WOODBRIDGE, VA — Delegate Hala Ayala released the following statement in celebration of International Women’s Day:
“Today’s celebration of the women’s movement is particularly poignant. During COVID-19, women--especially women of color--have been disproportionately furloughed, have had their hours reduced, and have lost their jobs. Women are more likely to be infected, hospitalized, and die from COVID-19 than their male counterparts, and women are more likely to be our frontline workers throughout the pandemic. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequities and has devastated Virginia women.
“As someone who got her start in politics as a women’s rights activist and led the charge to pass the Equal Rights Amendment here in Virginia, I know how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go. During this past session, our Democratic majorities recognized this and passed progressive legislation and a historic budget, which will begin to address these inequities. This included legislation I authored to fund a study to create a universal paid family and medical leave program and begin to close racial disparities in fetal, infant, and maternal mortality. These initiatives and others will support Virginia women as we recover from COVID, but we still have more work to do to ensure that we build back equitably.
“We must continue this progress. As Lieutenant Governor, I will prioritize investment in programs that will help Virginia women the most, including increasing funding for Women and Minority-Owned Small Business micro-loans, establishing a universal family and medical leave programs, and expanding access to preschool for every Virginian.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I hope that we will continue to support women who were hurting before the crisis and are now devastated during COVID.”