Let's face it; women are the backbone of the Democratic Party. We are the activists, the fighters, and the energy. Women launched the post-inauguration march that demonstrated to the world that Americans would not just roll over and accept rule from a party that lost the vote of our people.
Together, women serve as a collective igniting force that energizes the underrepresented, the ignored, and the silenced, because we too are still fighting for the most fundamental rights in the 21st century. We too must constantly defend our bodies, claim our autonomy, and protest our exclusion from both the table and the menu. If any lesson is learned from the election of President Donald Trump to the Oval Office, it is that this party needs to reconsider the vision that we have for the future. Unfortunately, I'm not sure our current leadership understands that.
Earlier this year, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and DNC chairman Tom Perez took the opportunity to embark on a much-needed "Unity Tour," on which they laid out their forecast for the future of the Democratic Party. These efforts, especially in the wake of the divisive 2016 election, are a vital part of how we move forward. Our party is fractured, and we need to make every possible effort to come together to defeat congressional Republicans' dangerous agenda — whether Donald Trump remains their leader or not.
However, their Unity Tour did not include any high-profile female representatives, which gave the impression that fixing the economy is only a man's job. Women are not just 52 percent of the population, they're also business owners, CEOs, and bankers. Women are more likely to manage household finances than men are.
In fact, women are also very savvy financial leaders. Even before we were allowed to hold jobs in the public sphere, we were entrusted with balancing the family budget and stretching every dollar. After the Wall Street bailout, FDIC chair Sheila Bair and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren pushed for stronger regulations and more oversight) over the reckless entities that had plunged our economy into crisis. The SEC has been led by four women consecutively, and Janet Yellen is proving to be a trustworthy steward of the Federal Reserve.
There are plenty of strong female leaders who are making a splash on the national stage who would have been great additions to the conversation. Elizabeth Warren can get under Trump's skin like no one else. Kamala Harris delivered one of the only significant victories for the Democrats in 2016.
Perhaps if a woman had been included on the tour, these two men would have been more careful about campaigning with a candidate who toes the line on a woman's right to choose. Maybe there would have been more alarm at the prospect that Republicans are currently trying to charge women more for health care because of our biology. Or maybe there would have been deeper discussions about how we can increase the diversity in our leadership because women still only make up 20 percent of the representative governing body of our nation.
Yes, the intention of Mr. Perez and Senator Sanders to focus in on the economic issues is laudable, but we should not assume that they are gender-exclusive.
Fixing our economy and protecting the rights of women go hand in hand.
When women are empowered to demand higher wages, they spend more money in our economy. When they can keep their jobs after giving birth and afford child care, they spend those wages to support their families.
Our economy is stronger when women are empowered.
Yes, we want a higher minimum wage, health care for all, and affordable college tuition, but we also want the right to control our bodies, to be paid the same as men, and to be equally represented. Our economic futures are intrinsically tied to our right to choose when and if we get pregnant.