. Non-traditional students are often attempting to balance aspects of life that many of their counterparts have yet to experience, let alone manage such as having a full-time job, raising a child, or both.
Having this conversation about paid family leave with women in New Hampshire is just one way that we will continue to build the narrative of our largest-ever civic engagement initiative to empower the nation’s women and engage ten million women through non-partisan voter registration and mobilization; connecting women to the Census, to ensure all women and their families are counted; issue education; advocacy; and women’s leadership development.
As we move forward in communities across the country, we want to make it increasingly clear to leaders that women’s voices are important, and we will be a driving force in 2020.
Visit YWomenVote.org to learn more about our bipartisan national survey findings and to see when we will be heading to a YWCA near you.