Policy Update : March 13, 2015
A quick look back at events this week impacting women and families, from Valerie Young, a public policy analyst with Mom-mentum.
International corporation Vodaphone made big news last week when it announced that new mothers would receive 16 weeks of maternity leave at full pay. Why the move? Because it is far less expensive – in the billions of dollars for global companies – to have those women come back to their jobs after birth than it is to lose them and recruit, hire, and train new employees. Of course, it’s better for the health and economic security of moms, dads, babies and the nation for women to have paid maternity leave, too. Now, if paid paternity leave becomes standard, then we’d really be going places.
What would a woman’s legislative agenda look like? Family Forward Oregon, wants to use public policy to create a state “…where all women and families are economically secure & caregiving isn’t a barrier to financial stability.” They’ve drafted a proposal that includes paid sick days, paid family leave, minimum wage increases, and much more. Take a look here.
I went up to New York City this week to attend a briefing hosted by Making Mothers Matter at the UN’s 59th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. Most countries around the world offer some form of paid maternity leave. Norway grants parents 49 weeks, of which the father is required to take 10, that are paid for with tax dollars. The US, on the other hand, guarantees parents nothing. (The Family Medical Leave Act only offers certain employees (about half the private sector workforce) up to 12 weeks a year, all of it unpaid.) Because of the UN conference and International Women’s Day, we are happily awash in data about women, like this piece from MAKERS 21 Facts You Never Knew About International Gender Inequality. What I found so striking was that for all our talk about American exceptionalism, on so many measures the US is on par or trailing. Worldwide female labor force participation – 50%, US 47%; Worldwide wage gap – 23%, US 22%; Womens’ representation in national legislative bodies worldwide – 22%, US 19%.
Two items have been zinging around the internet and your friends are probably talking about them. One is this article from Fortune Magazine entitled I’m Sorry to All Mothers I Used to Work With. The other is this excellent and hilarious video with Adrienne Moore of Orange is the New Black about our lives as mothers. Now you are totally caught up. You’re welcome!!
Follow Valerie on Facebook (Your (Wo)Man in Washington) and Twitter (@WomanInDC) and find her on the blog at Mom-mentum.