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Posts Tagged ‘family issues’

Hillary Clinton with her daughter Chelsea in 1984.Mike Stewart — Sygma via Getty Images

We’ve made progress, but have a ways to go.

When I was pregnant with my daughter Chelsea, I asked about the maternity leave policy at the law firm where I worked. I was surprised to find out that we didn’t have one. I soon learned why: No woman who worked in our office had ever come back to work full-time after having a baby.

Well, I wanted to come back. I loved what I did. And it was important to me to contribute to my family’s finances, especially now that we were having a baby.

Finally, as my due date approached, I decided to take matters into my own hands. When Chelsea was born, my employer agreed to grant me four months off to be home with her. I’d still earn an income, though it would be smaller; part of my income was determined by the fees I generated for the firm, which would fall to zero while I was on leave. That made sense to me. And it meant a lot that I could have that time with my new daughter, knowing that my job would be waiting for me when I came back.

These kinds of situations are commonplace today, with more women entering the workforce than ever before. Today, nearly half of all full-time employees are women. Through our contributions, talent, insights, and very presence, we’ve changed the workplace forever. There’s no going back to the days when women were fired for getting married or pregnant, or were excluded from entire professions. Thank goodness.

Bill and Hillary with their daughter Chelsea in 1980.Courtesy of Hillary for America

But let’s be real. We still have a long way to go. Our policies just haven’t kept up with the challenges women and families face today.

Too many women still aren’t paid fairly. On average, women earn 20% less than men do for full-time, year-round work. Women of color earn even less. And when a working mom or grandmother earns less than she deserves, she’s not the only one who pays the price. Her children or grandchildren — whoever’s counting on her salary — do, too.

Women also make up the majority of minimum-wage workers, which means they make as little as $14,500 a year for full-time work. That’s below the national poverty line. Many of those women are raising kids on that income. Raising the federal minimum wage would do a lot for those families.

Meanwhile, even though the number of women running companies, labs, universities, and philanthropies is growing, it’s still too small. So is the number of women serving in elected office. That means women aren’t always included in decision-making, and their needs and concerns aren’t always reflected in government policy or workplace norms.

And we’re making it too hard to balance work and family. That’s true for all parents, but especially mothers. Women are breadwinners in more households than ever, yet they still do the lion’s share of childcare.

Many are feeling the squeeze. I’ve had moms break down in tears as they describe the heartbreak of returning to work just a few days after delivering their baby, because they don’t have paid leave at their jobs. Staying with their child for a few months would mean losing too many paychecks, maybe even their job.

In April, I met a mom in Newton, Iowa, who held her four-and-a-half-month-old in her arms. She said to me, “I’m counting on you to know what it’s like to be a working mother. Please help us working mothers and fathers have more time with our babies.”

I’m not going to let her down.

One thing we can do is invest in affordable childcare. Right now, childcare is more expensive than college tuition in many states. Let’s make sure no family has to spend more than 10% of their income on childcare by making historic investments in childcare assistance and providing tax relief to working families.

Let’s finally join every other advanced economy in the world and guarantee paid leave. I’m proposing 12 weeks of paid medical leave to recover from a serious illness, and 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a new child or a sick relative. After all, moms and dads both deserve to spend time with their babies.

Let’s encourage employers to adopt family-friendly work policies, like flexible and fair scheduling and tele-work, so parents can both work and be there for their families.

Let’s raise the minimum wage. No one who works full-time should be forced to raise their kids in poverty.

And at long last, let’s finally ensure equal pay for women. It’s time for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act — which I cosponsored when I was in the Senate — to give women the tools they need to fight discrimination in the workforce. We also need to promote pay transparency so that women have the information they need to negotiate fairly for their wages.

These aren’t just women’s issues. They’re economic issues and family issues. And they need to be a top priority for our next president. If we’re going to build a globally competitive workforce, we can’t afford to leave any talent on the sidelines. We can’t keep short-changing working families.

I’ll never forget what it was like to be a mom at work. It wasn’t easy. And I was lucky: I had financial security, a supportive employer, and affordable childcare. Too many families don’t. I’ve met so many parents stuck in impossible situations, at their wits’ ends trying to make it all work. It just shouldn’t be this hard to work and have a family.

As president, it’ll be my mission to bring our economy and workplaces into the 21st century, so all of our contributions are respected — both women’s and men’s — and families can thrive.

Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for president and a former secretary of state.

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Hillary held a conversational event for women and families at Jill’s Place in Santa Barbara.  I cannot help thinking this visit it a very felicitous one. Santa Barbara is a very powerful figure in certain cultures.  I think she was smiling down on Hillary today.

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One of the barriers that Hillary Clinton wants to break down is that represented by the challenge of finding and funding child care.

Letter sent on May 13

We need to do more to help working parents raise strong families.

On Sunday, a lot of moms woke up to breakfast in bed, presentations of homemade cards and macaroni picture frames. As someone who received quite a few Mother’s Day gifts like these when my daughter was little, I can attest that they’ll be treasured forever.

But it’s not just families who should celebrate moms. Our country should, too — not just with nice words, but with real action that can really help parents do the vital and often difficult work of raising strong families.

I’ve heard from so many families out there who are struggling to keep the lights on, pay the rent, and be there for their children while doing what it takes to succeed at work. Many are trying to do it in neighborhoods where it’s not always safe to play outside. Some are raising kids with special needs or chronic illnesses, who they love with every fiber of their being but who require a lot of help and patience every day.

On Monday, I sat down with some moms and dads in a coffee shop in Virginia to talk about the roadblocks they face trying to balance work and family. These parents are running into the middle-class squeeze that so many families face: Their relative incomes are the same or lower than their parents’ were, but the cost of everything is higher. One mom said that she’s paying $16,000 a year for child care, which means there’s nothing left to put aside for college or retirement.

The parents I met over the past few days — and those I’ve met across the country over the past year — come from different backgrounds, earn different incomes, and have different beliefs. But the core challenge they’re facing is the same: They desperately want to give their kids a good life. And that gap between what they can do and what their children need tears them up.

Too many workplaces and government policies still operate under the rules of an era that no longer exists, and that means parents — and especially women — are expected to do it all: raise the kids, look after the home, be there for a spouse, and earn a living. Many are helping to care for aging parents, too.

We can’t keep going on like this. That’s what this election is about — a chance to do better by American families. And there are a few things we can do as a country that would make a real difference.

Let’s create a national system of paid family leave. Too many new moms have to go back to work just days after their babies are born, or they’re scraping together vacation days, sick days, unpaid leave, short-term disability, and anything they can to get more time with their babies. And too many dads and parents of adopted children don’t get any parental leave at all.

We should expand home-visiting programs nationwide. In some states, nurses and social workers come right to a family’s home to answer questions about nursing and sleep training, screen for health and developmental benchmarks, and emphasize how important it is to talk and read to babies from the earliest days of their lives. Every family deserves that support, no matter where they live.

We also have to do more to raise incomes. We can start by raising the minimum wage, which would give millions of American families a much-needed boost. And let’s finally guarantee equal pay for women so that their families aren’t shortchanged.

Let’s encourage more employers to embrace family-friendly policies. Sophisticated new scheduling software helps employers squeeze every last bit of productivity out of their workforce. But they’re also throwing workers’ lives into chaos. Too many workers find out what shift they’re working at the last minute, meaning they’re constantly scrambling to line up child care. That instability is exactly what kids don’t need.

That brings me to one of the most important things we could do for families: putting quality child care within every family’s reach. Right now, in many states, child care is more expensive than college tuition, putting families in an impossible position. And of course, for single-parent families, it’s even harder.

Enough is enough. It’s time we invest as a nation in making quality child care affordable for all working families. Let’s make it so no family has to spend more than 10 percent of their income on child care.

We also need to give child care workers a raise. Many can’t afford to give their own kids the care they give other people’s kids every day, and low wages lead to high turnover. As president, I’ll support states and cities that take steps to increase pay for child care providers and early educators while making child care more affordable for families.

And let’s do more to help students who are also parents. That means getting more child care centers on college campuses and easing the financial burdens on student parents, so they don’t give up on school because they can’t afford it. Back in Arkansas, I helped start a scholarship for single parents, and it made a real difference for a lot of hard-working students. We should do something similar nationwide.

Supporting women and families has been the work of my life — ever since I took my first job out of law school representing the interests of children. So this is personal to me. I’ve always believed that it takes a village to raise a child. We all have a responsibility to support each other and create the best possible environment for kids to grow up in, where moms and dads can succeed at work and at home.

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