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No Free Rides? Empathy and Power in Wisconsin and California

February 25, 2011
There are some mysteries so dark, so staggeringly enigmatic, that the brain simply shuts down when forced to ponder them. Take, for example, the fact that we in the allegedly pro-family United States have almost no paid parental leave and very little open flexible work . As is so often pointed out, that’s not true elsewhere in the developed world—as this recent New York Times article about flexible work in the Netherlands reminded me: For reasons that blend tradition and modernity, three in four working Dutch women work part time… But in just a few years, part-time work has ceased being the...

Restoring Dignity on the Job to Breastfeeding Mothers

February 24, 2011
By Galen Sherwin, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project Returning to work after having a new baby can pose real barriers for women who are breastfeeding. Consider the following real-life examples: When one employee returned from maternity leave, her employer criticized her for needing to express breast milk (or "pump") as frequently as she did because she thought her baby should be eating more solid food, told her she had to stop pumping when her baby turned a year old, and fired her when she asserted her rights. A woman who worked for a local county agency and whose job required her to...
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US: Lack of Paid Leave Harms Workers, Children

February 23, 2011
Millions of US workers – including parents of infants – are harmed by weak or nonexistent laws on paid leave, breastfeeding accommodation, and discrimination against workers with family responsibilities, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Workers face grave health, financial, and career repercussions as a result. US employers miss productivity gains and turnover savings that these cost-effective policies generate in other countries. The 90-page report, “Failing its Families: Lack of Paid Leave and Work-Family Supports in the US,” is based on interviews with 64 parents across...
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Women and Girls and the President's Budget

February 16, 2011
From Your (Wo)manInWashington blog MOTHERS changing the conversation @ www.MothersOughtToHaveEqualRights.org Valentine's Day ushers in the most unromantic topic of the federal budget this year, and President Obama's proposed spending plan has now been unveiled. Much wrangling and intense debate is surely in store, and it's anybody's guess what the final product will be. Your (Wo)Man in Washington flips straight to the summary of expenditures pertaining to women and girls to see what's on the presidential priority list for the current fiscal year. Here's a quick list of some high points for...
Valerie Young's picture

I showered every third day.

February 7, 2011
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I spent a fair amount of time daydreaming about what maternity leave would be like: Leisurely walks in the park, spending time gardening in the back yard while my baby slept peacefully in her bouncy seat, restful hours spent cuddling a smiling gurgling cooing baby. The reality was nowhere near that picturesque. My leave was a 12 week blur of sleep-deprived baby care. I maybe showered every third day, was lucky to get three hours of sleep in a row and considered it a red letter day if the dishwasher got unloaded. I did spend hours upon hours walking...
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On the FMLA Anniversary, Let’s Focus on the Unmet Needs of Working Families

February 5, 2011
Cross-posted at the National Partnership for Women & Families . 18 years. That’s how long the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been in place. It was the first bill President Clinton signed into law and it remains one of the proudest accomplishments of his presidency. The FMLA is the first national law designed to help working families meet the dual demands of work and family. Incredibly, as I write this today, it’s also the last. As we celebrate this anniversary and reflect on how far we have come, we must renew our commitment to ensuring all working families have basic job...

California Families Benefit from Paid Family Leave

February 3, 2011
The good news: Since California unions and community organizations helped pass Paid Family Leave legislation in 2002, over one million people have used the program, which provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement for workers who take time off to bond with a new child or care for a seriously ill family member. A newly released report, Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences with Paid Family Leave in California (Eileen Appelbaum & Ruth Milkman, 2011) shows that 91% of those who used the benefit said that it had a positive effect on their ability to care for a new baby,...
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Real Family Values

February 2, 2011
By Portia Wu, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families , and Megan Renner, executive director of the United States Breastfeeding Committee . Every year roughly four million women give birth in the United States, and most of them (more than three-quarters) start out breastfeeding. Study after study has affirmed the value of breastfeeding in protecting both mothers and children from a host of acute and chronic diseases and conditions, saving billions in health care costs. Breastfeeding mothers also report feeling more closely bonded with their babies—a factor which...

WI legislators may roll back state FMLA - help stop them!

February 2, 2011
Outrageous and unacceptable! As early as this week legislators in Madison are poised to strip benefits from the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WIFMLA) and turn back the clock to a less family-friendly time. This would mean that among other things, many part time workers would no longer be eligible for state FMLA benefits and caregivers would have less flexibility when it comes to using family medical leave. Send a message to your state elected officials: Don’t turn back the clock on family-friendly policies in Wisconsin. Don’t undermine the WI Family Medical Leave Act! Click here:...
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Who is in charge of your maternity care?

January 29, 2011
From Your (Wo)manInWashington blog MOTHERS changing the conversation @ www.MothersOughtToHaveEqualRights.org Womens Enews reports that maternity wards and obstetric units are closing across the country. Depending on where you live, and whether or not you have health insurance, you could be far away from the medical care you need. The number of babies born in the US has remained stable, at just over 4 million a year. But 1.3 million women joined the number of uninsured between 2008 and 2009. Now 22% of all women of child-bearing age are uninsured. Medicaid covers 15% of them. But the Medicaid...
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