By Jennette Barnes
The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Women and girls from across the state made their case for the Commission on the Status of Women’s eight top-priority bills, including expanded health coverage for contraceptives, accommodations for pregnant women at work and paid family leave.
Women do a lot of caregiving — for their babies, for sick relatives, and for other peoples’ children in child care. But the law doesn’t make it easy, especially for women in low-wage jobs, SouthCoast women told their legislators during a day of advocacy on Beacon Hill Wednesday.
About 130 local women and girls joined others from around the state for a day-long event sponsored by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. Students got a tour of the Statehouse and participated in some of the legislative meetings.
“It made me feel like my voice could really be heard,” said Keeilah Jewell, a 7th grader at Our Sisters’ School in New Bedford.
The women made their case for the Commission on the Status of Women’s eight top-priority bills, including expanded health coverage for contraceptives, accommodations for pregnant women at work, paid family and medical leave, and extra pay for workers whose employers make changes to their schedules within 10 days of a shift.
The SouthCoast group echoed the support for paid leave and brought additional requests focused on women’s need for quality child care so they can work or further their education. They pushed for more money for state-funded child care, better pay for child care workers, and progress on a gradual adoption of universal pre-kindergarten.
“The reality is that the majority of child care workers are women, and, as is true in so many other fields, women are underpaid,” said Yvonne Drayton of New Bedford, former director of the local YWCA.