The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) hopes to continue the national conversation surrounding women’s rights and workplace equality in the 2018 legislative session.
CWEALF, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to empowering women and girls in Connecticut, is primarily focusing its 2018 efforts on implementing paid family and medical leave and combating the gender wage gap, said CWEALF Policy Manager Maddie Granato.
“The year 2018 has been pegged “The Year Of The Woman” because of all the women running for office, but 2018 being the year of the woman doesn’t have to start on the ballot in November,” Granato said. “It can start now, in February.”
Granato said 2018 is the fourth consecutive year that paid family medical leave has been introduced in the general assembly, and CWEALF is hoping it will be the year meaningful legislation is passed.
“Without paid leave, workers often face unemployment, foreclosure and reliance on state assistance when they need to take time off to care for an ill family member, welcome a new baby or recover from a serious illness,” a CWEALF press release said. “Connecticut must pass a system based on worker earnings for those most impacted, especially women of color and low-wage workers.”
Granato said CWEALF is also currently working with a group of legislators to pass a bill that would combat the gender wage gap by prohibiting the use of salary history in the hiring process.
“If you’re a person who makes a lower salary in the beginning of your career, that lower salary shouldn’t follow you throughout your 30-plus year career,” Granato said. “Asking for prior wages disproportionately affects women and people of color who typically earn lower salaries in the beginning of their career.”
CWEALF is also advocating for Connecticut to require employers to pay their employees equal pay for comparable work and encourages employers to “examine their pay practices,” the press release said.
Though advocating for paid family and medical leave and against the gender wage gap are CWEALF’s two main priorities, Granato said the organization will be involved in other advocacy work as well, including advancing employment opportunities for women and improving access to comprehensive healthcare.
“The other issues on our agenda, such as improving access to healthcare and advancing employment, are all areas that we support the work of our partners on,” Granato said. “That isn’t work we really lead on, we just support our partners and allies who are working on those issues.”
Granato said CWEALF is hoping to work with elected leaders on both sides of the aisle, as well as with the Alliance to End Sexual Violence, to expand sexual harassment training and protections.
“Our policy work is really centered on elevating the status of women who are most impacted and most need our help,” Granato said.
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.