Today, ahead of President Biden’s second State of the Union address, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research released the following statement:

President Biden has delivered on his promise to create jobs, with our country witnessing record-breaking job creation over the last year. But gender and racial inequities in job growth remain and women and some ethnic groups continue to lag behind. IWPR looks to the Biden Administration and the 118th Congress to ensure economic growth is felt equally by all and to enact policy solutions that remove barriers that exist between women and secure, well-paying jobs.

IWPR research has highlighted a number of policy approaches that are critical to eliminating the pay gap, creating and maintaining opportunities for women in the workforce, and promoting economic wellbeing for all women. These policy approaches include legislation that enables employees to take time away from work to care for themselves or a family member. Therefore, as we mark the 30-year anniversary of the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), access to paid family and medical leave — as well as paid sick time — has proven more critical than ever. IWPR is continuing to work with policymakers at the federal and state level to ensure that women are not forced to choose between their jobs and caring for loved ones.

Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical importance of child care, and guaranteed access to universal and affordable child care is key to women’s economic wellbeing. The child care sector is still strongly lagging in the post-COVID-19 recovery, as child care workers are moving to fields with higher hourly pay. IWPR research has highlighted how access to child care is, for many parents, the difference between returning to work or not, yet current state and federal investments in child care infrastructure have fallen well short of what is needed.

Of equal importance, in the wake of last year’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, IWPR looks to Congress to act to protect reproductive health care, including abortion, and to ensure that critical health services are accessible to all. IWPR will continue to work with policymakers to promote policies that ensure that everyone – regardless of income or zip code – has access to the care they need.

This is the moment for bold leadership and policies that promote economic security and well-being for all women. IWPR looks to President Biden to continue to expand on the commitments and progress made during his first two years in office, and to Congress to explore legislative solutions that further address gender equity in job growth.