Lilly Ledbetter Press Conference at NC General Assembly

Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” the first bill signed by President Obama upon taking office in 2009, was a special guest Tuesday, March 1, 2011, at the General Assembly as NC Women United (NCWU) released their 2011 Women’s Legislative Agenda.

NC Women United released the 2011 Women’s Legislative Agenda at Women’s Advocacy Day, which drew more than 200 supporters from across the state of Raleigh. Participants advocated for the most pressing public policies impacting the women of North Carolina as describe din the Women’s Legislative Agenda.

“Women have made great strides over the past 40 years working toward equal opportunity for personal and professional success,” began Alison Kiser, President of NCWU. “Ms. Ledbetter’s personal story of outright pay discrimination based on her gender is a testament to the fact that the work to achieve full political, economic and social equality for women is far from over. Unfortunately, the movement of the 2011 legislative session so far suggests that some of our elected officials would like to roll back the clock on women’s rights and equality.”

Lilly Ledbetter and the President of NCWU were joined by members of the N.C. General Assembly who spoke out on behalf of the Women’s Legislative Agenda. Speakers including Representatives Alma Adams (D-Guildford), Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe), Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), Larry Hall (D-Durham), Deborah Ross (D-Wake), Jennifer Weiss (D-Wake), and Senator Malcolm Graham (D-Mecklenburg). State lawmakers spoke on access to health care, civic participation and equality, economic self-sufficiency, and violence against women.

Legislative items featured on the 2011 Women’s Legislative Agenda were determined by NCWU’s 36 member organizations to be the most pressing issues facing women and their families in North Carolina.

Access to reproductive health care and equality issues were featured on the Women’s Agenda as lawmakers joined NCWU to urge the General Assembly not to be distracted by social issues and instead focus on jobs and the economy. “Limiting reproductive freedom for women and creating a less equal society moves North Carolina in the wrong direction,” said Rep. Alma Adams, “We should be focusing on what we can provide women, not what we can deny them. It’s time the General Assembly focuses on the work we were elected to do. The people of North Carolina want to see jobs created. They want to see the economy improve. They want to see the state budget balanced in a sustainable, responsible way.”

Voter photo ID and resulting voter suppression was also addressed on the Women’s Legislative Agenda. “This is a debate about the right to vote, that great franchise here in America and North Carolina, and whether we should be preserving or restricting that right,” Rep. Larry Hall said. “To me the answer is clear. We would be protecting and increasing voter participation to make our democracy stronger. The instance of fraud is minuscule and our current laws against fraud are strong. The proposed photo ID bill is a solution in search of a problem, at a time when we can least afford divisive and costly distractions.”

The Women’s Legislative Agenda also supports maintaining the state Earned Income Tax Credit which aids low to moderate income working families. “The State Earned Income Tax Credit helps working families, particularly those headed by women, make ends meet. This important policy enables working families to buy groceries and other necessities in their communities and pumps millions of dollars into our state’s economy,” remarked Rep. Jennifer Weiss. “Now there’s a push to dismantle our state’s EITC. Doing so will raise taxes on 1 in 10 hard working North Carolinians and will hurt local businesses. That’s the exact opposite of what we should be doing if we want to grow jobs, spur our state’s economy and rebound from this recession.”

Other issues addressed on the 2011 Women’s Legislative agenda include maintaining funding for domestic violence programs and rape crisis center, defeating a proposed amendment to write discrimination against same-sex couples into the NC Constitution, and protecting investments in the Home and Community Block Grant, child care subsidies, and the NC Housing Trust Fund.

“We must keep advancing women’s rights and equality,” Kiser stated in her remarks. “Women are an integral part of our society. Only with the full participation and equality of women can we succeed. The future prosperity of our nation and this state will be determined by the extend to which the needs of women and their families are prioritized.”

NC Women United is a coalition of progressive organizations and individuals working to achieve the full political, social, and economic equality of all women across North Carolina. NCWU works to build women’s power through grassroots activism, community organizing, legislative advocacy, and engagement in the political process.

For more information or to join NCWU you can mail them at PO Box 10013, Raleigh, NC 27605 or contact Alison Kiser (919) 636-1728.


Press release by NCWU