A year ago on International Women’s Day, we reflected on how having access to reliable, quality child care is critical to today’s workforce. And we have our sitters to thank — they help moms across the country prioritize their career and make profound achievements in business, academics and government.
Over the past 365 days, we’ve seen some major progress that suggests we’re moving in the right direction. Take, for instance, the 116th class of Congress. With 435 representatives and 100 senators, there are now 102 women representatives and 25 women senators—the most women ever to represent Americans across the country. Even more exciting: The freshman class of 39 women includes 26 moms. But it comes as no surprise that these accomplished women faced similar hurdles as the rest of us, and some found themselves scrambling to find quality child care before being sworn in on January 3, 2019.
Congresswomen—they’re just like us—with one big exception. They are in a position to make meaningful changes that can help all families access quality child care. We’re rooting for them to make a difference!
Congress isn’t the only place where progress is being made. Actress Rachel McAdams, who welcomed a son in April 2018, helped to continue normalizing breastfeeding when she appeared in a magazine proudly sporting her breast pump. And in New York, moms and dads applauded when the state changed the building code to require “all new or renovated buildings with public bathrooms to install safe and compliant changing tables that are available to both men and women.” It may sound like a small step, but it’s a big win for parenting equality.
And yet, the last year also highlighted that we have a long way to go. Viral moments reminded us that there’s still plenty of judgment out there for moms who choose to work outside the home, and we still have work to do when it comes to treating sitters with the dignity and respect they deserve for the important economic contribution they make.
As we continue to fight for a world that provides equality and economic justice for all women, there are small things we can all do, every day. So on International Women’s Day, it’s important to think about how we can spend the next year making progress. We know we can do it, and here are three simple ways that all moms can help us get there.
Whether they are climbing corporate ladders, kicking butt in Congress or providing the critical work of caring for children (either their own or other people’s), it is vital that women support one another, recognize the value in the different types work we choose to do, and be a little more real about how hard it is to be a mom today.
Build a more equal partnership at home.
Listen up, dads: We know you’ve been stepping up in a big way, but study after study shows that moms continue to bear the burden of childrearing, chores and household management. Take some time to understand how you can take on your fair share duties, including the mental burden of running a household. Moms, don’t be afraid to speak up and have serious conversations about what you need your partner to do in order to have a truly equal partnership.
Get involved and make a difference.
With more women, and more moms, representing us in local, state and federal government, it’s time we all get involved. Start demanding policies that protect women in the workplace when they are pregnant and breastfeeding, provide adequate maternity and paternity leave, ensure pay parity, and make quality child care available and accessible for women and their families. Stay informed and consider calling or emailing your representative and senators to ask them to support legislation that will positively affect women and children.
So what does life look like when working moms are truly treated equally? The truth is, everyone benefits. Families flourish, children have the opportunity to thrive with quality care, sitters are paid fairly for their critical contribution to society, and parents (yes, moms and dads) have more options than ever when it comes to deciding how best to manage family and work. Sounds pretty great, right? We know we can get there if we just keep taking small steps in the right direction.