Only Small Ties RemainFebruary 17, 2020
Reading RecommendationsMarch 13, 2020
Yesterday, March 8, was International Women's Day. This holiday, created in 1913, has two general aims to help eliminate discrimination against women and to help women gain full and equal participation in global development. If you were anything like me, it meant your social media was chock full of memes, pictures, encouraging quotes, and all around girl power/future is female/wonder woman. Because, this year, in 2020, I found it hard to think of it as anything but a fake holiday, something drudged up to make people think they were doing all sorts of good when it came to gender equality and those who identify as female.
In my daily work, it is hard to think that we as a society and as a world are really addressing these issues. Females still make 78 cents to the dollar a man in a comparable role with comparable education and training makes, and it gets even worse when you compare Latinx women, black women, Native women. Those pay disparities become even worse when we look at issues surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing. The math does not lie. If U.S. women were paid even minimum wage for the unpaid work they do around the house and caring for children, relatives, etc., they would have made $1.5 trillion last year. Globally, that number goes up to $10.9 trillion. Read more here
Add to this that 1 million pregnant women are put on bed rest every year and that only 17% of workers had access to paid family leave and only 40% have access to short-term disability insurance. Even the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which was considered groundbreaking in its inception only provides unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks, and that little bit is only available to 40% of workers.
And then we have the maternal mortality crisis. It is more dangerous for women to be pregnant and give birth today than it was for our moms, 25 or 30 years ago. The United States is the only industrialized country where the maternal mortality rate has been rising. This is across the board, but when you add in racial and ethnic factors, the numbers are even more telling. For Latinx and Native women, the risk goes up to two to three times. The worst is for African American moms who have a risk four times greater than their white counterparts.
Is it hopeless? Should we not strive to reach the goals that International Women's Day set out over 100 years ago? Not at all. But, it is more than just simply sharing a cute meme or saying you go girl once a year. It is on all of us to speak out, to advocate, to educate, and to say, no this is unacceptable and we need to do better. All of those reasons are why I do the work I do and why I will be going to Washington D.C. again to attend Mom Congress.
There are so many amazing individual advocates and organizations ranging from Moms Rising to 2020 Mom to Rise Up to Black Mamas Matter.
Speak out, talk to your legislators, talk to doctors, to those in power, educate, advocate, and fight for the rights of women. Then, we can really celebrate International Women's Day the right way!