Every year roughly four million women give birth in the United States, and most of them (more than three-quarters) start out breastfeeding. Study after study has affirmed the value of breastfeeding in protecting both mothers and children from a host of acute and chronic diseases and conditions, saving billions in health care costs. Breastfeeding mothers also report feeling more closely bonded with their babies—a factor which may lower the risk of postpartum depression.
Few workplace policies in the United States recognize the dual demands of work and family. Our lack of a paid sick time standard is a prime example.
Our country needs more adequate, reasonable and flexible sick leave policies. Tens of millions of workers in this country don't have a single paid sick day. Many of those who do can't use them to meet their family's health needs. As a result, kids and their parents are forced to go to school or work sick, contagion spreads, and public health suffers.
Imagine living with someone you are crazy about who gradually turns into a stranger. Alzheimer's disease is a heartbreaking disease, not just because it takes a loved one in death, but because first, it takes that person's mind, personality, memory and character - the things that made us love them in the first place.
A few weeks ago, voters sent a clear message: They want Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to address the issues facing working families. But when Senators took their first vote after returning to Washington, they missed the chance to do just that. Yesterday's vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act was a failed opportunity and a real disappointment for all of us who care about fairness, women's progress, and economic security for working families.
Today's working families are juggling 'Ozzie and Harriet' policies in a web 2.0 world, and it's simply not sustainable. Workers are struggling to care for their families while both parents hold jobs. Families are straining to meet increasing child- and eldercare responsibilities. Parents have little savings to fall back on, and few jobs - and even fewer good jobs - to apply for, should they lose the jobs they have.
It is well-documented that the wage gap hurts women and their families by denying them the fair wages that would help them pay for essential items like groceries, gasoline, and rent or mortgage payments. But the pay gap hurts women long after they have left the workforce, too.
It's the first Monday in October, and the Supreme Court convenes today for a new term. But this term is different from all others because, today for the first time ever, three women are serving together on our highest court. It is significant -- momentous -- that one-third of the Court is female, even though that fraction does not yet represent our proportion of the population. But it is a sign of progress that was once almost unimaginable for me and most of my peers.
Throughout the long, hot summer — despite the veto-proof majority in the New York City Council, despite the endless terrible experiences of workers who've been forced to work sick, despite the loads of testimony in favor of the Paid Sick Time Act — New York's proposed paid sick days law has remained in limbo.
Congress has only a few weeks left before it adjourns for the election - and the Senate still hasn't taken up the Paycheck Fairness Act. Time is running out, and women deserve - and need - fair pay.
Sunday was National Grandparents Day - and this year, we can do more for our grandparents than send candy or flowers. Let's take action to improve the health and economic security of our grandparents — and all of America's grandparents.
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