Policy Agenda

The Women’s Public Policy Network believes that policymakers must advance public policy that addresses the following issue areas:


Women regularly face barriers in Ohio’s labor market, including disproportionate representation in lowsecurity jobs. Despite having slightly higher levels of educational attainment than men, women are more likely to be working part-time and for minimum wage. Additionally, women are more likely to take on caregiving duties for newborns or sick family members, but only 15 percent of private industry workers— and only four percent of low-wage workers—have access to any form of paid leave. Meanwhile, the average annual cost of infant care in Ohio is $8,977, which is estimated to take up 15.1 percent of the average Ohio family’s income for one child.

Women’s systemic labor market barriers threaten their economic security and that of their families. This reality is highly pressing as women play an increasingly integral role in securing their families’ livelihood. In fact, women are the sole, primary, or co-breadwinner in nearly two-thirds of Ohio households. However, nearly 35 percent of the 604,000 Ohio households headed by women had incomes below the poverty level in 2016. The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network advocates for policies that promote economic security, such as:

  • Increase the minimum wage
  • Improve the state earned income tax credit to benefit more working women
  • Increase access to paid sick and family leave
  • Increase affordability of child care, expand public preschool
  • Ensure pension protection and retirement security


Women’s workforce participation has increased 35 percent since the early 1970s. In Ohio, women now make up 48 percent of the state’s workforce. And as many families increasingly depend upon the wages of working mothers, women are remaining in their jobs longer into their pregnancies and staying in the workforce at higher rates after childbirth than ever before.

Despite this increased participation in the workforce, women, particularly those working in the low-wage workforce, continue to face barriers to keeping their employment or advancing in their careers due to current workplace policies or workplace discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination, such as being forced out of a job or denied reasonable accommodations while pregnant, affects women across race and ethnicity; women of color and immigrants may be at elevated risk due to their disproportionate representation among jobs with less flexibility and greater physical demands. Additionally, according to research gathered in 2011, half of women in the United States who had experienced sexual assault quit or were forced to leave their jobs within one year— leading to an average lifetime income loss of nearly $250,000 for an individual. The Women’s Public Policy Network promotes the following policies to ensure fairness and opportunity in the workplace:

  • Ensure pay equity for all women by protecting against pay discrimination on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, or disability
  • Promote fair and flexible work schedules
  • Protect the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively for fair wages, benefits and working conditions
  • Support breastfeeding mothers in the workplace
  • Protect against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or caregiver status
  • Study ways to eliminate barriers to women’s career advancement
  • Promote ways to ensure opportunity for women to advance and excel in the business and entrepreneurial sector
  • Protect against discrimination against survivors of sexual and domestic violence in housing and the workplace
  • Prevent sexual harassment and violence in the workplace
  • Protect against discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity


Without access to adequate healthcare and treatment, the goal of equality and economic security is cut short before it begins – but it is out of reach for many. Seven percent of Ohio women between the ages of 19 and 64 lack health insurance completely. Women of color are more likely to be uninsured, which presents barriers to accessing preventive and primary health care and contributes to persistent health disparities: women of color face higher rates of diabetes, pregnancy-related complications, and cervical and breast cancer than white women. There some Ohio women who do not seek necessary medical care due to prohibitive costs. Health care costs are even higher for women who have experienced physical or sexual abuse, and these elevated costs can continue for as long as 15 years after the incident of abuse.

Finally, although many women presently rely on reproductive health services, ideological legislative agendas have impeded access to abortion and other reproductive health care services, and access is not distributed evenly. Women of color, and especially Black women are disproportionately likely to be denied or unable to access resources, services, and information related to their reproductive health, which prevents them from experiencing maximum health, wellbeing, and birth outcomes. Comprehensive healthcare services (including behavioral, reproductive and dental health and addiction services) for women are fundamental to achieve economic self-sufficiency. The Women’s Public Policy Network believes that women have a right to choose their own health care options and advocate for policies that improve women’s health and well-being, such as:

  • Preserve access to and increase affordability of comprehensive healthcare for low income and working women
  • Protect against cultural and social barriers for obtaining healthcare services
  • Keep lawmakers and employers out of the practice of healthcare
  • Restore and protect access to contraception, reproductive healthcare and abortion
  • Ensure the physical and mental health needs of survivors of sexual and domestic violence are met without cost to the survivor, and the crimes against them investigated
  • Support community programs that prevent sexual and domestic violence such as healthy relationship education
  • Create new protections for survivors of sexual and domestic violence and stalking

Members of the Women’s Public Policy Network are committed to working to implement these and other pro-women policies at the state and local levels. Although member organizations may not endorse every individual policy promoted by the Women’s Public Policy Network, they will not actively work against such efforts to advance the policy.