Gubernatorial Candidates Call for More Labor Protections for Women
SAN JUAN – The six gubernatorial candidates for the coming general elections Nov. 8 called for more protection for women in the workplace, where they have a fundamental presence.
Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who is a New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial hopeful, described himself as a solid ally to women and spoke about his track record as secretary of Justice and resident commissioner favoring more inclusion for women. He highlighted that his strategy and work agenda as governor is based on the conviction that “when women progress, Puerto Rico progresses.”
“It has been shown that enterprises that look out for equality in opportunities and salary for their women workers and executives are more successful,” Pierluisi at the Women Who Lead Forum held at the Puerto Rico Museum of Art on Friday, while lauding his wife’s professional achievements.
“María Elena is a professional who has excelled in the field of finance, which is normally dominated by men, working both in the U.S. and in England, and is now and entrepreneur who promotes the empowerment of women, hires mostly women and offers novel work opportunities to work from their homes and with flexible hours,” Pierluisi said. “I’m also very proud of her and her achievements, and I know that as first lady, she will support me in that effort.”
For her part, María de Lourdes Santiago, a senator and gubernatorial candidate for the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), stressed the inequality present in the government and other public spheres, citing as an example the case of women in the educational system.
“I think the best example is public education: The majority of custodians are women, in fact 24.5% of households in Puerto Rico are headed by women compared to the 6.2% where the head of the household is a man; the great majority of teachers are women, as well as the immense majority of those who provide special education services,” Santiago said. “The policies, the decision of not paying therapists, or the discrediting campaigns against schoolteachers, the abandonment of the public school, come to target mainly Puerto Rican women.”
During her presentation, Santiago also called attention to the evident lack of representation of women in elective posts and in the executive branch, as well as the adoption of policies that favor businesses that promote precarious, minimum-wage part-time jobs.
The candidate for governor from the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), David Bernier, said that his government would guarantee an equal proportion of men and women in executive positions, and regarding general recruitment or hiring he would make sure to eliminate any barrier that prevents achieving that proportion.
“The opening of spaces for the inclusion of women in equal conditions in all spheres of economic and political affairs has a lot to do with the way we approach the issue of a just and equal society,” Bernier said. “If that philosophical framework is not present in the discourse of each person, particularly those that lead or pretend to lead the destiny of a people, then inclusion will be seen as just an appendix to many other things that are understood to have more importance than equality and social justice.”
Bernier also presented proposals aimed at making it easier for single mothers joining the workforce, to protect labor rights of immigrant women and to combat domestic violence and discrimination more strongly.
Independent candidates Alexandra Lúgaro, Prof. Rafael Bernabe, as well NPP gubernatorial hopeful Ricardo Rossell, called for better economic and legal conditions for women, mainly in the workplace. Roselló in particular presented a detailed government plan in which women play a leading role, especially in education.