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Sunday News Update: November 2, 2014

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Welcome to Brain, Child’s Sunday policy update where we look at  issues impacting women and children with Valerie Young, Public Policy Analyst for Mom-mentum.

The elections are almost here! Got your voting plan ready?  Women haven’t had the right to vote for even 100 years in this country. Honor those who suffered and fought for it by doing your best to get to the polls next Tuesday.

I nearly spit out my coffee when I read this headline in the Washington Post this morning. Study: Women With More Children Are More Productive at Work. First impression – of course we are! We have to organize our time and use our energy to maximum efficiency. Second impression – maybe this will counter the well-documented bias against moms at work as being less competent, less reliable, and less committed. This article is definitely going in my file.

Another item for the “tell me something I didn’t already know” department – women are more likely to stay home with sick kids. “The study finds that women are 10 times more likely than men to take time off to stay home with their sick children. Mothers are also five times more likely to take their sick kids to doctors appointments.”

Another eye-grabbing headline also hit this week.Cost of Informal Caregiving for U.S. Elderly Is $522 Billion Annually  Surely the value of the unpaid child care and housework we do is in the billions too, whether you rely on a figure of how much it would cost on the open market (replacement cost) or how much employment income we are giving up in order to perform it (opportunity cost).  Traditional women’s work is regarded as “unproductive labor.” Yet we make people, (human capital), and then raise and teach them until they are fully functional and tax-paying adults. Most of this work is done by women, and most of it is totally unaccounted for in our economic measures of productivity and economic wealth. That’s SCARY.

Single, college-educated women, if they turn out, could rock this vote. Women do not vote as a bloc.  But if enough of them go the same way, they can control the outcome. That’s why workplace policy, like paid leave and pay equity, have been more a part of the campaign season this year.  Women also care very much about the state of the economy and raising the minimum wage. NBC News has observed “…the importance of the female vote and women’s issues have vaulted to the top of American’s political conversation over the last few years.” It’s great to see the increased attention women are getting from candidates. Let’s keep it going!

Follow Valerie on Facebook at Your (Wo)Man in Washington, and on Twitter @WomanInDC, and find a weekly blog post at

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