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Michelle Noehren's picture

Cross posted from the Young Women's Leadership Program Blog:

Words of Wisdom from Worldly Young Women

As I scrolled through my newsfeed on my Facebook page this week I came across a posting written by a friend who has two young children that read, “I make $4.26 a week after daycare. Oh, the joys of parenthood.” My immediate reaction and my subsequent comment on her post read, “No, more like: Oh the joys of a society that says it values family but then doesn’t give us paid maternity leave and doesn’t create more affordable childcare options!”

Ever since reading the Motherhood Manifesto (read it, I’m serious!) a few years ago I became a passionate advocate for motherhood issues. Now that I’m expecting my first child and am experiencing some of the injustices that come along with being a mom-to-be in the U.S, my passion for the cause of working moms has only grown.

We should not internalize the injustices we face as mothers & mothers-to-be. The personal IS political. For me, I’ve had a difficult pregnancy physically (I recently blogged about it for Working Mother Magazine) and was faced with the stark reality that even if I wanted to take my sick time, I really can’t. Because the U.S. has no policy on paid maternity leave (and neither does my workplace) I have to save every morsel of sick time for when the baby arrives so that I can spend more time with him/her before coming back to work.

Our country says it values family, but how can that be true when we don’t have a system of paid maternity leave? Don’t even get me started on the lack of paid sick leave for workers and the lack of affordable, quality child care options for working parents (hmmm…I sense a few future blog postings!). (If you live in the Connecticut area join Momsrising on January 5th to deliever "hand-santizier-o-grams" to legislators considering passing a paid sick leave law)

It’s important to recognize that there is still a lot of work to do to move us towards true gender equality and that the issues affecting us as mothers stem from our societies inability to truly value women’s unique contributions and experiences. We have a lot of work to do in order to secure a paid leave policy on a national level but – we can do it!

Michelle Noehren is the Events & Special Projects Manager at the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and the founder and  co-chair of the Young Women's Leadership Program.

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