In this Sept. 24, 2021, file photo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, holds a rally in support of President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" for women agenda at the Capitol in Washington. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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It’s time for Congress to prioritize women and the working poor by passing the Build Back Better Act. The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is set to lift up hundreds of thousands of new good-paying union jobs, which will be great for our state and our country. However, this bill alone does not bring the transformative changes Maine and the United States desperately need.

The Build Back Better Act brings outstanding focus on the needs of women and children. Investments in Build Back Better will generate stronger equitable inclusion for millions of workers over the next 10 years, especially in industries traditionally dominated by women and BIPOC workers.

In 2021, there is still a massive pay gap for American women and BIPOC workers, leaving many single mothers impoverished via discrimination. Without access to child care or a good-paying job, too many Americans and Mainers are locked in generational poverty for no fault of their character.

Build Back Better will allow for stronger wages and support for folks in home care, child care, education and other underpaid job sectors. Maine women and Maine’s working poor can’t continue to be forgotten when Congress negotiates occupational opportunities.

Build Back Better will also include stronger labor law enforcement mechanisms. This will create an easier path for women and all workers fighting with bad employers for pay equity, safe working conditions and a voice in their workplace.

My message to Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden: If we want women to join the labor market, we need Build Back Better.

Simple as that. The underworked and working poor cannot be forgotten and left behind again.

Jane Gilbert