Policy Update: April 17, 2015

Policy Update: April 17, 2015


In this photo taken April 1, 2015, Jen Psaki,, right, and Katie Fallon, pose at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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

There have been several interesting developments this week from the intersection of motherhood and public policy.

President Obama sat down to talk about equal pay, paid family leave, and what he hopes for his daughters at a live-streamed Town Hall in Charlotte NC.  Never in the history of the Republic has the Chief Executive spent so much time so publicly engaged on issues of family caregiving, women’s rights and economic status.  You can watch a video recording or follow the tweets #ObamaTownHall, #womenslives, and #equalpay.

The US Department of Labor wants you to know exactly what your legal protections are if you are pregnant or nursing and employed.  They’ve updated their interactive map, so you can find out at a glance what federal and state laws apply to you.  The DOL also released a wonderful infographic showing how far into their pregnancies mothers stay on the job, and how quickly they come back after giving birth.

There are two pregnant women working in the White House – another first for motherhood and politics.  One of them, Communications Director Jen Psaki, was pregnant when she was hired.  She had concerns.  “Instead McDonough — and later Obama himself — assured Psaki they would accommodate her needs as a new mom amid the West Wing’s nonstop demands. She started in the post Wednesday and is one of two pregnant women serving as assistant to the president — a first for such a top level adviser in Obama’s presidency and practically unheard of under previous presidents.”

Equal Pay Day arrived this week, marking the gap between men’s and women’s wages even when both work full time and year round.  Controversy ensued – some say the pay gap is a myth.  There can be no debate, though, about the fact that women are the majority of those in poverty, and woefully under-represented in public office, in the C-suite, on boards of directors, and the upper echelons of the professions even though we are more educated than men and comprise half the workforce.  The National Partnership for Women & Families released a great report, which includes data on the pay gap between mothers and others, much larger than that between men and women generally.


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



Sunday News Update: July 13, 2014

Sunday News Update: July 13, 2014


BC Logo_SquareWelcome to Brain, Child’s Sunday night news update where we look at issues impacting women and children. Tonight we hear from Your (Wo)Man in Washington, Valerie Young of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers.

Frankly, after such a busy week on the motherhood-and-politics front, we could certainly use some down time at the beach or star gazing on a quiet night.  Sigh.  Not likely.  Here’s how it all played out:

Right before July 4th, the US Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Hobby Lobby case, relieving a for profit corporate employer from following certain provisions of the health reform law regarding contraception because of religious beliefs.

This past week, Democrats in both the House and Senate introduced a bill to counter that decision, called the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014.  The bill states:  “The purpose of this Act is to ensure that employers that provide health benefits to their employees cannot deny any specific health benefits, including contraception coverage, to any of their employees or the covered dependents of such employees entitled by Federal law to receive such coverage.”

Also in the bill dropping department, US Rep. Nita Lowey of New York introduced legislation to credit the Social Security accounts of family caregivers with a modest income for a limited number of years that they spend raising children, caring for aging parents, or ill or disabled family members, instead of paid employment.  You can listen to a 30 minute recording of a tele town hall Rep. Lowey held on Tuesday night to get the details.

Minnesota passed a law to prevent the shackling of women in prison when they give birth as reported in RH Reality Check.  Unbelievably, shackling during labor continues in 30 other states.  “Additionally, the shackling ban makes Minnesota the 20th state with such a ban on the books. But many states still allow the shackling of pregnant women, including during labor. The American Medical Association has called the practice of shackling women during childbirth “barbaric” and “medically hazardous.”‘  And still it occurs…

Not one but TWO articles this week on the “valuable, difficult and irreplaceable” work of  the “housewife,” one in Dame Magazine and another at Slate.com, which notes that “it’s really difficult to have two working parents with full-time jobs, because home life requires a lot of necessary man-hours and a huge emotional investment, too.”

Valerie Young writes about news at the intersection of motherhood and public policy. Follow her on Facebook at Your (Wo)Man in Washington, and on Twitter @WomanInDC, and find a weekly blog post at WomanInWashington.org.

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