Happy International Women's Day! This year's theme is Challenging Inequity. Well, that is a timely topic considering the Pandemic has significantly pushed women's progress backward in the US workforce. The shuttering of schools and childcare centers across the nation has driven millions of women out of the workforce.
The lost wages and economic activity are estimated to be 64.5 Billion per year!
The independent non-partisan Center for American Progress writes, "Without both immediate and long-term action to shore up the child care infrastructure and establish more progressive work-family policies, the United States cannot achieve continued economic growth nor protect and advance gender equity. . . . “Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September, roughly 865,000 women compared with 216,000 men. This validates predictions that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women—and the accompanying child care and school crises—would be severe."
Not only does this affect women and their careers, additionally it affects the entire family. With reduced income and opportunity, entire families' housing, nutrition, health, and education are put at risk. Many single mothers who are considered front line or essential workers have been forced to cobble together child care on their own to continue to work. All of this disproportionally affects women of color.
The closing of schools for all age children from K-12 and distance learning has put even more pressure on families, and again, most of it has fallen disproportionately on women.
What would Athena do?
The people chose Athena to be the patron goddess of Athens. She is the protector of the people. She represents wisdom, courage, creativity, protection, and the will to follow through. She is courageous and inspires us to give and be our very best. Such a goddess inspires the solving of problems and the creation of clear-eyed solutions. Since women cast the majority vote that made her the namesake of Athens, it is to her energies that we can turn for the strength to hold government accountable.
What can be done? Our government must do more than has ever been done to support US women with childcare by upgrading schools to open safely and expand support services for American families in need.
Women advocating for women Call Email, Tweet, and Text your representatives to demand that Covid relief, and additional legislation, include fully-funded long-term support for women. These programs must offer comprehensive programs that will help women regain the ground we have lost in our fight for economic, political, and cultural equity. If we don't do it now, it may literally take a generation or more to regain our lost ground. This is not only damaging to women; it is damaging to our families and the economy.