The iconic illustration by artist Miriam Wosk on Ms.’s very first cover in 1972 was a wakeup call to housewives everywhere. In 2021, we’re putting the onus where it belongs: on the nation, on our government and our policymakers, on our elected officials.
Since the start of the pandemic, American women have lost a net total of 5.4 million jobs and, by the end of February, nearly 3 million U.S. women had left the workforce entirely. These millions of women, particularly low-income women and disproportionately women of color, were pushed from the paid labor force by business closures or cutbacks, or they were driven to leave jobs or reduce their work hours when child care centers and schools closed, or lacking paid leave, when they or their family members became sick.
As a central component of the government’s pandemic response, we must confront the total collapse of the country’s patchwork care infrastructure and pursue a policy in which care work is valued as high-quality work that pays family-supporting wages. As economists Rakeen Mabud and Lenore Palladino write in the Spring issue of Ms., addressing our caregiving crisis is both a moral and an economic imperative:
“In this moment of relief and recovery, if we settle for benching half the population because of a care crisis, there is no way we will enjoy a sustainable, inclusive economy going forward.”
Here’s a glimpse at what else you’ll find inside the upcoming Spring issue:
- The U.S. talks about gender parity in political office, but Mexico wrote it into their Constitution. Last May, the legislature passed a constitutional reform known as “parity in everything,” requiring that women be nominated for 50 percent of all elected and appointed positions at all levels of government—and not a single member of Congress voted against it. Writer Jennifer Piscopo explains how Mexican women, working across ideological divides, accomplished this feat through decades spent chipping away at men’s political dominance, turning incremental gains into deeper changes.
- Longtime feminist activist Loretta Ross has a solution for the counterproductive public shaming that takes place in social justice movements. Instead of calling out, she suggests we try “calling in.” “First of all,” Ross says, “we need to stop having this trigger fuse that when somebody says something that you don’t perfectly agree with, that you just set a firecracker off in the middle of their lives and blow them up.”
- Despite having had months to plan, when COVID-19’s second wave hit the U.S., many women’s prisons were still woefully underprepared. One in five prisoners have contracted the virus, a rate that’s more than four times the general public. Women interviewed for this story told Ms. they lack hot water, fresh air, cleaning supplies and even hand sanitizer. Another woman reported that when one of them tested positive for the coronavirus, she was left in her cell with her roommates for hours before being sent to quarantine. The only solution, according to activists, doctors and even the nation’s top scientists, is decarceration.
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Read the letter from the Ms. team, which originally appears in the Spring 2021 issue of Ms.:
Read the original Ms. cover story from 1972—“Click! The Housewife’s Moment of Truth” by Jane O’Reilly: