expand and fund parental leave
The United States is the only first world nation that does not have paid leave for new parents. The only guarantee for qualifying mothers under current law is that their companies won’t hire a replacement for at least twelve weeks after the baby is born. While some companies and organizations provide paid leave, at present only 16% of all working parents have access to any form of paid leave. Furthermore, it is easy for a working mother to fall through the cracks of even this barebones policy: if she has been working for a company for less than a year, does not work full-time, or works at a company with less than 50 employees, odds are good she won’t be covered. We can do better. It’s time to expand and fund parental leave.
value care work
A full 43% of women leave the workforce at some point to care for children. Once mothers leave, they risk becoming invisible in society, receiving no social security benefits, barely showing up on a family’s tax statement, and growing increasingly dependent on their spouse and other family members as they raise children. Caretaking is necessary, valuable work, and should be treated as such. Government policies should be put in place to underscore the value of caregiving, including giving stay at home caregivers a full social security credit for years they take off to raise young children and providing a universal basic income for each child cared for. Supports should also be put in place for mothers who wish to return to the workforce after a period of caring for children, including specialized loans for mothers who wish to return to school and transitional positions intended to give returning parents the experience necessary to get hired. We can do better. It’s time to give mothers the support and respect they deserve.
promote flexible work options
Mothers need more than just a good maternity leave policy to pursue their career priorities. The worldwide pandemic has shown us that employees can be highly effective while working from home. This unprecedented experiment in working from home has also shown some startling benefits for mothers—lower infant mortality, more flexible time with children, and less logistical struggles to breastfeed. Power players need to implement policies that allow parents the time and space necessary to raise their children. These policies could include ‘ramp up’ and ‘ramp down’ periods as parents prepare to bring a new baby home as well as part time positions that include scaled 401-k and health benefits. We can do better. It’s time to give parents the options they need to find a true balance of work and home.
What is EEM all about?
EEM was founded out of one mother’s frustration trying to find options in the space between working full time and staying at home (read that story here). Based in that experience and coming out of a pandemic that disproportionately impacted women’s employment, EEM has chosen to focus organizing efforts on mothers because we believe they are uniquely shouldered with childcare responsibilities and in special need of an advocacy community. Mothers also bear unique workplace penalties for having children, and face significant barriers to re-entry after taking time out of the workforce. EEM exists to counterbalance these societal forces, and we won’t stop until mothers have both the options they need and respect they deserve in the quest to combine work and family.
As EEM is based in a middle class woman’s frustrations trying to combine work and family, it is accurate to say that at present, EEM focuses on the needs of this group. Certainly we recognize that even having the choice between working and staying home is a privilege that many low-income women are not in a position to consider. We applaud policies like the child allowance recently passed as part of the American Rescue plan, and advocate for similar policies which will impact mothers from all backgrounds. EEM believes as we advocate for policies that will advantage middle class women (such as paid maternity leave, a permanent child allowance, and more benefitted part-time work options), that single moms and low-income mothers will be similarly benefitted.
That being said, we are looking to expand our reach and to better understand the issues that single mothers and low-income mothers face. If you are a single mom or a low-income mother and would like to share your experiences or write for us, please reach out to [email protected].
Our organization focuses on mothers who are looking for a change in their balance of work and home—mothers for whom the experience of trying to balance full-time work and kids feels like too much, as well as mothers at home who would like to enter the workforce, but feel barred from entry due to time away from the job. There are mothers who work full-time who are satisfied with their work-life balance, but research suggests that this isn’t the experience of all working moms. A 2019 study suggests that working mothers with two or more children were 40% more stressed than women without children. Further, Caitlyn Collins’ recent book, Making Motherhood Work, interviewed mothers from Sweden, Italy, Germany and the US, and found that mothers in the US were the most stressed by far (due to high expectations at work and home and lack of support). Clearly the United States is not doing enough to support mothers, a reality that has been made abundantly clear in the wake of Covid-19. Whether it’s funding for daycare, on-ramps for returning moms, or real paid time off after having a child, women who wish to combine work and home need real support and real options that both value caregiving and provide access to sustainable work.