What to Expect in the 2021 Alabama Legislative Session
The Women’s Fund’s 2021 policy priorities aim to dismantle barriers and strengthen essential supports for women.
Today The Women’s Fund released its annual public policy platform, known as the Agenda for Women. A bold and non-partisan strategy, the 2021 Agenda for Women aims to accelerate women’s economic opportunity by prioritizing gender equity. When women’s economic growth is optimized, the result is stronger families, stronger communities, and a better Alabama for all.
Since its inception 25 years ago, The Women’s Fund has invested over $5.8 million in innovative solutions that removed barriers to well-being for nearly 15,000 women and over 10,000 of their children. Yet too many women and their families continue to experience complex and systemic social conditions that philanthropy alone cannot address.
In two short years of public policy advocacy, The Women’s Fund has led successful campaigns resulting in passage of the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act, full funding of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC), and two consecutive years of public investment to scale the proven post-secondary models created and incubated by The Women’s Fund and community colleges, which include training and critical wraparound supports that propel more women into in-demand jobs.
“Actively engaging in public policy, is a necessary tool to achieve our vision of a society where power and possibility are not limited by gender,” said Melanie R. Bridgeforth, President & CEO. “Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, gender bias and structural racism have been magnified. Our legislative agenda is just one of our approaches to advancing equity in Alabama. Gender and racial justice require system change as well as investment in programmatic solutions, especially as the pandemic threatens to wipe away women’s gains, setting us back a generation”.
“As revealed in our 2020 Status of Women in Alabama report, 57.3 percent of Alabama’s unemployment claims were made by women in August of last year. In January, another 275,000 women dropped out of the labor force, compared to 71,000 men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is more urgent than ever for The Women’s Fund to continue combining the power of philanthropy and advocacy to create deeper, more sustainable change for women. Simply put, advocacy matters.”
The Agenda for Women is a nonpartisan platform for all Alabamians seeking to build a stronger state through targeted solutions to systemic challenges facing women. All Alabamians benefit when women are able to fully participate in the formal economy yet throughout the pandemic, women have involuntarily left the labor force as child care options disappeared. The Agenda for Women urges Alabama lawmakers to advance equity by enacting policies that support accessible quality child care, equitable wages, healthcare access, and inclusive workforce development.
This year, the Agenda for Women renews The Women’s Fund’s efforts to highlight women as key drivers of the state’s economy. According to The Women’s Fund’s recent report, Status of Women in Alabama, raising Alabama women’s labor force participation rate to the national average, currently the second-lowest in the country, could add 80,941 women to the workforce. This would simultaneously move the state closer to its workforce goals and women and their families closer to economic security. With women bearing the brunt of the pandemic and disproportionately being impacted by unemployment, it is vital to address women’s unique needs and barriers with practical policy initiatives like those presented in the 2021 Agenda for Women.
Based on research on the conditions impacting women’s economic well-being, The Women’s Fund’s 2021 Agenda for Women includes the following common-sense policy priorities and goals:
“More than 60% of employed Alabama mothers have young children and more than 74% of Alabama women are breadwinners, as highlighted in The Women’s Fund’s recently released Status of Women in Alabama report,” continued Bridgeforth. “Accelerating access to child care, health care, and the job training needed to join—and remain—in the workforce is not only good for women and our state’s economy but for every hard-working Alabamian.”
The Women’s Fund is calling on the Alabama Legislature to understand and address the unique needs of women in this bellwether moment. The time for change is now. There is a statewide movement afoot by and with women and legislative action in support of the smart solutions proposed in the 2021 Agenda for Women will help swing the pendulum toward equity. “We understand the lawmakers want to continue the successful economic trajectory of this quadrennium and women in Alabama represent an essential demographic to continue that success, key to the future prosperity of our state and every corner of the globe,” Bridgeforth added.
To learn more about The Women’s Fund’s policy agenda, advocates are invited to attend our annual legislative day, Capitol Heels. Held virtually, Capitol Heels will be on Thursday, March 11 at 8:00 AM. Attendees will also hear from state leaders and lawmakers about their top priorities in this nontraditional legislative year.