A Mother’s Day List Of Policy Priorities For Women and Families
Every mother values the personal touch of a hand-written card or a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day that reminds them they are appreciated. (We at the Progress Report wouldn’t dream of committing this dangerous oversight.) But from economic security to health and reproductive rights to expanding opportunities for leadership and career advancement, millions of women and their families are at a disadvantage. With that in mind, here is a list of some essential policies to show the moms out there we appreciate them not just on Mother’s Day, but all year round. It’s time women and families have a fair shot at getting ahead, not just getting by.
1. Raise The Federal Minimum Wage To $10.10 Per Hour.
Women make up approximately two-thirds of all minimum wage workers. Raising the wage from $7.25 to $10.10 would put over $4,000 in the pockets of a full-time minimum wage worker, and it would boost wages for about 4.7 million mothers. What’s more, families benefit from a wage increase: sixty percent of women are the primary or co-bread winners in their households. More money in their paychecks means more for their families.
2. Ensure Equal Pay For Equal Work.
Women are consistently paid less than their male counterparts and make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers. Raising the minimum wage is certainly a step in helping hardworking women support their families. Enacting stronger equal pay protections is another — it will hold employers more accountable for their practices, ensure vigorous enforcement, and empower women to uncover discrimination and negotiate for salaries they deserve. Last month, President Obama took executive action to combat discriminatory pay practices among federal contractors. But unfortunately, most Republicans in Congress continue to oppose a similar measure for workers nationwide and in some cases hold extremely backward or insensitive views on the issue.
3. Expand Access To Paid Sick And Family Leave.
Times have changed since the Mad Men era, but our workplace policies have failed to keep up. Too many women face an impossible choice between fulfilling their family or work responsibilities. Today, less than one in three children have a stay-at-home parent compared to about 55 percent a century ago, but only 11 percent of workers have access to paid family leave through their employer.. Paid family leave legislation would provide workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or seriously ill family member, or to recover from their own serious illness. Nearly two-thirds of voters support this plan.
4. Expand Access To Affordable, High-Quality Pre-School.
The lack of quality, affordable pre-school or child care options has an enormous economic impact on families. In fact, only 69 percent of 4-year-olds in America are enrolled in early childhood education, which leaves the U.S. ranked 28th among developed countries. Expanding access to high-quality preschool and child care fulfills the dual purposes of enabling mothers (and fathers) to find and maintain jobs and helping children prepare for and achieve the best outcomes in school. For every dollar invested in early childhood education, program participants and society as a whole receive $7 in benefits.
5. Ensure Reproductive Rights For All Women.
The Affordable Care Act has already represented a major victory for millions of women, including by prohibiting insurers from charging women more than men, and requiring insurers to cover maternity care, birth control, and preventative services like mammograms. But when it comes to reproductive health, mothers–and women who deserve the freedom to choose if or when they become mothers–are seeing their rights taken away. Over the past three years, states have enacted 205 abortion restrictions — more than during the entire previous decade. And this is in spite of the fact that the national abortion rate is at an historic low, not because of these laws, but more likely because more women have access to birth control.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s time we support policies that make women and their families more secure. Our country would be better off if we give women the same opportunities men have to get ahead in their jobs, get access to education, and have control over their health decisions. That is would be a truly special — and very popular — Mother’s Day gift.