Empowerment & Economic Advancement of Women and Girls

YWCA works to increase economic opportunities for women and girls of color. We recognize the importance of addressing the inequities that exist for this historically and contemporarily marginalized group. Women comprise more than half of today's workforce. One in four women are now the sole or primary breadwinners for their families. An overwhelming majority of mothers with children under 18 years of age are working. Women of color are over-represented in low-wage industries that lack basic workplace protections. There is no doubt that women are central to the economic well-being of their families and play a critical role in our nation's economic prosperity. Despite this, 21st-century workplace policies are out-of-date and do not adequately support women in balancing work-family demands.


Here is some information about the issues, where we stand, and questions you can ask candidates running for public office this year so that you can be informed when you head to the polls.  In 2018, voters will cast their ballots for elected officials who will determine public policy on major issues that impact the lives of women, girls, and people of color. Together, we can make a difference by ensuring our communities and our voices are heard!


YWCA believes that access to quality, affordable childcare and early education is crucial for women's successful participation in the workforce. Child care and early education programs help parents obtain and retain employment and further their education while promoting child development and school readiness. Accordingly, since 1868, YWCA has provided early childhood programs for millions of children across the United States.

Unfortunately, while women's participation in the labor force has steadily grown since the 1950s, this growth has been hindered by a lack of access to these crucial community resources and programs. Child care and early learning programs, and financial assistance for these programs, are critical resources for all women, but they are particularly important for women of color who face additional compounding challenges related to racial discrimination and systemic disparities. For too many parents, finding quality, affordable, accessible child care and early education programs is difficult. Many families earn too much to qualify for financial assistance yet struggle with the high cost of childcare on top of meeting basic needs like paying for housing and food. Many low-income families also struggle with the additional challenge of needing care for their children during non-traditional hours such as evenings or weekends, or lacking quality care in their communities.

YWCA supports improving access to quality, affordable, and accessible early childhood programs as a means of reducing barriers to successful workplace participation by women, particularly women of color, and providing children with culturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate activities that enable them to succeed in school. To this end, YWCA supports legislation, budget proposals, and public policies at the federal, state, and local levels which improve the quality, accessibility, and affordability of child care and early education programs.



  • What role do you believe affordable child care plays in women’s/families’ economic security?

  • What is your position on proposals like the Child Care for Working Family Act (S. 1805) that would increase access to child care for working families, improve the quality of child care, and improve pay for childcare providers?

  • What suggestions do you have to improve access to quality, affordable child care for working families?

  • What steps will you take to remove additional barriers to the workplace for women?



Millions of women in the United States are forced to put their livelihoods at risk when they get sick, need to take time away from their jobs to care for a sick child or family member, or need to access services as survivors of violence. Over 80 percent of low-wage ($8.25 or less per hour) workers do not have access to any paid leave when they or family members are sick; even fewer have access to paid leave when they or a loved one experiences gender-based violence. For these workers, who are disproportionately women and people of color, missing a few days, or even just one day of paid work can have significant economic consequences. A major illness can drive a worker into poverty. Lost wages due to illness, caretaking, or seeking safety from interpersonal violence widens the gender and racial wage gap and makes it more challenging for workers to balance work and family responsibilities. In the absence of these basic workplace protections like job-protected safe leave, and paid sick and family leave, women are often forced to choose between their families' financial security and taking time off to care for themselves or a family member or to seek assistance after experiencing domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

YWCA supports efforts to improve women's economic advancement, particularly for women of color, by increasing access to job-protected safe, paid sick, and paid family leave. To this end, YWCA supports national, state, and local public policies and legislation that create standards for paid sick and family leave, and job-protected safe leave.



  • Do you support policy proposals like the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 932 / S. 497) and the FAMILY Act (S. 337/H.R. 947)that would ensure that workers have access to job-protected sick leave?

  • How do you think paid sick leave could help women of color and working families? What suggestions do you have to improve access to paid sick leave for women of color and working families?

  • How do you think paid family leave could improve economic security for women of color and working families? What suggestions do you have to improve access to paid family leave for women of color and working families?

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