C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute, pointed out women have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-fueled economic downturn, and researchers polled more than 1,400 women on their economic concerns and policy priorities for the new administration and Congress.
“This year, moms want a little bit more than breakfast in bed,” Mason stated. “They want paid sick leave, they want equal pay for equal work, they want child care. They want all the things they haven’t had for so long.”
The Biden administration’s American Families Plan, part of a larger economic recovery package, includes federal child-care assistance, paid family leave and other family-work supports as essential infrastructure.
Critics in Congress said the price tag for Biden’s proposals is too high, and argued infrastructure spending should only include investments in fixing the nation’s roads, bridges and other works traditionally paid for by taxpayers.
The Institute’s analysis suggested full economic recovery hinges upon women being able to re-enter the workforce and be able to remain on the job in order to provide for their families.
Mason noted a majority of women are breadwinners in their families, and the public health crisis made it very clear what can happen when essential family-work supports are missing.
“We found out the hard way during the pandemic that women cannot do their jobs if they do not have adequate, high-quality child care and paid sick leave,” Mason recounted. “It’s just not going to happen.”
Since the beginning of COVID-19, more than 6.5 million women either lost jobs or were forced to leave the workforce to care for family members, including children when schools closed.
Black and Latina women have been disproportionately affected, with unemployment rates exceeding 20%. Oxfam America estimated women lost $800 billion in earnings over the past year.