Flowers and candy are welcome, but what women most need on Valentine’s Day is not a present. Women need respect. With that respect comes access to health and reproductive care, the opportunity to earn a living wage, and flexible work schedules that allow caregivers to continue work while balancing the responsibilities of children and family members with health issues.
Women want a safe environment for themselves and their family. And when they speak up, they want their concerns to be taken seriously. As the #MeToo movement clearly indicates, women at every level of society have been vulnerable to abuse. Their charges have been disbelieved, and their own reputations have been damaged by coming forward. But this current movement does more than expose men who used their positions as doctors, employers, elected officials and movie producers to sexually harass or assault women. It’s proclaiming, “Enough! We’ve had enough of this and we’re not going to put up with it anymore.”
As an organization dedicated to speaking with one voice for women and girls, the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition has had enough. We demand that our elected officials support the systemic public and private reforms needed to foster economic security of Bucks County women and their families.
We demand that public officials show their respect for women by:
- Raising the minimum wage to a livable wage and the enacting tax credits to keep families out of poverty.
- Providing affordable access to health insurance and reproductive care.
- Expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act and flextime.
- Requiring those under a Protection from Abuse Order to surrender guns to a sheriff or judge. This means passing Pa. Senate Bill 501, which, among other things, requires that the person under the abuse order surrender their gun within 24 hours instead of the current requirement that they surrender it within 60 days.
As the BCWAC celebrates the 10th anniversary of its founding this year, let’s seize this moment to make our message louder. Let’s rededicate ourselves to advocating for those who most need our help. Let’s make more phone calls to our elected officials on issues impacting women. We can strengthen BCWAC by continuing to donate to our organization and by recruiting new partners. There’s much we need to accomplish. Let’s raise our voices.
Kathie Beans is an individual partner of BCWAC.