Congressman Mike Capuano has always been an effective advocate for advancing women's rights, and sensitive to issues of concern to women. As Mayor of Somerville, Mike:
*Granted paid parental leave in the first union contract he settled, years before the federal Family and Medical Leave Act became law.
*Established provisions for flextime and job sharing.
*Doubled the number of female employees in the police and fire departments. Over 52% of his police hires and 38% of fire fighters were women, bilingual, or minority.
*Promoted women to lead major departments, including Auditing, Law, Treasury, Personnel and Communications.
*Faced with troubling pay disparities between male and female city employees, Mike negotiated across the board pay raises for jobs predominately staffed by women and instituted career ladders for nurses, librarians, and clerical employees.
*He empowered women to resist domestic violence, at no cost to tax-payers, by providing cell-phones, programmed to call 911, to women with restraining orders against their abusers.
*Determined to break the cycle of violence before another generation of women was victimized, he championed a dating violence support group at Somerville High School, adding gender issues to the school's highly regarded Mediation Program.
Mike is resolutely pro-choice.
Mike has championed women's rights nationally and globally while in Congress. He fought gender-based discrimination and upheld the principle of equal pay for equal work. He was an original co-sponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which passed in 2009, overturning a Supreme Court decision that had unreasonably limited the right to sue based on workplace discrimination.
Mike has demanded a more adequate federal response to violence against women. He has co-sponsored bills to increase services for survivors of domestic abuse and to increase training for court and police personnel.
Mike has worked effectively to defend women and girls from the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war. It was Mike Capuano who secured, for the first time in our nation's history, an appropriation to fund services for assistance to women who have been victimized by the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war. During the war in Kosovo, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center approached Mike as they had been asked to supply training manuals in Albanian for aid workers coping with unexpected levels of sexual trauma. At Mike's urging, funds were appropriated to establish a gender-based sexual-violence counseling program within the State Department. A co-founder of the House Sudan Caucus, he works with My Sister's Keeper and with Physicians for Human Rights to support the women of Darfur.
Mike is proud of the support his office provides to refugees and asylees. Much staff time is devoted to family reunification with a number of notable successes: mothers have turned to him to expedite visas for their daughters in danger of ritual mutilation. Others have sought his help to bring to safety children adopted in the aftermath of civil war and genocide. And he has worked with the Law Library of Congress to establish the validity of "customary adoption" in Rwanda and elsewhere.
Advocacy groups have honored Mike for his tireless defense of the world's most vulnerable persons, who are all too often women and girls.