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Reader's view: Legislation necessary to end gender inequalities

The Minnesota Legislature passed the Women’s Economic Security Act (“Dayton signs women’s workplace rights bill,” May 12), and the Duluth City Council passed a resolution echoing support of the measures outlined in the bill (“Councilors signal support for Women’s Economic Security Act,” May 13).

May also hosts National Women’s Health Week.

Some question: Why do we need legislation and special times set aside for women’s issues? If everything was as it should be we would not have to state in a law that: Employers need to provide accommodations to an employee for health conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth or enforcement of gender pay or preventive and supportive care for pregnant women with no co-pay or covering resources about breastfeeding, gestational diabetes and other prenatal tests or expand unemployment insurance eligibility to victims of domestic violence. These are just a few of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and Women’s Economic Security Act.

We are inching forward. In order to join the rest of the world — such as Germany, which has 14 weeks of full paid maternity leave, or Great Britain, with a year of maternity leave, six weeks full pay and the other weeks various percentages of salary — we need to support Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s legislation. The Family and Medical Leave Act would provide 12 weeks of paid leave for childbirth, serious illness or care for a sick family member.

In order to have gender equality, you must have maternity protection in terms of leave and income security around childbirth states the U.N. Labor Agency. The U.S. is one of only three countries that doesn’t provide financial support for maternity leave.

This is unacceptable for the mother, the father and the child.

Gay Trachsel