Women’s Equality Day recognizes the adoption of the landmark 19th amendment—and this year, we commemorate 100 years of suffrage. While this is certainly something to celebrate, it should also give us pause: we cannot celebrate 100 years of women’s right to vote without recognizing that Black women were not guaranteed this right until the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965. The history of voting rights in this country is marked by racial and gender inequality, and we are still fighting the legacy of this discrimination in the voting booth and beyond.
Black women in the United States who work full time, year-round are typically paid just 62 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men—compared to 82 cents for women overall. For Black mothers, this gap is even more dismal: they earn just 50 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic father makes. About 80 percent of Black mothers are the primary breadwinner for their families, and the wage gap means they have less money to support themselves and their families during these unprecedented times.
July 26th marked 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—a groundbreaking law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment, housing, and public spaces. Since its passage, the ADA has led to transformative changes in our workplaces and communities. Critically, the law guarantees workers with disabilities a right to the reasonable accommodations they need to stay healthy and working. Unfortunately, too many workers have been unable to access the protections they are legally entitled to under the ADA.
The FFCRA's groundbreaking paid leave provisions provide essential protections to millions of workers, but a combination of statutory and regulatory exceptions potentially leave out as many as 106 million employees nationwide. For precarious workers who too often fall through the cracks of workplace protections, like temporary, part-time, and domestic workers, the law represents an unprecedented breakthrough with some significant and challenging gaps.
As advocates and activists across the country protest and organize against racism and ongoing police brutality and violence against Black people, we stand with our partners to demand justice for Black mothers this Moms’ Equal Pay Day. As recent events have laid bare, the racism embedded in our institutions threatens Black mothers’ health, livelihood, and lives. Our workplaces and the laws that govern them are no exception.
Especially amidst the COVID-19 public health crisis, which is disproportionately impacting Black Americans, it’s more important than ever we address the longstanding, structural disparities in our healthcare system and our policies. As data from past epidemics shows, pregnant women may face additional barriers to receiving adequate care as resources are stretched thin, which could worsen existing inequities for Black mothers and babies.
The COVID-19 public health crisis underscores the need to ensure that women—who are the sole or co-breadwinner in most American households—are not facing additional hurdles to economic security. The wage gap contributes to higher rates of poverty for women and families, especially women of color and their families. At a time when many parents—especially single mothers—face precarious employment and the need to care for children and loved ones, it is crucial that we ensure women and families have access to needed resources and support.
Although the COVID-19 coronavirus has been designated as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, you still have rights under the ADA. The EEOC has provided guidance consistent with these workplace protections and rules. This publication, which was written during the prior H1N1 outbreak, is still relevant today and identifies established ADA and Rehabilitation Act (which applies to federal employees) principles to answer questions frequently asked about the workplace during a pandemic.
Recent Labor Department data shows that women have now overtaken men as the majority of the labor force. Women have always worked and played a crucial role in our economy, but more than ever, it’s clear that our workplace laws are far behind. So this International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re calling for federal laws that will go a long way towards advancing gender equality.
According to SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, reproductive justice is "the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” In our mission to ensure pregnant workers, caregivers, and all workers have the support they need to care for themselves and their loved ones, we strongly support and are inspired by the principles of the reproductive justice movement.