Commentary: This Democratic debate should challenge candidates on health, equity and safety for women and girls November 19 2019 Felicia Davis Chicago Tribune No single policy, no organization and yes, no politician alone can drive all the changes required for women and girls today. As someone who has spent the bulk of my career in public service, I have seen firsthand both the promise and the pitfalls of how women have risen and where critical gaps still exist. If we want change — and the benefits to the world that gender equity brings — it will take all of us, women and men, pushing it forward. It will take new levels of coordination, collaboration, investment and commitment that our nation has not seen before. Of course, all of this work becomes easier when the country has a leader who makes this a priority. We’ve only heard broad strokes from the many Democratic presidential candidates. They have not shared nearly enough specifics. With four women moderating the Democratic primary debate Wednesday, now is our chance to bring the issues impacting women and girls to the table. So, Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kristen Welker and Ashley Parker — please consider these questions as you prepare: What you do to address gender equity in the workplace? Here in Illinois, women were paid, on average, about 78 percent of what men earned in 2017, resulting in a pay gap of $280 a week, or $14,000 for the year. This wage gap is even larger for women of color. Lean In’s 2019 Women in the Workplace report finds that men hold 62 percent of manager-level positions — and the number of women decreases at every subsequent level. As president, how will you level the playing field in the workplace? Organizations like the Shriver Center and Women Employed, both grant recipients of the Chicago Foundation for Women, recently advocated for and helped pass an Illinois law prohibiting employers from asking a job candidate their salary history — a significant step toward closing the gender pay gap. As president, would you support a federal law that prohibits companies from asking about salary history? What about women’s health? While all of the Democratic hopefuls are pro-choice — and this is very important to protect — there is much more to women’s health than abortion access. Many in our country, particularly women of color, trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming individuals, women in rural communities and low-income women, are disproportionately unable to access quality health care. As president, how would you ensure that reproductive justice is not only legal, but is actually attainable, for everyone? From the Oval Office, how would you address racial disparities in maternal health care, recognizing the risk of death from pregnancy-related causes for black women is three to four times higher than for white women? How will you keep women safe? Safety looks very different for women and can span the gamut, including protection from an abusive partner, picking up the pieces after a violent death in the family, feeling safe enough to walk freely in one’s community or speak up against harassment in the workplace and more. In 2017, the Chicago Police Department recorded more than 7,000 violent crimes against women, an increase from 2016. That is an average of 19 violent crimes a day. And it’s actually worse since many violent crimes go unreported. Working in the Chicago Police Department for 10 years — eight of those as a detective in the Violent Crimes Division — I investigated homicides and sexual crimes. To this day, I am struck by the anguish of women attempting to restore their lives to a sense of normal after the personal violence of rape. I still carry the inconsolable cries of mothers whose sons have been lost to gun violence, and the fear of women attempting to find peace and safety following an abusive relationship. If elected president, what changes do you propose to make all women safe? Let’s get these candidates on the record so every voter can make the most informed decision in the upcoming primary season. Women represent 51 percent of the population and 53 percent of registered voters. It’s time for us to stop talking about taking action for women and really make it happen — and our next president must be with us every step of the way. Felicia Davis is president and CEO of the Chicago Foundation for Women. Read the original article here.