Economic security is central to many of the struggles women face. Financial dependence adds pressure to stay in abusive relationships, workplace harassment goes unreported by someone desperate to keep her job, an unintended pregnancy strains a family’s resources, and older women suffer from a lifetime of wage inequality. CWLC is committed to advancing gender equality by reducing women’s financial instability. We focus on four major areas: equal pay, secure housing, the needs of aging women, and supporting veterans and other vulnerable populations.
More than 50 years after Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, the gender wage gap persists. This inequity is magnified for women of color, transgender, and disabled women. Several factors leave women shortchanged, and CWLC seeks to help confront these obstacles by advocating for a range of solutions including affordable childcare, a livable minimum wage, and flexible scheduling. CWLC fights pay inequality by representing plaintiffs who have been discriminated against, by holding public forums to engage our community, and by passing state laws like the Fair Pay Act, one of the toughest laws in the nation, requiring equal pay for substantially similar work.
Access to safe and affordable housing is critical for women to live healthy, autonomous lives. Unfortunately, the ability to secure and retain housing is often made more difficult for women by the effects of gender discrimination. The gender pay gap and other factors limit a woman’s financial resources, forcing some women to spend large portions of their income on rent and making the prioritization of childcare, food, and medical care incredibly difficult. Economic insecurity and limited housing options can prohibit women from relocating to pursue career and educational opportunities, and difficulties in obtaining new housing, combined with a lack of financial independence, can prevent survivors of domestic violence from leaving an abusive partner. Many female military service members face obstacles to securing safe and affordable housing. This is a particularly cumbersome task for women who have suffered Military Sexual Trauma. To address these issues, CWLC holds community workshops on renters’ rights, we develop briefs and advocate for policies that protect women veterans and aging women, and we litigate cases in which women’s housing rights have been violated.
After experiencing a lifetime of pay inequity and other forms of discrimination, older women are more likely to live in poverty. Because women live longer than men, they need to stretch their thin resources farther. And, many aging adults rely on family care-givers to support them, the majority of whom are women. As the baby boomer population ages, it has become increasingly urgent that we find ways to address the needs of aging women and their families. CWLC has expanded our education, training, and technical assistance projects to more directly address the interrelated issues disproportionately impacting older women in California, including health care, housing, and workplace discrimination.
Nearly two million women are currently serving in U.S. active and reserve forces, many of whom will have unique needs upon retiring. Female veterans often have difficulty accessing the benefits they are entitled to, coping with trauma stemming from Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and securing safe and affordable housing. CWLC participates in efforts to connect women with existing services, and we advocate and lead policy changes that protect funding for veterans’ needs. We also litigate in instances when female veterans’ legal rights have been ignored, including our Female Veteran’s Fair Housing Case in 2016.
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