U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy marked Labor Day by announcing his five-point plan to address gender inequalities in the workplace.

Espy says those issues primarily deal with equal pay, healthcare and childcare costs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the second quarter of this year, women earned 81.3% of the weekly earnings of men.

“I will fight for an economy that benefits and respects everyone,” U.S. Senate Candidate Mike Espy said. “I do not accept that a woman can be paid less than a man for doing the same job. I would not tolerate that for my wife or daughter and I will not accept that for you or your family.”

Espy’s campaign team says he has developed a five-point plan to address issues facing women in Mississippi.

Espy’s five-point plan includes:

  •  Strengthening Equal Pay Laws: While our existing laws have helped to close the pay gap, there are too many loopholes that harm women and families. We need to close them and strengthen other provisions to more effectively close the wage gap. We should prohibit employers from retaliating against workers for discussing their wages, recognize employers with good pay practices, and provide assistance to small businesses that need help adopting such practices.
  •  Lowering Child Care Costs: High-quality child care is fundamental to the economic security of women and families, but it is out of reach for too many. We must increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) so that it helps more low to moderate income families. According to the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, Mississippi moms work, but they most often work in low-wage jobs. Child care is expensive, often costing as much as college tuition. The high cost of child care creates barriers to work for parents, and especially women. We can break those barriers down by investing in child care.
  •  Protecting Families. Whether someone needs time to address a serious health issue, bond with a new child, or take care of an ill parent, we must expand paid family medical leave. The United States is the only modern nation without a national paid leave pro-gram. A child’s birth or adoption may mean stretched finances and unsettling concerns about whether caring for a new baby will cost parents their jobs. We must expand paid family medical leave.
  • Protecting and strengthening the Affordable Care Act. There are many aspects of the ACA that should continue, such as the same insurance rates for women as for men, requiring coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, the new birth control benefit, basic services for pregnant and postpartum women, and allowing coverage for young adults up to age 26 on parent’s insurance. We must expand the ACA to require coverage for mental health and prescription drugs and providing coverage for preventive services without cost-sharing.
  • Ensuring women are properly represented in FDA drug trials. According to the Federal Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health, females have nearly double the risk of developing an adverse drug reaction compared to men.

“We cannot allow women to make less than men just because of their gender,” said Espy. When we strengthen Mississippi’s women, we strengthen Mississippi families and the state’s economy.”

The former Secretary of Agriculture also represented the Second Congressional District in Mississippi. He is running for the spot once held by longtime Senator Thad Cochran. He faces U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and state senator Chris McDaniel in November’s general election.