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Open Letter to Congress and Candidates on the Zika Virus from Leaders on Gender Equity

Open Letter to Congress and Candidates on the Zika Virus from Leaders on Gender Equity

September 13, 2016

This letter to Congress and candidates for political office comes from dozens of prominent leaders at the intersection of economic, racial and reproductive justice. Signers include activists like Gloria Steinem, Cecile Richards,  Melanie Campbell, Ai-jen Poo and Ellen Bravo; labor leaders like Mary Kay Henry and Elizabeth Shuler; media activists like Abigail Disney and Jamia Wilson; and leaders in philanthropy such as Teresa Younger and Donna Hall. Full list in progress below. ADD YOUR NAME by clicking here.

We are calling for your immediate action to address the threat of Zika to the health and economic security of all families.

Locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus are here in the United States and will continue to spread further in Florida and to other states.  It’s just a matter of time.

Zika poses a serious threat to those who are pregnant and those planning on becoming pregnant, and Zika infection has been established as a cause of microcephaly.

In Miami, especially, many of these expectant and prospective parents are employed in low-paid jobs in the tourist industry, cleaning hotel rooms, serving food in restaurants, or caring for the frail elderly as home health aides. They cannot simply leave their jobs and move to a safer environment for nine or more months;  most do not even have a single paid sick day to use to get tested for Zika without losing their pay and maybe even their jobs.

Funding cuts are limiting their access to prenatal care and testing, as well as contraception and abortion services. The Hyde Amendment and restrictive state laws compound this barrier for low-income women. And every newborn, whatever their health status, needs loving parents to nurture them, a challenge in the only developed nation on Earth that fails to guarantee paid family leave.

zika-addyournamePretending we don’t have a public health emergency while we allow it to get worse is not the answer.  We saw that with HIV-AIDS and Ebola.

Action is needed now.

– To fund preventive measures to reduce the mosquito population, educate the public, and make insect repellent available to those who can’t afford it.
– To fund rapid development of a vaccine.
– To guarantee pay and job protection to those dealing with Zika virus.
– To enact a national paid sick days law.
– To enact a national paid family leave policy.
– To enact a national pregnancy accommodation law.
– To ensure access to reproductive health services.

We say to our elected leaders and those running for office this fall:
What will you be doing?
We’re watching and we’re voting.

Eileen Appelbaum, Senior Economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Jessica Arons, President & CEO, Reproductive Health Technologies Project
Danielle Atkinson, Founding Director, Mothering Justice
Martha Baker, Activist
Dina Bakst, Co-President, A Better Balance
Amanda Ballantyne, Director, Main Street Alliance
Catherine Barnett, Executive Director, ROC-NY
Hyatt Bass, Writer
Marianne Bellesorte, Vice President of Advocacy, PathWays PA
Kelly Blanchard, President, Ibis Reproductive Health
Heather Booth, Partner, Democracy Partners
Ellen Bravo, Director, Family Values @ Work
Linda Burnham, Senior Advisor, National Domestic Workers Alliance
Julie Burton, President, Women’s Media Center
Melanie Campbell, President & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable
Jenya Cassidy, Director, California Work & Family Coalition
Wendy Chavkin, MD, MPH, Dept ObGyn
Soraya Chemaly, Writer, Director, Women’s Media Center Speech Project
Charmaine Davis, Chair, Georgia Job/Family Collaborative and Georgia state Director, 9to5
Andrea Dehlendorf, Co-Director, Organization United for Respect at Walmart
Anne Delaney, Philanthropist
Denise Diaz, Director, Central Florida Jobs with Justtice
Ky Dickens, Film Director, Zero Weeks
Abigail Disney, Flmmaker, Fork Films
Donna Dolan, Executive Director, New York Paid Leave Coalition
Kate Farrar, Executive Director, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund
Lindsay Farrell, Connecticut State Director, Working Families Party
Debra Fastino, Executive Director, Coalition for Social Justice
Beth Felker, Reproductive Health Advocate
Netsy Firestein, Senior Fellow, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley
Ann Flener-Gittlen, Director, Women of Steel, United Steelworkers
Vivian Fox, Executive Director, 1199 Child Care Corporation
Gayle Goldin, Senator, Rhode Island General Assembly
Laura Goodhue, Executive Director, Florida Alliance Planned Parenthood Affiliates
Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice
Donna Hall, President & CEO, Women Donors Network
LeeAnn Hall, activist
Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union
Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director, National Network of Abortion Funds
Astar Herndon, Wisconsin State Director, 9to5 Natl Association of Working Women
Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director, Restaurant Opportunities Center United
Carol Jenkins, Writer/Activist, Carol Jenkins Media
Margarida Jorge, Former Director, Women’s Equality Center
Melissa Josephs, Director of Equal Opportunity Policy, Women Employed
Carol Joyner, Director, Labor Project for Working Families
Kalpana K Krishnamurthy, Policy Director, Forward Together
Vivien Labaton, Co-Executive Director, Make It Work Campaign
Sherry Leiwant, Co-President, A Better Balance
Lisa Maatz, Vice-President of Government Relations and Advocacy, American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Neha Mahajan, Colorado State Director, 9to5, Natl Association of Working Women
Benetta Mansfield, Retired Attorney
Heather McGhee, President, Demos
Linda Meric, Executive Director, 9to5, National Association of Working women
Ruth Milkman, Professor, CUNY Graduate Center
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director, Voces de la Frontera
Beverly Cooper Neufeld, President, PowHer New York
Sarah Noble, Former Director, Reproductive Justice Collective
Jodeen Olguin-Taylor, Vice-President, Demos
Marcia Olivo, Executive Director, Miami Workers Center
Kimberly Otis, Consultant, Philanthropy & Social Change
Sandra Park, Attorney
Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Writer
Ai-jen Poo, Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance
Stephanie Porta, Executive Director, Organize Now
Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy Research, Community Service Society
Catherine Raphael, Ms. Foundation Board Member
Cecile Richards, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Valerie Rochester, Director of Programs, Black Women’s Health Imperative
Fran Sussner Rodgers, Retired CEO
Nicole Sussner Rodgers, Founder and Co-Director, Family Story
Deborah Sale, Chairperson, Community Service Society
Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director, New Jersey Citizen Action
Wayne Shields, President and CEO, Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Jessica Shortall, Author, Work Pump Repeat
Elizabeth Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO
Gloria Steinem, Author and Activist
Eliza Townsend, Executive Director, Maine Women’s Lobby
Karen Tronsgard-Scott, Executive Director, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Tracy Van Slyke, Director, Culture Lab
Susan Vierczhalek, MD, FAAP, New York University/Bellevue Hospital
Wagatwe Wanjuki, Co-founder, Survivors Eradicating Rape Culture
Marilyn Watkins, Policy Director, Economic Opportunity Institute
Karen White, Director of Working Families Program, Center for Women and Work, Rutgers University
Robin Williams, International Vice President, Director Civil Rights and Community, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
Marie Wilson, President Emerita, Ms. Foundation for Women; The White House Project
Jamia Wilson, Executive Director, Women Action and the Media
Renee Wilson-Simmons, Director, National Center for Children in Poverty
Miriam Yeung, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
Teresa Younger, President and CEO, Ms. Foundation for Women

Add your name here.