by Del. Sam Rasoul
The pandemic has hit everyone in our nation and our commonwealth hard, but the data is clear on who has borne the brunt. Over the last eleven months women have watched 30 years of progress in the workplace evaporate, and it’s hit Black and Latina women the hardest.
And millions of the women who have left their jobs, their education or had to reduce their hours are mothers who had no other option.
But it would be a mistake to believe that this inequity began last year. The pandemic made an inequitable situation much worse, but the real cause of the crisis mothers are facing is that the hard work of caregiving has for too long been unpaid and undervalued.
Even pre-COVID, mothers were far more likely than fathers to leave the workforce to look after children. With schools closed and child care unaffordable for many, mothers have had to not only pick up caretaking duties but also have to guide their children through digital learning. It’s an unsustainable situation.
I’ve been inspired by the work of Reshma Saujani and others who have led the call for a national Marshall Plan for Moms. Recently a mom in Roanoke told me Virginia needs our own Marshall Plan for Moms, and I couldn’t agree more.
Virginia needs a data-driven plan to address the inequities that have been laid bare by this crisis — a plan that includes child care for all, paid family and medical leave for every worker, more money in caretakers’ pockets, access to paid sick leave, a higher minimum wage, fair scheduling, and incentives for employers to hire mothers who had to choose between their job and taking care of their children at home in this pandemic. That’s why I’m committed to prioritizing Virginia’s mothers by hiring a full-time Director of Mothers Advocacy in the office of Lt. Governor whose focus will be getting these policies enacted.
George Marshall, namesake of the original Marshall Plan, graduated from Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. Virginia has the historic distinction of being the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Now it’s time to put some real power behind those values with a comprehensive, statewide plan. Let’s put mothers at the center of Virginia’s COVID recovery by investing in a bold plan to lift them up.
Tonight, I will be hosting a discussion about the Marshall Plan for Moms, moderated by Ivonne Wallace Fuentes, Professor of History at Roanoke College. I invite you to join the discussion starting at 7:30 PM.