Women make up about 52% of voters in Oklahoma, but only two women have ever represented our state in Congress. My professional background includes running two nonprofits designed to increase civic engagement by women in Oklahoma, and I will be a tireless advocate for Oklahoman women in Washington. That means ensuring women have access to quality affordable health care -- and that they are empowered to make their own healthcare decisions. It’s 2018. We don’t need to go backwards. We need to move forward.
Longstanding pay disparity between women and men means middle class Oklahoma families do not have the opportunities they deserve. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was an important step toward ensuring fair pay for all Oklahoma workers, but women still earn on average only 74 percent of men’s earnings. Women of color make even less. A Republican-led Congress has repeatedly killed bills such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would make additional gains for women toward pay equity. I’ll fight to enact additional measures so women receive fair pay.
Recently, survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual misconduct have been speaking out after decades of being silenced or ignored. Yet many women do not have the same opportunities for justice. We need to renew and strengthen the Violence against Women Act. Women are protected against rape on college campuses under Title IX, but many students are still vulnerable and mistreated by their schools. Education Secretary Besty DeVos is leading the attacks on these protections. Congress needs to strengthen Title IX protections to ensure justice for all victims of sexual assault on campus.
Additionally, we need to increase opportunities for employers to allow employees to take care of their families when they face a serious health issue, including pregnancy. Families need job security when they need to care for a family member with a serious medical emergency, address complications stemming from military deployment or to care for a new child in a family (including newborns, adoptions and newly-placed foster children).