Final ‘Pregnant Workers Fairness Act’ Regulations Were Released—And It’s Great News for Women

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its final regulations implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The landmark statute mandating “reasonable accommodation” of workers’ pregnancy-related needs went into effect last summer, but the regulations explain the PWFA’s protections in more detail, providing additional guidance to workers, employers, and the courts so that the full force of the law is given effect. 

Who’s Budgeting for Women’s Futures?

For too many—especially women of color—paychecks aren’t keeping up. Inflation is inching downward, but costs for groceries, childcare and rent feel out of reach.

But congressional fights over taxes and spending are really about fundamental questions: What do women, our families and communities need? What kind of future do we want to build? Recent budget proposals by the Biden administration and Republicans in Congress show how our two major political parties answer those questions. The answers were starkly different, revealing high stakes when it comes to women’s ability to participate in the economy, care for their families and control their own reproductive lives. 

The Childcare Cliff Is Upon Us, and Congress Must Take Action

Since Congress failed to extend the childcare stabilization funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in September 2023, the supply of childcare has fallen off a cliff in many places across the United States, and its effects on families and the early childhood education (ECE) workforce are being felt more than ever. 

If you haven’t already done so, it is time to sit up and pay attention. As childcare programs increase fees to make up for budget shortfalls, the annual cost of care has risen to over $30,000 for 20 percent of families in the U.S., with another 50 percent paying approximately $20,000 annually. These costs often exceed the cost of college tuition. 

Research has long shown the cognitive and social emotional benefits of early learning, and an overwhelming majority of Americans feel that childcare is a good use of their taxpayer dollars. Congress’ disconnect on this issue remains unconscionable.

Front and Center: ‘I’m Providing Childcare for Other People’s Kids, but I Don’t Have the Childcare I Need’

Front and Center is a groundbreaking Ms. series that offers first-person accounts of Black mothers living in Jackson, Miss., receiving a guaranteed income. First launched in 2018, the Magnolia Mother’s Trust (MMT) is about to enter its fifth cohort, bringing the number of moms served to more than 400 and making it the longest-running guaranteed income program in the country. Across the country, guaranteed income pilots like MMT are finding that recipients are overwhelmingly using their payments for basic needs like groceries, housing and transportation.

“I want to get back to school so I can level up in early childhood education. The challenge is being a single mom and needing to have someone there for my child when I’m not. … I’m providing childcare for other people’s kids, and at the same time, I don’t have the childcare I need to be able to do the stuff that I want to do.”

From The Vault: Joan Little and The Dialectics of Rape (June 1975)

“A little more than 100 years ago … rape served not only to further [the Black woman’s] oppression but also as a means of terrorizing the entire Black community. It placed brutal emphasis on the fact that Black slaves were indeed the property of the white master. … The social incentive given to rape is woven into the logic of the institutions of this society. It is an extremely efficient means of keeping women in a state of fear of rape, or of the possibility of it.”

( For more ground-breaking stories like this, order 50 YEARS OF Ms.: THE BEST OF THE PATHFINDING MAGAZINE THAT IGNITED A REVOLUTION (Alfred A. Knopf)—a collection of the most audacious, norm-breaking coverage Ms. has published.)

Subminimum Wage Is a Legacy of Slavery: Time for One Fair Wage

While some states have eliminated the subminimum wage, or raised it above the paltry federal rate, the vast majority of states still allow employers to pay servers less than minimum wage. Restaurant servers in the U.S. are about 70 percent female and disproportionately women of color. Young people, disabled workers and incarcerated people in many states also receive subminimum wages.

The system of subminimum wages and tipping is a legacy of slavery. After the Civil War, white business owners replaced wages with tipping because they did not want to pay their Black employees. Today, the subminimum wage harms women of color, in particular, who face biases from customers, which shows up in lower tips.

When 15 States Opt Out of a Summer Food Program, Community Organizations Must Fill in the Gaps

We were extremely disappointed by the decision of Mississippi and 14 other states last week to opt-out of a new summer EBT program that would have provided each eligible family with $40 per month per child during the summer to help cover the additional costs of food. For a mother working full-time at minimum wage (approximately $1,160 each month), that $40 could make a huge difference.

Once again, we are reminded that poverty, and all its consequences, are the result of policy choices. But when policy choices put an undue burden on our families, we know that it is our time to step into the gap.