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Kamala Harris: Women face national emergency

In a virtual discussion Thursday morning, along with women parliamentarians and activists, Vice President Kamala Harris once again called attention to the economic and healthcare crisis women across the country face due to COVID-19.

A superb 2.3 million women have left the workforce since the onset of the pandemic due to pressures on caregiving from school and daycare closures, coupled with massive job losses in women-centered industries like commerce retail and hospitality.

“Our economy cannot fully recover unless women can participate fully,” Harris said, echoing an op-ed she published in The Washington Post last week. “I believe, I think we all believe it, that this is a national emergency – women leaving the workforce in these numbers is a national emergency that demands a national solution.

Harris offered his remarks in front of a video screen that beamed into other women, including Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.); Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Calif) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn).

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris listens during a virtual panel discussion with women leaders on February 18, 2021, to discuss “the critical importance of the passage of the US bailout – especially for women.”

Women could be delayed by at least a generation due to the economic fallout from the pandemic. The percentage of women in the labor force is now 57% – a level last seen in 1988 when the “Murphy Brown” TV show first aired and the portrayal of Candice Bergen was released. ‘a single mother at work was controversial.

Women made strides in the years that followed – despite a lack of public support for women or parents. The United States is known to offer a little cushion: no paid parental leave, no public child care for children until they start kindergarten, no cash grants for parents. Women’s participation in the workplace has increased thanks to courage and a patchwork of childcare solutions.

The pandemic has proven to be too heavy for this system.

Harris’ preferred solution is the American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief and recovery program that the White House released last month. The vice president said the plan would help women in a number of ways, including giving them money directly (with the exception of high income earners) through stimulus checks of $ 1,400 and boosting funding to both from the struggling daycare industry and K-12 schools.

Harris also touted the proposal to offer parents $ 3,000 in tax credits for each of their children. “And the beauty of the significance of this is that by doing this, we will be raising nearly half of the children who live in poverty in our country,” she said.

The plan also includes expanding and extending paid family leave to those who need time off to recover or quarantine themselves from the coronavirus, to care for a sick loved one, or to help children return home. school during closings.

The White House has beaten the drums for this plan and called attention to the crisis facing women – especially women of color – in recent weeks, but it is unclear how far this plan will succeed. in the Senate. The paid vacation portion, in particular, will likely be weakened due to the restrictions it faces in getting through the budget reconciliation process, without Republican backing.

Nearly a dozen activists from the National Women’s Law Center, the National Council of Negro Women and Time’s Up, among others, also participated in a discussion that was not made available to the public.


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