The Real Issues of Working Women and Mothers

Last week, I was really disappointed, it was Women’s day on March 12th, and most of the week was spent on debating contraceptives.  Did we really address the issues that concern us? and why did we not?

As a working mother, most of us care about things such as:

  1. Adequate maternity leave
  2. Private areas in the workplace to express milk when we do return to work
  3. Childcare, especially when the kids are out of school
  4. Parents elder care
  5. Pay equity with men
  6. Child trafficking around the work
  7. The ill treatment or abuse of women around and the improvement to laws needed to address these issues

There are just some of the many issues around the world and in the Unites States that are hurting women, and we allowed ourselves to get caught up in minutiea, namely contraceptives.  I have never ever been around a woman who complained that she was worried because she could not buy contraceptives next week.  I have also never been around anyone who became pregnant because they could not afford contraceptives.  As women, there are so much issues that we care about, however, we should be careful not to be penny wise and pound foolish, going after the small fish, while the big ones are swimming away.

Maternity Leave – In the US, we get maternity leave of six weeks, yes, this is one of, if not the lowest around the world.  We talk about caring for kids, but we give parents very little time to bond, and make sure ours kids are ready for daycare.  Yes, we have FMLA (unpaid leave), however, not many people use it as they cannot afford to lose their paychecks.  So for the working women and mothers, this is one issue that i would like to see be tackled with the fervor that was put into the argument for contraceptives.

If you would like to read more about FMLA and maternity leaves around the world, see: FMLA info and Parental Leave around the world.

Childcare – This is a big issue for us.  In the company that I work for, we are given an average of 21 personal time off days, there are no specific sick days or vacation days.  One can use the days in in any manner, he or she see fit.  The working mothers like me typically save the days for doctors’ appointments and those days when the kids are out of school due to teacher work days.  For a couple, it’s not too bad, as the mother and father work it out, however, this is normally stressful for a single mother as vacation days are viewed as a luxury that cannot be afforded.  I am not saying here that I want the government or anyone else to pay for my kids care, however if we genuinely want to address women’s issues, this is a key area to start.

Pay Equity with Men – Last year one of the largest lawsuits against Walmart was dismissed.  This involved women who thought they were not promoted fairly, and they were being paid less.  I am not arguing the merits of the case, as I am not a legal scholar, however, the issues in the case did not generate the public discussion that this contraceptive discussion did, and I consider those issues to be more important to us working women.

Elderly Parents Care – One looming issue for a lot of us is caring for aging parents.  Our parents are finding themselves without sufficient funds to cover long term care, hospital stays and other basic necessities.  Just as we struggle with childcare, we are now struggling with parents or elder care.  I have friends who are simultaneously searching for child care and elder care.  This again is another issue that can be tackled if we truly care about women.

The other two, child trafficking, and abuse of women are not trivial, and deserve also the same fervor and congressional attention given to contraceptives last week.  As I stated when I started, I was very disappointed that we did not use the attention from congress as a spring board to generate and push real women’s issues.  There are real issues out there, yes contraceptives on one of them, but let’s be honest, it is not one of the issues we lose sleep over.

So, I truly hope that the next time we are given a soap box, we can address some of the real issues at hand.





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