Policies should do more to value working mothers

For strong families, our policies must value mothers’ roles both in the family and in the workplace.

For strong families, our policies must value mothers’ roles both in the family and in the workplace.

The day after Mother’s Day, Vox published a sobering story that reflects how much more work the U.S. has to do to implement public policies that show we value mothers in their attempt to handle both career and household responsibilities.

Vox: “If America really valued mothers, we wouldn’t treat them like this”

The story points out how far the U.S. lags behind other countries in policies that truly prioritize children and families by making it possible for parents to spend the time needed to care for children. At the same time, the U.S. needs to do more to remove barriers that make it harder for working mothers to support those children – especially in 40 percent of households with dependent children where the mother is the primary, or even sole, income earner.

Here’s a brief snapshot of the troubling policies:

  • The U.S. is one of the only countries that does not guarantee paid maternity leave.
  • The U.S. does not have a guaranteed vacation or paid sick days policy.
  • For working parents who do get paid sick days, we don’t ensure they can get time off to care for sick children without using their own sick days.
  • Mothers face consistent job discrimination outside of the home.

Nebraska Appleseed continues to work to develop and support policies that would help working mothers in our state bring stability to their families not just economically, but that value the essential time parents and children must spend together.

In 2013, we supported the “Step Up To Child Care Act,” which allows more Nebraska families to be eligible for child care assistance and allows parents to go to work. We supported LB 240, introduced by Sen. John Harms, which allows parents using the Aid to Dependent Children program to pursue education as a path out of poverty.  And in the 2014 session, we testified in support of bills that would have created paid family leave and paid sick leave policies in Nebraska, however those bills did not advance out of committee.

One of the most important policies that could benefit working mothers is to raise the minimum wage. Nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage employees are women, and an increase in the minimum wage would go to shrinking the pay gap that already is unfavorable to women.

Nebraska is a place that values families, and our public policies should reflect that. Mother’s Day should be about more than just paying lip service to the importance of our mothers. Changes to our policies can make sure working mothers can bring financial stability to their homes as well as being the supportive parents that are necessary for strong families and strong communities.

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