We Still Have A Caregiving Crisis. Let’s Solve It

Around 43.5 million caregivers provide unpaid care to an adult or child each year, and 61 percent of them are women. Work isn’t working for most people—and when work doesn’t work, families become financially unstable and women leave the workforce.

I implore Congress to focus on this issue in 2024, to make it a reality for workers across the country. Millions are waiting. 

Under the Threat of Another Government Shutdown

The government might shut down this week (again). At the same time, House Republicans are trying to abolish the Women’s Bureau; cut the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; slash maternal and child health support from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); eliminate funding for Title X family planning; *and* reverse the FDA decision on the abortion pill mifepristone.

‘Who Cares?’: The Unequal Burden of Care Work on Women

The U.S. needs a future of care fit for 21st-century feminism. This excerpt from Emily Kenway’s newest book: Who Cares?, is a look into the lives of women who have been relegated to the home in order to provide care to others and the experiences of women of color and working class women, who need the freedom to care in the first place.

“We shared the sadness of watching a loved one in anguish, but our caregiving experience was completely different. … We need to witness both care worlds to create solutions that work for all women, not just some.”

A Prison Guard Was Forced to Stay at Her Post During Labor Pains. Texas Is Fighting Compensation for Her Stillbirth.

The pregnant officer reported contraction-like pains at work, but said she wasn’t allowed to leave for hours. Her baby was delivered stillborn. If Issa had gotten to the hospital sooner, medical personnel told her, the baby would have survived, according to a federal lawsuit filed against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and prison officials.

But the prison agency and the Texas attorney general’s office, which has staked its reputation on “defending the unborn” all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, are arguing the agency shouldn’t be held responsible for the stillbirth because staff didn’t break the law. Plus, they said, it’s not clear that Issa’s fetus had rights as a person.

What’s on the Horizon for Working Women?

One year ago this week, I was elected as the first woman to lead the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor federation—consisting of 12.5 million workers across 60 unions.

The past 12 months have been nothing short of historic in how workers—from nurses in New York, to teachers in Minnesota, to warehouse workers at Amazon, to baristas at Starbucks—have risen up and seized our collective power. As working people continue to push for more, I’ll be focused on how we can continue to build a bold, inclusive and modern movement, empower working women through unions and unleash a wave of grassroots organizing that will put all working people on the path to a better life. And gender equity is essential to the future of our movement. 

The Best Present for Minnesota Mothers: Paid Family Leave

In April 2020, my daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Caring for my medically complex daughter was one of the hardest things I have ever done. 

I am thrilled that my home state of Minnesota just approved paid family and medical leave—joining 11 other states and the District of Columbia in offering this program. Signed into law on Thursday by Gov. Tim Walz (D), Minnesota’s new plan recognizes the incredible labor that family caregivers—the vast majority of whom are women—put into caring for their loved ones, often at financial, physical and emotional cost to themselves.

The next step is for Congress to pass federal paid leave and expand access to FMLA.

What Would It Look Like if the Workplace Was Built for Women?

The number of women leading Australia’s largest companies has risen from a dismal 5 percent in 2020 to 30 percent today. Even still, the country’s working women still face many challenges. There is a gender pay gap (13 percent), and a lack of support for childcare and other family support systems, including paid parental leave. These are the same challenges that women face in the U.S. despite study after study recognizing these barriers to gender equity in business.

Two steps forward for Australia is good news. But so many more steps forward are needed for equal representation and economic equity, and for families, communities, companies and countries everywhere to truly thrive.

North Carolina Abortion Clinics on the Front Lines: The Ms. Q&A with Amber Gavin

Republicans in North Carolina enacted SB 20, which prohibits any licensed physician from performing abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy. Ms. spoke with Amber Gavin, vice president of advocacy and operations for A Woman’s Choice, about the impact of the ban, slated to take effect on July 1.

“North Carolina has been a crucial access point to care in the South because so many surrounding states have partial or complete abortion bans. I am fearful and sad about folks not having the access to make decisions that are best for their lives and their futures. It’s unconscionable to take away essential healthcare from our communities, to take away their choices and options.”

Are Women’s Rights the Canary in the Coal Mine of a Democracy in Decline?

The tenets of reproductive health, rights and justice—and those of a healthy democracy—are not only inextricably interconnected, but essential to our nation’s promise.

(This essay is part of Women’s Rights and Backsliding Democracies project—a multimedia project made up of essays, video and podcast programming, presented by Ms., NYU Law’s Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network and Rewire News Group. This story also appears in the Summer 2023 issue of Ms. magazine. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get the Summer issue delivered straight to your mailbox!)