It’s Women’s History Month. We know #TheFutureisFemale. But what if #TheFutureIsNow?
Women all over the world are raising their voices. Can you hear them? Teenagers like Emma Gonzalez are saying #GunControlNow. Women across social media are saying #MeToo and #TimesUp. When a group of female strangers came together to help a struggling mother in an airport, one witness said, “It occurred to me that a circle of women, with a mission, can save the world.”
Forget about #InternationalWomensDay: 2018 is the Year of Women. As Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said to CNN: “One of the only silver linings of the Trump presidency is that more and more women are feeling emboldened to raise their voices and fight for the issues that matter most to them, from sexual harassment in the workplace to paid leave.”
“For too long mothers have made the world work. Now it’s time to make the world work for mothers.” – Leith Greenslade
We can’t talk about #WomensHistoryMonth without talking about mothers. I spent #IWD2018 at the United Nations with hundreds of moms and our children, talking about how to make the workplace work for mothers at #Mamameet2018, hosted by Mindr.
Among the panel of mothers was Leith Greenslade, Founder of JustActions. She spoke about the financial penalties women face when getting married, having children (7% salary decrease for each child!), and from working in a male-structured workplace. She discussed how only 12% of females working in the U.S. in positions of power are mothers.
The Work of Women
According to the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, “In 2015, 69.9 percent of mothers with children under age 18 were in the labor force, representing over a third (34.2 percent) of working women. Moreover, mother-only families made up nearly a quarter of families with children. While their role in the paid labor force has changed, mothers continue to carry a disproportionate share of the unpaid household and caregiving responsibilities. At the same time, they still face a lack of adequate workplace supports and encounter barriers that prevent them from achieving economic security for themselves and their families.”
It is unbelievable that in 2018, Senator Tammy Duckworth is set to be the very first United States Senator to give birth while in office. And yet, the U.S. Senate rules will punish her for giving birth. She can’t vote or sponsor legislation if she takes maternity leave. She will miss voting because her nursing infant will be barred from the Senate floor if she does not. It’s a lose-lose situation. The rules were not created with women or mothers in mind. (Click here to help Senator Duckworth change the Senate rules to allow new mothers in office to vote on legislation).
The Path Forward
There is a lot of work to do to level the playing field for us to fulfill our purpose. Whether we choose to work outside of the home or to focus our work inside the home, we require a new set of rules and standards. We need rules written by women and for women. We have to harness technology towards redefining the work day. Work environments must optimize how we uniquely communicate. We need our male counterparts to take on some of the emotional labor we’ve gotten so good at carrying. White women can amplify the voices of women of color, hold space and listen for how we can help. And most importantly, we must recognize our strengths, own them and lead with them.