We have seen explosive changes in the arena of women’s rights this year. From the Harvey Weinstein revelations to the #MeToo movement, women are once again coalescing to fight for their rights. A century after women successfully fought for the right to vote, they still face pay inequity, sexual harassment, and unequal representation in business, politics, and the media. Enough is enough.
Through targeted legislation and transparency, pay equity can become a reality. I support legislation that requires employers with 500 or more employees to report gender-related pay gap statistics to the California Secretary of State on an annual basis for publication on a public website so that future employees are empowered and informed in their professional decisions. To erase historic pay inequity, full disclosure of salary ranges on job descriptions need to become mandatory for any employer.
Sexual harassment in the workplace—including the California legislature—must be addressed swiftly and powerfully. I applaud the elected women and staff in the CA legislature for being the first to come forward with #MeToo stories in a legislative body. An astounding 81% of US women experience sexual harassment—and 38% have been harassed at work. If the California legislature can’t get it right, how can we trust them to pass effective laws that protect millions of women and men at work? There must be a clear, impartial process for reporting and fair resolution that protects against retaliation, silencing the victims, and pay-offs using taxpayer dollars. Any reform must include greater consequences for harassers, no matter their position, and increased transparency for the public. I support any bill that would extend the statute of limitations for filing sexual harassment claims from one year to three years.
There are thousands of rape kits currently sitting in a warehouse in California untested and uncatalogued. No other violent crime is denied this basic necessity during investigation, the result of which denies victims the justice they deserve while further endangering future victims. The California criminal justice system must end the rape kit backlog by requiring that new rape kits are tested and inventoried and that backlogged kits be fast-tracked for testing with specially allocated funding. Furthermore, a database needs to be created that tracks rape kits from collection to final testing in order to keep police departments accountable.
I also support legislation efforts, like the 2015 California law currently facing the US Supreme Court, that require all pregnancy centers to disseminate medically accurate information, including what medical procedures they provide (if any), the full range of options available to women in the state of California, and truthful statistics regarding any medical risks.