By Annelise Schader, Government Relations and Advocacy Intern
Guided by Jewish values, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) has worked for social justice and to improve the lives of women, children, and families since 1893. For over 100 years, NCJW has looked to the State of the Union to see how the nation’s president will pursue justice for all.
In his State of the Union address, President Biden laid out an agenda to tackle the challenges ahead and rebuild the American economy. He championed the successes of the American Rescue Plan, which invested in families and lowered child poverty. NCJW has long advocated for expanding the Child Tax Credit and implementing paid leave, which were both included in the American Rescue Plan, albeit temporarily. Also in line with NCJW’s work was President Biden’s call to Congress to protect voting rights and abortion access through strong legislation. The president referenced the urgent need to “preserve a woman’s right to choose.” While we wish the president had specifically said the word abortion, we are glad he recognized the need to protect access to essential health care amid the onslaught of attacks coming from state legislatures. The president also spoke of Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the nation’s highest court. NCJW strongly supports her nomination. Judge Jackson is a well-qualified jurist with a brilliant legal mind, and her nomination moves us one step closer to a more representative US Supreme Court. For these points in his address and more, NCJW applauds President Biden and his administration’s work for women, children, and families. But there is so much more to be done to truly address the issues impacting our mission.
The pandemic set women back. According to the Center for American Progress, four times as many women dropped out of the labor force as men. One out of four women who did so said it was because there were no other child care options. A report published by Katica Roy, CEO of Pipeline Equity, found that the gender pay gap had increased by 5% over the last few years.
Women, particularly women of color, continue to face daunting challenges. For instance, 16 million breadwinner moms support 28 million kids yet make only 66 cents to every dollar of what breadwinner dads make. Still, 19 states passed 108 restrictions on abortion access just in 2021, and 27 states have introduced over 250 bills to restrict voting, which would disproportionately impact low-income women of color if passed. Adding to the lack of representation is the fact that while 50% of the American population are women, they make up only 33% of the federal bench. That number is even smaller for people of color on the bench despite making up 43% of our population.
We must continue our vital work to pass legislation, enforce policies, and provide opportunities that support women, children, and families. NCJW and our 200,000 advocates across the country will do this by advocating for policies that allow workers and their families to thrive; protect and expand access to abortion; strengthen and advance voting rights; and ensure fair, independent, qualified, and diverse judges on our federal courts. Grounded in the Jewish value to pursue justice, NCJW will continue to:
- Invest in children and families. Extend the expanded Child Tax Credit and guarantee 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
- Protect and expand abortion rights and access. Pass the EACH Act and the Women’s Health Protection Act.
- Protect and expand voting rights. Pass the Freedom to Act: John R Lewis Act.