Mothers deserve more than a day


Care can’t wait. This Mother’s Day we need to do more than simply celebrate the mothers in our lives. We need to value mothers, and the domestic and childcare work that they disproportionately undertake.

Did you know that in the United States in 2020 over 2 million women left the workforce, and in December 140,000 jobs were lost and every one of those was to a woman? This is an issue that disproportionately impacts Black and Latina women, who often work in roles that lack paid sick leave and the ability to work from home. As COVID-19 hit, mothers were forced to stay at home to care for their children.

According to UN Women, the global organization responsible for advancing gender equality, before the crisis started, women did nearly 3 times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men. Social distancing measures, school closures, and overburdened health systems have put an increased demand on women and girls to cater to the basic survival needs of the family and care for the sick and the elderly. Emerging evidence from UN Women’s rapid gender assessment surveys demonstrates that the disproportionate share of unpaid care work is still falling on women’s shoulders during the pandemic; in fact, they report an increase in unpaid care, often while managing paid work.

This is a global issue. In rural contexts, women are generally responsible for gathering water and firewood. This constrains their ability to carry out paid work, particularly when jobs cannot be carried out remotely. In urban areas, women are having to care for children at home while holding down a full-time remote job. While men have spent more time at home, and in some cases cared for their children or dependents too, women are still undertaking the majority of domestic duties at home.

Research by UN Women shows that in past epidemics adolescent girls are at particular risk of dropping out and not returning to school even after the crisis is over. Women’s unpaid care work has long been recognized as a driver of inequality with direct links to wage inequality, lower-income, and physical and mental health stressors. If governments don’t put policies in place, to value care work and support mothers’ return to the workforce we run the risk of widening the gender economic gap for years to come.

The care crisis is a global issue. Tackling it requires support from governments, corporations, and every single one of us doing our part to share the load at home. In recognizing the negative impact that the pandemic is having on children, UNICEF identified key actions every employer can take which will help support their people through the crisis. These include:

1. Assess whether current workplace policies effectively support families.

Start by identifying the most pressing needs of working parents. Specific focus should be placed on vulnerable groups, such as temporary, informal, migrant, pregnant or nursing workers, workers with disabilities, and those who lack access to benefits like paid sick leave.

2. Grant flexible work arrangements.

UNICEF says flexible work arrangements give workers freedom over when and where they fulfil their job responsibilities. Because the needs of working parents can vary greatly, different types of flexible work arrangements support parents to care for their children and families.

3. Support parents with safe, accessible, and affordable quality childcare options.

UNICEF points out that as school and childcare closures have become widespread, many working parents have been faced with limited or no childcare options. Some may even be compelled to leave younger children with limited supervision, compromising their safety. Employers can support these parents in numerous ways, including through childcare referral systems, subsidies, and flexible work arrangements.

4. Reduce financial burdens should workers or their family members fall ill with COVID-19.

Support measures can include employment protection, paid sick leave, and economic transfers like child benefits and subsidies for health expenditures. UNICEF urges that vulnerable groups such as low-income and informal workers should be provided with particular support.

These are just some of the actions that workplaces can take to support their people and demonstrate their continued commitment to equality during the pandemic.

How To Raise Inequality Aware Kids - Mallika Chopra

“I think it starts from the very beginning from parents. So when honestly looking at whose in your community, do you know the stories of people that you interact with when you’re choosing books or television shows or YouTube videos, are you showing a diversity of skin color or religion? So, you know, with my books, one of my main requests to my publisher is that these books need to represent the diversity of children. So you’ll see that like there’s all colors, all ethnicities, all religions. One of the exercises I have in the book is mindful listening. So really being with someone and hearing their story and sharing stories, and that’s kind of how we grow as communities, when we are more conscious and mindful of, you know, each other’s backgrounds.”

Mallika Chopra, mother, author, and public speaker

Three Reasons Why ‘Sneaky Sexism’ Still Exists In Advertising

“It’s easy and predictable to show judgemental ads that convince people that they’re inadequate and that they’re not enough, and they need these things to become what they’re supposed to be. Psychologically this influence is effective and that’s why brands and companies do it.”

Tim Parkin, global brand marketing expert, author, and speaker

Brands need to recognize that there are positive benefits to adopting an inclusive approach to advertising, especially when it comes to the bottom line.



The Quest to ‘Have It All’ Isn’t New. History Is Full of Mothers Who Changed the World While Taking Care of Their Children

The notion that mothers can simultaneously nurture their children and their careers is often seen as a modern phenomenon, an indication of how far women have come in the march toward gender equity. But in fact, history is full of mothers who reached beyond the domestic sphere - courageous women who overcame societal barriers and changed the world for people far beyond their children.

Read in TIME


How COVID-19 has endangered gender equity worldwide

Early research paints a grim picture: increases in unintended pregnancies, higher rates of gender-based violence, more young girls dropping out of school and getting married.

Read in PBS NewsHour


COVID-19 has cost the world’s women $800 billion in lost income

According to Oxfam, COVID-19 has caused women around the world $800 billion in lost income and set back gender equality progress.

Read in The World Economic Forum

In light of International Women’s Day, we are choosing to challenge everyone to take up 100 Actions for Equality in 2021

With challenge comes change. To download the #100ActionsForEquality social media tiles so that you can share them on your social media channels.

Want to be a guest on The Fix podcast?

Do you have a story or tips to share on how you’re building a more gender-equal workplace? We want to hear from you!

Please submit your ideas here

Want to be a guest on The Fix podcast?
Do you have a story or tips to share on how you’re building a more gender equal workplace? We want to hear from you! Please submit your ideas here!
Copyright © 2021 Michelle King, All rights reserved.

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