The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed 36 years ago Friday. Yet stories of women like Peggy Young, a United Parcel Service driver forced to take unpaid leave when she was pregnant and denied the "light duty" her medical provider prescribed, remind us how far we still have to go.
As we turn the page on October, National Work and Family Month, millions of women across the country will be casting ballots, using their hard-earned constitutional right to be heard on the very issues the month highlighted: paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, affordable child care, equal pay and more.
For our part, 9to5 canvassers have been hitting the pavement, knocking on tens of thousands of doors across the country for a non-partisan, get-out-the-vote campaign. We have been distributing 9to5's 'Working Women Vote Our Values' election guide that helps voters understand the issues affecting women and how their vote impacts these issues.
For 9to5 members, it's their duty. "I vote because it is my right as a woman of color. It's my obligation as a citizen, and my parental commitment to model the expectations I have set for my children. Important issues including the Affordable Care Act, which will provide equal access to health insurance for millions of low-income women and their families, are at stake," said Dawn Marquanttee of Denver.
Efforts like these are helping to ensure voters not only know their rights, but also have the information they need to get to the polls. Canvassers are focusing their efforts in historically disenfranchised communities -- and those most affected by recent changes in voter ID laws.
In Colorado, 9to5 canvassers are door-knocking 20,000 voters in metro Denver, reminding them about the importance of voting and educating neighbors about changes in voter registration laws. Canvassers are also testing issue-based messages to inspire a higher turnout among youth, single women, and people of color. More than 80 percent of voters canvassers have talked with have committed to voting by Election Day.
In August, 9to5 Wisconsin launched a voter registration project in Milwaukee, focusing on non-partisan voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote efforts. A team of nearly 30 staff and members are canvassing door-to-door and phone-banking in targeted African American neighborhoods. Canvassers exceeded their goal of 15,000 total doors knocked, visiting 20,000 doors and registering more than 1,200 people.
And in Atlanta, 9to5 recently launched a peer-to-peer voter registration program to train formerly incarcerated members, active with our Ban the Box campaign, to register other formerly incarcerated individuals and inform them of their right to vote. Through this project, together with an exciting new collaboration with ProGeorgia, 9to5 members have registered nearly 250 voters across Atlanta.
"My experience of door knocking for voter registration was a great opportunity to get out and meet people in the community, and to educate them on their rights to vote and to have their voice heard through the voting process," said Angela Aldridge, 9to5 Atlanta member and canvasser. "What I hope to accomplish is to engage people behind the movement to vote; to get 100 percent turnout of educated, informed and motivated people to the polls.
Working women have the power to determine the outcome of elections. Together we can forge new public and workplace policies that help us and our families reach our full economic potential.