Our online event on November 10, 2020 followed the release of our latest economic recovery report, Build(ing) the Future: Bold Policies for a Gender-Equitable Recovery. We reflected on the policies and programs needed at the federal and state levels to build an economy and society that uplifts women and families.
If you don’t understand who’s being most impacted by your policies, your strategies, and what you think should be done, the policies and programs you put forth will be short sighted and not reflective of the lived experiences and realities of those who are most impacted. -C. Nicole Mason
C. Nicole Mason, Institute for Women’s Policy Research
So, welcome to our event! I am C. Nicole Mason. I’m the president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Before we get started, I have a bit of housekeeping: Your lines will be muted for the duration of this call. If you have a technical issue, please reach out to us by raising your hand and click through the participants at the bottom of the screen. And if you have questions, you can submit them at any time during the Q&A function. We will work to answer and work through all the questions that get proposed in the chat or in the Q&A
So again, welcome to our event, and I’m excited that you all decided to spend time with us this afternoon because there’s so many things competing for your attention. Before we get started, I want to thank the wonderful staff here at IWPR who worked so hard to get our report across the finish line: Andrea Flynn, Shengwei Sun, and Lea, and Keri Potts and who were instrumental in creating the event this afternoon.
Saturday, I was comforted by the election results and the history was made that was made with President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Like many of you, I watched their speeches with rapt attention and understood the weight.
Of their words and the work that lies ahead of us to get the economy back on track, the pandemic under control, and to bring together a country torn apart by divisive and cruel rhetoric (and actually over the last 1467 days I have been counting down).
For those of you who may not be fully familiar with our work, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research is the nation’s preeminent think tank committed to winning economic equity for all women and eliminating structural institutional barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce and in society.
I’m a single mother by choice to 11-year-old twins who just entered Middle School. If you all can remember middle school. You know, it’s full of anxiety and newness. You get your lockers, you have the ability to switch classes, new friends and you’re also struggling with issues related to fitting in. So, this year was different for us and our family really struggled. About three weeks into the term I received and a call from one of my kids’ teachers letting me know that they were failing most, if not all, of their classes.
I was incredulous, and also very confused. I was in the other room. I was working remotely and checked on them throughout the day and couldn’t understand how this could be happening. But what I want to say is that I wasn’t just in the other room. I was working. I was rising early in the morning and working throughout the evening.
And they, for their part, were struggling to juggle six new teachers, three learning platforms, to stay engaged and connected, and to complete their assignments on time. I felt as a mother that I was failing them. Then I got help. I was actually able to hire support to come in and it worked. And we were able to finish the term strong.
I felt very fortunate to be able to have that support work remotely and work for an organization that understands the barriers women face in the workplace and in society, but I know that it’s far from the case for most working women.
On their first day of school, I thought about myself as a child. And what this virtual learning experience would have been like for me and my mother, also a single mother. We were poor, working class. Often my first meal of the day was in the school cafeteria and my second meal was there as well.
We moved around a lot. So, I’m doubtful that I would have had a safe consistent place to learn my teachers would have been frustrated with us. And my mother worked outside of the home if she could find it.
In this moment, both realities coexist. The common thread running through both of these stories is that women and families are struggling with care, struggling to regain their economic footing. And also with food and housing insecurity and so many, many more issues.
I wanted to start out with my story, because I believe it helps to ground our conversation today and rooted in the lives of the women and families that we all work so hard for it on the behalf of and to also go beyond the numbers in the data.
Many of the women that we have been working with are going without, have no income, are emotionally at their capacity.
When Congress fails to reach a deal on a recovery package, that economic lifeline for families is shortened. It’s not a political loss for Democrats or Republicans. It a directly impacts families and their ability to survive. This is particularly acute for families headed by women of color, who are more likely to be the primary wage earner in their families, have less savings to write out an economic downturn, are likely to work in the industry’s most impacted by job loss.
As you know, COVID 19 has had a devastating impact on working women and families and that’s triggered an economic recession that has had a lasting impact on women’s long-term labor force participation economic well-being and also long-term wealth and assets. It’s also exacerbated many of the existing any qualities and disparities health income ratio and expose many of our failing systems that were not working for many women and families.
The 2008 recession was defined by job loss in manufacturing and impacted men. At the height of the recession, then over two years, unemployment only reached about 8%. The current economic downturn is a “she-cession” defined by the loss of jobs and sectors dominated by women—service, leisure and hospitality, education, and healthcare.
Since March, the economy has shed more than 40 million jobs, and a disproportionate amount of those losses, nearly four in ten women’s jobs have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. At the start of the year we were celebrating the gains made by women in the workforce. At that time, women made up about 50% of the labor force. The booming economy that we were simultaneously celebrating was possible in part because of women.
At the time I cautioned against the full embrace or celebration. I understood that what the numbers meant was a struggle that many women face to make ends meet, or take care of their families. Although women constituted 51% of the workforce, they were also, again, more likely, working lower-wage jobs that have fewer benefits and job security, and to be economically vulnerable. They also struggled with child care and other caretaking demands. In other words, all was not what it seemed
In September, 865,000 women dropped out of the workforce compared to 200,000 men. I always get asked, “Why, Nicole? Why do you think 865,00 women dropped out of the workforce in September?” But because it really seemed like a no-brainer to me. I said it was late August and September. It was the time when schools were supposed to open and they didn’t
I remember in March when schools first closed. I remember thinking, ‘if I can just get to June, like if I could just get to the end of the school year, I’ll be okay’. God knows what they’re going to do in the summer. But hey, I don’t have to worry. And I think that was the reality for many working by a thread in March. When September and August came, they had to make some really tough decisions about whether or not they would be able to continue to work full time many leaving, having to leave their homes to work because only about 30% are able to work remotely or take care of their families.
And I want to be very clear because there’s also been some conversation about the women who are leaving are well off or from two-parent households. And so, there’s this extra income or cushion.
And one of, one of the things I want to say is, that’s absolutely untrue, many of the women who have had to leave the workforce have had to leave, leave because of caretaking demands, and our Hispanic/Latino women of color, women of color who again were economically vulnerable before the pandemic. These are women who are working minimum wage jobs and when I talked to women, or talk to my friends, I understand this very personally and intimately and some of the choices that women are having to make
When I hear during the election cycle, politicians tell women, “Hey, vote for me! I’ll put your husband’s back to work!” Or when I was watching a video for another Canada, a political ad and it was him in a factory, a manufacturing factory with a hard hat. I’m talking about job creation, I thought to myself, neither one of these guys really understand what’s happening for women and families and who’s being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and we’re talking about infrastructure and we talked about job creation. It’s just not about creating infrastructure like roads are building more roads. It’s about building infrastructure that matters to families, we’re talking about building a strong healthcare.
Building a strong care infrastructure and what we know as a result of the pandemic is that those systems in those structures were failing and were broken. And the other thing I know for sure is that if you don’t understand who’s being most impacted your policies, your strategies and what you think should be done and the policies and programs you put forth will be short- sighted and not reflective of the lived experiences and realities of those who are most impacted
So, what are we going to do? We’re here to talk about a gender-equitable recovery. What is it, what’s it going to take, what are the kinds of policies, we need to make sure that prosperity is shared and that we have an even recovery?
From the very beginning when we start talking about relief packages, when we talk about long term solutions that we make sure that women of color workers are centered in those conversations. So what is the gender-equitable recovery? So quite simply a gendered economic recovery provides a framework for shared prosperity and an equitable economic recovery. It examines the impact of the economic crisis in the current session on working women, their families and communities. It provides a blueprint for gender equity recovery that is not only about meeting the immediate economic needs of women and families but lays out a long-term strategy for creating stronger systems and institutions that reflect
The experiences and contributions of women in the workforce and society into their families. It requires significant public investments at both the state and federal level. It includes developing robust and well resource national care infrastructure and when I’m talking about developing a national care infrastructure and many proposals, wonderful proposals, have been proposed at the federal level for a robust and necessary child care infrastructure, and we are calling for that very same thing. We’re calling for a national care structure that is inclusive, that limits the amount of out-of-pocket expenses for family up to 7 percent. We’re also talking about making it accessible from birth to 13 years old, and also making it a system that works for families and that they can tap into when they need support and care.
We’re also talking about policies and the immediate short term 50 to $100 billion infuse into the existing child care structure to make sure that workers and daycare providers have the support and resources they need to continue to provide support to working families. Without a robust child care infrastructure, putting women back to work or getting women back to work is going to be nearly impossible. And we will continue to see an exodus of women workers in the labor force and in the workforce.
There’s also a need for women who cannot reenter who cannot get, you know, go back to work because of caretaking responsibilities. There’s also a need to rebuild a social safety net. We need economic impact payments, we need unexplored expanded unemployment insurance and we need all those we need paid sick and family medical leave as well. What we need to do is make sure that as this economic crisis continues to stretch out that women and families have what they need so that they are not slipping further and further into economic prosperity.
So, I want to end by inviting you to share the report, to read the report, to dig in to be in conversation with us. I do think that this is a really important moment for us to think about some of those policies that I know, you know, doing this work for nearly two decades now these are you know I’ve been dreaming of some of these policies and was, you know, told many times over that they just were not possible.
But because of the pandemic, we see that some of the things that we’ve been championing for many years are possible are happening and what I would like for us to do is to institutionalize those things and make sure that again, working women, families, and communities lower-wage workers have all the support they need to not only survive in this moment, but to thrive and you know for prosperity to be shared.
So, with that, I’m going to turn it over to Myra Jones Taylor, a good friend and colleague of mine to lead the first panel
We are experiencing the worst of the pandemic and the recession. We know that Black, Brown, AAPI, and Native communities, especially women, are hardest hit by these twin crises. The pandemic has really laid bare the deep racial and gender disparities in our economy. – Lorella Praeli
(Moderator) Myra Jones-Taylor, Zero to Three
Carol Burnett, Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative
Nicole Lynn Lewis, Generation Hope
Lorella Praeli, Community Change
(Moderator) Myra Jones-Taylor, Zero to Three
Carol Burnett, Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative
Nicole Lynn Lewis, Generation Hope
Lorella Praeli, Community Change
Nicole Mason: Myra Jones Taylor will be moderating this panel. She is the vice president at zero to three, a wonderful advocate. And also, in essence, a sister at the Aspen Institute with me. And this panel will center the experiences of women in this discussion, because, again, I think that it’s just so important as we, you know, continue to talk numbers and exiting the workforce to really think about what that means in the lives of real women and will families.
Myra Jones-Taylor (she | her | hers): Thank you, Nicole. Thank you for having me. I’m so pleased to be with everyone today. And this is a very important conversation. You know, as you said earlier, this past year has laid bare what many of us have known for far too long. But too many families in this country struggle to provide their children with the most basic needs.
The data shows that over the last few months income loss financial difficulties and material hardships, including loss of child care are concentrated in households with young children. And the struggles are disproportionately borne by women, and definitely by women of color. As we heard earlier, I just want to underscore what Nicole said. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 860 5000 women have dropped out of the marketplace, or rather the labor force and the last, you know, since the beginning of the pandemic, that’s, of course, four times higher than men.
I am honored to serve as the chief policy officer at Zero to Three, where our sole mission is to make sure that all young children have a strong start in life. And we know that every day. Our team is working with parents disproportionately women and women of color who due to the pandemic are struggling due to lack of income security lack, of job security. I just want to share one story of a family that we work named Shawnita Buckerner. Shawnita is a project manager professional from Arlington, Texas, and when her oldest son was born, Shawnita and her husband, Jason looked for a high-quality child care program that would make the most of his early years.
They waited for months for a slot in a center that they liked and they were thrilled when their baby got a chance at this amazing spot at this amazing center. But when the pandemic hit the child care program shut down as we have heard from thousands upon thousands of families in this country. And at first, Jason continued to work from home, sharing child care duties as we’ve heard so many women have done, so many parents have been doing, working full time and rarely sleeping, right.
But as a pandemic wore on and the economy worsened, this company needed to make cuts, furloughed her from her job in April, and then she was let go completely. In late June, she was able to get another job but still struggled to make all ends meet. Well, she’s still paying for child care, which is something that we are hearing from families who could afford to do that. And the cuts that they’re having to make across the country or in their own budgets are tremendous. Right?
We know that there’s so much that families out there need right now. We know we can also make a difference in helping mothers like Shawnita make sure that they have what they need to thrive. And the policies that Nicole articulated are certainly in line with what we like to see out there.
So, we’ve heard from Nicole, but we also have this amazing panel that I’m so happy to be moderating with you all today. And I’d like to introduce you all to three colleagues who are out in the fight at the local level, who are going to be able to share with us what this really looks like on an individual basis, a community basis and what we are hearing in the struggles of women across the country.
So, it is my pleasure. First, I’ll just introduce our panelists. We have Carol Burnett, who’s the founder and executive director of the Mississippi low-income childcare initiative and executive director of the More Community House, a nonprofit community center providing affordable childcare and job training in non-traditional occupations for single mothers with low incomes at East Biloxi.
We also have Nicole Lynn Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at Generation Hope, an organization dedicated to surrounding motivated teen parents and their children with the mentors emotional support and financial resources they need to thrive in college and kindergarten.
And then we have Lorella. Lorella Praeli. Hope I got that right. President of Community Change, a national organization that aims to dramatically improve the material conditions for people struggling to make ends meet, and in this country, particularly women and people of color.
So esteemed panel. I have a few questions for you. And I’m going to start with you, Nicole. So, Nicole, Generation Hope works to meet the needs of young parents who we know are shouldering a heavy burden of the current economic crisis. I would love for you just to tell us what you’re seeing and hearing from the families, you work with and what has been most challenging about the times that we find ourselves in today.
Nicole Lynn Lewis: Yeah, thank you so much, Myra. Thank you to IWPR for including us, and it’s a really important conversation. As you said, over the past 10 years Generation Hope has been working directly with families and that work is really informed the national work we’re launching now to advocate for the needs of parenting college students across the country.
And this perspective has certainly benefited us as we’re helping our families navigate the pandemic. We’re seeing in real time that student parents and their children are among the hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19 and the vast majority of our students are women.
Twenty-five percent of our scholars have lost jobs over the past eight months, we’ve seen a 30 percent increase in sessions with our mental health coordinator and mental health is such a big piece of economic recovery for families. Sixty percent of our scholars say that their biggest need right now is financial support, followed by groceries and child care. And many of them, like many students, parents across the country are essential workers and making affordable child care and paid leave even more essential
Like our scholars, the majority of parenting college students even when desegregated by race are also living at or near the poverty line, so they’re more sensitive to economic downturns turns and are less likely to have the means to bounce back from it. We know that the supports that were in place before the pandemic were already inadequate and the COVID-19 responses are similarly not meeting the needs.
So, to give you just a couple of examples, we know that many colleges offered emergency grants in response to COVID. One of our scholars who is a student was unable to qualify for those funds because she’s a Dreamer. And so, understandably, she’s worried about how her family is going to survive this pandemic while she goes to school and works as a janitor at night.
Thankfully, Generation Hope has given out nearly $40,000 to our scholars over the past eight months, including our Dreamers. But we know that the need is significant and more supports are really necessary. We also have another scholar when we’re talking about the digital divide that has certainly been a huge barrier for our scholars, one of whom, who was homeless. When the pandemic began and was living in transitional housing with her son, she was using her cell phone to complete her homework assignments. So, her fourth-grade son could do his online work with their only laptop.
I remember when we’re talking about the impacts of this and how she’s navigating through it. She said, I just want to make sure we can both stay on top of everything. But it can be really frustrating. So, these are just two of the stories of the difficult situations that we see every day, a Generation Hope.
Myra Jones-Taylor (she | her | hers): Thank you, Nicole, and just a follow up question for you know all that you’re seeing. I would love to hear if you could tell us what kinds of interventions would most immediately improve the circumstances you just described.
Nicole Lynn Lewis: Yeah. So, we released the toolkit. In September, specifically for higher ed on how they can support student-parents successes academic year at an institutional level, it looks like expanding access to emergency aid funding, committing to asynchronous learning, professors being more flexible than ever before and using language that embraces parenting, making sure that students, parents are a voice around the table in any reopening efforts and task force, and many more. But from a broader policy perspective, we’d really like to see greater supports for accessible and affordable child care for parenting college students.
An example of that would be expansion of the CCAMPUS program, along with the expansion of public benefit eligibility so that student-parents going to school can apply their time and school to work requirements for SNAP and Tana. And then lastly, knowing that student parents are more likely to be students of color, we’d also like to see action on policies that reduce disparities in higher ed for Black and Brown students
Myra Jones-Taylor (she | her | hers): It all sounds like all good policy to me. Thank you.
Carol, I’m going to turn it over to you. Now your organization has done so much in recent years to show how fragile the child care system and infrastructure or lack thereof, rather, was, even before the whole pandemic really showed just how fragile this is. I would love for you to explain just a little bit about the state of child care. What it was like before the pandemic and then how the families that you work with, have been affected by October 19 and what you’re seeing on the ground.
Carol Burnett: Thank you. Yeah, before and after COVID the federal child care development fund in Mississippi is the only child care assistance for low income working families. And these families that are served are virtually all headed by single mothers and they’re overwhelmingly Black in Mississippi. These moms work, but they’re disproportionately in low-wage jobs with no paid leave
CCDF is the biggest help for them financially because child care is so expensive and their wages are so low. And it’s necessary in order for them to go to work, but it only serves in our state about 25% of the eligible children. The providers, the child care center providers in the child care development program, are also mostly Black women who serve low-income moms who can’t afford to pay high fees. So, those centers have trouble keeping their heads above water financially. So basically, this is a system of women serving women, all of whom work, but none can achieve economic security because of the race and gender inequities in Mississippi’s workforce.
Plus there are too many barriers to access and retention of child care systems and one major barrier was and still is the requirement that single moms in Mississippi have to cooperate with the child support enforcement before they can qualify to get child care assistance. The US commission on civil rights has noted that this policy has a disparate impact on women and it’s a major deterrent for moms who are the very people who need child care assistance the most.
Parents in CCDF were hard hit by COVID-19; they were mostly low-paid essential workers. Many lost their jobs and providers, and we talked on the phone with hundreds of them who were closed initially. Many reopened as soon as they could, but their enrollment plummeted, which means their revenue plummeted. And that was at the very time they had higher operational costs because they needed more staff to have smaller group sizes and achieve social distancing and to get costly PPE and sanitation supplies. Many parents and providers were themselves impacted by coronavirus at the very time they were trying to stay at work and keep serving children.
We at the Child Care Initiative provided supplies and financial assistance to our network of centers, we held webinars with state agency heads to give them information they needed about COVID and regulatory changes. We advocated policies at the state level to help and I am happy to say our state adopted, most of those paying by enrollment instead of attendance, waving the parent copay fee requirement, increasing the reimbursement rate for services, creating a grant program for child care. All these policies were adopted but unfortunately, our state didn’t remove the child support requirement. And in fact, the state created a parallel COVID emergency child care system that did waive the child support requirement, but only for first responders and healthcare workers.
A group of wealthier, whiter, more male parents while keeping this barrier in place for low-income Black single moms also essential workers. But in the regular child care assistance program and it was, it’s an example of a glaring inequity. So, before and after COVID, CCDF eligible moms in Mississippi need more affordable child care. They need the obstacles to getting and keeping that assistance removed, especially removing the child support requirement.
And they need higher paying jobs with paid leave, those are recommendations that are consistent with the report that IWPR is releasing today.
Myra Jones-Taylor (she | her | hers): Carol. Thank you for sharing that as the former Commissioner early childhood for state, I know how important those policies are in place and those disparities, you just laid out are truly shameful. Thank you for that. I’m going to move us on to Lorella from Community Change now.
Lorella, I would love for you, you know, you have been a leader and Community Change has been a leader on issues of immigrant rights, economic security, and housing, and child care, and has been working to organize those most effective to lead change in their communities and nationally, which is something we all need to be doing.
Nicole and Carol just shared how they’ve seen the families they work with affected by COVID and our government’ insufficient response to it. Does what they’ve shared resonate with you? And I’d love to hear if you could mirror what you’ve seen with the families, you’re working with.
Lorella Praeli: Yes. It absolutely resonates with me and I really appreciate hearing from both Carol and Nicole. I do want to start with some political framing right like we have an unprecedented opportunity here – our communities helped to deliver a win for Democrats just last week. We helped to deliver the White House and we may yet help to deliver the US Senate, and at the same time we are experiencing the worst of the pandemic and the recession.
Right. We know that Black, Brown, AAPI, and Native communities, especially women, are hardest hit by these twin crises. And the pandemic has really laid bare the deep racial and gender disparities in our economy and in our healthcare systems. And so, I really appreciate the focus of this report on both immediate relief with an eye toward longer term structural reforms. Right. It’s the only way we’re going to get there. So, let’s just say a few things. One is women aren’t just facing and unemployment crisis. They’re facing a caregiving crisis which is forcing them to leave the job market all together, right, we see that time and time again.
From August to September alone, 100,000 women stopped looking for work, and women have been pushed out of the job market at four times the rate as men. So there’s a real racial dimension to the crisis that is important for us to understand right the twice as many women of color have been pushed out of the job market than white women.
And something we don’t often talk about or don’t talk about enough is the impact this also has on immigrant communities. So, the economic crisis is hitting immigrants documented and undocumented particularly hard. Take California, right, one out of every four pandemic-related job losses was among non-citizens. That number’s even higher about one in three for women who are undocumented in and doing non-essential work, especially in the service industry. And so, you know, behind all of these numbers because we often do a lot of the stats right behind all of these numbers are millions of real people with families struggling to make ends meet, right. Sometimes forced to choose between their health and their job.
And what your report lifts up and what the stories that Nicole and Carol have brought here what we know to be true from the work that we do with our partners, day in and day out on the ground across the country, is that it doesn’t have to be that way that we are the way that we are by design. And so here are the solutions, right. I want to especially lift up two freedom fighters at the forefront of this fight, one in Oakland – CLARISSA Gotthard, and in New Mexico Carmela Salinas, a child care provider, I think, been organizing women parents providers and early educators, because they have been right there and have seen firsthand how hard it is for parents in their communities to find quality, affordable care where they can leave their children so they can go to work.
And they’ve been impacted on the other side, right, they’ve seen how other providers, most of them women of color are barely paid enough to feed their own families, pay the rent and child care for their own kids. And so, bottom line is that everyone should have access to stable gainful employment and quality, affordable child care; that everyone should have access to unemployment insurance and a safety net that’s enough to live on.
In fact, let’s push that. Let’s push our ambition and our aspiration, because it isn’t just enough to live on or to get by. Right, but it is really about thriving, interrogating the systems that we currently have and crafting a different future led by people on the ground who face these crises, you know, beyond the numbers who actually know what we’re talking about. And so that’s what we do at Community Change, an action and we are led by these vibrant, smart, fighting, you know, women of color, immigrant women, Black women, who are really paving the way on these fights.
Myra Jones-Taylor (she | her | hers): Thank you to all of you. I am I want to leave us with what you just said, which is that this is we are in this predicament because it was designed to be this way. But we can redesign the system. And what we have here today what we heard and what we will continue to hear the next panel are the solutions that will get us out of this mess and redesign a better future for women and for everyone in this country. Thank you all. Carol, Nicole and Lorella is really a pleasure. I’m going to hand it over to you, Nicole.
Nicole Mason: Zoom. Thank you so much for you know all the stories in, you know, thank you, Lorella, for connecting the dots for us and putting some big context around some of the stories that we heard and I love the chat that’s happening with participants and who are listening in and someone said that the policy and Mississippi was racist and I you know I agree. But again, I think, threading the needle and sharing these stories and the policies that have been harmful that we know are about systemic and historic inequity is really the work of this moment. So, we are going to transition to our next panel in about two minutes. But I encourage you to cross talk in the chats, put your questions, again peruse the report, there’s, it’s pretty meaty.
But we want you to engage with us again Lorella said that this is a moment. And I don’t want it to slip away. There’s so much work ahead of us if we’re not able to get all the things that we want done and you know in the first hundred days or in the first couple of years and 2020 2022 we will have another shot at, you know, you will have another election and, you know, things can change there and then again into 2024. So, this is the long game.
We need to get families the support they need so they’re not forced between choosing a paycheck and putting food on the table and going to work sick or taking their kids to work. So it’s the basics. It’s paid sick days, it’s paid leave, its minimum wage. It’s child care. Getting rid of the tipped minimum wage, making sure people have access to health care and maternal health care, all of that. And to me the question at the table is how do we really center care in this recovery? – Shilpa Phadke
(Moderator) Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, Neighborhood Villages
Fatima Goss Graves, National Women’s Law Center
Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence
C. Nicole Mason, Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Shilpa Phadke, Center for American Progress
Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO
Nicole Mason: This is the moment where you know, where really having these conversations is really important. Conversations with Lauren and Shilpa, and, you know, Brenda – I’m so happy to see you here and I can’t wait to hear this conversation. So, with that, I’m going to turn it over to Lauren. Who will lead our conversation this afternoon.
Lauren Kennedy: Great. Well, hello, everybody. I am so honored to be a part of this discussion what a phenomenal group of people here today on such an important issue. So, Nicole, thank you for the invitation and for the incredibly important resource that you’ve put out on how the pandemic has impacted women quickly.
Myself, I’m Lauren Kennedy, the co-founder of Neighborhood Villages. We advocate for child care policy reform and architect scalable solutions to address the biggest challenges facing child care providers and the families who rely on them.
And I have the honor of introducing our panelists. So, I’ll begin with Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence she represents Michigan’s 14th DISTRICT.
I myself am from Michigan back in the day. So, it’s Michigan pride on this panel.
Lauren Kennedy: Congresswoman Lawrence serves as a Co-Chair of the bipartisan congressional caucus for women’s issues and is the second vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
Liz Shuler is joining us today. She is the secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO and is that is the second highest position in the labor movement as she serves as the Chief Financial Officer of the Federation and oversees its operations. And Liz is the first woman elected as the Federation’s secretary treasurer.
We have Fatima Goss Graves joining us. The President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. She has spent her career fighting to advance opportunities for women and girls and has a very distinguished track record working across a broad set of issues. And she is also one of the co-founders of The Times Up Legal Defense Fund.
And finally we have Shilpa Phadke, the Vice President of the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress and in this capacity. She oversees the policy development and analysis advocacy and outreach work on women’s issues and her work focuses on a wide range of issues, including economic security women’s health and rights and women’s leadership.
So thank you everybody for being a part of this panel, and I believe we may also have Nicole participating in the conversation as well. So, Nicole I encourage you to jump in at any point.
Lauren Kennedy: But the first question to kick us off is for the Congresswoman. So, first and foremost, congratulations on your recent reelection. You have been for a very long time, a fierce advocate for women and families in Congress. And I know that improving the lives that the lies and economic status of black women is of particular importance to you. Can you tell us what policies are most critical to helping black women and their families in this moment?
Brenda Lawrence: Thank you so much. Thank you, Dr. Mason. To all these amazing speakers. I’ve interacted with all of you in some capacity.
Truly this is a time in the history of our country where the voice of women are being heard.
And it’s also a time in history where we are being confronted with some of the greatest challenges that we’ve ever faced in this country.
At least 50 Black or African American, Latino, Hispanic or Asian Pacific Islander Middle Eastern or African women are now elected to the 117th Congress. We will have a total of 116 women in Congress and we are so proud of the fact that 91 of those members are women. And while I say that, I am proud of the Republican Party because they were sad. It was only like 10 of them in the entire Congress and now they will have a total of 25 women serving. So, what we know is that, and I say this often, is when a woman sits at the table, the conversation changes.
We know the fact that maternal mortality and the drastic impact it has on Black women when we talk about the pay rate of Black women in America, making less than men, white women. We know that this is an issue that we need to pay attention to. And now with the she recession and we call it the she-pandemic. We are seeing women being impacted at a higher level, and Black women at a higher level when it comes to the impact of this pandemic and I know you may ask this later, but when we look at Black women being head of households, or the major breadwinner, and we see the impact of this pandemic on the health. We are the major caregivers. We are the educators in America. We are the first. First. The essential workers in America, the majority and when you go to a grocery store, it’s predominantly women. So, we know caregivers are predominantly women and we know Black women are very much represented in that and hit hardest. So, I am here to say that while we are looking at raising the awareness on the condition of women in America. Pay close attention to the adverse impact that happens when women are in crisis, that Black women are impacted.
And lastly, I want to say that so often we talk about the impact or the power of the Black woman. If we’re not setting policies if we’re not directly responding to those needs. To me, then you’re trying to take away the power of Black women and I will not allow you to do that without calling you to test. Thank you.
Lauren Kennedy: Thank you. And thank you for your incredible work to make sure that we are all called to task on that and make sure that it is the forefront of the conversation.
So Fatima, turning to you, you and your team at the Law Center have worked so hard on the joint fights for reproductive justice for economic justice for health, justice and how all of these are inextricably linked. And so this report more importantly contains a slate of recommendations that would expand access to sexual and reproductive health care and addresses why this is so integral to the moment into recovery from this pandemic. So, I was hoping you could expand on that a bit and talk about why this is critical plank and a platform for more gender-equitable recovery.
Fatima Goss Graves: Thanks, Lauren and I’m so glad to be with you again, Nicole. We’re like, you know, road sisters and processing the results of the election and dreaming ahead. And I, you know, one of the most important things that I think that the report does, is the way in which it integrates these many issues together into a broader understanding of economic recovery and for sure it’s essential to reproductive health care. In the middle of what’s happening. I think one of the things that covert shining a light on it was just how fragile access to healthcare is but also access to reproductive healthcare, too. And we’re also in a really perilous time when it comes to reproductive health care and specifically abortion care.
And part of that is the current makeup of the Supreme Court, but part of that is the mini states that will be animated again to race to try to further erode access. So, I want to do a few things. One, just remind people that Roe vs. Wade is actually still the law, despite the rhetoric.
And that part of what you see happening over the last couple of years is an effort to confuse people and convince them that they don’t have access to determine their lives and their futures. But the other thing is just to name that there has always been a floor and never seen a ceiling and it’s actually been a pretty low floor.
And what that has meant is that already in many parts of the country, it’s really difficult for people to access and afford the care that they need. And so, what we really need to do is focus on making the full range of services that people need available accessible and affordable.
And there is a range of legislation that is already teed up to to do that legislation that does things like address the maternal mortality crisis legislation that supports pregnant. People legislation that stop states from passing rules to make abortion and accessible legislation that gets rid of the Hyde Amendment, which has been a penalty for low-income people all together but the truth of the matter is, is that we actually need a major investment so that people can get the care that they want in that pain need. And when we think about our work, our work is about being in in the midst of the breach that the worst things coming our way. But really, it has to be about launching full work to build the world that that all of us deserve. So, I’m so glad to be with all of you.
Lauren Kennedy: And I wonder if I could ask you a follow up question to that end, because I know some of these themes about full realization of our reproductive rights and then how they relate to equity and dignity around family planning addressing meaningfully disparities and maternal mortality and that leading them to decision making as well. Around children, the family, you’d like to have the ability and right to afford those children.
And these feel like, you know, incredibly big systemic problems to tackle which they very much are, but what can women do in this moment, in their communities, whether that’s to make sure that they have access to their full set of rights and that they’re being respected and. And to your point progressed in addition, but also to feel like they can push forward for change in a moment in which we have a lot of work to do when it comes to access to healthcare across the spectrum, but also moving forward, given that we may have some new opportunities as the bite into administration.
Fatima Goss Graves: Yeah, I mean, I actually think it’s urgently important that at all levels of government actors are respecting the decisions that people are making about whether to become pregnant. And so, if you were trying to become pregnant, you should be supported in that decision and that process should be fulfilled in a way that allows you to be pregnant with dignity, whether to have an abortion or whether to decide not to become pregnant and all each of those things are decisions that are decisions for families and individuals to make and it’s imperative that at all levels, but including this new administration, recognize the crisis that has unfolded in this country that separates reproductive healthcare is some sort of others process and allowed us to be in a situation where we are talking about in some states efforts to make access to the care you need a criminal violation. So, whether it happens to roll the answer due to this period is normalizing people being able to make decisions about the health care that they need and be supported in those decisions.
Brenda Lawrence: I want to add to that that while we’re excited about more Republican women being elected, almost every single one of them list in their bio that they’re pro-life and that they want to abolish Roe vs. Wade and they want to get rid of the right and then so our work continues and it’s not a male versus women fight and it is, well, I’m so excited about more women being at the table this issue of selecting what’s best for my body and having that freedom or right based on the law is still constantly being challenged.
And so, who you elect makes a difference.
Lauren Kennedy: Just great. Because we saw the voter turnout we needed to see this election and hopefully that sets a precedent for moving forward. And turning to Liz, the report details a number of economic policy recommendations, many of them related directly to workers’ rights workers progress, whether that’s raising the federal minimum wage increasing worker protections and labor standards and very importantly, closing pay gaps.
Can you talk about how these policy changes would address women’s economic inequality in the short term and set us up for a more gender equitable workforce over the long term?
Liz Shuler: Well, thank you. And I want to thank Nicole as well and the team at IWPR for bringing us together and I am thrilled to be with this group of rockstar women.
As I think this is exactly the kind of event. We need to start a new administration. So, and I love the title of gender-equitable recovery. I said to Nicole, ‘I’m stealing that’ and I think we should embed that in everything we all do from now on, because we’re going to be faced with this conversation in the short term and the long term.
But first of all, everything that’s been mentioned so far. Yes, yes, the labor movement. And I would say union women in our movement have been fighting for all of the policies that have been mentioned since our inception to raise standards to close gaps and to build an economy that works for all working people. But the policies in the report that have been outlined, all of those policies depend on workers having a strong voice on the job. And on being able to come together and bargain collectively and use the collective power that people have when they come together to make every job, a good job. And that is what a union does. It’s a pathway to higher wages and benefits, especially for women and many people don’t realize when they think of unions, they often think, oh, it’s mainly for men.
Unions represent six and a half million women and counting. So that makes I like to say that makes the labor movement, the largest organization of working women in the country. So, we’re fighting every day to close the barriers and the gaps that working women face on the job. And so ,whether that’s the gap between productivity and pay
So you know the difference between the economic growth that we see in in a company and the wage games worker makes, we fight to close that gap, we fight for the minimum wage. We talked about if the minimum wage would have kept pace with productivity and adjusted for inflation. Today’s minimum wage would be over $18 an hour and who are the majority of minimum wage workers? It’s women, right? So, the fight to increase the minimum wage is actually a woman’s issue.
So, on top of that each of us on this panel and everyone watching knows that across all earning brackets and education levels there’s a gender wage gap. And so, the good news is, of course, joining a union also helps narrow that gap. We like to call it ‘the union difference.’ We have data that shows in 2017, non-union women were paid 78 cents to the dollar of non-union men. But women in unions were paid 94 cents to the dollar paid to union men, and women of color also do better in a union because the contract mandates the right to equal pay for equal work.
No matter your race. No matter your gender, an hourly wage for union women were 23% higher than non-unionized women, regardless of race or ethnicity. So, I like to say the best way to close the pay gap is to join a union. But that only gets us so far because we know even before the pandemic, like Lorella and others said on the previous panel, the economy was not working for working people, the economic rules are broken corporations have all the power working people don’t.
So, we need to rebalance the scales and we need to grow power on the side of working people and that’s working women, working families. So, how do we do this? Well, the economic policies that were outlined in the report. Absolutely care infrastructure social safety net policies like extended you why and paid sick days paid family leave, pay equity, but also by giving working women more leverage through stronger labor laws and policies that allow them to come together collectively and increase their power to bargain for better
And I will just use one quick example I like to throw out our union affiliate hotel and hospitality workers and Unite Here are mostly women of color. They by example, also launched one of the largest door-to-door efforts in the country this election. One of the reasons Nevada and Arizona were wins for Biden-Harris was because of the culinary workers, but before even before Unite Here took on one of the world’s biggest hotel chains and you might remember that strike Mariott was making record profits but was refusing to give raises and ensure health coverage. So, those bartenders, those servers, those room attendants and students got together and they won, not only the raises and better benefits, but also protections in their contract.
That’s when Marriott introduced technology like robots in the bar of a hotel or automated guest check-in systems that they were able to get contract language to protect them from being displaced without investment in training to get them to ladder up into a new job. So, they were able to negotiate contributions to training and pathways to the next thing and financial assistance. So, I think that’s an example of the power of coming together collectively. And I think that that combined with all of these policies that are in the report and programs that make it easier to join a union, is what’s going to get us to better, safer jobs in the future for women.
Lauren Kennedy: Great. And thank you. I mean I think so much about the power of the collective, right, whether that’s within the union or women coming together and identifying. I think, you know, one thing in this moment that stood out to me in the report is that these jobs that women have lost may not be there on the other side of the pandemic because they were in industries that frankly may not survive or will take a long time to come back so that you know that that kind of connection point between the collective. How do we support one another and to ladder up or to make a lateral into industries that then will provide opportunity for women workers as we come out of this pandemic? So moving to show, but the pandemic has laid bare the vast inadequacies of our safety net.
We know there have been huge holes for a very long time. And then in this moment of crisis, seeing so many families so many women slip through it. And so, I was hoping you could talk about both the moment that we’re in, but then also the solutions that you have identified in your work that are identified in the report around income support making tax credits fully refundable, particularly with respect to the child tax credit. What should the safety net look like right now? And how do we use this moment to build a stronger safety net moving forward?
Shilpa Phadke: Thank you so much for having me. It’s so fun to see you all. And I mean, I think the panel over the last hour, you know, we’ve sort of defined the problem right? Things were bad before the pandemic. The pandemic has a disproportionate impact on women and women of color. So, to me, you know, we start with getting the pandemic under control, right, the chaos has had a real price for women and their families in this country. So, we have to get it under control of all the parts of the healthcare system that need to follow while we’re in it. We need to get families the support they need so they’re not forced between choosing a paycheck and putting food on the table and going to work sick or taking their kids to work. Right, so it’s the basics, it’s paid sick days it’s paid leave its minimum wage. It’s child care.
Getting rid of the tip minimum wage, making sure people have access to health care and maternal health care, all of that. So, it’s you know, all the things we’ve been talking about. And to me the question at the table is how do we really center care in this recovery?
How do we make sure that when we’re thinking about building back better and all these, you know, words, we’ve been hearing. How do we make sure that caregivers and care workers are centered in what this recovery looks like and how do we measure the success of the recovery by those that are giving and receiving the care – the paid care and the unpaid care?
And to me, that’s, you know, getting out of the silos that we traditionally work in even in women’s issues, right, we tend to be siloed working on specific issues, how do we sort of break through that and demand more and insist on a really big and bold recovery that meets this moment? And acknowledge that this recovery has to be different that the shecession exists, that these hits in retail and leisure and hospitality, that the education system, the virtual learning, you know, that this is different? And so, it demands a different and a bigger and bolder response than we’ve ever seen.
Lauren Kennedy: So I think the, you know, the power and what you have said in the power in this report is exactly that, it’s identifying solutions that not just meet this moment, but arguably put in place infrastructure that’s long overdue and certainly is necessary in recognition that this is different than other, you know, periods of economic instability or uncertainty that we’ve weathered before. Um, so, Nicole. I want to pass it to you. I know you’ve covered this in some of your opening remarks but to maybe, you know, kind of dive in deeply to in addition to the research and the iterating on the different solutions that you identified that drove this report and your encouragement for how, whether it’s community based or in the halls of Congress, women can really embrace these solutions and work to make sure that they’re realized
Nicole Mason: So, you know, we’re definitely in a moment where the big bold change that we’ve been hoping for some of us have been doing this work for some time. It’s, it’s here and so working with, you know, people on the call and in this session, to really think about how we seize the moment. And again, I can’t say enough about what’s already been said, the care infrastructure, the collective power of women both bargaining and unions and what that means to women protecting, you know, the full range ofaccess to reproductive rights and what that means for women’s long term economic security.
When we set out to write the report we wanted to put a stake in the ground and articulate what was at stake for women and we know how these conversations go, especially in about six months, the conversation shifts to austerity. We can’t afford this. We can’t do that we, you know, mothers who’ve been carrying this burden for so long, you know, forget that you know they need help, or they, you know, the system wasn’t working, the care system wasn’t working for them. And so, what I’m inviting or what we want is for us to say, ‘not this time’
So, at least I’m you know I’m like that. This time, and you know, Lauren, you and I have been in conversation about the politics of this moment, and how we move forward some more power symbol policies. So, getting beyond the talk and the solutions. We have the ideas. We’ve always had the ideas. And so how do we execute hold the people we elect to account for our lives and for what, you know, the kind of world or shared prosperity that we want to see? So, I’m just excited that we’re having this conversation, we will have a new administration.
We may not get the Senate, but in 2022 we have another shot, but we may get it. I mean, you know, fingers crossed, but you know, I’m just really excited. I’m really excited to continue to hear from the people who are in the room because I’m sure that you have ideas and solutions about how we, you know, move this this agenda forward.
Brenda Lawrence: I would like to speak on the political arena. We in America devalue child care look at what we pay child care workers, look at what we pay our teachers, that’s a discussion that I hope every woman in your area of influence. I went to Japan and Japan is going through this work – cultural change where women are not expected to work. Well now, the need for women to work is great, but women were working and then going home when they get in their 30s and 40s, because they were going home to do child care.
The country recognized that child care was very important. So, they created this career as a child care provider, a technician, whatever. And you would see in corporations every corporation had a child care facility in their corporate headquarters. And there were all these men in shirts and ties with the little ducklings following them and they were considered a professional. You know in our country, if you are a child care provider, it’s because you couldn’t really make it and you just got a break there, right. And then what we pay our teachers is just criminal which every parent is realizing now the value of a teacher and this gets back to the union.
We do not pay a living wage for people to work, who’s the most impacted by these low wages women there are women who work two jobs. Two jobs and still a classified as living in poverty. I had a father tell me ‘I pay more for childcare than I do for the mortgage of my home’.
And so, we are going to have to really start changing the dynamic of the value of those who care for our children, the value of their pain. And connecting the dots from all the hard work that you do your advocacy and thank you for your study and all that you do. So, you got to get us those elected officials to do the work to make it happen to change the dynamic
And I’m so proud of the CARES act, that stimulus package was not just for men or women. It was $1200 to any to each family in $500 per dependent
Wasn’t that amazing that they actually took into consideration the number of children in the house? 50 billion for child care stabilization grants, 7 billion for child care Development Block Grants. And we did, you know, about the $600 and then $10 million to support increases in participation cover.
The flexibilities for SNAP, I never thought I’d be in America and see people lining up for food. It has been heartbreaking. And you know this is sitting in Mitch Mcconnell’s graveyard and is not going anywhere. $400 million for nutrition for low-income, pregnant women. If you’re pro-life, why aren’t you supporting the pregnant women who are poor and hungry?
But we have so much work to do. And these are the things as the women’s caucus and the democratic women were pushing because we know we get this care in there. We can elevate women out of poverty, we changed the whole economy of this country.
Fatima Goss Graves: Might I add one thing? Congresswoman your leadership on this has been so important, and I think we we’ve seen in the House when these measures have gone through when there has been an opportunity that they are bipartisan and I, you know, I just want to say really directly I feel like there is probably an unproductive conversation that’s happening in Washington right now about what sort of mandate flows from this election.
And one of the things that I’m really clear about is that you know across party, across gender, across race, and across state, people are naming that it is essential that this care crisis be solved and in Colorado, when the issue was put directly to the voters, where they had a chance to vote on things like or child care, on things like paid family leave, overwhelming support actually stronger numbers than candidates were getting most times but overwhelming support which, in my mind, the mandate right now is for robust solution to solve the problems that people are facing in this country and, you know, Nicole laid out the stats early on.
Over 800,000 women, leaving the workplace and not looking for other jobs at the start of the school year, people are feeling it this economic crisis has become a mental health crisis has become a general crisis to be solved. So, you guys got a mandate, Congresswoman
Lauren Kennedy: So I want you to open this up to the Q&A in our last 10 minutes here and something I might offer because it seems to be a theme in some of the questions coming through and is one for child care, for example, right, it turns out, when we value women’s work shockingly we create child care systems to support it.
During the New Deal during World War Two, you know, at some of the kind of the apex of women’s power in the 70s and 80s. Right. These were on the forefront, if not already implemented. And so, as we think not just about child care, but at sort of the solutions across the board. What is that sort of political capital? How do we harness it and then when we see a win? How do we keep it? And I think that that sort of the question, I would pose based on some of this coming through the chat box.
How do you harness it at the federal level, how do you harness that at the state level and how do you harness it within the workplace itself? We talked about the impact of the union. What are some of the kind of concrete asks that we should be making of employers themselves, since they will directly benefit from any social or public investment in some of these solutions that we’re articulating, whether it’s paid leave or child care, etc. So I pose that as an open-ended question and then we’ll, we’ll use some of the answers to maybe dive into some of the more specific ones and the Q+A.
Nicole Mason: So, can I just say that we didn’t go as far as we wanted to and the report because, you know, we try to go you know we did go far. But you know in 26 countries child care is a mandate employers are required to, you know, provide care. If you have 50 or 100 employees, you have to have some sort of child care on site. And it’s not perfect but you know it’s possible, but when I bring that into the US context people act like, that’s crazy talk. So if, you know, a lot of the things that we know women need to be successful. And, you know, have their career and advanced and have more ability to be able to take care of their families. We know what works, but somehow it becomes crazy talk.
Or, you know, but I will say that some of the things we thought were impossible just six months ago at the start of the pandemic became possible like an expanded unemployment insurance, paid sick leave, all those things. And so, what that tells me is that we do that, that it’s possible but building the public will. And again, getting information and talking about what this looks like for real families, I think is part of that are being able to do that will, you know, get us, you know, to a different space in terms of thinking about how we went on these policies that we know we need
Liz Shuler: One thing I wanted to add is the narrative, we have such an opportunity to redefine what infrastructure means, and I know in the labor movement of course we represent people who build highways and, you know, build water systems and we think of infrastructure traditionally as roads and bridges. But I think redefining infrastructure that care is part of that infrastructure. And when we talk about making a big investment as a country that it should go right along with broadband and education, and roads and bridges, that care is essential infrastructure and without care that – whether it’s child care, elder care, care for people with disabilities – none of that if we don’t have it makes work possible, right, like note, we have already seen this throughout the pandemics. So I think we have an opportunity to reframe the conversation around infrastructure, including care.
Shilpa Phadke: Totally agree with that. And one thing I just wanted to add. You know, when it came to trillions of dollars in tax cuts debt, didn’t matter. There was no austerity conversation. But all of a sudden when we’re talking about big bold investments that will help women and women of color and families. Oh, it’s, it’s too much. We can’t bear it. And I really think it’s on us to like do that accountability and call that out if we can afford trillions and tax cuts for the rich. We sure can afford to reinvest in families and women that just doesn’t, you know, we have to really be a message about that and just take those austerity conversations off the table.
Brenda Lawrence: One of the comments that came up talked about Family Voices. One of the things that was so remarkable to me to watch the transformation in maternity leave when we start giving it to men. At first men were like, you know, nobody wanted to talk about it. But once men get a sense of ‘I can be at home and bond with my children’ as a choice, the need for this started to rise. And so one of the things I advocate for are really good men who are good fathers and good husbands and realize the impact that we need.
When we talk about paid sickly paid maternity leave, because in the past men never even thought about staying home because there was a sick kid. But the reality now is the wife may be or the mother may be the big breadwinner so you stay at home and we now have men who are stay-at-home fathers. So, I think in getting the men more engaged in this we know that when we got our right to vote. We protest change ourselves offense, but we had to get in the era of those men and get them on board and we are 50% of the population, the more we ingrained and get this family, you know, movement with us. It elevates the importance of this I’m moving
Fatima Goss Graves: Well, learning, if I can just add one more thought. And that is the first thing we actually have to stabilize our care sector is, you know, you’re right, Congress in the House over the summer passed a $50 billion investment in a bipartisan way for a reason and that is because these mostly Black and Brown women small business care centers were not hanging on and even as people talked of reopening, they were not considering what it would take to reopen care sites. And so, two parts of the opportunity is to both stabilize the sector, but do it in a way that we are building forward, doing it in a way where we are paying dignity wages and doing it in a way that we are actually thinking about the range of workers who need care and is not just parents working traditional nine to five jobs, who have very young children.
Lauren Kennedy: One of the more powerful, you know, – again, these facts, always, always, you know, sort of get conveniently ignored – is that child care isn’t just about the families raising the child in that moment, but it’s an economic driver. It’s what keeps us going to work and benefiting our direct employers and therefore benefiting the economy. And so how we do invest in this infrastructure and how we do take it down, not just to the parent being able to afford child care. But who is that child care provider and what is the infrastructure supporting them as much as the family? And it seems to me that we have a particular moment both because of reports like these, you know, these statistics right, are heartbreaking.
And you really can’t look away, but yet being able to tie them to this isn’t just a woman’s issue. This is a social issue. And it’s not just a social issue. It’s a social justice issue because our failure to act in this moment will have impact on undermining our commitments to racial equity on undermining our commitments to economic equity. And because things are so they have always been interlinked. We’ve just ignored it. And in this moment we no longer can and I particularly appreciate the sunlight shown on the workforce, these caregivers who have been frankly subsidizing child care for everyone across the board because their wages are so low, by making it -and I appreciated this language in the report, the personal obligation of the family.
It’s astronomically expensive for the family, but still that $20,000 for an infant in Massachusetts is not sufficient capital to pay our educators here more than minimum wage. Fortunately, our minimum wage is $15 an hour. But that’s still insufficient. And so, what is our social responsibility to put more public funding into this space so that we can pay them more akin to what they deserve to be paid and make true educator salary, so that we build a new system and we build back better, we build back more sustainably in a way that cares for our caregivers who are women, who are women of color, as well as cares for the family and make it work for everybody? So Nicole, I will pass it off to you to to bring us home here because I think we’re at about time, but thank you again for inviting me to join this conversation.
Nicole Mason: I’m fired up, ready to go. And thank you for this great conversation. Thank you all for joining us. And let’s get to work.
Brenda Lawrence: Yes, thanks. Be safe and be well