I am reminded daily of the importance of women’s participation in the political process. Whether it is supporting a more diverse workplace free of discrimination, funding for public schools, or U.S. involvement in international conflicts, so many issues that we confront would benefit from a diversity of viewpoints that women legislators bring to the discussion. Women are over 50% of our country’s population, yet only 19% of the U.S. Congress is female. While women have made great strides in political participation, there is still much more work to be done. Organizations that promote women’s participation, like the Illinois Democratic Women, are important advocates for working families and women across the state. I am proud to stand with you in your efforts.
Women’s rights and equality are crucial because all Americans benefit when women succeed. Women can better support their families and loved ones through equal pay for equal work. For example, currently in Illinois women make on average $12,000 less per year than their male counterparts. A household with a female wage earner then suffers a loss of $12,000 from their income, not only affecting the woman but her entire family buying power. With more access to STEM and higher education, women will contribute even more to our nation in fields like medicine, engineering and public service than they already are. With access to affordable and comprehensive healthcare, women can live without fear of devastating medical bills for their families and themselves. Put simply, when more women are involved in the policy-making process, we will have legislation that better supports women and our families.
Since taking office, I have introduced and cosponsored many bills that support hard-working women. One bill I recently introduced is the Military for Opportunities for Mothers (MOM) Act. The bill extends maternity leave for women serving in the military from 6 weeks to 12 weeks and gives military women the same access to maternity leave that civilian women and federal employees have under the Family and Medical Leave Act. I am proud of the great benefits this will bring to the heroic women serving and protecting our nation in uniform.
Thank you for all that you do. I look forward to working with you to continue to stand up for Illinois women and families. I am confident that our joint efforts will bring much needed improvements to lives all across this great nation.
– Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth