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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 And it’s unacceptable that Republicans in Congress continue to wage their “War on Women” and promote outdated, sexist policies.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

Oct 8, 2015 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, a bipartisan team introduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, a bold, bipartisan legislative initiative to accelerate the reduction of preventable maternal, newborn and childhood deaths worldwide.

The measure was introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX).

Sep 23, 2015 Op Eds and Blog

Conservatives and progressives don’t agree on much these days. Regardless of their party leanings, though, a clear majority of Americans believe that politicians shouldn’t meddle in a woman’s personal health care decisions.

Yet for too long, women’s health care has been a political bargaining chip. Anti-choice politicians have worked to ensure that women enrolled in government health plans — including veterans and government employees — don’t get abortion care coverage.

Sep 16, 2015 Press Release

Washington, DC – As Congress rapidly approaches another GOP shutdown, Congresswoman Lee released this statement on the attacks on women’s health and called for responsible governing:

“Today, Congress stands just seven legislative days from another manufactured GOP government shutdown that would cripple our recovering economy.

The last time the Tea Party wing shuttered the government, it cost our economy $24 billion. 

Jul 9, 2015 Op Eds and Blog

The war on women isn’t over.

Nearly every day, there is a new unconscionable attack designed to restrict access to abortion. The oldest of these attacks is the Hyde Amendment, which Congress adds each year to strip women of their fundamental right to access all of their health care options. The amendment prevents women who receive their health insurance through the federal government from receiving abortion coverage.

Jul 8, 2015 Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Congresswoman Diana DeGette, led a group of 70 Democrats in introducing the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act or the EACH Woman Act.

The bill would ensure health coverage of abortion for every woman regardless of her income, how she is insured or where she lives. In essence the bill would end the harmful Hyde Amendment policies that restrict a woman’s ability to make the best healthcare decisions for herself and her family.