Throughout March, we celebrate Women’s History Month. We reflect on the achievements of so many women – so often unrecognized – that have enriched and improved our state and our country. And we also recommit ourselves to ensuring that our daughters and granddaughters will have every opportunity to pursue their dreams and reach new heights.
Folks often toss around the term “women’s issues.” Really, just about every issue we work on is a women’s issue. Education. Taxes. Veterans. Social Security. Jobs. If it affects Ohioans, it affects women – and could probably benefit from more women at the table trying to tackle the issue.
Lately, I’ve talked a lot about my new plan to restore the value of work in this country, and make hard work pay off again. Every one of these policies is designed to help all workers – whether you punch a time sheet or make a salary or earn tips. Whether you’re a contract worker or a temp. Whether you work in a call center or a bank or on a factory floor. And whether you’re a man or a woman.
Nearly 600,000 households in Ohio are headed by women, so we know that the future of Ohio families depends on ensuring that women have equal pay, equal rights, and equal opportunity. For women to be truly equal in the workforce, they need fair pay and benefits that reflect the value of their hard work. That includes the right to paid family leave, so that no one has to choose between caring for a sick child and keeping a job. It includes overtime pay, so that when women put in extra hours, they see it reflected in their paycheck. And it includes giving women more power in the workplace, with tools to fight back against the discriminatory treatment that women know all too well.
One woman from Columbus wrote to me about her work as a temp. Her work assignment was terminated when she was six months pregnant, and she needed to take several sick days for severe morning sickness and bronchitis. Firing someone because she’s pregnant is illegal – but you know what? This company didn’t have to fire her; they just had to send her back to the temp agency.
It’s 2017, and women in the workplace still suffer unfair treatment simply because they’re women. That is unacceptable. We must not rest until every woman in Ohio and around the globe has the opportunity to harness her power and her abilities to reach her potential.
Upon her confirmation as Secretary of Labor, the first female cabinet member Frances Perkins once said, “The door might not be opened to a woman again for a long, long time, and I had a kind of duty to other women to walk in and sit down on the chair that was offered, and so establish the right of others long hence and far distant in geography to sit in the high seats.” This month, and every month, we must do all that is possible to support all women’s ascents to the highest seats.
Brown, a Democrat, is an Ohio Senator.