Women can do all things if given the opportunity. I was in high school when Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion that allowed women to attend Virginia Military Institute, the previously all-male institution. It was that opinion that allowed me to attend VMI, where I eventually became one of the institute’s first women graduates.
That same principle has motivated so much of my work and guides me to blaze trails where one doesn’t exist. I ran for office while pregnant with twins. I led the fight to have Virginia be the 38th and final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. And now, I’m running to become the first Black woman governor in Virginia, and the United States.
There are far too many barriers in the way for women, and especially women of color, to achieve their dreams. Women are still treated as second class citizens, especially in Virginia, where we face attacks on our ability to plan a family, get paid equally, and be treated with respect in the workplace. As governor, I will continue to do everything I can to expand opportunities for women. I’ll fight for reproductive freedom, which means protecting and expanding access to abortion and contraception (especially in marginalized communities), but also ensuring Virginia women have healthy pregnancies, and safe communities in which to raise their children. I’ll also fight for equal pay and paid family leave, so women don’t have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a loved one.
Alongside my work leading the charge to make Virginia the 38th and final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, I’ve made concrete changes to advance equality for all Virginians. As Delegate, I:
- Worked to protect reproductive freedom, helping to lead the Reproductive Health Protection Act which removed medically unnecessary, politically-motivated restrictions on a patient seeking a safe and legal abortion.
- Pushed forward legislation to establish equality in our school dress codes, ensuring restrictions that promote a safe, disciplined school environment that respects students’ religious and ethnic differences
- Boldly advocated for paid family and medical leave
- Passed the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, requiring all employers to offer commonsense accommodations to pregnant workers
- Passed legislation to reduce the black maternal mortality rate
Reflecting on my work, I’m glad to say that I’ve been on the frontier of gender equality in Virginia. I can’t wait to get even more done as Virginia’s first female governor.