Cross-posted from Huffington Post.
Mother’s Day is here. That means that if you’re like many people, you’ve recently spent some time asking yourself what your mother (or the mothers in your life) need. Flowers, brunch and chocolates tend to be the gifts of choice, but there is much more that can and should be done to show America’s mothers the gratitude and support they truly deserve.
At the National Partnership for Women & Families, we think every day about the needs of women and their families. And the truth is, what mothers need are the very same resources, programs and policies that fathers, women, men and the whole country need to succeed. Yet, despite some progress, we are woefully behind in prioritizing and adopting them.
So, in honor of Mother’s Day, we joined with people across the country, other advocates and members of Congress to raise awareness about #WhatMothersNeed over the course of their lifetimes. The result was an outpouring of support, including personal stories, thoughtful comments and pledges of support from women as well as men, new and existing allies, policymakers, business leaders and others. The policies and resources we highlighted during the weeklong campaign make a great Mother’s Day gift list for members of Congress and anyone looking to take action in support of America’s moms and families:
- Quality maternity care. The quality of maternity care in our country is poor — costs are high, health outcomes lag behind those of other countries, disparities persist and too many women receive unnecessary and unwanted interventions during labor. Mothers need quality maternity care so they can enjoy safe, satisfying pregnancies and births, and so their babies can have a healthy start in life. That’s why mothers need tools to partner with their providers to make the best decisions about pregnancy and childbirth, including information about cesarean sections.
- An end to pregnancy discrimination. Despite existing law, soon-to-be moms in the United States still experience discrimination in the workplace simply because they decided to grow their families — and that discrimination threatens their health and economic security at a critical time in their lives. That’s why mothers need the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would prevent employers from forcing pregnant women out of their jobs and help ensure that they provide the reasonable accommodations pregnant women need to continue working.
- Family friendly workplaces. Our nation’s workplaces do not reflect the needs of moms and families today. The United States is one of few countries that do not guarantee new moms paid leave. And more than 40 million Americans cannot earn a single paid sick day. That’s why mothers and all workers need the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would establish a national paid family and medical leave program, as well as the Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee access to paid sick days.
- Fair pay. Women’s wages are essential to their families and our economy. Yet women suffer disproportionately from low wages and pay discrimination that threaten their economic security and that of their families. That’s why mothers and the country need the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum and sub-minimum wage rates. We also need the Paycheck Fairness Act to help reduce gender-based pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and establishing stronger workplace protections for women.
- Tools to make the best health care choices. Last but not least, mothers are the primary health care decision makers in their families and our country. It can be an incredibly challenging job, especially given that our health care system frequently fails to deliver coordinated, high-value care. That’s why mothers need tools and information that help them use their health insurance to access affordable, quality care and to make the best possible health care choices. Our new “Health Insurance 101” resource can help.
So, although flowers, brunch and other gifts are a fine way to show the mothers in your life that you care, take some time this Mother’s Day to think about the challenges facing America’s mothers and families. Share resources, your stories, and your thoughts with friends and family members, and then ask them to join you in telling Congress it’s time to make common sense solutions a priority. Action on these important issues is what mothers truly need.