Huff Post: Women’s Equality Day: Voices Unite to Say #WEMatter

Women’s Equality Day, August 26, celebrates the anniversary of the day Congress stopped denying women the right to vote: a key moment in our history brought about by women organizing to demand equal rights under the law.

While the civil rights movement for women has achieved monumental gains since that first legal milestone, women still face disproportionate barriers in this country with unequal pay, workplace policies that disadvantage women and working families, and the burdens of heading a household without necessary workplace protections in place.

Across the nation, women like Yeisha Chappell struggle to make a living. The lack of paid time off makes it a struggle for working women to care for and provide for their families. They risk job and income loss when faced with illness or the need for maternity leave.

When Yeisha was diagnosed with severe Bilateral Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in both wrists she lost her part-time job. As a part-time employee she did not qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act.

“I was told I did not qualify for ‘light duty.’ As a result of this situation, my family and I suffered financially for months after losing that job,” Yeisha said. “I think FMLA should be expanded to protect part-time as well as full-time workers.”

The federal Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act is one proposal that would help bring the nation’s public policies in line with the needs of the 21st century workforce and the rest of the world by creating a much-needed paid family and medical leave program that would allow people to care for themselves and their families without putting their economic security at risk.

The benefits of paid leave are vast: lower unemployment rates and greater job security, financial independence, improved health outcomes, economic growth and savings to businesses by reducing worker replacement costs. Paid family and medical leave strengthens families, protects public health and boosts the economy.

While legislation advances in states across the country, more and more voters and politicians are supporting common-sense workplace policies. A recent poll by the Shriver Report found that 85 percent of women and 81 percent of men favor establishing paid family leave in the U.S.

On Women’s Equality Day, 9to5 members across the country, like Yeisha, are speaking out for change. Events are taking place in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Long Island, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, San Jose, Seattle, Tucson, and Fox Valley, Wis. From candidate forums to voter outreach, working women are coming together to tell their stories about the workplace policies they need to support their families and achieve economic security.

9to5 is proud to be part of a diverse and growing number of individuals, organizations and coalitions nationwide to generate even greater attention to — and progress on — the issues and policies that are of critical importance to the economic stability and success of women, families and the nation. We are coming together on Women’s Equality Day and beyond to remind lawmakers and people across the country that we are women and families, and the issues we care about matter. We matter. #WEmatter allows all of us who care about these issues to link our efforts, raise awareness, and come together in a new and powerful way to call for action and accountability.

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