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O: Open Flexible Work

Breastfeeding as a Health Policy Issue is a Win-Win

The toughest of times can shine a light on opportunities for needed change, often providing long awaited improvements. Faced with state and federal budget crises and promising health care reform, breastfeeding as a policy, not just a health, issue, stands out as a win-win for everyone. Breastfeeding is a comparatively low-cost, low-tech health strategy that results in improved health outcomes for mothers and babies. Our Surgeon General’s Call to Action, details action steps we can collectively take to support our mothers with breastfeeding policies in the places where they receive health care, work and do business, honoring their feeding decision and benefiting our communities.

Lending Programs Give Struggling Small Businesses a Helping Hand

Heidi Kallet had to sign away her life, so to speak, to achieve the American Dream.

Despite the dismal economy, the Virginia small business owner was ready to open her second stationery store and hire some new staff. Although Heidi’s business was booming, credit for small businesses had dried up and she couldn’t get a loan…until she gave the bank that agreed to help her everything she owned and signed her and her husband’s life insurance over as collateral.

This is not the only story of small business owners going to extreme lengths to get a loan. Many will take out second mortgages, run up their credit cards and employ various other risky measures because the loan environment is so bad. But two new federal programs formed under the 2010 Jobs and Credit Act might help them get the funding they need to launch new successful businesses and help rebuild our economy.

“The Help” and the rights of domestic workers

This week, I went to see the movie The Help, based on the best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett. The film focuses on the exploitation, abuse, and indignities endured by African American women who worked as housecleaners, childcare providers, and cooks in the homes of white families in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. 

Economic Policy: It’s Personal

The economic meltdown battered many Americans, but women and communities of color have long sustained the impact of an imbalanced financial market.  Hard working women are deeply familiar with the enormous racial and gender wealth gap in America.  Single Black and Hispanic women have one penny of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by their male counterparts and a fraction of a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by White women.  When it comes to employment, the largest gender pay gap is between White men and White women, with women earning only 72.6% of the pay of their male counterparts.

HERvotes – Coming Together to Counter Extremist Attacks on Women’s Health and Economic Security

We, the more than one million members of MomsRising from every state in the nation, love our families and our country.  We know that the current extremist attacks on women’s health and family economic security are only serving to weaken the United States, not strengthen it.  That’s why, on the anniversaries of the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment and the 1963 March on Washington which are this week, we join our colleagues in working to mobilize women voters in 2012 around preserving women’s Health and Economic Rights (HER rights) and build an even stronger nation that lives up to its full potential.

When family economic and health security is threatened, we are all threatened.

To counter these threats, MomsRising has joined forces with the leadership of HERvotes, including:

A Breakthrough Solution for Business, Workers and Climate

Did you know that earlier this year the federal government promoted a week dedicated to telework?  The intent was to encourage government agencies to overcome obstacles and discover the advantages of virtual work.  General Services Administration administrator Martha Johnson explained, “Telework is revolutionizing the way government works, helping us to be more mobile, more agile, more flexible, more productive, and deliver better results for the American people.” Virtual work is ripe for becoming a modern working norm. What will it take to get all employers discover the advantages?

You might hear it called ”virtual work,” “telework,” “flexible work,” “remote work” – all refer to work done outside the traditional workplace. Call it what you will, we can no longer afford to underutilize this opportunity to boost productivity, reduce the trade deficit and improve our environment.

Breastfeeding While Breadwinning–Helping Working Moms Understand Their Rights

When I gave birth last year, I was certain I wanted to breastfeed my baby and I assumed it would be pretty straightforward: breast + baby = food, right?  Our bodies were built for this and women have been doing it for thousands of years, I thought, so it shouldn’t be too hard.   Boy was I wrong!  Eight weeks and a split nipple later, I considered giving up.  I had prepared for and successfully tackled the challenges of labor, but after weeks of sleepless nights and tears, my tolerance for pain and emotional endurance were waning.

Luckily for me, I had the resources to seek help and I didn’t have to worry about heading back to work for another few months.  Not all women are as fortunate.  In New York City, where I live, 86% of women initiate breastfeeding at birth, but 8 weeks later only 32% are breastfeeding their infants exclusively.  Sore, cracked or bleeding nipples are partly to blame—21% of women cite this reason—but so are the challenges of continuing to breastfeed after returning to work.  A full 16% of women in New York City said their need to return to work or school caused them to stop breastfeeding.  This need not be the case.

Review: Profit At the Bottom Of The Ladder

Since coming back from Netroots Nation, I have been thinking a lot about workers’ rights. When did we get to the point in our country that workers like teachers and union members are the greedy and grubby ones? No one seems to care that much about the investors who don’t have to work, for example. Or asking the CEO to take a pay cut, or even worse, pay more in taxes. Gasp!

Finally, I spotted a story, in this case the Washington Post, scrutinizing CEO pay, which is at the highest levels in our history. Read on:

The evolution of executive grandeur — from very comfortable to jet-setting — reflects one of the primary reasons that the gap between those with the highest incomes and everyone else is widening.

Survey: 88% of Working Parents Suffer Stress-related Health Problems

Working parents have a lot to juggle, and this can create stress. But what we often overlook is that stress has real health consequences.

Several weeks ago, I put together a survey* asking working parents about stress and its effects on their health. More than 600 people responded. I filtered out respondents who lived in a household with at least one stay-at-home adult, which left 560 respondents in households where all adults work. Their answers were alarming:

  • 80% catch up on work nights and weekends
  • 81% worry they will burn out
  • 88% said they suffer from at least one stress-related health problem since becoming a working parent
  • 59% have problems with anxiety
  • 43% struggle with depression

Can you say “public health crisis”?

A Pepsi Experiment: Providing Critical Information to Community Leaders

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research is venturing into new territory. IWPR has been selected to compete in the Pepsi Refresh Project, a voter-driven contest that could win IWPR $25,000 for raising awareness on the status of women. With previous grants going to projects that build playgrounds in local communities or provide spay/neuter surgeries for pets, it might seem like IWPR’s project to provide reliable information on the state of the union for women is a bit abstract for the contest. But IWPR sees the Pepsi Refresh project as an opportunity to demystify the importance–nay, the necessity–of reliable information on women’s lives, their needs, and how addressing these needs strengthens their families, as well as the communities they hold together.

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