About the Women's initiative

The mission of the Women's Initiative is to advance the dialogue surrounding women's rights and reproductive rights on Capitol Hill and focus the conversation on reproductive access and economic security. In order to build a consensus around what women's rights can look like in the 21st century, we need to take into account what impacts a woman's right to choose.

If we want to have a truly inclusive conversation about reproductive justice that takes into account the full spectrum of an individual’s experience — income, employment, race, ethnicity, disability, education, marital status, history of abuse, mental health, sexuality, gender identity, gender expression and many other factors that directly impact a person’s reproductive choices — then we must examine how these factors not only impact a person’s practical right to choose but also may limit a person’s reproductive options.

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What This Fellowship Means for Women

Women have not always had a voice on Capitol Hill. It wasn't until the 1920s that women could even vote. Despite our great strides forward in the mission to advance gender equity, we still do not have paid family leave or paid sick leave. We are still fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment.  We have not instituted Equal Pay for Equal Work. Some women still have to choose between family life and education or career opportunities. Women today who have just graduated college on average earn $8000 less per year than their male counterparts, if they are lucky enough to graduate college (some 16% of women drop out due to pregnancy). Women are more likely to live below the poverty line. 85% of the people who experience domestic violence are women. 3 women are murdered every day by a current or former male partner in the U.S. Too many women experience sexual violence. Progressives have stood behind gender equity and supported national policies, but we still have a long way to go, and in order to fight for policies that uplift and empower women, we need to talk about the reality of daily life for women across the spectrum of life experience.

About the 2016 Women's initiative fellow


Renuka Nagaraj, Esq.

As the Women’s Initiative Fellow, Renuka Nagaraj worked within the Congressional Progressive Caucus to focus on integrating reproductive healthcare into the women’s economic security agenda.  Prior to joining Progressive Congress, now Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, Renuka worked at a general practice firm in Maryland, representing clients in family law, criminal defense and contract cases.  Renuka has long fought for women’s rights, particularly by providing legal services to domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.  She has held positions at the Sexual Assault Legal Institute, Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and the Legal Services of South Central Michigan.  Renuka earned a Juris Doctor degree from American University and a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University. She currently volunteers with the DC Abortion Fund.




Women's roundtable

The Women's Initiative Fellowship was a year-long project that built on and amplified conversations surrounding reproductive choice and financial security and helps shape a political strategy to advance a progressive outlook on women's rights in national policy. As part of the Fellowship, Progressive Congress (now Congressional Progressive Caucus Center,) in cooperation with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, organized the 2016 women's roundtable discussion: Securing Autonomy: The Link Between Reproductive Health Access and Financial Security, which took place on Capitol Hill on April 28, 2016.

Securing Autonomy - White Paper on Women's Issues. Click below to read the full report.

full report: Securing Autonomy, The Link Between Reproductive Health Access and Financial Security


Women's Initiative IN THE NEWS

What Abortion Has to Do With the Minimum Wage

Zoë Carpenter; The Nation, May 2, 2016

Study Links Abortion Access To Wealth Inequality Among Women, And Lawmakers Are Finally Talking About It

Mariella Mosthof; Bustle.com, April 29, 2016


Why Better Abortion Access Makes Women Richer

Catie L'Heureux; New York Magazine, April 27, 2016


Lack of access to abortion leaves women in poverty

Mary O'Hara; The Guardian, April 27, 2016


It’s Time to Talk About How Economic Security Affects Reproductive Health Access

Kierra Johnson, URGE; InsideSources, April 17, 2016


There are many great resources on women's rights and on economic security in the United States. Here is a brief list of some of the resources that we found useful in connecting reproductive rights and economic security.

Resources on reproductive rights and economic Security


Turnaway Study BY AINSIRH

TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN: Integrating Economic and Reproductive Justice          BY The Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP)

United States Abortion Demographics by The Guttmacher Institute

Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States     by NARAL ProCHoice America