ICYMI: Del. Hala Ayala Recognizes Struggle of Black Women in Black History Month Floor Speech

Ayala’s Lt. Governor candidacy was recently endorsed by Higher Heights, the only political action committee exclusively dedicated to electing more Black women

WOODBRIDGE, VADelegate Hala Ayala spoke on the House floor in observance of Black History Month on Friday afternoon honoring Black women who are facing a national emergency in the midst of COVID-19. Ayala, who is an Afro-Latina running for Lieutenant Governor and would be the first woman of color elected statewide in Virginia, was endorsed last week by Higher Heights, the only political action committee exclusively dedicated to electing more Black women.

“Black women have been in the crosshairs of COVID-19 from the very beginning, and this pandemic has only exacerbated existing inequities,” said Delegate Hala Ayala. “Black women were already underpaid upwards of $50 billion every year before COVID, and we were more likely to die from undiagnosed health conditions and in childbirth than our white counterparts. Now we are unsurprisingly bearing the brunt of this crisis. Black women are on the frontlines of this pandemic at work and at home.

Here in this body, we are making changes to address these issues. This year we’ve passed an historic budget and progressive legislation to ensure that our Commonwealth comes out of this crisis stronger and more equitable...We must continue this progress and to invest in these programs that will help our community the most, including increasing funding for Women and Minority-Owned Small Business micro-loans, establishing a paid Family and Medical Leave program, expanding access to preschool for every Virginian, and addressing the stark racial disparities when it comes to maternal and fetal mortality. I know that our House will continue to do the work to build a better Virginia, and I hope that as we celebrate Black History Month during this crisis, we continue to support Black women who were hurting before the crisis and are devastated during COVID."

Delegate Ayala has spent her career advocating on behalf of equity for women. This year, Ayala introduced legislation to establish a universal paid family and medical leave program in Virginia. The House has allocated $300,000 in the budget to evaluate costs to start a universal program in Virginia. Her bill to assemble a workgroup to review fetal and infant mortality rates throughout the Commonwealth with an emphasis on racial disparities unanimously passed out of the Senate this afternoon.

You can watch the full speech here.

A text copy of Delegate Ayala’s full speech can be found here.