MAY 09, 2021
By: The White House Gender Policy Council
As we mark Mother’s Day, more than a year has now passed since a once-in-a-century public health crisis, a once-in-a-generation economic crisis, and an ongoing caregiving crisis conspired to place an unprecedented burden on millions of moms — and their families— across the country.
In a year of extraordinary challenges, mothers have done what they ordinarily do – care for their families, communities and our nation. When COVID-19 threw daily life off of its axis, it was often America’s moms who were forced to make difficult decisions for the well-being of their families. Too many struggled as the economy hit hardest in female-dominated industries, while many other mothers have continued working essential jobs in difficult conditions — on farms and in factories; in grocery stores and restaurants; in laboratories and hospitals; and in so many other places on the front lines.
Far too many mothers have helped shepherd us through the crisis without the critical support they and their families need, like affordable child care, paid family and medical leave, and flexible and predictable schedules. Over the past year, many mothers have taken on the full-time jobs of educator and care provider when our schools and care facilities were closed. Often, that has meant sacrificing their own jobs, work hours, or educational pursuits. And for mothers who are part of the care workforce themselves — disproportionately women of color and immigrant women — the burden has only increased, even as they continue to hold families and communities together in an economy that routinely undervalues, underpays, and neglects them.
Despite the progress our nation has made over the last three months, there remain two million fewer women in the workforce than there were before the pandemic struck. Thirty years of progress in women’s labor force participation has been eroded; millions of moms still don’t have the realistic option of returning to the workforce due to child care and other caregiving responsibilities. The pandemic has exacerbated this reality, but it isn’t new — a chronic lack of investment in our caregiving infrastructure through the years has undermined women’s economic security, particularly for women of color and those who work in lower-paying jobs. To honor America’s moms this Mother’s Day, we must recognize that it’s not enough for us simply to return to the status quo. We need to build back better by building an economy that values the dignity, labor, and choices of every mom.
Together, the American Rescue Plan, American Jobs Plan, and American Families Plan offer the critical relief and support that mothers and families need.
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