Tom Perez and Shannon Sneed women’s agenda in Maryland is all about access.
Access doesn’t just mean the existence of these factors; it involves awareness, affordability, accessibility, availability, accommodation, and acceptability of services and opportunities. As Governor, Tom will celebrate the intersectionality and diversity of women across our majority minority state by tailoring services to what individual women, including disabled women, trans women, undocumented women, and indigenous women, have advocated for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Throughout his career, Tom has been an advocate for women’s rights including fair wages, worker protections, and equal access. As Labor Secretary under the Obama Administration, Tom worked tirelessly to instate the Home Care Final Rule, which guarantees worker protections, such as minimum wage and overtime pay, for direct home care workers, the majority of whom are women. As Secretary of Labor, Tom also expanded worker protections by allowing the Department of Labor to access necessary employment information to identify and target wage discrimination. Tom achieved this by working closely with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to expand two executive orders from the Obama Administration strengthening worker protections. In Maryland, women earn 84 cents for every dollar a man makes. For Black women, it is only 68 cents. Addressing this pay discrepancy is not only a moral imperative, it is an economic one; over 18.2 billion dollars are lost each year because of this income gap. As Governor, Tom will make equal pay for equal work a priority by directing the Department of Commerce to audit the pay gap in both public and private industry in Maryland, and work directly with companies with the highest pay gap in the state to develop opportunities for women across the company, including in leadership positions.
A Perez-Sneed Administration will target workforce and entrepreneurial training programs to meet the needs of both a modern economy and a modern job seeking woman, including providing affordable and accessible childcare, transportation vouchers, and healthcare to those hoping to enter the workforce. Tom will also work to expand economic access for women by investing in the expansion of employment pipelines, entrepreneurship opportunities, and apprenticeships for women in emerging and male-dominated industries, including in manufacturing, supply chain, athletics, STEM, and clean energy by utilizing institutions such as the Maryland Women’s Business Center.
Tom believes that women’s rights are human rights. As Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, Tom furthered crucial rights for women by enforcing federal laws that protect against discrimination in education, housing, and employment. As Governor, Tom will continue to advocate for women’s rights by ensuring that the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs implements all statutory and regulatory requirements of the state’s MBE program in a timely manner. A Perez-Sneed Administration will also expand collective bargaining and invest in public sector employees to ensure that the state never aids and abets poverty, particularly for Black women, which make up a significant portion of our state’s frontline workers.
Throughout his career, Tom has fought for women’s economic equality. During his time working in the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Department of Justice, when a mortgage lender discriminated against women and families, Tom made them pay $500,000 to their victims. As Governor, Tom will prioritize equal access to the necessary financial development tools for women by targeting down payment assistance for potential female homebuyers in order to grow women’s equity in the Maryland economy, improve women’s wealth development options, and combat housing insecurity disproportionately felt by women and single mothers.
The COVID-19 pandemic reaffirmed the importance of upholding and strengthening labor protection laws for Marylanders. As Governor, Tom will ensure that women have access to the economic opportunities created by the infrastructure bill. He will also ensure that labor laws, CDC guidelines, and workplace safety standards are abided by, and offer employers, employees, and business owners guidance on appropriate, safe, and equitable working conditions. A Perez-Sneed Administration will prioritize equity as Maryland’s economy recovers from the pandemic by investing in workforce development of the care economy to ensure women, especially Black and Brown women, are able to reenter the workforce and earn fair wages in every sector. Tom will also support legislation that provides workers with access to 12 weeks of partial paid leave to care for a child or other family member with a medical crisis.
Protecting the rights of women means ensuring that they have accessible, affordable, and comprehensive healthcare. Tom has fought for women’s health throughout his career in public service. During his time serving on the Montgomery County Council, Tom fought to provide access to health care for all pregnant women, regardless of immigration status. He saw that in his community, the majority of children were born to women of color, many of whom were undocumented and did not have access to healthcare. Tom worked to remedy this lack of access and championed the expansion of health care to create a pathway for undocumented pregnant women to access vital prenatal care. As your next Governor, Tom will continue this effort to ensure that 100% of Marylanders have healthcare by automating enrollment whenever possible, including when filing taxes, going to the DMV, or enrolling in school.
Tom will also ensure that every woman in Maryland has access to world class reproductive care. Our General Assembly has made great strides in protecting a woman's right to make her own medical decisions, but more must be done. Tom has a proven track record of fighting for women’s reproductive rights, including as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice where he reinforced federal laws that protect women’s access to reproductive care without harassment or intimidation. Also under Perez’s leadership, the Civil Rights Division prosecuted nine individuals who tried to intimidate people receiving reproductive care.
Maryland is one of the most pro-choice states in the nation, but unfortunately most counties do not have a clinic that provides abortion services. Tom is committed to ensuring that every woman in Maryland has access to reproductive healthcare by integrating reproductive health services into our primary care system and ensuring that clinics across the state can provide equal access to the full suite of reproductive healthcare that women need. A crucial part of reproductive freedom is ensuring that every woman in Maryland has access to a healthy birth. In Maryland, Black women make up slightly less than a third of all live births but represent over half of pregnancy-related deaths. Tom has a track record of fighting for Black women and children as Director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services where Perez successfully prosecuted a maternity ward that segregated its patients by race. As Governor, Tom will provide targeted support for fertility, prenatal, and postpartum resources to Black women by fully funding health care providers that engage in black women-specific interventions to ensure every baby born in Maryland has a healthy birth. This also means expanding Maryland’s home visiting program from birth to 3 years old in order to treat postpartum depression, increase breastfeeding, and improve pre-K enrollment. The Perez-Sneed Administration will also tackle the opioid and overdose crises across our state which are the leading cause of maternal mortality. We must ensure that all Marylanders have access to low threshold treatment options, including medicated treatment, in-patient, and out-patient care. We also must ensure that treatment meets people where they are and when they are ready for care. As Governor, Tom will work to provide 24 hour walk-in services at facilities across the state, especially for women who are pregnant or recently gave birth.
Tom will also tackle the ongoing mental health crisis that has impacted Marylanders across our state. Part of Tom’s solution is to expand access to mental health care by integrating mental health services, including telehealth, into primary care. Ensuring that women can receive mental healthcare at the same time and place that they receive their primary care will go a long way in expanding access and reducing barriers to care. Additionally, by providing more opportunities for virtual mental health care that is covered by insurance, women will be able to tap into a larger network of providers without the need to travel, find childcare, or compromise other priorities.
Ensuring that women can excel in Maryland requires women to be able to be and feel safe in all situations. Unfortunately, violence against women continues to be pervasive both across our globe and in Maryland. Tom has fought throughout his career to protect women from violence and intimidation, including during his time as Special Adviser to Senator Ted Kennedy, when he crafted legislation that expanded federal hate-crime protections to include violence against women and LGBTQ+ communities. As the next Governor of Maryland, Tom will continue this legacy of pushing progressive policy to ensure the safety of women across the state.
In 2020, Maryland saw the highest number of deaths from domestic violence in over a decade, 70% of which were women. Most of these murders occured in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City. As Governor, Tom will invest in early detection and intervention for domestic violence cases, including training officers on crimes that disproportionately affect women. Tom will work directly with law enforcement and social services organizations on the ground to identify interventions that have a proven track record of preventing domestic violence and saving lives. He will also ensure that undocumented women and children know their right to adjust their status by training officers in the requirements and pathways for U-visa and VAWA petitions. In order to ensure that investments identify women most at risk of domestic violence, Tom will improve data collection and reporting of violence, including for transgender women across Maryland.
We also must strengthen women’s access to legal councel in the case of domestic violence and rape. This begins with ensuring that women seeking protection from intimate partner violence get that protection. Tom is dedicated to easing the process for women to get protection orders and strengthening the orders to ensure women’s lives are truly protected. Tom will work directly with the Attorney General to ensure the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee has the funding and resources it needs to continue to test all new rape kits and appropraitely prosecute rape cases. As Governor, Tom would also work with other state leaders paving the way to ensure that marriage is no longer a valid defense for rape through legislation like SB230.
With the development of new technology over the past decades, government leaders have struggled to keep up with protecting privacy and data. This includes the sharing of nonconsentual pornography (“revenge porn”), which disproportionately affects women. A Pew study in 2017 found that 12% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have had explicit images of them shared without their consent. Tragicly, our own state even made national news when Andrew Bradshaw, the mayor of Cambridge, Maryland, was charged with violating a state law banning the nonconsensual sharing of sexually explicit photos. As Governor, Tom will build upon the current laws against nonconsensual pornography to include both intentional and nonintentional emotional distress and distribution through methods other than the internet.
We cannot stand for one more femicide, one more rape, or one more instance of sexual abuse in our state; That is why Tom is running for Governor, to ensure that women and girls across our state can live freely and safely without fear.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how much of an impact that lack of access to affordable childcare can have on mothers, families, and communities across our state. Sadly, Maryland has one of the most expensive child care costs in the country and more than 15% of children do not have access to childcare. These barriers to access disproportionately affect women who are more likely to be tasked with caring for children and are more likely to be single-parent households. Tom is committed to increasing access to affordable childcare by expanding the Child Care Scholarship program to more children and more families across Maryland. We also must ensure that women who want to enter or reenter the workforce have access to childcare. The Perez-Sneed Administration will ensure that women participating in our workforce development and job placement programs have access to childcare to ensure that all Marylanders have access to the job they want. This will involve empowering the Maryland Early Childhood Advisory Council to meet their goals of conducting a statewide needs assessment on the quality and availability of early care and learning programs, for women and families from every zipcode and all walks of life.
Providing dignity, respect, and fair wages to childcare providers, many of whom are women, is also central to Tom’s vision. Currently, childcare workers earn just more than minimum wage. The typical child care provider would have to spend more than half of their pay to place their own child in a child care facility. Tom is dedicated to increasing pay for childcare workers by subsidizing providers based on enrollment instead of attendance to ensure consistent and dependable income. He will also establish and support family child care networks through start-up grants, technical assistance, and streamlined state licensing requirements. These crucial networks will allow child care providers to consolidate administrative staff, manage enrollment and tuition, and pool funds for bulk purchasing to reduce operating and administrative costs.
Education is supposed to be the great equalizer, but Maryland does not do enough to support its female students, especially female students of color. The average student debt in Maryland is higher than the national average and is disproportionately held by women. As governor, Tom will work to expand programs to relieve student loans, such as Maryland SmartBuy and Maryland SmartWork. These programs allow women to reduce their burden of debt and begin focusing on building wealth.
In order for women to benefit from these and other programs, our female students must be prepared to enter college. If we are to prepare women for success after high school, Tom believes that we need to take a holistic approach that meets the individual needs of every student and family. Tom will focus on supporting and developing community schools, which often act as one-stop shops for education, healthcare, and other services that communities need. Additionally, Tom understands that the needs of students are just as varied as their dreams for the future. To make sure that every student is set up for success, he will ensure that every high school counselor and career center provides culturally sensitive and appropriate college and career readiness for women. Our education system has tried the “one size fits all” approach for too long. It is time for an approach that recognizes the diverse needs of female students from all walks of life and from all corners of our state.
Mobility freedom is a crucial part of women being able to access the full suite of human rights. Women are both more dependent on public transportation than men and make more stops when traveling than men, meaning our transportation system should reflect their responsibilities and their lifestyles. Tom will invest in public transit in infrastructure to improve reliability and safety of public transportation. Baltimore severely lacks structures and lighting at bus stops, leaving women vulnerable to the elements and unwanted contact. Part of making public transportation more accessible and safe is improving lighting and hiring more attendants throughout the transportation system to improve safety.
All Marylanders need to be able to trust that their buses and trains will arrive on schedule and will get them efficiently to their stop. A late train or bus can be especially harmful to women who must make multiple commutes to accomplish the many tasks outside of their work. Women also make multiple stops during an outing and chain trips more than men in order to fulfill these many responsibilities. Tom will ensure that we include the voices of women in designing transit routes across our state to provide routes that accommodate working women, caregiving women, and women who work irregular hours. In addition, ensuring that our public transportation system runs on time is crucial to respecting women’s time and money. Tom will improve the frequency and consistency of public transportation, especially during off-peak hours, in order to ensure that women can get where they need to go quickly, safely, and efficiently.
Maryland must also empower those that receive care, including children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities, to utilize our public transportation instead of relying on women for transportation. As Governor, Tom will improve the ADA accessibility of public transportation across our state by improving paratransit options, investing in ADA accessible vehicles, and ensuring that sidewalks and walkways are accessible. Tom will also expand the Kids Ride Free program to provide access to free public transportation for all children below the age of 18.