We are on the eve of an election that will have life-altering consequences for women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized groups in our country. In the first of three presidential debates, on Tuesday September 30, 2020, the candidates will be asked questions focused on the following topics: "the Trump and Biden records," "the Supreme Court," "COVID-19," "the economy," "race and violence in our cities," and "the integrity of the election." At the heart of each of these topics lie critical questions about gender justice.
In many ways 2020 has been an unprecedented year for women. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed and exacerbated long-standing gender inequality in our society and has pushed women into deeper economic and personal precarity than ever before. Violence against women has spiked under lockdown and continues to persist as the country grapples with recovery and reopening, our education system has been shut down for over 6 months and will undoubtedly cause the next great gender recession, detrimentally impacting the career opportunities and long-term earning capacities of women who have to choose between keeping their jobs or caring for their families. Heartbreakingly, police violence against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (“BIPOC”) persists and compounds our existing crises. Given this dire backdrop, women are more politically engaged than ever before—there are currently 327 women, of whom 266 are women of color, who are major party candidates for the U.S. Congress, setting a new record for the 2020 elections.
Unfortunately, women’s policy issues are rarely given airtime during presidential debates. A recent TIMES UP analysis showed that from 1996 to 2016, in 123 primary debates, zero questions were posed about policies to address sexual harassment, only two questions about childcare were asked, along with two questions about equal pay and four about paid leave. Looking ahead to this debate, the candidates must be called upon to prioritize the state of women. Here are questions Legal Momentum wants them to answer and that you should be asking candidates running for office:
- Equal Rights Amendment: With the exception of the 19th Amendment, women are left out of the Constitution. In 2020, the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”) was ratified by the 38 states necessary for it to be added to the Constitution, what support will you provide to complete the process of including the ERA to the Constitution, what other policies will you put in place to eradicate gender discrimination?
- Economic Justice/Workplace Equality: Women face inexcusable wage disparities, constituting the majority of minimum wage workers at a federal minimum wage that has remained stagnant at $7.25 an hour for over a decade. As the COVID-19 pandemic increases unemployment and creates new risks for so many women doing essential yet low-wage work, how do you plan to correct these longstanding disparities?
- Violence Against Women: With quarantines, movement restrictions, and increased financial insecurity, women and the LGBTQ+ community are now even more vulnerable to gender-based violence, including domestic violence and sexual assault. How do you propose to address the epidemic of violence against women and other vulnerable populations in our country
- Reproductive Rights: How will your administration ensure equal access to the reproductive rights of all – including transgender, queer, and gender nonconforming people? Access to abortion in many anti-abortion states has become increasingly restricted by state legislatures, how will you counter these restrictions, protect Roe v. Wade, and secure women’s Constitutional right to abortion? What proposals will you have to address the alarming Black maternal mortality rates in the U.S.?
- Equality in Education: Survivors of campus sexual assault need the full enforcement of Title IX in order to have equal access to their education. How will you address any rollbacks in Title IX under the Department of Education’s new rules that could deprive victims of accessing justice, resources, and redress for their assault.
- Sexual Assault in the Military: How will you address the full spectrum of sexual misconduct and domestic violence offenses in the military?
- Women in Leadership: Women are over 50 percent of our population, yet over 200 years into our history as a nation we have yet to have a female president. What do you plan to do to ensure that leadership in the United States better reflects our demographics and the needs and interests of all Americans?
Praised by national women leaders. The SYMS | Legal Momentum Helpline remains available at NO COST to provide legal information and referrals on issues related to sex discrimination in the workplace, home, school and the courts.
Be part of the solution. Please share. In this challenging time, our legal team developed a guide to Legal Rights and Economic Resources for Workers Impacted by COVID-19, also available in Spanish and Chinese.
Protecting women’s and girls’ rights begins with the law. Thank you for your ongoing support - you make our work possible! Stay safe and stay healthy.
Legal Momentum Legal Team