This weekend, I met some amazing women to talk about how important it is to register to vote, vote early and get involved in the campaign. I was lucky enough to join incredible leaders like Valerie Jarrett and Cecilia Muñoz and women from all walks of life who gathered at the Nevada Women Vote 2012 Summit in Las Vegas. These are women who believe what I believe: women’s issues are America’s issues.
We’ve come a long way in our march for equality and opportunity, from trailblazers who marched for equal rights to today’s generation of women leading our boardrooms, hospitals, classrooms and, yes, the women who are the face of our nation’s diplomacy and highest court of the land. We are moms who have returned home from war, and stay-at-home moms who anchor our families. But no matter our story, no matter how far we’ve come, no matter how many cracks we’re making in the ceiling, we know there’s more work to do.
And that’s what we talked about during my visit to Nevada. We talked about how fair pay isn’t just a civil rights issue, it’s an economic issue for families and for our country. Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams spoke of how she and her siblings worked alongside her parents who were migrant farm worker in California. Her mother instilled in her the knowledge that she could accomplish anything her brothers could, and she is using that drive to represent the people of the 42nd District and working to give each of them an equal voice.
When Nevada women earn 83 cents to every dollar a man earns, and a typical Nevada woman can earn as much as $14,200 less than a man her same age – and with half the workforce comprised of women – wage discrimination does more than deny hard-earned wages: It limits benefits like Social Security and diminishes retirement savings.
The women I talked with shared how much it meant that the first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which will help women fight for equal pay for equal work. And because he believes we need to do more, he continues to fight for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would go even further, to stop pay discrimination before it starts. Most of the women could relate to why President Obama believes fair pay is worth fighting for. His own grandmother watched as men she had trained were given opportunities to pass her on the ladder to success, and he wants his two daughters to grow up in a world where women are entitled to the equal pay they deserve. That’s what any woman wants in our country: a fair shot and fair shake in life.
But in this election, fair pay isn’t the only thing at stake. Being a mother has changed the way I view the world. It has especially made me more aware of how access to quality health care is something every American deserves. Thanks to Obamacare, being a woman and a mother is no longer considered a preexisting condition. We can’t be charged higher premiums than men. Our moms, aunts, sisters, daughters, and friends can now access lifesaving preventive care for free, including breast cancer screenings, contraception and well woman care. That’s what Obamacare means to the women I met today – and what it means to me.
And this election matters to me because it’s about my son and the world that I want him to grow up in. As tough as it is to leave my one-year-old for even one day, I know how critical women are to the outcome of this election. So we’ve got to get the word out about President Obama’s vision for moving our country forward. Tell the women in your life about the President’s values. Tell them to go to BarackObama.com/women and join their local Women for Obama group. Then tell them to go to GottaVote.com where they can find everything they need to register to vote with just a few clicks.
On October 20, women across Nevada can vote early. And from what I saw today, I know they are ready to work hard and work together so that between now and Election Day, we can make sure President Obama has another four years to continue to stand up for women and their families.
As the President says, “We must carry forth the work of women who came before us, to ensure our daughters have no limits to their dreams, no obstacles to their achievement, and no remaining ceilings to shatter.”
Join the official Women for Obama group in Nevada.