SPRINGFIELD — Building on the spirit, enthusiasm, and sense of solidarity of those who participated in Women's Marches across Illinois on Jan. 21, a coalition of legislators gathered today at the State Capitol to embrace an agenda titled, Illinois Women Moving Forward.
The agenda, created in a collaborative process with legislators and public policy groups committed to improve the lives of women in Illinois, is premised on the basic notion that all "Illinois women are entitled to equality." The agenda contains a number of issues that the legislators hope to debate during the upcoming months of the legislative session, from access to affordable health care, equal pay, and policies that positively impact the ability to raise a family.
"The Women's March was so inspiring, drawing together masses of people reflecting the true diversity of the entire State of Illinois," said State Senator Toi Hutchinson. "One of the things that was easy to see was that the March was not simply a moment in time, but a call to action for a positive agenda to move forward. That is what Illinois Women Moving Forward provides — advancing the lives of everyone in Illinois, we won't go backward."
The agenda contains three basic pillars: Women's Health Care, Economic Security, and Justice. The health care pillar includes a pledge to safeguard and ensure access to safe and legal abortion, as well as guaranteeing health coverage for women's preventive health care. The economic security pillar calls for paid sick time, paid family medical leave for working families, and a raise in the minimum wage to a sustainable standard. Finally, under the justice pillar, the group is seeking to strengthen the Equal Pay Act to target systemic discrimination, banning discrimination in insurance coverage, and publicizing portions of the Illinois Human Rights Act that bar charging men and women different prices.
"Passage of this agenda would move not only women, but all of Illinois forward," said Representative Sara Feigenholtz. "We do not want to go backward as a State — and this is a comprehensive path forward that will support women and families from Waukegan to Carbondale."
The signatories to Illinois Women Moving Forward include: Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Senator Daniel Biss, Senator Melinda Bush, Senator Cristina Castro, Senator Toi Hutchinson, Senator Julie Morrison, Senator Heather Steans, Representative Kelly Cassidy, Representative Sara Feigenholtz, Representative Laura Fine, Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, Representative Robyn Gabel, Representative Will Guzzardi, Representative Sonya Harper, Representative Lou Lang, Representative Anna Moeller, Representative Litesa Wallace and Representative Ann Williams.
The agenda also is supported by organizations, including the ACLU of Illinois, Aids Foundation of Chicago, Chicago Foundation for Women, Chicago Women Take Action, EverThrive Illinois, Fathers, Families and Health Communities, Illinois Choice Action Team, Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Illinois NOW, McHenry County Citizens for Choice, Men4Choice, Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, Midwest Access Coalition, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, National Association of Social Workers, Illinois, National Coalition of American Nuns, National Council of Jewish Women IL State Policy Advocacy Network, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice — Illinois, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, The Voices and Faces Project and Women Employed.
A copy of the full agenda can be found here. www.illinoiswomen.org .