Standing up for Women’s Rights and Equality

Thanks to tireless advocacy from the women’s movement, Virginia has made real progress in recent decades towards rolling back centuries of entrenched discrimination women face every day. From ensuring that women earn equal pay for equal work, to providing more effective protections for victims of domestic violence, to safeguarding women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care, our progress has been clear and it has positively impacted the lives of millions of Virginia families.

But this fight is far from won, and in recent years we’ve seen grave threats to women’s rights and equality. Since just 2010, members of the Virginia General Assembly have introduced more than 75 restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care. These attacks have driven women’s health clinics across the state to close, hurting the women who depend on them and putting reproductive health care services out of reach for many, based simply on their income levels.

I have always been pro-choice, and as Governor, I will be a stalwart champion and defender of women’s access to reproductive health care. There is no room for politics and politicians when it comes to decisions that should be made between women and their doctors. Moreover, I believe that rights mean little without access, and so I will work to roll back harmful restrictions on the right to choose and on abortion providers in Virginia, oppose harmful new restrictions like the proposed bans at different points in pregnancy, support efforts to improve sex education and make contraception more readily available, and ensure abortion care is accessible, safe, and compassionate for women. I will also fight to protect the Affordable Care Act, because we cannot go back to the days when being a woman counted as a “preexisting condition” for insurers.

As Governor, I will advance policies that support women’s economic equality. I was proud to co-sponsor the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to make it easier to hold bosses accountable for pay discrimination, and I will continue to champion the cause of equal pay in Virginia. I also support paid family and caregiver leave, recognizing that women often bear much of the burden of caregiving in the absence of policies that support them. Moreover, I recognize that the majority of low-wage and service workers in Virginia are women, and if we are going to support economic equality, we have to push for wages and working conditions that help them thrive.

I will also promote policies to reduce and eliminate gender-based violence. As a member of Congress, I introduced legislation to improve the response of college campuses to rape and intimate partner violence. As a diplomat, I fought for justice for victims of gender-based violence in international conflicts, and to stop the use of rape as a weapon of war. In Virginia, I will fight to keep guns out of the hands of intimate partner abusers, prioritize funding for trauma-informed services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and ensure that all victims of these crimes have access to respectful and equal treatment.