COLUMBIA, Md. — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) participated in a roundtable discussion this week with Howard County women’s organizations, including the League of Women Voters of Howard County, on wide-ranging issues like human trafficking, the environment, campaign finance reform, voter disenfranchisement and the minimum wage. The Equal Rights Amendment also was central to the conversation with the more than 40 members of the community in attendance.
“We’ve done so much in terms of making progress for women, but still have so much more to do. While we have made tremendous advances, America still has not realized its promise of equal protection under the law for men and women,” said Senator Cardin. “I believe there should never be a deadline when it comes to ensuring the equal rights of any American. The Equal Rights Amendment should be ratified as part of the U.S. Constitution to provide courts with clearer guidance in deciding discrimination cases nationwide. It would mark the start of a new wave of progress in which we notch wins for women world-wide, extending human rights protections for women, rejecting violence against women in any and every form, and ensuring equal pay for equal work.”
More than three dozen individuals joined the discussion with Senator Cardin, several of whom voiced concerns about workplace fairness and pay equity.
“Paycheck fairness is not just a matter of fairness for women, it is a matter of fairness for our country. Not only will women benefit, our economy will benefit and our country will benefit by making sure that equal pay for equal work is what happens in our country,” said Senator Cardin. “If you look at the practical effect of the unequal pay that women receive for their work, it means that on average, women would have to work an additional day every week to earn the same amount of money a man earns for doing the same job. That is simply not right and it needs to change immediately.”
Other participants in the discussion raised concerns about ensuring that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to provide coverage for women who need health insurance, while also continuing to improve how well it meets women’s needs. Senator Cardin noted that not only are continued improvements necessary in the health care system, but also in biomedical research.
“There is not the same amount of funding being directed to research for diseases that affect women as there are for diseases that affect men, which is patently unacceptable,” said Senator Cardin. “This country needs to find ways to better address women’s public health, and it needs to do so immediately.”