Marshall Plan for Moms!

Women have left the workforce in droves leading to poverty and hunger

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COVID-19 has disrupted the economy and has forced millions into unemployment, with women being disproportionately affected. According to a National Women’s Law Center report, 2 million women have left the workforce since the pandemic began. A recent analysis states that 100% of lost jobs in December belonged to women and primarily women of color. Jessica Grose, the parenting columnist at the New York Times, has claimed that “America’s Mothers are in Crisis.” The United States is in desperate need of a Marshal Plan for Moms.
The Marshall Plan of 1948 provided massive aid to rebuild Western European nations in the aftermath of WWII. Similarly, the Marshall Plan for Moms, like its namesake, would provide economic aid and redevelopment for women. The plan is led by ‘Girls Who Code’ founder and CEO Reshma Saujani and backed by multiple celebrities, including Gabrielle Union and Eva Longoria. They are calling for President Biden to establish a task force to implement short-term monthly payments to moms, depending on need and resources, and to pass policies such as paid family leave, affordable childcare, and pay equity. “Mothers have been acting as caregivers, teachers, and earners all at once,” Saujani says. “We plan to pay women for their unseen and unpaid labor.”
During the pandemic, Black, Latinx, and single mothers have been hit the hardest. In the US. Almost 25% of children have experienced food insecurity in the past year, and New Mexico has become the most food insecure state in the union, all of which correlates with loss of maternal income. Additionally, 75% of parents with children ages 8-12 say that the school year is causing them stress. This means that there is an economic fallout for mothers in the workforce and an imminent mental health crisis.

Mothers have been acting as caregivers, teachers, and earners all at once. We plan to pay women for their unseen and unpaid labor.”

— Reshma Saujani

Although this initiative has received much attention and celebrity backing, there is also staunch criticism. Some economic experts believe that the plan falls short of bringing economic security to women and families. C. Nicole Mason, president, and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, says, “If the aim of the Marshall Plan is to bring attention to the unpaid labor of women, then fine. But if the plan is really meant to bring full economic security to women and families, it falls short.”
There is also concern around solely addressing moms in this plan. Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of Riveter, and Samantha Ettus, founder and CEO of Park Place Payments, responded to the proposal with a Newsweek op-ed entitled “We Should Not Pay Women to Be Moms.” They are concerned that payment to only mothers would encourage heterosexual couples to decide that women should stay out of the workforce. Another concern is that it leaves out other kinds of families. “Grandmas and aunties and [same sex couples] and everyone else taking care of families, we want a policy that encompasses all of those groups,” Nelson says.
But according to Saujani, “We need a Marshall Plan for Moms. We don’t need a Marshall Plan for Caregivers at this moment because we’re talking about the people who are suffering right now.” Saujani and her cosigners are adamant about focusing on mothers due to gender disparities that have arisen before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. She remarks, “We have to respond to the moment that we’re in, and not the world as we wish it was.”
On February 16, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) announced that she would introduce the Marshall Plan for Moms (H.Res.121) into congress. “Moms throughout America are screaming out for help. Moms – especially moms of color – have been pushed to the brink of economic, social, and emotional collapse due to this pandemic”, Meng says. “Moms were always fighting an uphill battle against gender norms and racial and gender pay equity – and like so many other issues, the pandemic has only exacerbated existing injustices and inequalities.”