Happy National Parent’s Day!
Happy National Parents’ Day!
To my fellow parents, it’s a wild time to be raising the next generation, isn’t it?
You may not know this about me, but I’m a queer mom of an only-child and I co-parent equally with my ex. Even in the best of times, co-parenting as a part-time solo parent while leading a nonprofit is often challenging. But I feel immense gratitude to have a co-parent who truly shares the work of parenting with me equally — especially in the midst of a global pandemic.
Me, Elias, and Wen, my coparent
In honor of this day, I wanted to reach out to you with some reflections on the personal struggles and political possibilities of parenting in this moment in history.
This experience has brought into sharp focus just how thoroughly our society is structured around paid work. As an organization that aims to close the gender wage gap and end workplace discrimination, we know that a healthy balance between home life, parenting, and our paid work is fundamental to women being able to thrive. But we live in a world that is often outright hostile to mothers trying to balance the demands of caregiving and working, often forcing women out of the workforce as a result.
We know the pandemic itself is taking a tremendous toll on parents. A study this month found that 27% of parents surveyed planned to leave the workforce. Honestly, my jaw was on the floor when I saw that number. 27%. In April, that number was 6%. Given the existing trends in the gendered division of household labor, I’m fairly certain the majority of parents leaving the workforce are women.
We need to fundamentally reevaluate our norms around parenting and working, especially for mothers who parent with male partners where traditional gender roles pervade parenting and domestic responsibilities.
Women’s domestic workloads are growing exponentially, moms are being fired for having loud children, and women are filling the majority of the highest-risk “essential” jobs of our COVID-19 workforce to provide for their families. These trends, including declining workforce participation and deepening pay inequities, are catastrophic for the progress women have made over the last several decades. When we consider this in conjunction with how communities of color are being hit the hardest both by COVID and job loss, it’s clear mothers of color are particularly hard hit. LGBTQ folks, including queer and trans parents, are also disproportionately affected by COVID’s economic impact.
This unprecedented moment in history calls on us to ask, what would it look like to organize our society around care, not work?
This is not a time for band-aid solutions. This is an opportunity to boldly reimagine what our society can look like. For Gender Justice, it looks like ensuring every family has the resources they need to stay healthy, especially when crises hit. It looks like treating children as members of our community that deserve our time and care, not as liabilities to our company’s bottom line. It looks like BIPOC families having the security of a community free from the racism and anti-Blackness that threaten the lives of their loved ones every day.
In this vision, paid family and medical leave and paid sick time would be the norm. It would be the minimum we’d expect for ourselves and each other. Conversations about sending our kids back to school would be grounded in the safety and the developmental needs of our children, families, and communities. And, we’d prioritize solutions helping kids already facing tremendous barriers to education and opportunity. Fair wages, health care access, and fully funded schools would be givens.
Parenting is a radical act of community care, and it is inextricably linked to the goals of bodily autonomy, Reproductive Justice, and gender equity that we fight for every day at Gender Justice. Today, I hope you are able to spend some quality time with your kids, chosen family, or parents, knowing that the care you show your loved ones is a source of radical hope and political possibility.