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Policy Update: May 22, 2015

BC Logo_SquareA quick look back at events this week impacting women and families, from Valerie Young, a public policy analyst with Mom-mentum.

Breastfeeding has been going on since the dawn of time, yet it still causes all sorts of heated exchanges when it happens in public. Mothers are pushing back via social media. The Washington Post reports: “Sometimes, these days, instead of meekly acquiescing and feeling like second-class citizens, mothers will use the weapons at their disposal—namely social media—to turn the shame on its head and feed it right back to the business. This changes the companies’ struggle from a one-on-one customer battle of “rights” to a publicly discussed and judged incident of a business treating a customer as less than.”

The price of child care keeps going up, putting more and more pressure on family budgets. New data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that child care costs more per year than annual in-state college tuition in 31 states. In a single mother household, it eats up 40% of the average annual income. That’s a major policy failure.

Chicago’s political leaders are pressing on for earned sick time. The current proposal follows a program adopted in nearly two dozen other US cities and 3 states, one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked, for “personal or family illness or preventive care; due to an incident of domestic violence or sexual assault; or because of school or building closure due to a public health emergency” according to the Chicago Sun Times. As pointed out in the article, what good is organic food if it’s coughed and sneezed on?

There is talk more often now about paid family leave, as if this basic labor standard in most of the world has finally registered in the American consciousness. Considering the number of families pitched into hard times following a birth, illness, or other major health event, it is a subject worthy of attention, especially as we move closer to national elections in 2016. Is the real issue the reluctance to give women a reason to choose paid work over unpaid domestic labor, as argued in this excellent New Republic article Taking Care of Our Own;  Paid leave goes from progressive pipe dream to political reality. Or, as women are 49.3% of today’s workforce, are incentives, at this point, irrelevant?

Follow Valerie on Facebook (Your (Wo)Man in Washington) and Twitter (@WomanInDC) and find her on the blog at Mom-mentum.

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