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An uphill battle

Opinion

April 7, 2021

The United States is the only wealthy nation in the world to not offer paid family leave, and one of few without subsidized child care. Women, including Asian American and Pacific Islander women, are overrepresented in low-wage jobs, and the wage gap persists. With less money in our pocket and no universal health care program, many of us can't afford the care we need.

Almost one million mothers have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic to meet the unprecedented demands of caregiving and remote schooling. Meanwhile, other moms are forced to continue to work because their families depend on their paychecks to get food on the table and a roof over their heads. More than half of Asian American mothers are the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners for their families but, like all women, they still spend more time on housework and caregiving than their male counterparts.

Along with our frustration and despair, so many mothers unable to give their all to either their families or their jobs also blame themselves for their struggles. We have internalized messages from a culture that tells us we have to carry the load of caregiving while simultaneously devaluing our work. We haven't failed. This country has failed us.

The ethos of personal responsibility dominates politics in this country, despite its devastating consequences. Covid-19 so far has taken at least 540,000 lives from us and it isn't done yet, but the governors of Texas and Mississippi are forcing their constituents to fend for themselves after ending mask mandates and reopening their states 100 percent. From making ends meet to making sure our kids are learning and growing, moms feel like it's up to us to figure out the solutions for our families to survive this pandemic – and for the most part, we've been right.

Too often, it falls on mothers to find the best ways to support their families. That's because up until now, our lawmakers have not been delivering on the support and resources that match the realities we are living. Over the course of an entire year, a three-person family like mine would have received checks totaling $2,400. Congress under the Trump administration did nothing to support the struggling child care industry and limited the number and kind of workers eligible for paid leave, a policy that expired in December. The pandemic didn’t create the impossible conditions facing moms – it only exacerbated them.

Excerpted: ‘Support for Families Needs to Be Permanent’

Commondreams.org