Pete Buttigieg Believed in My Power, And Now He Wants to Build Power For Every Woman

Women’s freedom can’t depend on Washington — it can only come from systematically building women’s power in our economy, our political system and in every part of our society.

by Kareemah Fowler – Oct 24 2019 (

My career took a nontraditional path: I left college early to become a real estate mogul. By the time I was 19, I owned 19 properties, and later a small business. When I was in real estate, I spent a lot of time in the assessor’s office. I saw so many things about our city government that weren’t working well, and I knew I could make South Bend work better. It was that desire to improve our city that eventually led me to become the first minority to be elected to a full-time executive office in St. Joseph County.

One of my biggest advocates as I thought about running for office — a leader who inspired me in my journey to public service — was Mayor Pete Buttigieg. I remember sitting down with him when I first talked to him about running. He encouraged me from the start and supported me all throughout my run.

As Mayor of South Bend, Pete has repeatedly shown his understanding of the challenges women face, as well as his ability to get things done. Knowing that many of us struggle to balance career and family, he implemented a new family leave policy for city employees that gave new moms and dads up to six weeks of leave at full salary. He created a city fund that distributes grants to childcare providers — expanding access for more families. And at a moment when women’s ability to control their own health care decisions are under attack, he prevented a crisis pregnancy center from opening next to an abortion clinic, appreciating how much harder that would make it for women making difficult personal decisions. 

Pete has always recognized the ways that persistent bias has denied women economic, political and social equality. Now, he is building on his strong work in South Bend to put forward a women’s agenda for the 21st century that will ensure women finally secure lasting power.

First, Pete’s plan will close the pay and wealth gap. At a time when Black women make just 62 cents for every dollar a white man makes, Pete will ensure equal pay for equal work. A Buttigieg administration will invest $10 billion to end workplace harassment and discrimination against women, and hold companies accountable when they discriminate. Like he did in South Bend, Pete will invest in paid family and medical leave, affordable child care, and paid sick leave — crucial supports that are proven to narrow the wage gap. And Pete will dedicate $50 billion to grow women-owned businesses and lift up entrepreneurs like me.

Pete’s women’s agenda will also advance women’s health and choice. Through his plan for Medicare For All Who Want it, he will ensure that every woman has access to affordable healthcare.

He’ll write abortion rights into law, so that reproductive rights aren’t at the mercy of a handful of judges. He’ll also prioritize ending the maternal mortality crisis that leaves Black women dying from pregnancy at rates three times higher than white women.

And Pete’s commitment to women’s safety extends far beyond health. That’s why his administration will help build safe, inclusive communities for women and families on campus, online and in their own homes. He’ll reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and close the loophole that lets boyfriends convicted of domestic violence buy guns. Importantly, his administration will work to change a culture of gender-based violence, particularly against trans women and women of color.

Finally, just like Pete supported me in elected office, Pete will ensure women have an equal shot at leadership. He’ll implement campaign finance reforms to make it easier for women running for office to raise money. Because representation matters, Pete has committed to nominating at least 50 percent women to his Cabinet and in his judicial appointments, and he will challenge state and local governments to do the same. He’ll also push the private sector to be more transparent and proactive in supporting and promoting women leaders — and won’t be afraid to hold them accountable for pay and promotion discrimination.

Women’s freedom can’t depend on Washington — it can only come from systematically building women’s power in our economy, our political system and in every part of our society. And Pete’s women’s agenda does just that. Pete empowered me to reach my full potential, and as president he will ensure millions of others can do the same.

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