AUGUST – PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
As a result of this pandemic, virtual connections, virtual workspaces, and virtual learning are the new normal. In many ways it feels as though we’re in a futuristic movie! What has not caught up to the future, though, is childcare. Since we’re a women’s group I believe it is important to address some very serious issues affecting mothers right now. After making so much progress in the last 40 years towards equality we are at risk of regressing to pre-’80s status.
For the past six months, schools and childcare facilities have either been completely closed or functioning only at partial capacity for essential workers only. As we enter the new school year, it seems we are in for another season of “distance learning”. But what exactly does distance learning mean for families? Distance learning means that at least one parent must remain at home to supervise (and teach!) their children. For single mothers, this clearly poses a real threat to survival – How can a single mother work and supervise and teach all at the same time? For married mothers, the outlook is just as grim; we are seeing trends reminiscent of the ’60s when women were expected to give up their careers in order to stay home and take care of the children. Now, with distance learning, women are expected to stay home as they are the lower-earning spouse, not to mention the social pressure to be a “good mom”.
These issues point to a deeper-rooted problem. The fact is that even pre-covid, women were still only earning 80 cents on the dollar, and therefore most women ARE the lower-earning spouse. What’s more, the feminist movement has always fallen short in supporting working mothers. We’ve fought for equal rights and equal pay, but have we ever fought for equal access to opportunity? Without affordable and easily accessible childcare, daycare at workplaces, longer maternity leaves, extra sick days for when children are sick, child-friendly workspaces, affordable adult-care for aging parents, etc., women do NOT have equal access to opportunities.
If women have to choose between being a parent and having a fruitful career; and if workplaces and organizations continue not to recognize the needs of mothers, then equality will never truly be achieved. And worse, in this “new normal” women are at risk of losing everything we have worked for and achieved.