State Rep. and Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), State Rep. and Vice Chair Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and members of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus today gathered with about 200 women representing nearly 30 counties from across the state to discuss and lobby for policy solutions to challenges Ohio women and families face.
“Women’s active participation in the political process is vital to ensure equal representation, especially after men dominated the polls up and down the ballot during the last election,” said OHDWC Chair Teresa Fedor. “When women in Ohio don’t have the same level of access to opportunity and prosperity, our entire state pays the price. By empowering women to engage with their elected officials and advocate for policies that advance gender equality in our state, we can help boost the quality of life for all Ohio families.”
The seventh annual event, entitled “Empowering Women, Empowering Ohio” featured guest speakers, a lobbying seminar, policy briefings from women legislators and an informal debriefing discussion with participants and advocates. Lawmakers advocated for ne Ohio laws on equal pay, paid family leave, workplace discrimination, access to comprehensive healthcare, infant mortality, and preventing sexual violence and domestic violence.
“Now, more than ever, Women’s Lobby Day is critically important because it gives us the opportunity to both resist the rollback of programs, policies and laws that protect and empower women and persist in the pursuit of initiatives that will enable women across the globe to reach their full potential,” said OHDWC Vice Chair Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “Today, our voices will be heard in the halls of power and the messages we deliver will echo long after this important event ends.”
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.
“The fight for women’s equality in this nation is often a fight for fairness and equal access to the law,” said House Minority Whip and past OHDWC Chair Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). “However, women are also put in dangerous situations where they must fight for their lives. During this General Assembly, I plan to re-introduce legislation that offers fairness by closing dangerous gaps in Ohio law that make it easy for convicted domestic abusers to obtain guns. No woman should have to live in fear for her life because of a loophole in the law.”
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. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) highlighted House Bill 61, legislation she introduced to eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products, including pads and tampons.
“Feminine care products are medical necessities that Ohio women need to fully participate in school, work and in their community,” said Rep. Kelly.
Additionally, Rep. Kelly highlighted the need to include more women in conversations concerning wages and the workforce.
“We need more women at the table in every aspect of state government, but we especially need female voices when preparing for our state’s economic future,” said Rep. Kelly. “An increasing number of families now have women serving as the primary breadwinner, and nearly one-third of working women in Ohio have low-wage jobs. If we truly want to implement policies that will lift Ohioans out of poverty, we must be serious about advancing policies like raising the minimum wage, paid family leave and equal pay. We can do much more to ensure economic prosperity for the people of our state if priorities like those discussed at Women’s Lobby Day are passed into law.”
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 are what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about Women’s Lobby Day:
“From unequal pay to access to healthcare, there are a wide range of issues that women in Ohio face every day,”said Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “I am delighted to join my colleagues to discuss important policies that would close the wage gap, eliminate hospital transfer agreements for healthcare clinics and keep discrimination out of the workplace and public housing.”
“We must highlight the importance of bringing more women to the table. When more of us get involved in our communities and help other women find their voices to advocate for what they believe in, we will not only create stronger neighborhoods, but we will help today’s children grow into tomorrow’s leaders,” said Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus). “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reduce Ohio’s increased violence and poverty rates to ensure women receive equal justice, equal social status and equal economic benefits.”