Issue Position: Women's Issues
"What I'm most proud of in my entire career is the Violence Against Women Act. It showed we can change people's lives, but the change is always one person at a time. There are many more laws and attitudes that need changing so women are treated with equal opportunities at work, in the classroom, and in our health care system."
Stopping Violence Against Women: Joe Biden led the fight to criminalize violence against women and to hold batterers truly accountable by writing the ground-breaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the 1990s. It encouraged states to set up coordinated community responses to domestic violence and rape; spurred states to pass hundreds of laws prohibiting family violence; and provided resources to create shelters so battered women abused by husbands and boyfriends had a safe place to go. The law also established a national hotline for victims of abuse that over 1.5 million have used for help. VAWA also expanded training for law enforcement and prosecutors and provided funding for services to victims of domestic violence. As a result, domestic violence is down 50 percent and rape is down 60 percent nationwide. However, there remains work to be done, so in 2007, the Senator introduced the National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act, an innovative initiative that would recruit volunteer lawyers and match them with domestic violence victims.
Combating Gender-Based Violence Globally: Joe Biden is fighting violence against women around the world - from trafficking of women in Eastern Europe, to "honor" killings in Jordan, to the use of rape as a weapon. His anti-human trafficking bill strengthens penalties against traffickers and provides greater resources for victims. He has proposed groundbreaking protections in the International Violence Against Women Act that integrate the United States' efforts to end gender based violence into US foreign assistance programs. One in three women worldwide will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime, and in some countries, that's true for 70 percent of women. Joe Biden believes that we cannot empower women to become active in civic life and promote peace, prosperity and democracy unless they personally are free from fear of violence.
Working for Equality in the Workplace: Joe Biden has fought to level the playing field for women at work through legislation punishing sexual harassment and working to end pay inequity. Today, women still face pay inequality, earning on average 77 cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same work. In an effort to address this discrimination, Joe Biden is a strong supporter of the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Restoration Act which works to prevent pay discrimination by strengthening penalties should it occur and fixing a Supreme Court decision that makes it more difficult for women to bring pay discrimination cases. Joe Biden also supported increasing the federal minimum wage from $5.15 where it had been stuck for 10 years to $7.25 an hour, giving more than 7 million women a pay raise in 2007.
Balancing Family and Work: As a father who parented small children on his own, Joe Biden knows first-hand the challenges of balancing work and family. He recognizes that it can be especially difficult for women, who often make the health-care decisions, take the kids or elderly parents to see the doctor, or stay at home when someone is sick. Joe Biden believes we need to provide all workers, including women, with the flexibility they need to both take care of their families and remain working. For this reason, he fought for the Family and Medical Leave Act that has given 50 million workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to look out for a sick family member. Joe Biden recognizes that there are many more workers who cannot afford unpaid leave -- so he is co-sponsoring the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with 15 or more workers to provide seven paid sick days to care for their own or their families' medical needs.
Attracting More Teachers and Nurses: Approximately seven million women serve in two professions - teaching and nursing - and both are facing shortages. We lose 250,000 teachers every year, half are leaving within five years of entering the profession. Joe Biden wants to reverse this trend by establishing programs to provide mentoring to all beginning teachers, and by giving scholarships to defray college costs to those who commit to teaching in high-needs schools. Joe Biden believes that we need to reduce class size and pay our teachers more, as they do in many nations around the world. Joe Biden supports the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which would fund scholarships for nursing students, and promote public information programs to encourage people to enter the nursing profession and he is working to help train and employ 100,000 new nurses in the workforce.
Protecting Opportunities for Girls In Sports: Thanks to Title IX, which guarantees equal opportunities in college athletics, over 150,000 women today participate in intercollegiate sports teams. Committed to fairness on the fields and courts, Joe Biden has opposed recent efforts to chip away at Title IX protections.
Judging the Judges: As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden has been a voice of opposition to the Reagan and two Bush Administrations' attempts to pack the federal courts with judges committed to a narrow view of the Constitution that denies women equal protection under the law.
Standing With Parents And Protecting Children
Supporting New Moms: Joe Biden knows raising healthy and happy children takes help. He supports making two years of pre-k available to all parents and expanding early childhood development programs. He has advocated for more resources for the Women, Infants, and Children program that provides food, nutrition counseling, and access to health services to pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants.
Cracking Down on Deadbeat Dads: While the federal government cannot ensure that children have a father at home, it can help ensure those children have their father's financial support. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden worked to steer two major child support initiatives into law - one made it a federal crime to cross state lines to avoid paying child support; the other ensured that state courts honor the child support order of other states.
Giving Parents the Tools to Protect Their Kids: Joe Biden has worked over the last two decades to help parents protect their kids from sexual predators. In 1994, he required every state to establish a registry for convicted sexual offenders; in 1996, he helped create the national registry of sexual predators, so these criminals could not move from state to state to avoid being tracked. In 2003, he increased funding for Child Advocacy Centers with the Victims of Child Abuse Act. And in 2006, he authored the Adam Walsh Act to ensure convicted sex offenders can't slip through the cracks by establishing registration requirements. He is also working to create a nationwide network of highly trained law enforcement experts to track down predators that exploit children.
Caring For Women's Health
Waging War Against Breast Cancer: Joe Biden, through his efforts to promote early detection and quality treatment, has been a leader in the fight against this deadly disease that that afflicts more than 200,000 women every year. His efforts include:
* Working to create and provide continued support for breast and cervical cancer prevention programs which ensure mammograms are available to low-income women and those without health insurance and then expanding the program beyond screening to one that also offers reliable treatment.
* Recognizing National Mammography Day every October since 1993 to encourage women to have mammograms each year.
* Supporting authorization of a special postage stamp to raise additional money for breast cancer research.
* Sponsoring legislation to expand Medicare to include coverage of mammograms.
* Working to ensure that insurance companies cover reconstructive surgery for breast cancer survivors.
Defending Roe v Wade: Senator Biden supports the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade that protects a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. Senator Biden has consistently supported Title X - the nations' family planning program -- that provides information, services, support, and research for family planning.