U.S. President Barack Obama called for new policies granting equal pay to women and strengthening benefits for working families as he focused on economic growth during his six years in office in his weekly address Saturday. He employed the same forum the previous two weeks to discuss the federal response to Ebola virus disease outbreak.
Obama’s policy proposals came on the heels of his speech at Rhode Island College in Providence Friday. “So women deserve a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And Rhode Island has got the right idea. You’re one of just three states where paid family leave is the law of the land,” the president said.
In his weekly address, Obama detailed U.S. economic growth during his time in office, including an unemployment rate below 6 percent. The economy recently grew at its fastest six-month pace since 2003, while consumer confidence is at a seven-year high. Despite this growth, women continue to earn less than men, and the president said he has pushed to eliminate the gender gap. “In recent weeks, I’ve talked about these choices, from raising the minimum wage to creating new jobs in construction and manufacturing. Today, I want to focus on what I discussed with those women -- the choices we need to make to help more women get ahead in today’s economy,” he said.
Both in his Rhode Island College speech and weekly address, Obama discussed paid family leave and protecting the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. He also focused on affordable day-care and prekindergarten options.
The president closed his weekly address by covering minimum wage rates, a contentious issue across the country and especially in New Jersey and Wisconsin. “About 28 million workers would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to ten dollars and ten cents an hour. And more than half of those workers are women. The local businesses where these workers spend their money would benefit, too. So let’s do this -- let’s give America a raise,” he said.