Since the COVID-19 recession started, almost 3 million women have left the labor force. Will they go back to work? Several policies—none of which are in widespread use in the U.S.—could help.
Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to American families started rolling out at the end of December, but there’s a big surprise in store for eligible tax-paying women who file jointly with a male spouse: your check will likely be addressed to your husband only.
For most women in straight couples, this invisibility isn’t new or surprising. As humans, as citizens, as tax payers, and as bread winners, we’re used to being regarded as someone else’s appendage.
Since 2003, Rep. Rosa DeLauro has been a voice—sometimes the lone one—in a push to expand the child tax credit to the nation’s poorest children. With President Joe Biden’s support, the plan is likely to pass.
Women have been bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis. Now, even though women are more likely to wear masks and follow social distancing rules, women are more wary of vaccinations compared with men.
Paying mothers to stay home will not lead us toward recovery—it will put women at an even greater disadvantage in the long run and have negative repercussions on the American economy. The only way to build back better and revive our economy is by getting women back to work.
Lactation has become simultaneously more and less visible. In the age of social distancing, nursing in public is waning from our collective sight. At the same time, a novel form of public lactation is developing online, in particular on videoconferencing platforms, which function in many ways as the new public space.
Prior to the pandemic, we were barely hanging on as we struggled with the strain of a too-busy, too-individualistic lifestyle, as we tried to prove we could take care of ourselves by suffering in our nuclear families alone.
Imagine a world where collective care was a daily practice rather than a reaction to cancer, global pandemics and structural oppression. By engaging in collective care, we may begin to believe that we belong to one another.
Pressure and guilt, in all their forms, converge around this time every year, when the invisible work women typically do at home gets ratcheted up a few notches for the holidays. Add to that the pandemic, which has claimed more than 300,000 U.S. lives and, at its worst point, 20.8 million jobs. People are burnt out. Women most of all.
And yet, the household work—who keeps track of what groceries to buy, what appointments to make, the outfits needed for the holiday photos—continues to fall on women, as it historically has.
Closing schools was supposed to decrease possible COVID contacts, helping to flatten the curve. But opening schools might actually be safer than the unregulated alternatives that parents have come up with for educating and caring for their kids during the workday.
Many women in many dual-parent households have dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic to carry this domestic load, but most solo moms can’t do that. We have to keep the plates spinning as best we can. I wonder about all the other pandemic lock-in kids living in single-mother households—roughly one quarter of the U.S. population.