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Over the past four years, the Trump administration has gone out of its way to launch attacks on women—including in housing, the workplace, and schools. When President-elect Biden and Vice President–elect Harris take office, their administration and Congress must make it a top priority not just to undo the damage but to push forward an agenda that ensures everyone has the freedom to live, work, learn, and serve free of discrimination based on gender.
Here are a few of the many actions that should top the list:
Assure safe and stable housing for women and families.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put as many as 40 million people in this country at risk of eviction. This is both a racial justice and gender justice issue: Black women face eviction at twice the rate of white renters. And once a family has been evicted, the devastating harms can follow them for years, exacerbating and reproducing conditions of economic inequality and preventing families from securing stable housing elsewhere.
The incoming administration can take concrete steps to ensure access to safe and stable housing during the pandemic and beyond:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should extend and expand its eviction moratorium—currently set to expire January 31—until Congress passes comprehensive relief. That must include measures such as rent relief that allow families to remain stably housed, avoid debilitating amounts of back rent, and prevent long-lasting harms of eviction.
- With reports that landlords are subjecting tenants to sexual harassment at alarming rates during the pandemic, the administration should require housing providers that receive federal funds to take steps toward stoping this abuse by adopting policies to inform tenants of their rights. It should also support reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which, among other protections, would block local governments from adopting measures that allow eviction simply because residents call 911—allowing survivors of gender-based violence to remain in their homes.
- The incoming administration must also restore tools—such as the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule—to dismantle residential segregation that lock out women, people of color, and children from housing opportunities. The Trump administration has gutted and rolled back fair housing protections for women, people of color, and other groups that have historically faced barriers to housing, and the Biden administration must reinstate these protections.
Remove barriers to workplace equality for women.
The pandemic has put women at the center of the most unequal recession in modern American history. More than 2 million women have left the workforce since January 2020, with Black women and other women of color hit the hardest. As we plan a path toward recovery, it’s more critical than ever to ensure women have equal access to opportunities on the job. In addition to any pandemic recovery plans, the incoming administration must prioritize and call on Congress to pass these critical measures:
- Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to protect workers who need temporary job modifications during their pregnancies, so they won’t have to choose between a paycheck and having a healthy pregnancy.
- BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, to make the promise of the #MeToo revolution a reality and create workplaces free of harassment in all forms.
- PUMP (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections) for Nursing Mothers Act, to make sure workers who need to pump on the job can do so safely and without penalty.
In addition to fighting for these new protections, the Biden-Harris administration can help make existing protections a reality through robust enforcement of civil rights and labor laws by government agencies. That includes holding corporations accountable for sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination and unfair labor practices by franchises, contractors, and others. Join forces with the ACLU to make your voice heard—protecting women in the workplace is a critical priority.
Eliminate sexual harassment and assault in our nation’s schools.
Sexual harassment and assault have no place in schools, yet over a quarter of women endure sexual assault during their college years, and more than half face harassment in junior high or high school. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos dramatically reduced schools’ obligations to respond to sexual harassment and assault. President-elect Biden has already said his administration will withdraw DeVos’ damaging double standard, which allows schools to ignore reports of harassment based on gender where similar reports based on race, national origin, or religion would require an appropriate response. The Education Department must not only rescind the DeVos double standard; it must replace it with strong protections against sexual harassment and fair processes for all students. The ACLU will hold the Biden administration to this promise—sign the petition if you demand the same.
Ensure military opportunities are open to all regardless of sex.
The Biden administration should end the Department of Defense’s biased policies that harm women who want to serve in combat, including sex-segregated Marine Corps boot camp and the refusal to assign junior female Army soldiers and Marines to combat units unless and until senior women officers are installed there, too.
The ACLU knows that these are just some of the many issues on the Biden administration’s to-do list, and we must demand that they are not forgotten. Add your name to the ACLU’s petition to demand that women’s rights are a priority within the first 100 days. Sign today.