As GLIDE honors our mothers – alive and in spirit – we reflect on the essential roles they play as the first leaders in our lives, the first mentors, and the first caretakers. We celebrate our mothers for their accomplishments, contributions and humanity, but, as much as we’ve sought and made changes to laws, to systems and to our lives, progress for mothers and women remains frail.
The past few years have created new realities that have worked against mothers, compounding with centuries of lagging policy and institutional support. As reproductive rights continue to be jeopardized in the United States, we face the highest maternal mortality rate in developed countries. At the same time, we have yet to establish universal parental leave and universal, subsidized childcare.
As COVID-19 spurred an economic crisis, mothers – particularly those in the retail and service industries – lost their jobs. Women found themselves trapped at home with abusive partners, catapulting incidences of domestic violence and overwhelming hotlines and social service providers. Now, two years into the pandemic, new research is exposing an alarming increase in female suicide rates, worldwide. We see that all of these trends are worse for women of color and for low-income women.
Despite the critical role they play and the disproportionate challenges that they face, mothers are often erased and forgotten, their stories untold. But when we don’t support mothers, we also hurt our children, our communities, and our national economy.
“What if we asked how we could support mothers in return? What if we celebrated stay-at-home moms as the essential members of our society that they are rather than belittling their role? What if employers and colleagues recognize mothers as the ultimate test of multitasking, organization and empathy?”
Anna Malaika Tubbs, author
When mothers are celebrated for their contributions, when women are economically empowered to participate in workplaces, we see thriving communities. When men step into nontraditional caretaking roles as well, we see a balanced future. And when we change our narratives to center mothers, elevate their work, and articulate their value, we build a more representative, loving and just world.
Happy Mother’s Day!