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Lawmakers focus on policies to advance women, families during Sixth Annual Women's Lobby Day

Discussion and advocacy focuses on gender equality "from birth to the boardroom"
May 18, 2016
Democrat Newsroom

State Rep. and Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus President Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), State Rep. and Vice Chair Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and members of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus today gathered with women from across the state to discuss and lobby for policy solutions to challenges Ohio women and families face.

“Women should have a say in the decisions that are being made in the legislature that directly affect their access to healthcare and economic opportunities,” said OHDWC Chair Teresa Fedor. “By bringing together women from across the state to learn about the issues and engage with decision makers, we are empowering women to push for positive change in Ohio.”

The sixth annual event, entitled “From Birth to the Boardroom: Empowering Women, Empowering Ohio” featured guest speakers, a lobbying seminar, policy briefings from women legislators and an informal debriefing discussion with participants and advocates. The group focused its efforts on equal pay, paid family leave, workplace discrimination, access to comprehensive healthcare, infant mortality, and preventing sexual violence and domestic violence.

“Women make up over half of the population, yet policies and issues that directly affect our quality of life are underrepresented in the work of the legislature,” said Vice Chair Greta Johnson. “But, these aren’t just women’s issues. Equal pay, paid family leave and domestic violence prevention are family issues that advance our fundamental American values of fairness, freedom and equality.”

According to the Status of Women in the States report, released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Ohio ranks 27th in access to healthcare, 30th in poverty and opportunity measures, and 39th in health and well-being. Ohio doesn’t receive a grade higher than C in any category defined by the report.

“We will continue to fight for policies that uphold women's fairness and equality, which lifts up families and strengthens communities,” said House Minority Whip and past OHDWC Chair Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood).

Several women lawmakers took the opportunity to address participants about legislation they have introduced that would positively affect women and working families in Ohio. Rep. Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati) highlighted House Bill (HB) 511, legislation to create a family and medical leave insurance program to allow Ohio workers paid family leave to care for a new child or sick family member.

“Working families in Ohio shouldn’t have to choose between earning a paycheck and protecting their families,”said Rep. Christie Kuhns. “Paid family leave policies promote a family-friendly business climate, and the overwhelming majority of Americans believe employers should offer such policies. The birth of a child or a loved one falling ill should not throw the entire family into hardship if a parent needs to take time off of work to be a temporary caretaker.”

Additionally, Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) highlighted legislation to address the gender wage gap in Ohio and prohibit retaliation against employees for discussing salary information.

“We have a duty to eliminate the problem of women being systemically undervalued and underpaid for their work,”said Rep. Stephanie Howse. “There are many benefits that will come from raising women’s pay such as greater family security and stability, lower poverty rates, economic growth from greater spending and less stress on public safety net programs. This legislation contains creative ways to close the gender wage gap and halt the economic disparity that places Ohio women at a disadvantage.”

The mission of the Ohio House Democratic Women's Caucus is to develop and pass policies and legislation that improve the lives of Ohio women and their families; to identify and support emerging women leaders by serving as mentors; to educate and empower women and increase women's involvement in public life and in the Ohio General Assembly.

Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about Women’s Lobby Day:

“As my fellow colleagues and I work to level the playing field for women in Ohio, events like Women’s Lobby Day help raise awareness of the challenges that women and families face each and every day,” said Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “From restricted access to comprehensive healthcare to gender pay disparity, we must unite together to fight for full equality for Ohio women.”

“It is time to acknowledge gender pay disparity in Ohio and fix it – that is why I introduced House Bill 385 with Representative Howse. What better way to begin talking about this issue than with a bipartisan task force?” said Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati). “Many other states are already addressing this issue, and it’s time for Ohio to address it as well. Women’s issues are Ohio’s issues. By coming together on days like Women’s Lobby Day, Ohio women are proving that we are no longer willing to wait for the economic justice we deserve.”

“With women making up over 51 percent of our state’s population but only 25 percent of the General Assembly, events like Women’s Lobby Day are crucial to getting more women involved in the legislative process,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “I was more than happy to speak on House Bill 132, the Prevention First Act, which has now been stalled in House Health and Aging Committee for 400 days without a hearing. HB 132 is truly important legislation that is focused on preventing unintended pregnancies through comprehensive sex education and greater access to contraception. As the old adage goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

“An important part of crafting good public policy is bringing a diverse group of women together from across the state to have a dialogue about the issues at the forefront of their lives,” said Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “Women's Lobby Day highlights the hard work my colleagues have done to address pay inequality, healthcare, and economic stability for women and families.”