This year, add fierce political advocacy to the list of things for which you should thank your mom.
Some of the most powerful appeals for gun legislation in the wake of Newtown have come from parents, particularly mothers, and moms have joined the fight on issues like immigration reform and health care. As Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director of Moms Rising pointed out on Sunday’s Up with Steve Kornacki, 82% of women will have children by the age of 44. The vast majority of those women will be the main caretakers of their families, giving them a unique perspective on how national policies will affect children and families.
Maya Wiley, founder of the Center for Social Inclusion, described it as a different way of thinking about protection.
“Women, and particularly mothers, organize protection around safety, we organize protection around making sure that there aren’t dangers out there for our children rather than trying to step up to danger in an aggressive way,” Wiley said. “I think that is part of the symbolism of moms. We protect differently.”
The current state of affairs is far from perfect. Only 20% of Senate seats are filled by women, women make up only 19% of the House of Representatives, and there are virtually no women of color. Child care and household issues are still disproportionately dealt with by women, and there are still deep cultural biases against women who run for office, as Celinda Lake noted during the show.
Grassroots activism is only a part of the equation for change; the changing gender composition of Congress, and the increasing number of mothers, gives greater momentum to social and economic issues that disproportionately impact women. Paid sick leave, child care funding, and pay equity are just a few of the issues that have gained increased attention at the state and federal level thanks to organizing and legislation action by women.