There is no question that Hilary Rosen should have chosen her words more carefully when she said that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.” As an organization representing moms of all political persuasions across the country and run by moms, we at MomsRising know well that raising children is work. Caregiving is immensely rewarding work, but it's work just the same. Ms. Romney is justifiably proud of the work she's done raising her children.
It’s time that we as a nation recognize that whether mothers' work is paid or unpaid, the work of caregiving is important to us all. Every day, moms around the world are doing this hard work. Work that involves making sure that children get the nutrition, care, education, and health care they need to grow up to be healthy, thriving adults who are part of our nation's economic success. It's much easier to do this when families are economically secure. That’s why it’s so important that when we talk about how much we value moms, we also talk about how important it is to advance public policies that allow families to thrive.
Ann Romney had the financial resources she needed to be able to decide to stay home to raise her children while remaining fiscally solvent. This isn't always possible. Families with a stay-at-home parent are seven times more likely to live in poverty, and millions of moms don’t have the option to choose to stay at home because their wages are needed to put food on the table and a roof over the heads of their families. With the cost of raising a child to age 18 (not including college) these days over $200,000 per child, the wages of mothers are increasingly needed to make ends meet.
Ultimately, whether mothers' work is paid or unpaid, all moms are concerned about their families’ well-being and economic security. That’s why we need strong equal pay laws to ensure that moms who work outside the home are paid the same as their male counterparts for the same work, so they can support their families. That’s why we need earned sick days laws, so that parents who do work outside the home don’t have to choose between a paycheck and staying home to care for sick child. That's why we need to have paid family leave after a new child comes into a home, so that parents can take time out of work to care for a new child. And that's why we need affordable, enriching childcare opportunities so that parents can get to work and children can have a safe, educational place to be while parents are working.
Without family economic security policies like these in place, families are struggling. Right now, having a new baby is a leading cause of poverty spells in this country, and nearly a quarter of young families are living in poverty. It shouldn’t be that way. Families should be able to work hard and get what they need -- a good job, food on the table, good health care, and a safe place to call home.
To be frank, children are not only our hearts, they are the economic engine of our nation's future. Let’s take this moment to more fully recognize the value of all moms' paid and unpaid hard work--and to urge our elected leaders to support family economic security policies which allow both our families and our economy to thrive. After all, the success of our families and our economy are completely intertwined.
Editor's note: This statement by MomsRising CEO and Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner may also be found in our In the News section. Reporters with questions should contact Gretchen Wright or Molly Tomlinson
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