Let's show support for those that keep society running.
With March and Women's History Month upon us, the role of mothers is on my mind. Moms are the MVP of the American family. They take on massive amounts of responsibility and hard work, and they do it with grace. Moms make it look easy, which may be the reason that they are so undervalued by society.
Yes, as a society, we are quick to extol our love of moms. We weep over the sappy mom commercials. We buy cards on Mother's day, and we feel guilty for not calling more, showing her more appreciation.
But the Covid-19 crisis unveiled absolute disregard for our moms' welfare by our government, our workforce, and our society in general.
"In September alone, more than 860,000 women dropped out of the workforce, compared with just over 200,000 men. An analysis by the National Women's Law Center found that women left the labor force at four times the rate of men in September, just as schools came back in session." according to the Washington Post.
Covid-19 has exposed the grit and determination moms are capable of when we need them the most.
Since the start of the crisis, women have consistently operated as caregivers, teachers, earners, house managers, and therapists for their struggling families.
They have managed all of this with little assistance from employers, the government, and spouses. Imagine what they could accomplish with support?
How can we better support moms?
It's no secret that other countries do a much better job supporting parents, specifically moms. Here are some examples of ways other governments are successfully supporting their moms. The results have been positive, not just for women but for entire communities. We can easily replicate these results right here in America.
In Sweden, for example, "new parents get 16 months of paid leave to use until their child is 8, so some have been drawing on it during the pandemic. Parents also have four months of paid leave to take care of sick children up to age 12, which the government allowed people to use when schools were closed during the pandemic," according to the NYTimes.
New Zealand passed a law over the summer that "makes it easier for workers to lodge pay equity claims because it sets clear guidelines for comparing pay between women in female-dominated professions and men with "substantially similar skills, responsibility, and service" in male-dominated occupations."
Many countries, including the US, have pay equity laws that are difficult to enforce. This New Zealand law gives teeth to pay equity claims.
According to Raquel S. Zilberman, "Because of Iceland's progressive laws advocating gender equality, Iceland has long been deemed the best country in the world for women."
"Icelandic women also receive support from the state through paid family leave and equal pay and can therefore pursue careers while balancing family commitments."
What can our government do right now?
Many steps are possible for the government to take, and many are forthcoming in President Biden's stimulus package.
Choosing to open schools instead of restaurants, gyms, and other non-essential businesses sends a statement that moms are a priority as well.
What can employers do right now?
Employers can help by offering flexible schedules or paying for child care. As the vaccine program ramps up and more of us return to work, employers must remember that we do not measure productivity by the amount of time spent in the office.
Many moms have benefitted from the flexibility to work at home, even if a limited schedule. Employers can retain more women and moms by allowing for more flexible work options in the future.
The common goal should be fixing the disconnect in our society where sports figures and celebrities can access resources that your average mom raising a family cannot. The moms of America show more grit and determination than a team made entirely of Tom Brady clones. They deserve the same healthcare benefits, employment, access to food, and shelter that any athlete enjoys.
We can see by the example set by other countries that governments can support women in a fiscally responsible way. It is beneficial to the country as a whole to enact these family-friendly policies.
There is much that we can do to show our gratitude to the moms of America. We quickly hero-worship football players and celebrities. It's time we show the real heroes some love.
To all the moms out there, I see you. I feel your pain. The pandemic will be over eventually, but we shouldn't expect things to get easier.
There will always be something else, some other challenge.
But we will survive, and our families will thrive because we are moms.