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What is Kamala Harris’ stance on the issues that matter to women?

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Kamala Harris

The presidential hopeful is campaigning for election in 2020. These are her most important policies.

Can Kamala Harris beat Donald Trump?

This is the question on everyone’s lips in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election. The Californian senator has an impressive, awe-inspiring CV – she was California’s first black Attorney General, and the first woman to hold the role, and then she was California’s first black senator. If she receives the Democratic party’s nomination to stand against Trump in the 2020 election she would be the group’s first black female nominee, too.

What would a government under President Kamala Harris look like? Ahead of the second Democratic debate tonight we break down Harris’ most important policies.

Abortion rights

In a year when states across America are pushing to restrict abortion rights with a spate of new, horrifying laws, Harris is fighting to protect them. One of the presidential hopeful’s key campaign policies is on ensuring that abortion rights are protected on a state-level by the federal government.

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Harris is proposing that any state looking to wheel back access to abortion will have to receive prior approval from the Justice Department in order to do so, which will offer abortion rights the exact same level of protection that other key human rights – such as voting rights – are afforded in the US. 

Protests against the new abortion laws in Alabama and Georgia

What’s more, the Justice Department would keep a list of states that have repeatedly tried to walk back their abortion laws in the last 25 years. Some states who haven’t engaged in discriminatory abortion rights restriction practices might be given pre-clearance by the Justice Department, affording them the freedom and responsibility to make changes to their laws where they see fit. But those on the bad list? They’ll be called to answer for any amendments they want to make in a bit to stem the erosion of Roe v Wade across the US. 

Equal pay

Harris has been campaigning to close the gender pay gap ever since she became a senator back in 2017. Writing at the time in Teen Vogue, Harris said that the fight for equal pay was still far from over. “Our daughters should not grow up believing that their work is worth less than a man’s. It’s time to end this fundamental unfairness. It’s time to make equal pay a reality for all Americans.” 

Kamala Harris is among the women running for Democratic nominee for president.

Through her 2020 campaign platform Harris hopes to finally achieve this dream. Her proposals include a $15/hour minimum wage and federally-regulated paid family and sick leave.

More specifically, she has campaigned for closing the gender pay gap for professions including teaching and the law, advocating for harsh punishments placed on any organisation that does not offer equal pay. The implementation for this is simple: any company with more than 100 employers must submit their staff’s wages to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If a gender wage gap is found between their staff these companies would be fined.

The beauty of this policy is in its simplicity. No longer is the onus on employees to ensure they are receiving a fair wage. Under Harris, the responsibility is squarely on the shoulders of the companies signing the pay cheques. “This plan will finally put the burden of ensuring equal pay on the corporations responsible for gender pay gaps, not the employees being discriminated against,” Harris summed up in a statement.

Healthcare 

Harris believes in universal government-run healthcare through Medicare, with private insurers operating alongside. On this point she differs from some of the other 2020 presidential hopefuls, who want to dispense with private insurance completely in favour of a nationwide Medicare. 

Kamala Harris presidential candidate

Harris wants to make this plan a reality in the space of a decade. “At the end of this ten-year transition, every American will be a part of this new Medicare system,” Harris wrote on Medium. “They will get insurance either through the new public Medicare plan or a Medicare plan offered by a private insurer within that system.”

This is of particular importance for women and Harris’ healthcare platform goes hand-in-hand with her one on abortion rights. “Every woman deserves safe, affordable access to comprehensive reproductive health care,” Harris has tweeted, “including abortion.” 

Harris’ healthcare plan has drawn some criticism, most notably from her Democratic opponents. Bernie Sanders, who is running on the platform of Medicare For All without any recourse to private insurers, says that Harris’ plan is tantamount to fence-sitting. 

“First of all, I like Kamala,” Sanders told CNN. “She’s a friend of mine, but her plan is not Medicare for All. What Medicare for All understands is that health care is a human right and the function of a sane health care system is not to make sure that insurance companies and drug companies make tens of billions of dollars in profit. The function of Medicare for All is to guarantee health care to all people as soon as possible.” 

Gun control

On the subject of gun control, Harris is firm. After the recent spate of mass shootings, the politician has spoken out about banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.


Though Harris supports the second Constitutional amendment, which is the right to bear arms, she does not support gun ownership remaining unchecked throughout the nation. Harris has summed this up as the distinction between advocating to seize everyone’s guns and ensuring that gun ownership is legal, regulated and safe.

“There are people in Washington DC, supposed leaders, who have failed to have the courage to reject a false choice which suggests you’re either in favour of the second amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away,” Harris has said. “We need reasonable gun safety laws in this country, starting with universal background checks and a renewal of the assault weapon ban. But they have failed in the courage to act.” 

Climate change

Prior to announcing her election campaign, Harris was always a big advocate for fighting climate change. This is unsurprising, perhaps, given that the senator hails from California, where climate change occupies a large part of the state agenda and has played a role in such things as the tragic 2018 California wildfires. She has a 100% voting record when it comes to energy and environmental issues. 

It’s why Harris was one of the co-sponsors of the Green New Deal bill, spearheaded by her fellow democrats including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In fact, the pair have teamed up on a new climate change bill called the Climate Equity Act, which will work in partnership with the Green New Deal. The act will basically work as a means of holding congress accountable when it comes to fighting and defeating climate change. 

“Climate change is an existential threat — it’s critical we act now to achieve a cleaner, safer and healthier future,” Harris said in a statement to Refinery29. “But it is not enough to simply cut emissions and end our reliance on fossil fuels. We must ensure that communities already contending with unsafe drinking water, toxic air and lack of economic opportunity are not left behind.” 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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