A coalition of progressive groups and lawmakers gathered at Colorado’s Capitol this morning to kick off Women and Families Wednesdays, a weekly lobby day aimed at influencing elected leaders to support policies that help women and families.

Coalition members laid out several legislative priorities for the 2019 legislative session, including establishing a paid family and medical leave program.

“Lots of people are working two or three different jobs to support their families. If there’s a medical crisis, what are they going to do?” said 9to5 Colorado’s Kris Garcia.

Garcia said she recently lost her mother to cancer and saw firsthand how few people getting treatment had family members present.

“We should not be having people getting cancer treatment and sitting there in the chairs by themselves,” said Garcia. “Colorado needs to do better.”

Dr. Kristina Tocce, Vice President and Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, expressed concern about access to abortion and birth control with a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We must make sure that this access is protected and expanded here in Colorado,” she said. “With a progressive majority in the House and in the Senate, we have an amazing opportunity to be bold in our advocacy and legislation. Our health care centers are ready to rise to the challenge of being a safe haven for Coloradans and for individuals in our neighboring states as well.”

State Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and State Sen. Julie Gonzales, both of Denver, stressed the need to close the gender pay gap.

“We have too many people in our state who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Gonzales. “We know that there is a pay gap. We know that if you are a woman of color that pay gap is even broader.”

Women and Families Wednesdays is hosted by organizations including Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, 9to5 Colorado, and Emerge Colorado, among others.