Women in Power: Meet Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney - Equality Now
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Women in Power: Meet Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

Our work protecting and promoting the human rights of women and girls means we get to work side by side with some incredible women in positions of power every day. At a time when many female-led governments are being praised for their assertive leadership in response to COVID-19, we’re asking why women leaders matter. 

I’m Carolyn Maloney, representing NY-12; that’s parts of Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. Last year, I became the first woman to chair the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and I’ve also spent my career trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution.

What does equality mean to you?

Being treated equally and without discrimination, equal pay for equal work, equal protection under the law, equal opportunity, and the ability to be judged on your merits and hard work rather than on the basis of your gender or gender expression, skin color, or anything else. And we will never have equal pay for equal work until equal rights are in the Constitution and enforceable, it's that simple.

Why is it important to have diverse women in decision-making processes?

It makes all the difference. In 2018, we elected a record number of women to Congress - and a record number for their first term! It’s made a huge difference. We have an incredible woman, Nancy Pelosi, leading us as Speaker, and an incredibly diverse freshman class. It changes your priorities. We finally passed my bill to give paid parental leave to 2.1 million Federal workers, and in Oversight, we’ve held hearings on abortion access, DHS and CBP abuses at the border, LGBTQ+ equality, sexual harassment in the military. In 2019, Congress held its first hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment in 36 years! The more diversity you have when you’re making decisions, the more representative the ultimate decision is.

How is COVID-19 affecting the people you serve?

I represent a very diverse district, so COVID-19 is having different impacts on a lot of my constituents. NYCHA tenants need help getting the administration and the city to provide basic sanitation and sterilization for their buildings. Small businesses that have been forced to close need help paying their employees and making their rent. Workers who’ve been laid off or furloughed need rent relief and food assistance. Our district is home to many of New York Citys’ hospitals, and they’re fighting for PPE and additional staffing. And that’s really just a start. The common thread is that this is an emergency, people are scared, people need relief, and as their Representative it is my job to fight for them every single day.

Read more from our Women in Power series.