The issues affecting women, children, and families in San Francisco remain starkest in District 10, where inequity and disenfranchisement continue to ravage our communities. While we have the greatest percentage of children and mothers of any District, we are not afforded concomitant funding or equitable programming for children and youth and many families currently live in Food Deserts without access to healthy groceries. We have some of the last vibrant African American communities in the city, but people of color ‒ and particularly women and children of color ‒ remain the most vulnerable to displacement. In addition, infant and maternal mortality in San Francisco’s black community are tragically higher than both the state and national average. As Supervisor, I plan to address these issues head-on in the following ways.
Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault
I have been glad that the issue of harassment is finally getting attention and, more importantly, that it has become the subject of action. However, I believe the ultimate goal should be a comprehensive culture change. Sexual harassment and assault, whether in the workplace or on the street, must no longer be normalized or tolerated in our actions or our speech. As Supervisor, I will lead by example and push men to take responsibility for their actions and words. In addition, because harassment is more likely where inequality exists, I am committed to supporting and elevating women to positions of power both within my own staff and in every City department, including the San Francisco Police Department.
Furthermore, I believe that more funds and attention should be given to our City’s Employee Assistance Program, which provides confidential counseling and support-group services for victims of sexual harassment, and to the Commission on the Status of Women and the services that they provide. Some of this will involve creating better publicity for existing services, such as the new Office of Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention (SHARP), but also includes pushing for more safe havens for women and more resources for those who do not report violence for financial reasons. As Supervisor, I would champion any legislation that supports these or similar measures.
Women’s health is an issue that is not talked about enough given the impact it has on the daily life of half our population. Particularly when it comes to the health of minority, low-income, and homeless women within District 10, there are many ongoing, unaddressed issues that City Hall needs to take further steps to address.
First and foremost, I strongly believe in a woman’s right to choose and make a decision for her body without interference from politicians. As Supervisor, I will make sure that all women, including minors, continue have access to safe health and reproductive care. As a father of two adult children and two step-children, I do empathize with parents who would like to be notified when their teenager seeks these services, but, as a teen parent, I also understand how many teens may not feel comfortable informing their parents and would much rather that young women have access to appropriate care than feel isolated and make unhealthy decisions. Lastly, I absolutely believe that there should be public funding for comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, for all individuals that rely on government-provided insurance.
The need for comprehensive and publicly funded reproductive health care goes beyond the issue of abortion, however. It is a tragic reality that the infant and maternal mortality rates of San Francisco’s black community are higher than both the state and national average, and this is unacceptable in such a wealthy and compassionate City. While San Francisco has been doing implicit bias training for healthcare providers for several years, we clearly haven’t done enough to ensure the effectiveness of these efforts or to prioritize this issue. As Supervisor, I would work to expand this implicit bias training for healthcare providers and thereby increase the cultural competency of those providing care to our expecting mothers. In addition, to ensure that we remain vigilant about any ethnic disparities in quality of care, the Dept. on the Status of Women should be tasked with monitoring the results of these efforts and make regular reports to the Board of Supervisors on the issue.
Maternal health can also be improved by funding education and nutrition programs for expecting mothers. This can be done in coordination with the San Francisco Health Network, with efforts and classes taking place in city buildings located in the most affected neighborhoods. Since such measures cannot be effective without access to nutritious food, we must simultaneously work with property owners, local residents, and other City Officials to bring grocery stores, particularly health food stores, to the current Food Deserts in these communities. As Supervisor, I will fight for resources to be allocated to these efforts within District 10 by demanding equitable distribution of funds for City programs and services within the annual budget.
When it comes to supporting our City’s female homeless population, I believe we should be providing free menstrual hygiene supplies to anyone in need of them. Since I imagine it is extraordinarily difficult to present yourself in your best light when searching for a job or applying for housing without menstrual hygiene supplies, this should be considered a basic resource and provided alongside all homeless services within San Francisco. Furthermore, I don’t think that any women, whether homeless or not, should have to pay the “tampon tax.” As Supervisor, I would support efforts to repeal this tax and to provide free menstrual hygiene supplies in schools, public restrooms, government buildings, homeless shelters, and related service providers. We will never be able to reach true gender equality unless all aspects of women’s health are truly considered in a way that ensures an equal playing field with their male counterparts.
Pay Equity / Equality in the Workplace
I believe in gender equity and prove it by example. I have spent years working closely to increase opportunities for women in leadership and in general. As an employer, five out of eight people on our leadership Team are women, the majority of people holding coordinator and top-level positions are women, and they all receive the same pay as the men in their same positions (if not more).
As Supervisor, and even as a candidate, there are ways I can continue to personally work towards remedying historic gender inequity. I am proud to say that three out of the four members of my campaign staff, including my campaign manager, are women. I consult them on all major decisions and encourage them to actively contribute to my campaign’s direction, programs, and platform. If elected, I will monitor the membership of City Commissions and consider gender diversity when appointments come to the Board of Supervisors for approval. In addition, I will continue employing female staff members to promote the elevation of women within our City’s government and hopefully contribute to furthering the current trend of female leadership in the process.
However, I do believe that the City can take further action to address the ongoing pay gap. As the SF Dept. on the Status of Women’s Equal Pay information web page demonstrates, this is an issue that has been extensively documented with little concrete action taken. It is true that “everyone from CEOs to managers to students can help close the gender pay gap,” but I believe it will take more than continued comprehensive studies that exposing the issue to actually fix the problem.
One of the greatest tools the City could implement would be to coordinate and fund education and training programs for employers. Just like the Board of Education implemented an Annual African American Student Report to annually review progress made towards closing the achievement gap in our schools, San Francisco should implement an annual Report on Pay Equity so we can accurately assess the success of the measures we take to close the pay gap. It is simply impossible to know what programs are the most effective unless we have a clear, annual assessment of where we stand.
Publicly fought to extend maternity leave for women and supported policies that provide more opportunities for mothers to bond with their children.
Ensured that all women in my organization who have children can stay at home as long as they like after giving birth while knowing their jobs will be available when they return.
Led youth groups for young women ‒ many of whom are now college graduates leading in many sectors of employment.
Fought to make sure strollers are allowed on MUNI.
Signed onto ordinances demanding equal pay for women.
Fought vigorously to defend the right to choose for all women, which is why I received the sole endorsement of Planned Parenthood Norcal Action Fund.
Personally donated to women’s causes and have co-hosted several fundraisers for Emerge California (which focuses on providing women with the tools needed to run for public office).