Chair: Kristin Smith, BPW/St. Petersburg-Pinellas
Chair: Kristin Smith, BPW/St. Petersburg-Pinellas
America was founded on the principal of equality for all and derives its strength from individuals working together for a common good. This public policy platform is BPW/FL’s blueprint for our work in respect, justice, and equality for working women. Women should have the opportunity to be well educated, healthy, economically strong, secure, and their families should be able to live and work in communities that are environmentally clean.
This public policy platform represents a vision based on supporting and defending American values as they specifically relate to working women’s hopes and dreams for the future. We will work with elected officials and activists to achieve this vision in government and in our communities.
BPW/FL members acknowledge the fundamental equality of all persons and are devoted to the defense of their inherent dignity. We believe in fairness and inclusion so that all have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. We protect our communities and our liberties, ensuring peace, justice, freedom, and humanity. We believe that the rights of women require constant vigilance and a thorough examination of laws to eliminate those that harm women disproportionately. Therefore, BPW/FL supports legislation that calls for equality for all, including but not limited to, passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, which states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
BPW/FL supports legislation which assists women in obtaining pay equity and equal employment opportunities; promotes opportunities for women-owned business; encourages women-owned business to compete at the local, state and federal governmental levels; promotes affordable, quality dependent care to help ensure economic self-sufficiency for women; and, supports social security reform options that benefit women.
BPW supports legislation that creates a safe workplace; a workplace free from violence, harassment and assault. We support legislative funding and education that will ensure workplaces are free from all forms of violence, harassment and assault.
BPW/FL supports legislation that ensures reproductive choice and full access to all reproductive health education and services, including prescriptions. We support legislative funding and initiatives for women’s health care needs, with special emphasis on heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and breast cancer early detection, treatment and recovery. We support the expansion of affordable care in Florida, recognizing that working women and their families have the largest need for affordable and accessible health care.
BPW/FL supports responsible legislation that ensures clean air, water, soil and energy. We support legislative funding that will ensure the continuation of clean air, water, soil and energy and specific interactions with the environment. We support these environmental concerns as they relate to women’s health, wealth and well-being and recognizing the large impact the environment has on them individually and their families.
Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. BPW/FL supports legislation that is aimed at expanding voters’ access to the polls, including the expansion of early voting and online voter registration. We also support measures designed to protect the right of all American citizens to vote, in fairly drawn legislative districts, and therefore oppose any legislation that is designed to restrict or dilute voting access for the members of any segment of the population, whether the discrimination is based on race, gender, or disability.
Human beings have the right to be equal in all areas of human endeavor. They have the right to be treated with respect and consideration and to participate on an equal basis with others in any area of economic, social, political, cultural or civil life. All human beings are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. Protecting our right to equality requires positive action, including a range of legislative, administrative and policy measures to overcome past discrimination and to accelerate progress towards equality. Over the past few years, the United States and Florida have taken positive steps towards guaranteeing equality for all, yet, there is still work to be done. BPW/FL is committed to ensuring that women are afforded the same freedoms, benefits, and protections from discrimination as all other protected classes in the US Constitution.
Specific legislation to be targeted in 2021-2022 includes ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The traditional assumption that males hold rights and females must prove they hold them, shall forever be laid to rest. It is particularly unsettling that the United States of America holds up our democracy for the world to model yet has not made an effort to assure equal rights for the women in our own society. By working in coalition with other like-minded organizations, BPW/FL will continue to support the passage of the ERA.
For over four decades, since the passage of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, women continue to earn a lower wage than men for equal labor. Women in Florida rank 37th nationally in employment and earnings. Nationally women are still earning only 78¢ to a man’s dollar. Florida is currently ranked 1st in reaching pay equity. It is anticipated that Florida will reach pay equity in 2038. In a National Partnership for Women and Families 2010 nationwide poll of registered voters, 84% supported “a new law that would provide women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace.” When poll respondents were told that the “law will also make it harder for employers to justify paying different wages for the same work and ensure that businesses that break the law compensate women fairly,” 72% strongly supported such a law. This support was consistent across lines of gender, race, geographic regions, and political parties. Surveyed women believe legislation should protect those who suspect wage discrimination from employer retaliation for discussing salary information with coworkers. BPW/FL continues efforts to secure both national and state equal pay legislation.
Eighty percent of all working women think it is either very or somewhat important that stronger affirmative action laws are passed to provide more opportunities for all women. It is vitally important for economic self-sufficiency, that women have access to more of the local, state and federal contracting dollars. Women represent only 30% (12 of 40) and 22.5% (27 of 120) of the state Senate and House, respectively. Until women are represented equally by our 52% population majority, we cannot expect to reach economic parity or equality.
BPW supports legislation that strengthens the laws already in place regarding workplace violence and an employer’s responsibility to ensure that they minimize the possibility of violence and threats of violence in the workplace. Workplace violence or the threat of violence against workers, which can occur at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, is one of the leading causes of job-related deaths.
We support initiatives that would assist employers in training and recognizing workplace violence, including but not limited to physical assaults, threats of physical assaults or other verbal statements that have the effect of threatening the safety of other persons or property; whether made in person or by other means, including telephone, fax, email, or written correspondence, harassment, intimidation.
BPW/FL recognizes that a major change in the healthcare system – the Affordable Care Act – provides for expanded access to the healthcare system. However, we also recognize that many women continue to be denied access to reproductive choice and health services, which are essential to ensure opportunities for women. BPW/FL continues to support legislation that ensures reproductive choice and full access to all reproductive health education and services including prescription contraceptives.
We support legislative funding and initiatives for women’s health care with special emphasis on heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and breast cancer early detection, treatment, and recovery. In addition to legislative advocacy and lobbying efforts in this area, BPW/FL proudly administers a Breast Cancer Scholarship Fund, which provides $250 scholarships for men and women fighting breast cancer.
Recognizing that working women and their families have the largest need for affordable and accessible health care and that Florida has the second-highest uninsured rate in the country, we support the expansion of Medicaid to cover the uninsured gap between those who already qualify for Medicaid and those who qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
According to the World Health Organization, more than three million children under five die each year from environment-related causes. Polluted indoor and outdoor air, contaminated water, lack of adequate sanitation, toxic hazards, disease vectors, ultraviolet radiation, and degraded ecosystems are all important environmental risk factors for children and their mothers.
Health-damaging exposure to environmental risks can begin before birth. Lead in the air, mercury in food and other chemicals can result in long-term, often irreversible effects, such as infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects. Women’s exposure to pesticides, solvents and persistent organic pollutants may potentially affect the health of the fetus. Additionally, while the overall benefits of breastfeeding are recognized, the health of the newborn may be affected by high levels of contaminants in breast milk. Small children, whose bodies are rapidly developing, are particularly susceptible – and in some instances, the health impacts may only emerge later in life.
We support research and studies that are better reflective of the effect of chemicals and pollutants, in all fashion have on women’s health. We support efforts to clean and improve the quality of air, water, soil, and energy so women and their families can lead safer, healthier lives.