Every year, around the world on March 8th, women and their allies gather in protest and solidarity for reproductive justice, equal pay, healthcare, safety against sexual and domestic violence, and many other issues that affect women around the world. This year in Wisconsin, we’re unifying around Governor Evers’ budget.
Governor Evers’s budget is in every sense a moral document. Gender equity is not just one policy or one statement, but rather an attention to the ways that inequity pervades so many issues, from environmental justice to economic freedom. It means paying attention not just to disadvantages that women face, but also the ways that women of color or queer women face inequitable treatment relative to white, cisgender, heterosexual women.
The Evers budget is a pro-women budget. Here are a few of the ways that it will help Wisconsin women.
The Evers budget provides support and recognition for caregivers, who are predominantly women, and disproportionately women of color. Caring for children or the elderly is essential work, which we all can agree is valuable, but is rarely rewarded or compensated. Women often carry the lion’s share of the burden, and that is particularly true in this pandemic, during which nearly 3 million women have dropped out of the workforce due to pay inequity and caregiving obligations. The Evers budget addresses this with an expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act, a tax credit for family caregivers, and investments in care industries, like childcare and long-term eldercare. Women face a dual challenge in caregiving– they make up the workforce of high-skilled, poorly paid labor and at the same time, they head families struggling to afford high quality daycare or eldercare. The Evers investment in care industries will help both the women who work in those industries and the families that rely on them.
Governor Evers also proposed a Healthy Women, Healthy Babies initiative, aimed at improving women’s health and birth outcomes. Wisconsin’s infant mortality rate is worse than the United States as a whole, and that is particularly true for Black women. Wisconsin has the worst infant mortality rate for Black women and the biggest gap between Black and white women. The Evers budget would start to address that inequity.
Ultimately, when women are better off, all of Wisconsin will be better off. Women, like all Wisconsinites should be able to get a job with decent wages and health insurance and support a family, if that’s the path that they choose. Supporting women means supporting the economy, supporting families, supporting healthcare outcomes, and investing in equitable solutions. For International Women’s Day, we’re supporting the Bounce Back Budget.