Ask anyone who owns a small business (or grew up around one) and they’ll tell you there are two things you need to succeed: determination to see your business through tough times, and faith that if you keep at it, your efforts will pay off. On my last trip to South Carolina, I was fortunate to sit down with women business owners who have both. They accomplish incredible feats in the span of a single day, from running their business to running their child to band practice.
They’re pulling their weight and then some — and they deserve a champion in their corner. I’m running for president because I want to be that champion. Helping women and families succeed isn’t a side issue; it’s fundamental to our country’s economic future.
Take Kiki, who opened Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles with her husband a few years ago. They got off to a slow start, but Kiki kept the faith and stuck with it. Thanks to word of mouth, social media and the red velvet waffles, things started to pick up. These days, business is going strong.
Then there’s a mother-and-daughter team, Dana and Miss Rosa, who started a bakery with money from their 401(k) accounts. After years of hard work, the leap of faith they took to open their business is paying off: Their recipes are a secret handed down from generation to generation, but their coconut-pineapple cake is the talk of the town.
It’s not enough to talk about economic growth and opportunity; we need to invest in women and families who work hard every day to make those words mean something. We need smart solutions that take into account how the economy has changed for women —and how women have changed the economy.
Take the issue of equal pay. Today, women are business owners and community leaders and heads of household. Forty percent of mothers with young children are now the sole or primary breadwinners in their family. It’s no secret that too many women still earn less than men on the job, and for women of color, it’s even worse. And there are things we can do right now to address the wage gap head-on in South Carolina and across the country.
We need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which gives women the legal tools to fight discrimination at work.
We need to promote pay transparency to ensure women have the information they need to negotiate fairly. You can’t stand up for equal pay if you don’t know whether you’re paid equally.
We need to raise wages for the lowest paid jobs in America and implement workplace policies like paid leave and flexible scheduling for parents. South Carolina is the second worst state in the country, including the District of Columbia, for working mothers; dead last for professional opportunities for women, measured by the number of female executives; and 47th in childcare quality. We should be making it easier for women to take care of their families and succeed at work.
And finally, with nearly 120,000 women-owned businesses in South Carolina, we need to make sure that women have the support they need to start and grow their businesses. That means cutting unnecessary red tape, increasing access to capital, simplifying tax filing, and expanding access to new markets.
Every person I meet on the campaign trail restores my own faith and determination that together, we can and must meet the challenges we face. I carry with me the stories of people like DayzJohna, a young woman I met who was celebrating her high school graduation. She joined the JROTC, and is now planning to serve our country in the military. I want DayzJohna to have every option open for her future — not just to be invited to the table, but to earn her place at the head.
This is the 21st century, and no one’s potential should be limited by problems that are within our ability to solve.
Clinton is seeking the Democratic nomination for president. She has been the U.S. Secretary of State, a U.S. senator and the country’s first lady.