Women in Maryland Urged to Use their Voices #WLB2015
More than 700 women, among them many African American and some Latinas, participated in the 35th Women’s Legislative Briefing that took place on January 25 at the Universities of Shady Grove. Women and legislators discussed a variety of issues affecting them and their families.
One of the key topics was equal pay for equal work. Today, most women still earn less than their male counterparts. At the plenary, Ann Lewis, a professional communicator and senior advisor at the presidential level, illustrated this disparity. “A female teacher makes 78 cents for every dollar a male teacher earns. A female lawyer makes 79 cents for every dollar a male lawyer earns and it gets worse for African American and Hispanic women…we need to tell the government…check pay fairness is a matter of justice.”
Lewis urged women to meet, form coalitions, develop common agendas, and work towards their goals.
Another important topic brought up at the plenary and seminars was the need for paid sick leave and safe leave legislation. In Montgomery County, Council President George Leventhal is leading this issue with the project 60-14. “This is good public policy. Moms shouldn’t have to go to work sick, or send a sick child to school, in order to ensure the rent can be paid. This is good public health policy. Workers who go to work sick can transmit illness and disease to co-workers and customers,” said Leventhal.
One of the seminars focused on immigrant women and provided ideas for participating actively in politics and the community. “Join politically active groups. Register with a party. You will have more options of candidates to vote for during the primaries. Find out who represents you. There may be issues you want to bring to their attention,” suggested panelist Aruna Miller, State Delegate for District 15.
The experience lived by panelist Mimi Hassanein, from Egypt, is similar to that of many Latino immigrant moms who have a hard time navigating the U.S. educational system, more so the government. The high level expectation of participation was a real new adventure for Mimi and one that she conquered over time and after learning English. Mimi became a very active member of the community since her daughters started school and remains actively involved in various committees. For her “education is the passport to integration.”
More Latina voices need to be heard in these types of forums, where women of all races and origins who have found home in Maryland are organizing to be heard.
For more information about opportunities to participate in the legislative process in Montgomery go to:
Fort he Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women:
PARA LA VERSION EN ESPAÑOL: