By Hillary Clinton
Latina Lista has invited all the major candidates running for President of the United States to blog on Latina Lista to address our readers. So far, several candidates have accepted our invitation. In the coming weeks, each of the candidates, who have accepted, will take their turn as a Guest Voz to present her/his ideas and hopes for the country if she/he is elected.
We start this very special feature on Latina Lista with the only female candidate running for President — Hillary Clinton.
Ms. Clinton is a familiar face across the country having served as First Lady when her husband was President of the United States and most recently as a Senator representing New York for the past seven years.
Ms. Clinton has always been known for her work and advocacy on behalf of children, women and families. Today, she speaks to us about what she proposes to do to help women and families nationwide.
It should also be noted that today, October 26, is a special day for Ms. Clinton — it is her 60th birthday.
I want to thank Marisa TreviÃ±o for the opportunity to address the readers of Latina Lista. It is great to find spaces like this blog, where women from all backgrounds, and even from different countries, can gather to discuss the issues they care about and exchange ideas about how to change their lives and change our country.
Latinas will have an important role in helping bring about the change America needs. It is estimated that between 2002 and 2012, the number of Latinas in the labor force will grow by 2.8 million, accounting for almost 30 percent of the increase in female workers. As more Latinas enter the workforce, the greater the need becomes for an advocate at the highest level to address their challenges and needs.
The struggle to balance work and family is one of those challenges. Everywhere I go, I see the anxiety and the frustration of families trying to strike this balance. Having to take an unpaid leave of absence when they’re pregnant. Taking precious vacation days to care for a sick child or a sick parent. Being stretched to the breaking point by the cost of raising their children on their own.
And if you have fewer resources, greater challenges, or an unsympathetic employer, the struggle to balance work and family can be overwhelming. Too many Americans feel trapped between being there for their kids and being a good employee.
Unfortunately, our government’s policies have not caught up with the new realities of American life. The traditional family – with one breadwinner and one homemaker – is now the exception rather than the rule.
As a result, two-thirds of all of working parents say they do not have enough time with their children.
This is a critical national priority, because we all have a stake in the next generation. And it is a particularly pressing issue for the Latino community, 34 percent of which is under age 18, compared to 25 percent for the overall population.
That’s why last week I announced an agenda to help parents balance work and family and ensure that Americans aren’t faced with a choice between keeping their job and caring for a newborn baby.
I believe we should set a goal of every family in America being able to take time off when their children are born or adopted, and at least some of that time should be paid leave for those who need it. My plan would set an ambitious goal for all states to implement a paid family leave program by the year 2016, and offer $1 billion per year in grants to encourage innovative paid family leave programs at the state level. Promoting paid family leave is critical for giving new parents the opportunity to bond with their children at the most important time in their development.
My plan would also expand the Family Medical Leave Act to cover 13 million additional workers across the country, and guarantee every American worker seven days of paid sick leave to help them deal with a health crisis faced by themselves or their children.
Access to quality, affordable child care is also critical for parents seeking to fulfill their work and family obligations. As First Lady, I remember Patti Solis Doyle – who is now my campaign manager – returning to work at the White House after maternity leave. I could tell that Patti missed her first born, so I told her to bring the baby into the office.
But not everyone has the luxury of a supportive workplace. That’s why we need to make child care accessible and affordable for all parents. So that new moms– or women who don’t have any childcare options – don’t have to choose between being a good mother and good employee. By creating work places that put children first, we make them the priority that they deserve to be. My plan would increase child care funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant and foster public-private partnerships to expand child care options at the state level.
I will also promote model workplaces in corporate America and reward employers who help their employees balance work and family. Pro-family work policies and increased workplace flexibility help improve American competitiveness and economic growth.
Finally, we need to prevent parents from being discriminated against because of pregnancy or their caregiving responsibilities. Most people believe that current law already protects parents from this type of discrimination. But unfortunately too many mothers and fathers are not protected. If that sounds horribly outdated, that’s because it is. A pregnant woman should not be fired because her employer does not allow any employee to take unpaid leave for a temporary disability. And no dad should be fired for taking a few days off to help his wife recover from childbirth, or care for their newborn or adopted baby. As President, I will work to prohibit discrimination against parents.
America is ready for change – and I believe women will lead that change. It’s up to us to do our part to take back the White House and change this country, and with your help, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.