These Women on a Roll wrap it up!

The House Democrats “Women on a Roll” tour has officially come to a close. From Seneca Falls to Albany to Lowell to Boston. From Columbus to Cleveland to Toledo to Chicago. These women have been hitting the road hard to hear the real stories and bring a clear message to real, hardworking women: When women succeed, America Succeeds.

Take a look at what these fired up Congresswomen had to say!

A Fair Shot and an Equal Playing Field

by Congresswoman Donna Edwards

We are now on day three of the When Women Succeed, America Succeeds bus tour, which has taken us from Seneca Falls, through Albany, Lowell, Boston, and to Columbus, Ohio today.

All along the road we’ve heard from brave women about their challenges in finding affordable childcare, their struggles with balancing both home and work life, and their experiences of surviving on the minimum wage.

Their stories are sadly not unique in America today. There are far too many women who work and provide for their families full-time yet still live on the brink.

Their challenges are personal to me because I faced so many of them myself. Just like so many women across this country, I know what it’s like working not just for the minimum wage but the tipped minimum wage - a paltry $2.13 an hour that hasn’t been raised in 20 years. I didn’t take the job because I wanted some extra cash - I took the job because I needed to pay the bills.

Think about this: today, in America, a single mother with two children, working full-time, year-round, and earning the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour only makes $15,080 per year, or $4,450 below the federal poverty level for a family of three. In the wealthiest nation on Earth, it’s shameful that people who are working full-time are living in poverty.

So many of the women we’ve met on the road are also moms - moms who juggle a full-time job and care for a child. As a single mom myself, I know what it’s like having to think every second of every day about what childcare arrangements I’d need to make for my son.

It feels like yesterday that I wondered whether I’d be able to pay for childcare, and then putting myself – like so many moms do – and my son into a childcare arrangement that was actually unsafe and unhealthy.

I got to meet an amazing woman, Marti Ripley, who spoke so eloquently on this issue today in Columbus, Ohio. A proud mother of two children under the age of seven, Marti talked about her struggles with finding a job because she couldn’t afford childcare, and didn’t have a stable support system to help her take care of her kids.  

It wasn’t until she was able to enroll her children into a Head Start program that they could access quality early education and care, and Marti could find gainful employment to support her family. As Marti said, programs like Head Start are “not hand-outs but hands-ups.” She couldn’t be more right.

We need to stand up for working women, like Marti, and make sure that they earn a fair wage and have access to affordable, quality childcare. We need to make sure that in today’s economy, women have a fair shot and an equal playing field to be successful.

As our bus rolls on to Chicago, we’ll continue to carry on our message that when women succeed, America succeeds.

- Donna

Thank you Cleveland! The whole rally couldn’t help but make us happy.

"If you don’t have child care, you can’t work."

"Every one has a story of their own to share." Carly Moskowitz McClain sits on the bus, settling in after a long day in Massachusetts. 

A law student and young mother of three, Carly hopped on the bus to join women on a roll and Congressman John Tierney—her congressman—to share what she knows about the obstacles women face in the workplace. And she knows more than her fair share. 

Starting out in the working world as a single mother of then-one year old Max, Carly had to rely on child care. “I was working longer than a forty-hour work week,” she said, “I really had no choice.” Unfortunately for Carly, that choice turned into a nightmare.

One night, after another long day’s work, Carly picked up her son from the child care center and brought him home for the bath. “When I was putting him in the tub, I discovered welts on his bum. From being spanked.” 

She immediately took him out of child care and filed a complaint. “Luckily, my boss let me bring Max to work for 6 months until I could figure it out, but I know that’s not an option for so many women just like me.” 

That’s why Carly is joining the women on a roll bus tour. Affordable, quality child care is the missing link between a woman held back and a woman unleashed. “If you don’t have child care, you can’t work,” she said.

"It’s not just about getting to work on time. It’s about being able to focus knowing your child is well-cared for. How can you focus on work if you’re worried about what’s happening to your children?"

The lack of quality child care in America has reached a crisis point—the average cost of full-time child care for one child in a day care center in 2011 ranged from $4,000 to $12,000 depending on the state. 

"I’m married now, and I can’t tell you how much it helps to have a partner," Carly says. But we have three kids and we still need child care. Currently, I pay $15,000 a year, more than my mortgage." 

That is why affordable child care is a pillar of the the House Dems’ women’s economic agenda—and that is why Carly is on the bus, lending her voice in support of Democrats who are fighting to help every woman succeed. 

"Everyone has a story all their own," Carly said. "Just don’t say silent. Share your story—and just maybe you can make a difference." 

'From Seneca Falls to Today'

by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro

Today we began the When Women Succeed America Succeeds bus tour at historic Seneca Falls, New York.  Seneca Falls is where the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in 1848.  A Declaration of Sentiments was passed at that Convention, which was attended by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Frederick Douglass, among others, which declared that all men and women are equal and should be afforded equal rights, including the right to vote.

They declared “We hold these truths to be self evident.  That all men and women are created equal.” The women and men who attended that convention were courageous and unrelenting. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the brains but not the public face of those efforts because she had seven children and could not spend time away from the home. So, she wrote the speeches and Susan B Anthony delivered them! What women can do when we work together!

The Democratic women of the House are letting these great women of our past lead us.  That’s why we began this bus tour in Seneca Falls. When we passed the Affordable Care Act, we said to insurance companies: You cant charge women more than men.  We need to build on that success by making sure that women are not paid less than men for the same job. Our economic agenda for women and families includes equal pay, work/family balance and child care.

We heard from two incredible women today who told us how important this agenda is to their lives. Eva Colon is a mother of three who was in an abusive marriage. Eva received child care and educational support to help her change her life around and she recently received an associates degree in nursing. The investment made in Eva was an investment made in our future. Such investments should be expanded, not cut back.  We also heard from Dr. Gloria Morgan who is Director of Academic Affairs for the College of Brockport and a former child care center owner. Dr. Morgan told us how great the need is for affordable, quality child care. In fact, the child care payments she never billed to struggling families would have paid her mortgage for a year.

We have made great progress in the past 166 years, but we have so much more to do. It is shameful that even today, in 2014, women continue to be paid less than men for the same job. It is shameful that today, in 2014, women and men are not guaranteed paid maternity leave and paid family and sick leave. It is shameful that today, in 2014, quality affordable child care is not accessible to working families struggling to pay their bills.

That is what we are fighting for and why we are on this bus.  On to Albany.

[Congresswoman DeLauro’s bracelet: ‘All Men and Women are Created Equal’]

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