The State of the Union came and went. President Obama challenged Congress to recapture a sense of common purpose that, as he put it, has always propelled America forward. "In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan. And in the months ahead, I'll crisscross the country making a case for those ideas," said the president.
Some of those ideas will be good news to mothers around the country. That is, if we can get our representatives on board.
Here are the mom-friendly initiatives President Obama put forth:
- Affordable, High-Quality Childcare. President Obama acknowledged that having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, and therefore we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. "It's not a nice-to-have. It's a MUST-HAVE," said the president. "It's time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or as a women's issue," President Obama said, "and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us." The proposal includes a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year, to help pay for childcare costs.
While these proposals are encouraging, and show some sign of progress, they are not nearly enough. Today, households headed by a female and women over 60 are the two poorest demographic groups in the United States. Women and children are 70 percent of the poor and 90 percent of those on welfare, and one in four mothers in the paid labor force is the sole support of her family. Of all single mothers, nearly two-thirds are working in low-wage retail, service or administrative jobs that offer little flexibility, benefits or economic support to provide for or allow needed family time with their children.
The United States is the only major economy that does not provide at least some paid sick leave, and it is one of two countries out of 185 countries around the world that does not mandate some form of paid maternity leave (Papa New Guinea is the other.)
We can do better.
Send an email to your elected representative regarding any of the above policies that you care about. You can research and track legislation here. Here are some tips for writing an effective email. In order to have our laws and public policy accurately reflect the truth of women's lives, we need your voice.
Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a women's leadership mentor and coach, specializing in helping women find their voice. She is the author of the bestselling book, Find Your Voice: A Woman's Call to Action. Learn more at tabbybiddle.com.