Harnessing Mom Power at MomsRising.org
Just in time for Mother’s Day, a new online grassroots movement to harness mom power is coming to a computer near you. MomsRising.org is reaching out to an often overlooked, yet deeply important, segment of our population, mothers, and bringing them together to work for common sense solutions to shared problems. With 82% of women becoming mothers by the time they are 44, according to the U.S. Census, this group packs a powerful punch of latent political and community strength.
MomsRising co-founders Joan Blades (co-founder of MoveOn.org) and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner also co-authored a newly released book, The Motherhood Manifesto, which features stories of dozens of mothers with diverse experiences, and details the MomsRising agenda. This agenda champions issues that are important to both employed and stay-at-home mothers. “It’s time to put our policies and our resources where our mouth has been on family values,” says Joan Blades, President of MomsRising.
Taking this movement online allows mothers (and all who have mothers) to make a difference without having to further stretch already over-stretched schedules. “Mothers and families are scrambling for time, and part of the reason is our lack of family-friendly policies,” Blades said. “So bringing the ability to advocate for change to a computer in the living room or public library makes a big difference in people being able to fit important advocacy efforts on behalf of mothers and families into already jam packed lives.”
And this type of advocacy, MomsRising asserts, is sorely needed in America where mothers and families are in trouble. “A top cause of ‘poverty spells’ is having a baby, and more than a quarter of families with children under six live in poverty,” Rowe-Finkbeiner said. “These economic realities are symptoms of a larger problem. Our nation simply doesn’t have policies and programs in place to support mothers and families – policies like paid family leave, flexible work options, subsidized childcare, and adequate healthcare. And intertwined with these issues is the fact that mothers face a significant wage and hiring bias — the ‘Mommy Wall’ is alive and well in America. It’s time to break it down.”
“Many families are struggling alone, and think it’s their fault in some way that everything isn’t going smoothly, but when so many families are struggling with the same issues, it’s time to join together to work for solutions,” Blades added.
Mothers have the power to make a difference. Pollster Celinda Lake agrees, “Moms are a critical part of the vote targeted by both political parties, and are increasingly the swing vote that determines the outcome of elections.”
MomsRising is working to enhance the power of mothers. “We are building a massive grassroots online resource to collaboratively put motherhood issues on the radar screen and to provide grassroots political capital to advance leaders and policies that support families,” said Blades.
MomsRising is also partnering with diverse organizations to highlight campaigns that promote family-friendly policies like, paid family leave, healthcare, afterschool, childcare, flex time and fair wages. Partners range from the AFL-CIO to the National Coalition on Heath Care to Project Kid Smart to Women Employed. “Seeing the number of organizations involved in this effort is humbling and inspiring. We really think Americans are rising to the challenge of providing necessary help to mothers and families,” Rowe-Finkbeiner commented.
Right now, MomsRising.org is featuring one main campaign, a petition to tell leaders it’s time to do more than talk about family values by supporting family-friendly policies. There are also three additional campaigns that each call for specific actions: Urging the media to focus on important issues that matter to moms, kids, and families rather than on the so-called “mommy wars;” providing information about the health care concerns of American families to the Citizens’ Health Care Working Group, created by Congress; and registering high school seniors to vote.
MomsRising is a place where all mothers can come together to support the issues that matter to them, and also to share the joys and frustrations that come with motherhood. It’s a web site, an online community, and a grassroots organization where people can learn about current issues, take action, and get discussion topics all in one place. For instance, on MomsRising mothers can read and share funny, sad or touching – but always true – stories about everything from potty training, to single motherhood, to office mates with an irrational fear of breast milk.
There is no cost to join the organization. Members sign up online. And MomsRising members can print out two chapters of the The Motherhood Manifesto free on the web site. Chapter One is available now, and an additional chapter will be added every two weeks.
Blades concludes, “For America to have a vibrant future, we must invest both love and resources in our children. The best way to do this is support mothers and families.”