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Policy Update: June 5, 2015

0529pregnancyA quick look back at events this week impacting women and families, from Valerie Young, a public policy analyst with Mom-mentum.

I’ve just come back from a gala luncheon downtown of women’s advocates and funders.  US Secretary of Labor Tom Perez gave the keynote speech, framing paid family leave as an economic imperative and essential element of national growth and prosperity.  He told about meeting a school bus driver with no paid maternity leave.  After her Caesarean, she went right back to driving the bus, strapping the infant in a car seat behind her, for fear of losing her job and the income her family needed.  “There is something wrong with this country” Secretary Perez said, when millions of working moms and dads have no paid family leave.

He is on to something.  Newsweek published an article this week, Why Are Young Moms Becoming Rarer?  Obviously the trend is the result of multiple causes, but there are two that get my attention.  First, it’s becoming widely known that the US seriously lags other countries in pro-family policies like paid family leave, earned sick days, and quality affordable child care.  Second, as women go further in educational attainment, they are carrying heavier student loans, which push marriage and homeownership further into the future.  Whatever the reason, it’s beyond question that having children later means having fewer of them, and that trend will affect everybody.

I simply cannot remember a time when breastfeeding so consistently popped up in the news.  The Huffington Post has picked up the breastfeeding-in-airports story, which you saw first right here in last week’s mothernews summary.  Hundreds of comments and thousands of “likes” have followed. the HuffPo piece.  Then a story about a man complaining about a woman breastfeeding at a café in Australia becomes world news, with stories generally lauding the café manager who asked the complainer to leave.  Maybe a mother-friendly world really is around the corner…

The Economist has a reputation for providing very serious analysis of very business-oriented news.   That’s why eyebrows were raising all over when a recent issue included the following title: “A Father’s Place -Men have long been discouraged from playing an equal role at home. That is at last starting to change.”  It’s a summary of what governments all over the world are doing to remove the gender-normed attitudes around child care, how public policy can encourage equality of opportunity at work, and how children are better served by having both parents really involved in the first months.

And another women’s glossy magazine picks up women’s rights content this week. ELLE published For the Price of Your Morning Latte, You Can Put More Women in Office, addressing the pervasive practice of women donating to charities while men donate to political campaigns.  Women-operated super PACs, like Women Lead and Emily’s List, are looking for the $5 donor as much as the $500 or $5000 donor.  “Every dollar is meaningful… It’s about more than just the money. The fact is that people are participating. We need to have more women participating—whether they’re writing checks or voting or running for office or supporting other women running for office. Every little bit matters.”

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

Photo: Newsweek

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