As mothers across the U.S. were gifted with flowers, sweets, and brunches on Sunday, Sheryl Sandberg took the opportunity to remind the government what moms really want — policy change.
On Mother’s Day, Facebook’s chief operating officer shared a powerful message on (where else?) her Facebook page calling for a major improvement in the policies that affect working women, like child care, maternity leave, and the federal minimum wage.
“Being a mother is the most rewarding — and hardest — job many of us will ever have… (and) for most moms, it’s only one of many jobs we have,” Sandberg, who’s been a single mom since her husband’s sudden death in 2015, wrote. “Over 40% of mothers are the primary breadwinners for their families — and in many, the only breadwinner. We all have a responsibility to help mothers as well as fathers balance their responsibilities at work and home.”
Though Sandberg said she’s proud of the steps Facebook has taken to address these issues — like offering on-site breastfeeding facilities and four months of paid maternity, paternity, and adoption leave — she added that not everyone is fortunate enough to work for a company that values working parents. Rather than wait for individual companies to follow Facebook’s lead, she believes the responsibility lies in the hands of the government to enforce “what our families deserve and our values demand.”
“Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women,” Sandberg pointed out. “Raising the wage would reduce pay inequality and help millions of families living in or near poverty.”
Next on her list was paid leave. And unlike some paid-leave campaigners who’ve attracted criticism for a lack of inclusivity (*cough cough* Ivanka Trump), Sandberg’s view on this issue encompasses the needs of LGBTQ and adoptive parents, too.
“The United States is one of the only developed countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid family leave – and we’re the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave,” she wrote. “That means many moms are forced to return to work right after giving birth to keep their jobs. They deserve more support. So do dads, LGBTQ parents, adoptive parents — families of all kinds.”
Here, the “Lean In” author is echoing recent policy-change pressure put on the Trump administration by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who asserted that “paid leave is not just a mother and child issue — it’s a societal issue we have.”
Lastly, Sandberg highlighted America’s need for better and more affordable childcare options, making her case through one startling statistic.
“Child care for two children exceeds the median annual rent in all 50 states,” she said. “How are parents supposed to work if they don’t have a safe and affordable place to leave their kids?
Since being shared on Sunday, Sandberg’s post has been liked more than 12,000 times, and advocacy for paid parental leave, especially, certainly seems to have been gathering steam lately. How many more women voicing these same views will it take before the current administration takes note?
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