Across the country, policymakers are recognizing that women’s success in the workplace is absolutely crucial to enabling their families and the economy to prosper – and that given the many challenges that working women face, it is important to tackle these issues together with comprehensive actions. Yesterday Minnesota took a giant leap forward in this regard, when Governor Mark Dayton signed the state’s Women’s Economic Security Act into law.

This landmark piece of legislation implements a range of important reforms to promote equality for Minnesota’s women and provide essential support to families across the state. For example, the new law seeks to ensure that:

  • Women and men can learn if they are experiencing pay discrimination and pursue their rights without fear of retaliation;
  • State contractors will not use taxpayer funds to perpetuate unequal pay between the sexes;
  • Women will have access to higher-paying, non-traditional occupations and businesses opportunities;
  • Pregnant workers will not be forced off the job when a reasonable accommodation would allow them to continue working and earning a paycheck for their growing families;
  • New mothers will have adequate facilities to express breast milk and can enforce their rights at work;
  • Women will not be treated unfairly just because of outmoded stereotypes that mothers are not committed to their jobs;
  • Expectant and new parents, and other family caregivers, will have access to sufficient leave from work when they need it;
  • Workers will have adequate income in retirement; and
  • Workers will have resources when they are experiencing situations of domestic or sexual violence.

The Women’s Economic Security Act was passed with strong bipartisan votes in both houses of the Minnesota state legislature, which shows that improving workplace opportunities for women and the economic security of their families isn’t a matter of politics – it’s just a matter of common sense.

Minnesota’s new law is just one example of how policymakers around the country are promoting economic prosperity for families by pursuing broad legislative agendas that combat the numerous challenges that women continue to face in the workplace and beyond. Similar efforts are underway in Congress, and in states like New York and Pennsylvania. Hopefully Minnesota’s law is just the tip of the iceberg!

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