‘We Demand More’ Coalition Brings Together Nearly 60 Prominent Advocacy Organizations Demanding Congress Provide Support for Women on the Frontlines Leading COVID-19 Response, and Women and Families Being Disproportionately Impacted by Pandemic
Washington, D.C. — Today, nearly 60 of the nation’s most respected advocacy organizations came together to launch the We Demand More coalition to advocate for the health, safety and economic security of women currently on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. With women, and especially women of color, disproportionately bearing the impact of the crisis — as frontline, essential workers as well as those particularly vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the pandemic — the coalition is calling on Congress to take urgent action on a series of five demands, as enshrined in a letter sent to congressional leaders today. While congressional relief efforts to date have included important measures like expanded unemployment benefits, investments in public health, and relief to small businesses and the nonprofit sector, this is only a fraction of what is needed to protect women and families — especially with the U.S. now having more COVID-19 cases than any other country in the world.
The coalition also unveiled plans for a six-figure paid media campaign supporting a new digital ad calling on senators in battleground states to take urgent action. The ad campaign — which will begin running tomorrow — will target women in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, and North Carolina.
“Women and their families — who are particularly vulnerable to the devastating health and economic impacts of this pandemic — are being left behind, left out, and in some cases, actively attacked. Across the world women predominate in frontline jobs that are powering communities during this crisis. They cannot take sick days, and day in and day out put the needs of others above their own,” the coalition wrote in its letter to congressional leaders.
The coalition is also highlighting the impact of the pandemic that extends beyond the workplace and into the personal lives of women and calling on our leaders to respond.
“Around the world, women are caring for children whose schools and child care centers are closed, and for family members who have fallen ill or are sheltering in place. This scarcity combined with social norms that undervalue the needs of women and girls means that they eat last and eat the least, their health care needs remain unmet, and while they are the first to lose their schooling and jobs when a crisis starts, they will be the last to return — if ever— to school or income-generating opportunities when the crisis abates.”
Five Demands for Congress and Corporate Leaders
Several of the coalition leaders — including Cecile Richards (Supermajority), Ilyse Hogue (NARAL Pro-Choice America), Alexis McGill Johnson (Planned Parenthood Action Fund), Fatima Goss Graves (National Women’s Law Center), Shaunna Thomas (UltraViolet), Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner (MomsRising), and Morgan Hopkins (All* Above All Action Fund) — officially unveiled the effort today on a national briefing call, where they underscored how women and families are being disproportionately impacted by this crisis. They then laid out the coalition’s five demands of Congress and corporate leaders, which include:
- Prioritize our health and safety ahead of corporations. Women, including trans women, and families, including immigrants, are our most valuable assets, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; Policymakers and business leaders should put their needs and interests ahead of corporations; We need comprehensive and affordable healthcare, paid sick time, paid family and medical leave, personal protective equipment for all health care providers and other essential workers, protective occupational safety and health standards for front line workers, and more.
- Get life-sustaining relief to us NOW. We need to provide life-sustaining relief — including income and in-kind support — to the essential workers, women-owned small businesses, and people struggling at home; Release vulnerable individuals in jails, prisons, and detention centers who do not pose a public safety risk.
- Make state governments strong; they are our lifeline. We need to stabilize state and local governments and the jobs they support to ensure they have the tools to provide health coverage, education, and essential services like domestic violence programs and shelters; We also need relief for the child care sector — a critical part of our economy.
- Stop the attacks on our reproductive health care. Reproductive healthcare is essential healthcare; Federal and state governments should make it easier, not harder, to access essential healthcare, in our country and around the world.
- Protect our safety and our right to vote in 2020. No one should have to choose between their right to vote and their health; We need robust funding and policies that allow people to vote safely and securely, including implementing vote by mail, expanding early voting, expanding voter registration options, safe polling location adjustments, and voter education.
The coalition is also highlighting the especially dire impact the crisis is having on women of color and indigenous women, arguing in its letter: “The fact that women of color experience greater gaps in income and wealth, are more likely to work in poorly-paid jobs, and already suffer health inequities means that women of color and their families face greater risk of economic distress, unemployment, and poor health outcomes. Around the world, ethnic or religious minorities, migrant women, and other women who are historically and systemically marginalized face racism, discrimination and xenophobia when trying to access basic services, such as health care or support for gender-based violence. While the virus doesn’t discriminate, its impacts reflect and amplify centuries of discrimination.”
In the upcoming weeks, the coalition will be employing a number of innovative grassroots, educational and lobbying tactics in order to hold accountable the administration and politicians who are not acting in the interest of their people, as well as bad actors in corporate America. The campaign will provide opportunities to educate, engage and organize supporters, popular education briefings and trainings led by coalition members, national mobilizations in response to federal legislation and voter education work, and a robust storytelling component, among other actions.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Women
- Nearly 52% of all essential workers are women. That includes 77% of health care workers, 78% of social workers and more than 2/3 of grocery store and fast-food employees. [NYT]
- Mothers are the breadwinners in the majority of families (64%), and are the sole or primary breadwinners in 40% of families in the U.S.; women comprise the majority in most of the economic sectors hit hardest economically by the shut down of our economy. [Center for American Progress and Department of Labor]
- Women make-up 73% of the health care workers who have been infected with the coronavirus, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Axios]
- Women are at greater risk of jeopardizing their health, as they represent a majority of essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, including:
- Women make up 70% of the global health workforce [Global Citizen]
- Women make up at least 75% of healthcare practitioners in many countries including the U.S., and 87% of healthcare support staff [WHO]
- The largest healthcare occupation is registered nurses, with more than 2.4 million workers, followed by nursing, psychiatric and home health aides (1.2 million). Women make up more than 85% of workers in both of these large occupations. [Census]
More information on the We Demand More coalition can be found on its new website at www.WeDemandMore.org and its letter to Congress can be found here. To speak with a representative of the coalition, please contact Alexandra Ozols at [email protected].
Below is a full list of the We Demand More coalition’s members.
Abortion Access Force
Advocates for Youth
All Women's Progress
All* Above all Action Fund
African American Ministers In Action
American Association of University Women Action Fund
Birth In Color RVA
Black Women's Roundtable
California National Organization for Women
Catholics for Choice
Center for American Progress Fund
Clearinghouse on Women's Issues
Coalition of Labor Union Women
End Rape on Campus
Equal Pay Today
Equal Rights Advocates
Feminist Women's Health Center
Free Speech For People
Global Justice Center
The Greenlining Institute
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable
NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
National Birth Equity Collaborative
National Black Justice Coalition
National Organization for Women
National Organization for Women - Connecticut chapter
National Women's Health Network
New American Leaders Action Fund
New Century Trust
New Voices for Reproductive Justice
Paid Leave for All Action
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Sisters Lead Sisters Vote
SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
United State of Women
URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
Women's Fund of Rhode Island