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Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Representing the 13th District of California


It’s shameful that in 2014, women are still paid less than men for doing the same work. It’s reprehensible that women’s constitutionally-guaranteed right to reproductive freedom is up for debate. And it’s unacceptable that Republicans in Congress continue to wage their “War on Women” and promote outdated, sexist policies. 

As a single mother in the 1970s, Congresswoman Lee experienced first-hand the juggling act of being a working mom. She knows how hard it can be to raise a family while working and attending school at the same time. Congresswoman Lee supports expanding equality and opportunity for women and families. She is a champion for reproductive freedom, pay equity, expanding access to childcare, protecting the social safety net, and promoting policies that put families first. There’s more work to do, but the progress of our nation over the past century is living proof that when women succeed, America succeeds. 


•    Protecting Reproductive Rights: In 1973, the United States Supreme Court affirmed women's fundamental right to make decisions about their own bodies and reproductive health and the courts have upheld that finding. Despite these affirmations, women’s reproductive rights have increasingly come under assault. Congresswoman Lee is strongly opposed to these attacks on reproductive freedom and believes that health care decisions should be made by women, their families, and health care providers – not the government. She is a member of the Pro-Choice Caucus and has received 100 percent ratings from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. 

•    Equal Pay for Equal Work: Although women have made significant strides towards equality in the workplace, today, women working full-time, year-round still earn on average only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The numbers are even worse for women of color: African American women were paid only 64 cents, and Latino women only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to white men. This blatant gender discrimination has no place in the modern workplace, and Congresswoman Lee strongly supports legislation which would close the pay gap.  She is an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would guarantee equal pay for equal work. 

•    Expanding Women’s Access to Family Planning Around the World: Congresswoman Lee is a recognized leader in the effort to overturn the global gag rule and fully fund family planning programs through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The UNFPA does important work providing women with the resources to make their own reproductive health decisions. As a congressional representative to the United Nations, Congresswoman Lee is committed to preserving this program for women around the world.  

•    Ratifying the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): This 1979 United Nations treaty established equal rights for women and provided clear guidelines for ending discrimination based on sex. To date, the United States is one of just seven countries that has not ratified CEDAW. Congresswoman Lee is a cosponsor of legislation urging Congress to ratify CEDAW. 

•    Raising the Minimum Wage: Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that an increase in the minimum wage could lift nearly a million people out of poverty. It’s estimated that raising the minimum wage would also close the gender wage gap by five percent. For women, a minimum wage increase translates into more money for groceries and to pay the rent.  Congresswoman Lee believes raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers would be a good first step towards a living wage for all families.

•    Increasing Access to Childcare and After School Programs: Childcare and after school programs are essential for the millions of working families who need a safe, affordable, and enriching environment for their children after the school day ends. Congresswoman Lee is committed to expanding access to programs like Head Start and Early Head Start which provide working families with critical support and prepare children for academic success. 


•    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): In 2009, Congresswoman Lee was proud to cast her vote in support of the Affordable Care Act. As Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus during the health care debate, Congresswoman Lee helped to shape the legislation and expand access to affordable health care to millions. Already, the ACA has improved health care access and coverage for women and families. More than half of all uninsured women qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Women can no longer be charged more for health insurance because of their gender or be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition. And critical preventative services – like mammograms, pap smears, and vaccinations – are now available with no out-of-pocket costs. 

•    Standing Up for a Strong Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Congresswoman Lee has long been an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse. During her tenure in the California Legislature, Congresswoman Lee authored the Violence Against Women Act for the state of California. She understands the importance of having strong protections for all, including undocumented immigrants, Native Americans, and LGBT individuals.  When extremists attempted to gut protections in the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA, Congresswoman Lee refused to accept their watered-down bill and worked for passage of a stronger, more inclusive Violence Against Women Act.


More on Women

Feb 11, 2015 In The News
Here at Girl Scouts, we firmly believe that girls can’t be what they can’t see. That’s especially true for young girls of color, who don’t always have the opportunity to see women of color taking on leadership positions on a larger scale. Today, we’re honoring Congresswoman Barbara Lee: a lawmaker, defender of the poor, and Girl Scout alumna.
Sep 12, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Barbara Lee issued the following statement marking the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women’s Act, which was signed into law this week in 1994 by President Bill Clinton.

“In the twenty years since the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) became law, we have seen the culture and attitudes surrounding domestic violence change. Violence and abuse have no place in our society.

As a social worker, I have seen firsthand the critical services provided for survivors, law enforcement and social workers by VAWA.

Jul 21, 2014 In The News

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) announced Alameda-based Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science (IWITTS) will receive a $899,841grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase enrollment and retention of women in community college STEM courses.

Jul 19, 2014 In The News

ALAMEDA (CBS SF) — Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, announced Thursday a federal grant of nearly $900,000 for an Alameda-based organization that helps to close the gender gap for women and girls in male-dominated careers.
The Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science (IWITTS) will receive the $899,841 grant from the National Science Foundation to help increase enrollment and retention of women in community college science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses.

Jul 16, 2014 In The News

The head of a major technology industry group is promising to tackle the lack of women and minority employees at major tech firms. 

In an op-ed in USA Today on Wednesday, Information Technology Industry Council chief executive Dean Garfield said Silicon Valley needs the help of everyone from “parents to policymakers” to root out the sector’s “diversity problem.”

Jul 8, 2014 In The News

Major tech companies like Facebook, Yahoo and Google aren’t doing enough to add more women and minority workers to their rolls, three Northern California Democrats charged on Tuesday.

“It is painfully clear the sector faces a persistent and troubling deficit when it comes to women, African-Americans and Latinos,” Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) claimed in an op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News.

Jul 8, 2014 In The News

A trio of US Democratic congresswomen have criticized top tech firms' lack of diversity.

In an op-ed for The San Jose Mercury News, California Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and Barbara Lee called out Silicon Valley's technology houses for the low numbers of women and minorities in their ranks.

"It is painfully clear the sector faces a persistent and troubling deficit when it comes to women, African-Americans and Latinos," the trio wrote.

Jun 30, 2014 Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) offered this statement following the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell:

“I was disappointed by this morning’s Supreme Court ruling which fundamentally undercuts the rights of working women to make their own healthcare choices.

“Health care choices should be made by a woman in consultation with her healthcare providers. A woman’s employer has no place in those decisions.”

Jun 24, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lee, a member of the Appropriations Committee, offered several amendments to the Fiscal Year 2015 State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Appropriations bill.

“The funding in this bill is critical to the U.S.’s long-term strategic and national security goals of promoting human rights and representative government. Congress must continue to support critical initiatives by the State Department and USAID  to advance diplomacy and peace around the globe.”

Jun 24, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC – This week, Congresswoman Barbara Lee is offering two amendments to protect women’s reproductive health options.