Called “a stalwart in fighting for women’s rights” by The New York Times, Carolyn has always been on the front line in the fight for women’s rights. She has worked to break down barriers, defend a woman’s reproductive rights, expand access to healthcare, combat sexual assault and guarantee equal rights for women. Never one to shy away from a fight, Carolyn famously asked “where are the women?” when the GOP convened an all-male panel to testify about contraception and has taken on Donald Trump’s anti-woman agenda since before he was even elected President.

Her career has been a series of firsts. She is the first woman to represent New York’s 12th Congressional District; the first woman to represent New York City’s 7th Council district (where she was the first woman to give birth while in office); and was the first woman to Chair the Joint Economic Committee, a House and Senate panel that examines and addresses the nation’s most pressing economic issues.

Some of her work includes:

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)- Carolyn is the lead sponsor of the ERA in the House of Representatives to guarantee equal rights for women in the Constitution. Although women make up more than half of our country’s population, equal rights for women are not enshrined in our Constitution. The ERA is a constitutional amendment which would prohibit denying or abridging equal rights under law by the United States or any state on account of sex. It explicitly grants women equal protection, and would help close the gender wage gap, prevent sex discrimination in employment, and ensure that government programs benefit men and women equally.

The ERA passed Congress in 1972; however, only 35 of the necessary 38 states ratified it by the 1982 deadline. Carolyn has fought throughout her time in Congress to pass the ERA, reintroducing it eleven times. With the backdrop of the Trump Administration’s war on women and the #MeToo movement, now is the time to put women in the constitution.

Sexual Harassment and #MeToo- The #MeToo movement has helped expose rampant sexual harassment in the workplace, no matter the industry or job title. Carolyn has introduced two pieces of legislation to combat sexual harassment in the workplace: the Ending Secrecy About Workplace Sexual Harassment Act and the No Tax Deductions for Sexual Harasser Buyouts Act.  The bills are designed to end the corporate culture of secrecy surrounding sexual harassment settlements and prevent companies from deducting sexual harassment settlements from their taxes as business expenses. The legislation creates financial incentives for companies to crack down on sexual harassment and prevent it from happening in the first place.

Breast Cancer- One in eight women develop breast cancer in their lifetimes, making it the second leading cause of death among women. Carolyn has worked throughout her time in Congress to increase access to mammograms and secure funding for breast cancer research. In 1997, Carolyn passed the Breast Cancer Early Detection Act as part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement, which provides coverage for an annual mammogram screening under Medicare for women age 65 and over. In 2014, she passed the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Act, which established a commemorative coin at the U.S. Mint. The U.S. Treasury will issue up to 50,000 $5 pink gold coins, up to 400,000 $1 silver coins and 750,000 half-dollar coins in 2018. The design for the coins, which was unveiled in October 2017, was selected from a national design competition sponsored by the U.S. Mint. No taxpayer money will be used in the production or sale of the coins, and the proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the top rated breast cancer organization in the country. The coins have the potential to raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research.

Breastfeeding- Breastfeeding plays a critical role in the health and development of children. Throughout her time in Congress, Carolyn has advocated on behalf of women who choose to breastfeed. In 1998, she introduced the Right to Breastfeed Act. She has also passed legislation which allowed states to use Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) money to purchase breast pumps for new mothers. In 1999, her Right to Breastfeed Act was included in an appropriations spending bill, protecting women’s right to breastfeed on federal property. In 2007 she hosted over 100 moms at a “nurse-in” on Capitol Hill to rally support for workplace protections for breastfeeding mothers. In 2009, she worked with Senator Jeff Merkley to make sure that workplace protections for breastfeeding mothers were included in the Affordable Care Act. Under Carolyn’s provision, women gained new rights for adequate break time and space to pump breast milk at work. In 2015, Carolyn was presented the Breastfeeding Champion award by the NYC Breastfeeding Coalition for her advocacy on behalf of mothers everywhere.

Campus Sexual Assault-  One in five women on college campuses are victims of sexual assault. That number is far too high; we are failing to ensure that every student has equal access to a higher education. To address this pervasive problem, Carolyn authored the Campus SaVE Act, which became law as part of the reauthorization of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. The Campus SaVE Act requires institutes of higher education to develop and disclose their policies on dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence and increases the reporting requirements of these incidents. In 2014, Carolyn led her colleagues in calling on the Department of Education to better disclose and enforce protections for U.S. college students.

Following up on the progress made under the Campus SaVE Act, Carolyn has introduced the bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act , which requires that schools take proactive steps to protect their students and prevent sexual assaults. Carolyn has worked to protect Title IX protections; she is an original cosponsor of the TheTitle IX Protection Act and opposes Secretary DeVos’s decision to roll back Title IX safeguards. Carolyn continues to work with students, advocates, and her colleagues to find new solutions to this pervasive problem.

Debbie Smith Act- Carolyn first met Debbie Smith in June 2001 at a Government Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on DNA technology. Debbie was raped in March 1989 near her home in Williamsburg, Virginia. For six and a half years, she lived in fear that that her attacker would come back to kill her; however, her rapist was identified and imprisoned because of DNA evidence. Later that year, Carolyn introduced the Debbie Smith Act to provide federal grants to local law enforcement to reduce the backlog of unprocessed DNA rape kits. In 2004, the Debbie Smith Act was signed into law as part of the Justice for All Act. It was reauthorized in 2008 and in 2014. The Debbie Smith Act has been called “the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law,” by the head of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN). Since 2005, the National Institute of Justice reports that more than 165,000 matches to criminal cases on the national DNA database are attributable to this federal DNA grant. Since 2010, New York City has received more than $8.6 million in federal funding as a result of the Debbie Smith Act, including $983,299 in 2017.

Equal Pay-  Carolyn is a long-time supporter of the Paycheck Fairness Act to close the gender wage gap. Women are currently paid only 80 cents for every dollar a man is paid. By closing the gender pay gap, we can reduce the poverty rate among working women in half, from from 8.2 to 4.0 percent, and increase our nation’s GDP by $482 billion. The gender pay gap contributes to income inequality and hurts families, and Carolyn continues to fight for equal pay for equal work. She was an original cosponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which overturned the Supreme Court’s 2007 Ledbetter V. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. decision. This law restores the right of women to challenge unfair pay in court. Carolyn has also introduced legislation which would close loopholes in the Fair Pay Act of 1963 by requiring employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job performance, not gender.

Female Genital Mutilation- The Centers for Disease Control estimated that more than 500,000 women and girls were subjected to or at risk of genital mutilation in 2012 alone – and it is happening here in the U.S., not just in far-off countries around the world. In 2017, Carolyn passed bipartisan legislation in the House which increases the federal penalties for performing female genital mutilation and encourages states to implement reporting requirements for this heinous crime.

Feminine Product Safety- Carolyn first introduced legislation directing the National Institute of Health (NIH) to study tampon safety in 1997. In 1998, a 44-year-old mother named Robin Danielson died of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which she contracted from using a popular brand of tampons. In 1999, Carolyn introduced the Robin Danielson Act, which would direct the NIH to study whether chemicals frequently found in tampons, such as dioxin, pose health risks. It is estimated that an American woman uses nearly 17,000 tampons in her life, but there is very limited research about the safety of these products. Carolyn’s legislation would create a better understanding of the risks associated with these products, so that women can make better informed health decisions.

Protecting A Woman’s Right to Choose- The recipient of Planned Parenthood’s Vote For Choice Award and the National Family Planning  and Reproductive Health Association Distinguished Public Service Award, Carolyn is one the nation’s leaders in the fight to protect women’s reproductive rights. As a member of the Pro-Choice Caucus, Carolyn has continually fought to expand access to family planning services and protect a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.

In 1999, she restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),which provides voluntary family planning services, maternal and child health care, and sexually-transmitted disease prevention in developing countries. She has also introduced legislation which would prohibit group health plans and insurance providers from excluding prescription contraceptives from their coverage. She authored the Access to Birth Control Act (ABC Act), which would require pharmacies to provide women access to birth control if it is in stock, notify women if the birth control is not in stock, and prohibit pharmacy employees from harassing women or preventing them from receiving birth control.Carolyn has co-sponsored legislation which would require federally-funded hospitals to provide rape victims with emergency contraceptives, as well as expand access to contraceptives to low-income women. She has supported legislation which would prevent any government agency from placing burdensome limitations on women from accessing abortion services, and has authored legislation which would crack down on deceptive advertising practices by fake women’s health centers that prey on pregnant women who are seeking medical advice and services.

National Women’s History Museum- Women have made great contributions throughout our nation’s history; however, they are often left out of our country’s story. Women are depicted in only 5% of our more than 2,400 National Historic Landmarks, 5.6% of public statues nationwide, and in only 10% of history book material. If women’s stories aren’t told, if their struggles go unacknowledged, and their accomplishments go unrecognized, then we cannot become a more equal society.

Carolyn first introduced museum legislation in 1998. It wasn’t until 2014 that her legislation to create a commission to study the potential creation of a national museum dedicated to women’s history was signed into law. In November 2016, the bipartisan American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission released its report. It unanimously concluded that “America needs and deserves a physical national museum dedicated to showcasing the historical experiences and impact of women in this country.” In the 115th Congress, Carolyn introduced H.R. 19, a bipartisan bill which would establish a Smithsonian National History Museum on the National Mall. The bill number 19 is in honor of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. The bill is gaining support, with more than half of the House signing on as a cosponsor.

Combating Human Trafficking- Carolyn has worked throughout her time in Congress to eradicate human trafficking by targeting both buyers and sellers of trafficking victims and children. She is a co-founder and co-chair of the Caucus on Human Trafficking, and a leader of the House Task Force on Human Trafficking. In March 2018, the House passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, a bill Carolyn co-authored to empower both victims and law enforcement to bring legal action against websites that facilitate sex trafficking advertising, building on her long record of combating human trafficking.

In the 109th Congress, she was the lead Democratic sponsor of the End Demand for Sex Trafficking Act, which cracked down on the illegal commercial sex industry. Much of the legislation was signed into law as part of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in 2006. She has authored bipartisan legislation that would require large international companies to disclose their labor practices and report to the SEC their policies to eliminate slavery from their supply chain. She has also worked to crack down on the demand side of the industry by encouraging law enforcement to classify purchasers of illegal sexual activities from victims as traffickers, instead of petty criminals. Carolyn continues to push the Justice Department to investigate internet sites, such as,  for their  role in the trafficking industry. In 2015, she was the lead House Democratic cosponsor of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA), which created a “Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund” within the Treasury Department to aid survivors and help law enforcement prevent future trafficking.

Sexual Assault in the Military- Carolyn has pushed the Pentagon throughout her time in Congress to address the issue of sexual assault in the military. In 1999, her Military Dependents Communications Confidentiality Act was included in Defense Authorization for FY2000. It protects the confidentiality of any communications between service members’ dependents and therapeutic professionals regarding sexual or domestic abuse. She led her colleagues in multiple letters to the Department of Defense (DoD), and introduced legislation to improve reporting of sexual assault in the military and to eliminate the backlog of untested rape DNA collection kits. In 2005, she sponsored an amendment to the conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2005 which directed the Secretary of Defense to address sexual assault in the military by eliminating the backlog of rape and sexual assault evidence collection kits, reducing the processing time of the kits, and supplying the kits at all U.S. Military bases and academies.

Women’s Health Office Act- In 2009, Carolyn introduced the Women’s Health Office Act, which became law as part of the Affordable Care Act. It creates an Office on Women’s Health within the office of the Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS). The bill works to fill in the gaps in research, programs, and policy to improve outcomes in women’s health.

Women in Corporate Boardrooms- Women are severely underrepresented in corporate leadership. A 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that women hold only 16% of corporate board seats. Carolyn has pushed the SEC to update its diversity disclosure requirements and has introduced bipartisan legislation which would require companies to report their strategies for recruiting more women into top corporate positions.

Promoting Women in STEM- STEM fields are the future of our economy; STEM occupations are projected to grow by 8.9% by 2024 and pay on average 35% higher than non-STEM jobs. Yet women, who make up more than half of our workforce, hold less than a quarter of STEM jobs. Carolyn has worked to expand opportunities for women and minorities in the STEM fields. In February 2013, she hosted a forum and career fair aimed at promoting women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the CUNY Graduate Center, which was attended by more than 400 high school students. In 2014, she introduced legislation which would create a competitive grant program through the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. In 2017, she reintroduced the Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act. It has been endorsed by the American Association of University Women, the American Mathematical Society, the Association for Women in Mathematics, the Association for Women in Science, Girls, Inc., the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Society for Advancement of Chicano/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, and the Society of Women Engineers.