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Thanks to NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Pregnant Woman is Back at Work

Floralba, a pregnant retail worker in the Bronx, was sent home on unpaid leave because she needed to temporarily avoid heavy lifting in order to prevent having another miscarriage. Last week, A Better Balance used the new law we championed, the NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to get Floralba back at work, with backpay, and to convince her employer to update it’s policies in compliance with the law! This week, she has been pricing and hanging clothes instead of hauling heavy piles of clothes as she was required to do in the past. Thanks to this powerful new law, Floralba did not have to choose between her paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. 

Has “Breast is Best” Jumped the Shark?

I’m a working mother of two small children, and I’ve breastfed them both. In fact, I’m currently somewhere in the middle of breastfeeding my second child, who has cut some teeth recently and knows how to use them, so we’ll see how much longer this continues.

And it’s been interesting, being alive and mothering and breastfeeding during a time of historically high intrusion into women’s nutrition relationships with their babies. I’m not a breastfeeding crusader. I’ve found the whole situation to be exhausting and crazy and difficult. I am already sad about how fast my baby seems to be growing up, but I look forward to the day when I am not the source of her nutrition. I’m just kind of middle-of-the-road on this whole thing.

But I care about how our culture treats women, and there is one specific dynamic that I’ve been tracking, and been bothered by, in that way where you can’t put your finger on what bothers you. You turn it over and over in your mind, until one day in the shower it hits you.

So here it is:

A Snake?! Lawmaker Sexually Harasses Teen at a Hearing

“I am usually a very shy person, and now I am more outgoing. I was able to teach those children about certain things like snakes that we have and the turtles that we have. … I want to do something toward that, working with children when I get older.”

These inspiring words come from a high school student, who recently testified to fund the Connecticut State Science Center. Aren’t these all things we want for young women? Positive teenage experiences, overcoming shyness, gaining confidence, finding a passion—this girl has got it all, and not only that, but she took the brave step of sharing her experience and participating in the political system so that other teens could have the same opportunities.

Here’s how State Representative Ernest Hewitt replied: “If you’re bashful, I’ve got a snake sitting under my desk here.”

Real Stories from Pregnant Workers: Making Their Voices Heard and Making a Difference

Natasha Jackson was working as a customer account representative at a Rent-A-Center in South Carolina when she became pregnant. For the first month her supervisor accommodated her without incident (other workers were available to move large items), but when the district manager found out what was going on, he made her use up her vacation days and then pushed her onto unpaid leave from work. The company never let her come back to her job despite repeated attempts. Natasha and her husband lost the house they were hoping to buy once she was no longer bringing in income. We heard about Natasha’s case from her lawyer—they had taken her case to arbitration, but the arbitrator found that Rent-A-Center’s actions were not discriminatory.

Let’s Stop Doing the CHA CHA CHA

Why do women themselves say that women “Can’t Have it All?” We say it because, as one mother told me, the phrase resonates as being “Shockingly, earthshakingly true.” We use you “Can’t Have it All” because it reflects a reality, our frustration with the impossible goal of trying to be both June Cleaver and Modern Career Woman at the same time.

But we have to stop using that phrase, because the CHA-CHA-CHA mantra is an outdated code for telling a woman she can’t have what men have traditionally had—namely, a challenging, time-consuming, financially rewarding job and a well-cared-for family. Well-cared for, that is, by someone else: his wife.

TIME: Ask the RIGHT questions!

TIME Magazine just became another self-appointed arbiter of “Mommy Judgment” by trying to inflame the Mommy Wars with their exploitative cover of a young mother standing like a mudflap girl and breastfeeding her 3, maybe 4 year old. The byline: “Are you Mom enough?”

The answer is, as soon as you have a baby, YOU ARE MOM ENOUGH!

TIME is sadly out of touch with what Moms really want. It’s time to ask, “Are we Mom-friendly enough?”

In my circle of “Mom” friends, we largely think that the “Mommy Wars” are over. Until, of course, some stupid news outlet uses the Mommy War to try and sell magazines. We trust that the choices that you made about parenting your children were made based on the information that you had at the time. “We do better, when we know better” is a phrase we often share with each other as we gather new information and work to improve our lives and the lives of our children.

Breakfast in Bed is Nice, but a Seat at the Table is Invaluable.

Meet Annie Spiegelman, a Bay Area mom who blogs as “The Dirt Diva” on matters of love, gardening, and cultivating a healthy planet.  Just in time for Mother’s Day, Annie shares her interview with Rachel’s Network Co-Director Laurie Syms on the evidence that women in Congress, regardless of party, support the environment at rates that outpace their male counterparts.

A Rachel’s Network report entitled “When Women Lead: A Decade of Women’s Environmental Voting Records in Congress,”  compares the environmental voting records of Congresswomen and Congressmen from the 107th through the 111th Congress.  The conclusion:  in both houses of Congress, whether red or blue, women are greener!

Here’s Annie’s personal account of a moving conversation:

How did a girl raised and hardened on the streets of New York City become a passionate environmentalist, geeky master gardener and full-fledged compost queen? I read Rachel Carson’s bestseller, Silent Spring.

Women’s History We Still Live With Today

March is women’s history month and I wanted to share a few tidbits of women’s history that are even less commonly known than most, and history that is still impacting the lives of women and mothers today.

Did you know that…

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.

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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