The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus Executive Committee is calling for more women legislators in top leadership positions throughout the state legislature. Rhode Island is one of only nine states in the US where no female legislators serve in leadership positions. With the Rhode Island Senate poised to become a majority-women chamber, this imbalance of power must be fixed. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made,” and it is our belief that those places include the committee rooms and the third floor of the State House.

The recent passing of Justice Ginsburg has made it clear: no matter what happens at the federal level, states are the last line of defense in protecting economic and social justice. During the fight to pass the Reproductive Privacy Act, our women legislators displayed the foresight, courage, and tenacity needed to protect our state from anti-liberty tyranny, should the federal government overturn Roe v Wade. Rhode Islanders can thank the Democratic women of our state legislature for codifying our right to reproductive freedom at the state level, ensuring abortion will remain safe and legal no matter what happens in the Supreme Court. These are the types of elected officials we need in leadership.

We need state legislative leadership that governs transparently while promoting open and participatory democracy at all levels. The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus Executive Committee believes our state legislative leaders must:

  • Prioritize legislation that addresses economic and health disparities for women, particularly women of color. The coronavirus crisis has laid bare what women in this country have known for years: our work is devalued. In addition to affecting public health, Covid-19 is worsening a caregiving crisis that was already causing deep financial instability for women and their families.

  • Pass legislation that would raise wages to a living wage for essential workers like grocery clerks, delivery people, waitresses, caregivers, and housekeeping staff during the pandemic.

  • Pass meaningful environmental protection bills that will strengthen environmental protections in our state,  and ensure that appointees who both care about the environment and the affordability of energy for its consumers are leading  Rhode Island’s Public Utilities Commission.

  • Actively legislate during the pandemic, and do so safely for all members of the state legislature. Members of the public must be allowed safe and easy access to their government and its elected officials during the pandemic. Indeed they should have been working on these issues throughout this pandemic, BECAUSE it is a public health emergency that calls for motivated, competent leadership.

  • Provide oversight to crisis related expenses amassed since the start of the pandemic and work to immediately pass a budget.

The results of the primary clearly show that Rhode Islanders want more women elected officials who are progressive and fair, and who are able to competently navigate our state through these troubled times. The time for change is now. The time for women to lead is now.