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Our Response to COVID-19: Stronger and Safer Families

Written by Noreen Farrell

The Women’s Agenda Initiative is listening and responding to communities most harmed by COVID-19: working women, student survivors of campus violence, and families living in deep poverty.

The economic crisis flowing from COVID-19 is hitting women hard, especially those already working for poverty or unequal wages, and those without workplace protections, job security, or paid leave. These combine with the fact that women are on the frontlines of this crisis, comprising 75% of healthcare workers, and a greater percentage of service workers. Now, they are 60% of the 700,000 jobs lost to COVID-19.

Justice and equity mean families trying to make it on poverty wages, or harmed by pay discrimination, can plan for the future — and be ready in emergencies. It means students and workers don’t need to experience delayed legal claims or investigations. It means workers who have complained of harassment or discrimination aren’t first on termination lists and last on rehire lists.

As we track COVID-19-related bills through our partners across the country, we will add them to our resource library.

Tell us if you have a bill in process, despite state legislatures suspending their sessions due to the pandemic.

Justice & Equity Demand Action

The people closest to the problem are also closest to the solution. That is why we will be listening and responding to communities harmed by COVID-19 through Telephonic Town Halls in states across the country. ​(Our first one will be in Mississippi in May.)

We will protect workers who are undocumented, domestic workers, hourly front line workers, service workers, and workers with children and caregiving responsibilities from dangerous work conditions. They deserve job protection, income equality, paid leave, and safety — now and after COVID-19. Our work alongside partners are driving inclusive emergency legislation as well as permanent policy fixes. Our economic security policy campaigns support partners in states across the country with this Policy Resource Hub and Rapid Response Policy Support Team.

Student survivors of campus violence and schools need support as campuses close and Trump Administration attacks on student survivors’ rights leave Title IX cases in limbo. We created a guide for Title IX Administrators with best practices, tips, and concrete recommendations.

With your continued support, we are committed to policies and actions that build income security, create safety from harassment and violence, expand paid leave to everyone who needs it, and protect workers from discrimination based on sex and race.

The World We Want

We have a chance to get this right — for everyone.

The Women’s Agenda Initiative is working with partners to influence temporary relief packages and drive permanent policy fixes. Together we advocate for state legislative agendas containing proposals that promise permanent economic security solutions for the workers and families most affected by COVID-19. ​

Our vision imagines a world that expands economic security by eradicating poverty and helps families build assets to sustain them throughout their lives; that improves and increases access to affordable and quality early childhood care and education; that ensures premium (and not merely fair) pay and job opportunities; that affirmatively supports and makes family-friendly workplaces accessible to every worker — not just executives; that takes seriously the safety of our workplaces to protect front-line workers; that protects and defends students’ access to, and holds institutions accountable for providing, an equitable education.

Multi-State Advocacy

Large scale action has been the difference between a prepared pandemic response and a disastrous one. When our representatives set and enforce smart policies, it saves lives and protects the well-being of our families. As workers choose between their health and jobs, bills ensuring permanent paid sick and family leave await votes in states like Tennessee, Illinois, and North Carolina. For families struggling with inadequate unemployment benefits in Mississippi, for instance, proposals to combat pay discrimination that lower unemployment benefits need public support.

Collectively, we are continuing the coordination, support, and tracking of women’s economic security agendas in different states (including new COVID-19 legislation) through the Stop Harassment State Network and Rapid Response Team, Equal Pay Today.

In addition to wanting any new COVID-19 relief legislation to include the overlooked needs of immigrant, undocumented, food and service, and other low-paid essential workers, we want to apply this same principle of bold, collective action to reimagine our economy and improve our systems so that every family has an opportunity to thrive.

These protections are more critical than ever to boost the financial security of families being affected by the pandemic.