MOTHERS is a netroots community of mothers and other family caregivers who look after children or other dependent family members.
We promote social change to enhance the economic security of those who do carework, both exclusively or in conjunction with paid employment.
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MOTHERS BREAKING NEWS
February 14, 2013: Child Care - We Don't Work Without It:There are a million ways to mother, and no
one "right" way. A family ought to have options. At the
moment, there aren't as many as there should be. Mothers are either primary breadwinners
or co-breadwinners in 2/3 of American households. Women
spend more than double the time that men do providing care for children.
We make up half the paid workforce, yet are much more likely to experience
poverty. We work and raise children without a national paid family leave
policy, which becomes increasingly necessary as you move lower on the
income scale. What policy shift could really make children's lives
better, promote women's economic security, and deliver some measure of
stability to millions of households across the country? A stronger early
education and child care system, as outlined here by the Center for American
Progress in Investing In Our Children: A Plan to
Expand Access to PreSchool and Child Care.
February 14, 2013: Women's Status Around the World - Will John
Kerry Do As Much?: Hillary Clinton kept the interests of women
front and center during her time as Secretary of State. She knew that pressing for
women's empowerment around the world was the right thing to do, but also the
best and most direct route to democracy, peace, and economic progress.
Now she's gone, and how much of that part of the agenda go with her? Will
John Kerry demonstrate the same passionate commitment? If he doesn't,
will all be lost? Columnist Ruth Marcus shares my concerns in a recent Washington Post column.
February 14, 2013: FMLA Is 20 Years Old - And Businesses
Didn't Go Bankrupt!: When 12 weeks of unpaid leave became
available for about half the private sector workforce two decades ago,
opponents argued it would just kill American business. Well, that never
happened. Now, people all over are clamoring for improvements on the law,
like making more workers eligible and having some portion of the leave include
partial income replacement. From Jodie Levin-Epstein of CLASP in the
The clear majority of voters in both parties want
Congress and the president to consider new laws such as family and medical
leave insurance. A recent bipartisan
that 96 percent of Democrats and fully 72 percent of Republicans take this
view. And, for those politicians/policymakers who want to close the Hispanic
voter gap, it is notable that nearly 80 percent of Latinos consider
congressional and presidential action on FMLA to be "very important."
An expanded FMLA could be both good policy
and good politics - real opportunity for some bipartisan law-making.
February 14, 2013: Our Lack of Paid Leave Makes the US Less Competitive: In 1990, the United States offered no
mandated parental leave time, compared with a non-U.S. average of 37.2 weeks.
By 2010, the United States was offering 12 weeks’ leave, but the non-U.S.
average had leaped to 57.3 weeks. Neither in 1990 nor today did the United
States provide public paid leave, while other countries paid, on average, 26.5
percent of previous wages in 1990 and 38 percent today. Blau and Kahn found
that about 28 percent to 29 percent of the decline in the American female labor
force participation can be explained by the relative stinginess of its family
leave and part-time work policies.
So reported Wonkblog last month,
sifting data on women's workforce participation worldwide. Other countries
around the world are implementing and expanding policies to keep quality
workers connected to the workforce. Drawing on all the brainpower
available, their economies are well-placed for global competition. More
countries are increasing the amount of time off they allow, and increasing the
percentage of income replacement they pay. Without paid leave in the US,
only some mothers will be able to stay employed and generate some income when
they birth or adopt a child. Many mothers just give up and abandon paid
work, and then find it very difficult to return when the kids are in school, or
family needs have shifted, or they are compelled to resume paid
work. The US’s "either/or" approach to motherhood and work
doesn't serve us well on any level, individual, family, or as a nation. Who comes to the game with only
half the team?
January 31, 2013:Pick up a copy of What Do Mothers Need?, a collection of
essays by experts and scholars on how motherhood is changed and how our world
needs to change as a result. We're proud to boast that one submission in
the book is by our very own Lorri Slepian, NAMC Board Member and a most
esteemed "founding mother" of Mothers’ Centers and NAMC's public
policy advocacy initiative. Editor Andrea O'Reilly points out that
mothers have been neglected by feminists, overlooked by the recent Occupy
movement, and having a harder time now that even a few decades ago. “If
mother activists and scholars agree on anything, it is that a mother-centered
feminism is urgently needed and long overdue because mothers, arguably more so
than women in general, remain disempowered despite 40 years of feminism.”
Give yourself a copy for Valentine's Day!
January 31, 2013: Moms Hold the Purse Strings: Who pays the bills and manages the money in
your house? According to a recent Working Mother magazine
survey, almost two-thirds of responding moms claimed the title of chief
financial officer, and another third claims to share the responsibility with
their partner. Women have long held a huge amount of purchasing power and
were frequently targeted by advertisers. But now they are more likely to
be in charge of the long term saving and planning as well. They also
overwhelmingly want to teach their children about saving, investing, value-shopping,
and sticking to a budget. As the article says, "You run the money,
January 31, 2013: Nancy Folbre on Sharers, Takers,
Carers, Makers: This, my friends, is the source of a great
deal of the injustice we face today, as brilliantly set forth by Nancy Folbre
in her recent New York Times column:
When John Locke
laid the conceptual foundations of liberal democracy in the 17th century, he
contended that a system that guaranteed men rights over the product of their
own labor (including wild apples picked from a tree) would always prevail over
a system based on arbitrary authority, like feudal dues or taxation without
He excluded women from his theory, assuming that childbearing and
family care were not forms of labor, but like apples, gifts of nature (until
picked by men). Classical political economy,
from Adam Smith to Karl Marx, presumed that women’s domestic labor was
“unproductive” even if it was performed by paid servants.
If only John Locke had given birth, raised
infants to adulthood, and run a household himself, how different his
perspective would have been.
January 31, 2013: Mr. Mom is Dead. Really?: In spite of a flurry of articles about the
new fatherhood, I don't believe at-home Dads are sweeping the nation anymore
than I believe women will be out-earning them across the board in a few years
time, as has also been breathlessly reported recently. Still, the more
pictures and stories there are about full-time parenting fathers, the higher
the societal value placed on carework will go. Here's a couple - from the
HuffPo Parents Blog, from
the Wall Street Journal about parenting
as "a guy thing", and how it's not babysiting, but
parenting when a Dad cares for his own kids, in The Atlantic. How
do you think dads parenting publicly will change ideas about the value of
family carework? Will women benefit? Please let me know at
January 17, 2013: Invisible and
Uncounted: You probably
know that the central factor of economic productivity, GDP, does not include
what we spend a lot of time doing - raising children, running households, and
looking after family members that have trouble managing it all
themselves. This invisible work, amazingly, isn't tracked around the
world even when it is done for pay. NPR recently
reported that the UN is trying to collect data about "domestic
workers", those who look after children, clean houses, or care for the
elderly. Current estimates indicate that 53 million do this work
worldwide, primarily women, and probably half do so without any legal rights or
a single worker protection. The number of paid domestic workers has
exploded since the mid -1990's, in reaction to the number of women leaving
home for work, and aging populations, like our boomer generation.
Nonetheless, without the support of regulations setting a fair wage or
reasonable working hours, abuse and exploitation abound. Policy
making can't occur, though, until reliable, complete data is gathered, and most
nations just don't keep track. What is about "traditional women's
work", which produces and maintains people, the most basic building block
of every society, that renders it so unworthy of attention?
January 17, 2013: What's Between You and the Glass Ceiling?: "Well,
there's one word: children. What happens is that women work fewer hours than
men. They take off more time for maternity leave. They tend to also work - they're
far more likely to work part-time than men are. And according to surveys, they
seem to want it that way, though we have to always make the caveat that yes,
there is discrimination. But the major factor in the gap – both the gender gap,
wage gap and the gap at the very top, the gap among the alpha females - is due
to children." From NPR's All Things
Considered, about women's failure to reach the top of
the professional world.
January 17, 2013: Paid Leave for
New Parents - Anywhere But Here: From Lisa Belkin in
the Huffington Post:
I don't know what else to say about this
one....best just to move on!
As Zach Rosenberg
has been highlighting on 8BitDad, companies aren't
required to offer paternity leave here. That is hardly surprising because while
other countries are expanding their policies to include Dads, we are
essentially the last place on the planet that hasn't even embraced the narrower
idea of leave for mothers. There are only three
countries like this -- Papua New Guinea, Swaziland... and
the one that prides itself on being the leader of the world.
January 17, 2013: Know The Facts about Abortion: Pregnancy termination remains a flashpoint in the US, 40 years since the Roe v.
Wade decision. Here are some updated facts from the Guttmacher
Institute about women who have abortions. They are mostly
white and in their 20's, and from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The majority have at least one child already, and were or are married or
living with a partner. About half of all pregnancies in the US are
unintended, and of these, about half are terminated. More than
three-fourths of abortions occur in the first trimester.
January 17, 2013: What CAN'T a Pregnant Woman Do?: I sat down, I napped, I may occasionally have gone for a walk when I was
pregnant. Look at these mothers-to-be - some of us will run marathons,
sing an aria, or dance a pas de deux. You go, girl! I'm cheering
for you right from my seat here on the sofa. From The Washington
Post: "So expectant mothers adapt. They perform with
precision, even as their instruments change. Dancers mourn the loss of muscle
tone as it melts away like a Dali scene. Opera singers revel in the surge of
hormones that give their voices richer, fuller timbre. Cellists lay their
instruments on their bellies and hope the baby doesn’t kick when the timpanist
strikes." Occupational hazards for the pregnant woman!
January 3, 2013: Look
Into My Crystal Ball:The
Huffington Post lists 13 parenting
trends you can expect to see in 2013. Check it out - you'll
see pictures of Princess Kate, Jessica Simpson, Alicia Silverstone, and
breastfeeding in public! Not the customary content of the NAMC
Advocacy eNews, but hey, it's the holidays!
January 3, 2013: Full-time
Parent, Part-time Worker: We
know that having children is likely to makes a woman economically
vulnerable. But what's really amazing is the number of different ways
that motherhood contributes to economic insecurity. Under the spotlight
this week - gender differences in part-time work, brought to you by the Center for Economic Policy Research
(CEPR). In the US, part time work is not simply the younger sibling of
full-time work with the same rules, conditions and compensations of full-time
work to a proportionately smaller degree. It's in an entirely different
league - for starters, the pay rate per hour is often significantly lower, even
in the same jobs. It rarely comes with benefits like access to the
employer's group health plan, or retirement savings plan. Also, federal
legislation like the Fair Labor Standards Act which protects employees simply
doesn't apply to part-time workers.
you guess who makes up the majority of part-time workers in the US?
Women! Could it be that their economic needs are so well satisfied by
their partners or others that they simply don't need to work full time?
No. Twice as many women as men are in the part time labor force because
of non-economic reasons. From the CEPR blog:
"choose" part-time jobs primarily because they are more compatible
with their outsized unpaid work responsibilities including household work and
childcare. When asked why they work part time, women answer “Child care
problems” at more than seven times the rate that men do, and are almost four
times more likely than men to cite “Other family/personal obligations.” In fact,
of the people who usually work part-time and answered “Child care problems” as
their reason why, 94.6 percent were women.
the dots - mothers trudge along, in a workplace tailored
to non-mothers, hampered by inadequate and costly child care, taking
part-time work as a consequence, with all its short-comings. If the work
of coordinating family life and raising children was regarded as more
worthwhile, men would do more of it, public supports would exist to
promote it (such as accessible quality child care, paid family leave), and it
wouldn't predispose those who do it to poverty.
January 3, 2013: Single
Mother Myths: A
lot of people who act like they know what they are talking about will tell you
that poverty and crime are the result of too many unmarried women having
kids. They are wrong. The facts of single motherhood are vastly
different from the characterizations that (mostly male, mostly white)
politicians and pundits sling around. Based on data from a recent Legal
Momentum survey, Greg Kaufmann writes in The Nation single
mothers in the US are mostly separated, divorced or widowed. In other
words, the vast majority were
married. In addition, in spite of the fact that they spend more hours at work
than single mothers in other countries, US single mothers have much higher
rates of poverty than those in other industrialized countries. The
reason? A great deal of employment is for very low wages, and public
income supports are too low. Not to mention our status as the only
advanced economy with no paid family or sick leave. Welfare queens?
Not so much.
January 3, 2013: The
Price of Motherhood Around the World: Get
out your passports - we're taking a whirlwind trip to compare the
motherhood penalty around the globe. There's no country where a woman can
escape it entirely, but there is quite a range between the best and
worst. What accounts for the difference? Access to high quality and
affordable child-care, mostly. From The New York Times Economix Blog:
The United States is about on trend with
developed countries over all: in the United States, the median childless,
full-time-working woman of reproductive age earns 7 percent less than the
median male full-time worker. For women with children, the wage gap more than
triples, to 23 percent. That gap in Japan is even bigger — the median Japanese
mother working full time earns 61 percent less than the median Japanese
full-time male worker.
Note that the 23% gap is between full time
working men and women. The post goes on to state that the gap for
mothers over all is actually much greater, because about a quarter of them
work only part-time. Countries with fabulous early education and child
care systems have the smallest gap in income between mothers and
non-mothers. Of course, the US doesn't fall into that category.
December 20, 2012: Will You Pay For Being Pregnant?:The mommy tax has been around for a long time. But did you
know that just being pregnant at work may cause others to think you are
less competent, less committed, and more irrational? Research shows that
appearing pregnant may cost you the job interview, a higher salary
if you're being hired, and promotions once employed. Certain
perceptions about pregnant women are so subtle, and so ingrained, that they may
not be recognized as discriminatory even by women! Read this article from
The Atlantic, The Pregnancy Penalty: How Working Women Pay for
December 20, 2012: What Capitalism Does to Families:"Unfortunately, we have socialized the benefits of
child-rearing more thoroughly than we have socialized the costs, taxing the
working-age population to provide benefits to the elderly through Social
Security and Medicare but providing uneven and somewhat unpredictable public support to parents. Single mothers in particular remain far more
susceptible to poverty in the United States than in similarly affluent
countries." The brilliant Nancy Folbre on the economics of
childrearing - or how the sinking birth rate reflects capitalism's privatizing
the risks of motherhood while turning all the benefits of children over to the
economy. From the Economix Blog in The New York Times.
December 20, 2012: Please, Sir, I Want Some ... More?: It's not enough to be smarter, better educated, and better trained.
Simply being more qualified isn't enough to ensure that you are being paid as
much as the guy in the next cubicle. You can work your little heart out
and wait to be noticed, but that doesn't mean you'll get pay equity. “I
can’t tell you how many times I hear stories of women who go into a negotiation
saying, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you so much, I’ll take it!’” says Ms. Houle, noting
that one student she coached even hugged her boss. “Here these women are, more
educated than ever, incurring incredible debt to get that education, and
they’re going to take whatever they’re offered. It’s like, ‘No, no, no!’ “/* New York Times.
December 20, 2012: I Am Mother! Hear Me...Online?: Here's a snippet of Joanne Bamberger from Women's Enews: "Fortunately, more
and more women, especially mothers, have started using their existing online
spaces--the so-called "mom blogs"--and the confidence they've gained
through the influence they have earned in those spaces, to flex their political
muscles. Increasing numbers of mothers online are embracing the newfound
courage that's developed from writing about their lives and families to speak
out for causes, social issues and candidates they believe in, moving from
writing about their beliefs at personal blogs to creating their own online
political communities and joining established networks that already reach
millions of readers." Just like this enews, the NAMC blogs,
(Wo)Man in Washington, and our Facebook pages - activist moms online
December 20, 2012: Three Minute_Interviw_With_Dee Dee_Myer:
December 06, 2012: Why Do We Need Paid Family Leave
NOW?: There are lots of reasons that
working people in the US should have access to family leave when they need
it. Here are 4 to remember:
- The paid
labor force is now 49% female, and women still do most of the family
carework - but the economy cannot function if we don't show up at
in 2/3 of households earn as much or more than their spouses, or are
out of five children have no full time caregiving parent at home.
US has the only advanced economy without a national program guaranteeing
some form of paid leave to workers -it's not rocket science if every other
country has come up with a plan.
Two experts at the Center for American Progress, Sarah Jane Glynn and Heather
Boushey, are proposing that a paid family insurance program could easily be
created on the existing framework of the Social Security System. You can
read their proposal for Social Security Cares right here.
December 6, 2012: Why Are So Many Single Parent
Families Poor? No Mystery Here!: Karen Kornbluh has been an advocate
for mothers and work/family policies from way back. She points out
that 25% of all children live in single parent homes in the US,
an unusually high number among industrial nations. We also
rank as the country with the 3rd highest rate of single parent family
poverty. The reason? In The Atlantic, Ms. Kornbluh
lays the blame squarely on public policy failure - no
reliable maternity leave, no paid sick leave, no affordable, high quality
child care system. "Our lack of
quality childcare and after-school programs puts these kids at risk and
endangers the nation's future in a knowledge economy. Our lack of support for
flexible work arrangements and Social Security credits for caregivers puts
these parents at risk." Unpaid family caregiving, the economy, and
public policy are all related. But the US continues to act as if that is
December 6, 2012: Motherhood and Murder Rates: It's true, many well-intentioned
advocates argue that if mothers would only get and stay married, poverty,
violence, incarceration rates, and most other social ills would decline.
I say enough already! Mothers are blamed for way too much, especially
considering the barriers and inequities they face, compared to fathers or
non-parents. And now, happily, there is some data to back me up.
Blaming single parents for violence
has long been a dog whistle talking point of the family values set, since the
phrase "single parents" actually means "single mothers,"
and "single mothers" means "poor women." But now, it seems
that some new data from Washington, DC is challenging that long-held assertion
that the out of control vaginas of the 47% are leading to big, slutty crime
rates — over the last 20 years, the murder rate in the District has dropped
75%, while the percentage of single mothers has remained steady. Sorry you got
blamed for all that murder, poor ladies.
Those bad girls at Jezebel point
to a Philip Cohen essay, Single
Moms Can't Be Scapegoated for the Murder Rate Anymore.
December 6, 2012: Gender Matters In Everything - Including
Violence: Not that we need another reason to
speak out against domestic violence - in addition to its physical and
emotional toll, it has a huge cost in economic terms as shown in
recent research. About.com
US Government Info reports: "The health-related costs of rape,
physical assault, stalking, and homicide against women by their intimate
partners exceeds $5.8 billion annually, according to a report just released by
the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)." Instead of being a shameful,
private secret, intimate partner violence is now seen as a public
health issue which public policy can effectively address. "CDC
is actively involved in ongoing efforts to prevent violence against
women," said Sue Binder, M.D., CDC Injury Center Director. "This
report provides information that is crucial in helping communities demonstrate
the impact violence against women has on society."
November 19, 2012: Why Are Women Worth Less?: Women earn less than men, and this is one reason our poverty rate is much higher. Many commentators explain the gender pay gap by pointing to women's "choices" of jobs in lower-paying fields, less-demanding work, part-time work, or work that allows them to fulfill domestic and/or child care obligations. There is no more discrimination at work, they say, and if women worked as long and as hard as men, they'd make just the same. My friends at the American Association of University Women have tested this theory and found it false by comparing men's and women's earnings at the beginning of their working lives, before children and "lifestyle choices" have an impact. Their conclusion? Discrimination against women in the workplace continues. You can read a summary on the National Women's Law Center blog and view the video of the CNN report.
November 19, 2012: Paid Family Leave - We're Already Paying For Not Having It: You know it's gonna happen - people get sick, people get old, people have children. It's happening now, and it increases costs, even though family leave insurance is not the official policy. Cali Williams Yost writes a very persuasive essay in Forbes. An excerpt:
In the U.S., we pride ourselves on our capitalistic, profit-oriented savvy; therefore, given the growing magnitude of employee caregiving realities, you would assume that employers would support a clear, consistent uniform strategic response. One that minimized business disruption and kept employees engaged and productive over the long-term. Unfortunately, the reality is the exact opposite.
Far from being a tax, job-killing or anti-business, paid family leave boosts the bottom line. It doesn't make sense not to have it.
November 19, 2012: Three Minute Interview with Jessica DeGroot, Founder and President of ThirdPath Institute
We've all said from time to time, "There's got to be a better way!" Between work and home and everything else, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and totally stressed by the expectations we place on ourselves and the unrealistic demands of modern life. Jessica DeGroot believes she has a better way, the so-called "third path" that puts family and personal time on a more integrated footing with work. We chatted via email, and this is what she had to say:
1. ThirdPath's motto is "Creating Time for Life". How can that be done?
Instead of adding care giving responsibilities to a job that is already demanding too much of you, ThirdPath helps care givers look for "win-win" flexibility so they can succeed in both work and the important job of care giving. We also encourage care givers to create a partnership at home. When mothers and fathers (or extended family) share in the joys and responsibilities of providing care it creates stronger families and more support for care givers. Lastly, another critical ingredient to success is learning how to say no - both at work and at home; Read more.
November 19, 2012:
Men - The Other Side of Work/Family Fit:
Men and women rarely fall neatly into entirely separate domains. For better and for worse, we will succeed and fail together. An increase in women's engagement and leadership requires teaching both our sons and our daughters about the exercise of power in the world they will inherit. From the Harvard Business Review's blog:
Contrary to more recent provocative media coverage, the changing roles of women at work and men at home do not signal the rise of the former at the expense of the latter. The trends are far more nuanced. The couples in these studies seemed to be trying to divide bread-winner and caregiver duties between them, moving well beyond the norms of past decades. Indeed, fathers and mothers now face many of the same struggles at work and at home.
Caregiving does not belong to a single gender. Sexy titles foretelling the end of men and the dominance of women might sell books - but cross-training for both work at work and the work of the home is a more realistic strategy.
November 1, 2012: Are Women Better Suited To Housework?: Both political parties contribute to
gender inequality and exploit the difference between men's and women's economic
status to reinforce a political structure that fails parents and children,
according to Salon's
recent "Devaluing Care Work - And Women". Paid
sick days legislation, and getting home health aides the same protection other
workers have, continue to fail in state assemblies and still don't register in
national politics. Why? Because care work is done mostly by
women, often for free, is poorly regarded, and it's women who pay the
price if a family member falls ill or child has to stay home. We've
shown a real lack of desire in pushing for national policies that would improve
our status at home.
As Jessica Valenti writes in her new
book, “Why Have Kids, “Mommy blogs
organize to take down diaper ads but are largely silent on the lack of paid
maternity leave. They’ll complain about unfair division of labor at home yet
rarely link their husband’s dirty laundry to the larger political system that
tells women they’re better suited for housework.”
The NAMC, this enews and Your Wo)Man
in Washington, at least, don't fall into this category.
aspect of NAMC’s work being making a business case that offering good work/life
options is a good business practice and that it’s important for women (and
almost every employee) who bear the brunt of home and childrearing
responsibilities. We could include a link to www.NAMCWorkplace.org
or a link the pdf of the conference brochure.
November 1, 2012: Parenting Leaves a Lasting
Impression: More data is emerging about the link
between a child's earliest years and long terms effects on the brain and
cognitive development. The Washington Post's "On Parenting"
blog has highlighted recent research showing that exposure to stress, for
example, or language can impact brain size and development. The parents'
educational level has much to do with the degree of cognitive stimulation the
child will experience. With the data mounting, ensuring that
parents have access to the resources they need for economic security and effective
parenting should be a public priority. You can find the posts here and
November 1, 2012: A Different Kind of Gender Gap: Usually when we talk about the the
"gender gap" we mean the inequality between what men and women earn
at work. But there's a whole different meaning every four years in
November - the difference between how men and women vote. It's not a new
phenomenon, and it directly effects how an election turns out. If
forecasts prove correct, the gender gap in the presidential election may reach
an all-time high this year. The New
York Times has a great article with fabulous graphics. And it
supports my theory that gender makes a difference in everything.
Click here for more news