Ignoring Women’s Work Hurts Everyone

Symbol of Women's Empowerment - Rosie

Ignoring Women’s Work Hurts Everyone

The damaging effects of being ignored by colleagues at work is well-established in these new scientific studies.  However, there is something missing from this article.

You don’t have to be at work to be ignored (professionally). Even in normal, everyday conversations – what women “do” for a living is often perceived as less important.

I’ve had at least 3 specific occasions in the last month that are perfect examples of a phenomenon that is far more damaging than workplace harassment. That phenomenon, which has existed for not just decades, but millennia, is ignoring women’s work.

Whether at home or in the office, women’s work is largely ignored. See these posts from The Shriver Report on:

But back to my “latest” experiences, which to use the word “latest” means being ignored professionally, happens to me, and all women, on a regular basis.

The first was on a trip with my husband’s college alumni organization. On numerous occasions over the weekend, I started conversations with folks in an attempt to make “small talk” (which as an INTJ I cannot stand, truth be told). The results were disheartening and discouraging. Regardless of whether men or women were involved in the conversation, only the males (or women without children) who were present at the conversation were asked about their professional work and “How it was going?”. That left me standing in silence, even when I instigated the conversation and asked “How is work going for you?”, the recipients never returned the favor of the question.

The second and third occasions are far more insidious and frequent, and I would guess that you can share your own, very similar, story. They both happened in the course of normal, everyday conversation, much like the university experience except it wasn’t on a dedicated out of town trip.

One was standing on the sidewalk talking to a well-meaning gentleman who was complimenting me on how well I sang at the event we just attended. He turned to my husband and asked, “Where did you go to school?” That turned into an entire conversation that left me standing there in silence. I even tried to jokingly interject a comment about school rivalry to get my foot in the door of the conversation by saying, “I suppose that my husband being a Virginia Tech alumnus, and you as an NC State graduate, still makes me being a Tarheel (UNC Chapel Hill) graduate and current student, is acceptable too?”. Again, I was ignored.

The other incident happened standing in the driveway of a family member’s home, chatting with neighbors.

Not two minutes into the conversation, the neighbor turned to my husband and asked, “So, how’s work going?” I tried hard not to roll my eyes, because I knew what was coming.

Fortunately, my husband is keen to recognize this subtle form of discrimination now, and he echoed my sentiment when I chimed in (uninvited), “Yes, we are busy at work.” “With the company we run together, combined with our primary jobs and parenting our three kids who are aged 8 and under, we stay very busy.”

You should have seen the look on the neighbor’s face. It was as if I had told him we were flying to a secondary lunar-based office on weekends.

What was his response? You guessed it, he continued the conversation with my husband as if I had never said anything.

Of course, these examples are typical, and barely scratch the surface of how women are subtly, casually, and sometimes overtly ignored professionally in all social situations.  What’s worse, is several studies support that being ignored by colleagues is worse than outright harassment. This article explains scientific case for the damaging effects of that silence all women experience at some point in their lives, very clearly.

I would love to hear your stories too. It is in sharing them, that we can transform cultural conversation and societal “norms” that expect women to work (mostly for free and definitely for less pay) and remain silent.

To learn more about changing the conversation, visit these websites featured in my previous posts:

The Caring Economy Campaign

Caring economy logoGinger is a Caring Economics Coalition (CEC) Member and Certified Conversation Leader. She speaks regularly to raise awareness about the value of caregiving and supports the CEC’s sustainable approach toward building a healthy economy which values its most precious resource: its children. Learn more, watch the VIDEO below.

Caring Economy – Join the Campaign Coalition

The real wealth of our nation, and our world, is not financial: Our real wealth consists of the contributions of people and nature. Nations that support the work of caregiving – by offering caregiver tax-credits, publically funded child and elder care, and paid parental leave –consistently rank high in both UN Human Development Reports and World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Reports. When the importance of caregiving is recognized and supported, citizens are happier and healthier, and society is more economically secure. Success in the world and a good quality of life for our nation’s citizens require economic practices, policies, and measurements that give visibility and value to the most essential human work – the work of caring for people, starting in early childhood. The Caring Economy Campaign will make our nation, and our world, better.

CPS’s Caring Economy Campaign has three major strategies to achieve its goals:

 

1.  Public Policy & Social Wealth Indicators: Following the recommendations of The State of Society: Measuring Economic Success and Human Well-Being, the 2010 report commissioned by CPS from the Urban Institute, CPS is working again with the Urban Institute to develop new indicators of economic and social health.These Social Wealth indicators provide the missing empirical evidence needed so policies take into account the enormous economic value of the work of care, take into account the contributions of women, and give adequate attention to racial and other marginalized groups. In May 2012, twenty leading experts on the economymet in Washington D.C. at a meeting co-sponsored by the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS) and the Urban Institute to pave the way for the development of Social Wealth Indicators and explore their inclusion in the new Key National Indicators planned for the United States. The State of Society report has been endorsed by leaders of organizations representing 30 million people. Read the State of Society recommendations and View Endorsements.

2.  Leadership & Learning Programs: Certified leaders from countries around the globe have been trained through CPS’s online Caring Economy Leadership Training program, and are reaching thousands of others. The program’s Real Wealth track focuses on economic success and a better quality of life, and the Women’s Empowerment track focuses on developing women’s leadership and economic empowerment. Other CEC educational programs include courses at universities, presentations at professional conferences such as the Academy of Management, articles in academic and popular publications, op-eds, blogs, websites, and social media. Enroll in the leadership program.

3.  Coalition & Movement Building: CPS launched the Caring Economy Campaign coalition following the endorsements of the Urban Institute report by leaders of organizations representing women, children, caregivers, health care workers, teachers, social responsible businesses, the natural environment, faith-based activists, civil and human rights activists, think tanks, and others. The CEC coalition brings together local, national, and international organizations to inform policy makers and the public of the need for, and benefits of, a caring economy. The CEC website features blog postings, fact sheets, videos, and resources of allied organizations and individuals working to create a more caring and prosperous economy. Our coalition-building also includes reaching out to a broad audience via conventional and social media such as Facebook, You Tube, and Twitter. To join the CEC coalitionclick here.

 

Mothers Declaration of Rights

I love momMothers Declaration of Rights

Recently I wrote about the shameful state of women’s health care in America and how America’s broken health care system affects women.  NAMC Advocacy Coordinator and mothers’ rights advocate, Valerie Young, is a bright light and constant champion for improving the status of women and caregiving in America. Valerie has guest posted for BITL many times, and I echo her sentiment of needing a Mother’s Bill of Rights in the US, something I wrote about in 2010.

I encourage you to take some time to revisit these posts.  Before 2009 I had no idea of the state of mothers in the US.  After reading Ann Crittenden’s book, The Price of Motherhood, my world was rocked. I really had no idea how mothers bear the brunt in America, and end up living at poverty level in their retirement years, because of it.

Now I realize that if I don’t try to “be the change,”  and advocate for mothers’ rights, at any level, then not only do I have no right to complain about discrimination against me as a mother in society, but I run the grave risk of leaving a future generation of daughters and mothers in the same horrible predicament as today’s mothers.

The United States is not a leader in birth outcomes or maternal policy.  In fact, we scrape the bottom of the international barrel.

American infant and maternal morality rates have been steadily rising as births have become more medicalized, i.e. death rates have been rising for moms and babies, right alongside the skyrocketing C-section rates.  Above 30% (somewhere around 33% and even higher in certain areas and hospitals in the US), the C-section rate is more than 200% higher than the World Health Organization recommends as safe for mother and baby.

But here are more shocking statistics from the 2011 State of the World’s Mothers report.  Get the full report.

Excerpt from the 2011 State of the World’s Mothers Report

Why doesn’t the United States do better in the rankings?

The United States ranked 31st this year based on several factors:

• One of the key indicators used to calculate wellbeing for mothers is lifetime risk of maternal mortality. The United States’ rate for maternal  mortality is 1 in 2,100 – the highest of any industrialized nation. In fact, only three Tier I developed countries – Albania, the Russian Federation and Moldova – performed worse than the United States on this indicator. A woman in the U.S. is more than 7 times as likely as a woman in Italy or Ireland to die from pregnancy-related causes and her risk of maternal death is 15-fold that of a woman in Greece.

• Similarly, the United States does not do as well as most other developed countries with regard to under-5 mortality. The U.S. under-5 mortality rate is 8 per 1,000 births. This is on par with rates in Latvia. Forty countries performed better than the U.S. on this indicator. At this rate, a child in the U.S. is more than twice as likely as a child in Finland, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Slovenia, Singapore or Sweden to die before reaching age 5.

• Only 58 percent of children in the United States are enrolled in preschool – making it the fifth lowest country in the developed world on this indicator.

• The United States has the least generous maternity leave policy – both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid – of any wealthy nation.

• The United States is also lagging behind with regard to the political status of women. Only 17 percent of congressional seats are held by women, compared to 45 percent in Sweden and 43 percent in Iceland.

mothers well being

In response to America’s continually poor showing in world indices, and their poor treatment of mothers and babies, in addition to the fact that nothing is being done to change the (yet) political landscape of mothers’ rights, the National Association of Mothers’ Centers issued a Declaration of Mothers’ Rights.  Unfortunately, the Declaration is still as relevant politically and economically, if not moreso, as it was when it was issued in 2000.

Similarly, I published a post of a similar nature, before I was aware of the NAMC Declaration, in 2010.  Read A Mother’s Bill of Rights

Activism on the part of everyone, not just mothers, can ensure our daughters will have a more equitable path in the workplace and at home. As it stands now, we are women without history, and we have a long way to go to before we can say we have a ‘fair shot’ in the political, financial, and corporate arenas.

How America’s Broken Health Care System Affects Women

Symbol of Women's Empowerment - Rosie How America’s Broken Health Care System Affects Women A post also featured on Modern Mom, November 1, 2012

The idea of women’s empowerment is a touchy issue. It has been correlated with the myth of the “male decline” and other scare tactics put forth by those who may seek to sweep women’s issues under the proverbial rug.

However, one fact stands very clear.

Our current approach on women’s health care in the US is not working. I wrote the original post on Women’s Empowerment over a year ago.  Sadly women’s health care rights are more under the gun than ever.

What’s worse are America’s rankings in maternal and infant mortality

The very future of our country depends on the willingness of women to become mothers, through giving birth; and yet, we have some of the worst birth statistics in the entire world. In 2006, the US had the second worst death rates for mothers and newborns of any industrialized nation. But by 2011, America claimed the number one shameful ranking  – giving birth in the US today means you are more likely to die than if give you birth in any other developed country in the world.

The annual State of the World’s Mothers report reports, “the United States has more neonatologists and neonatal intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, but its infant mortality rate is higher than any of those countries.

“Amnesty International’s executive director Larry Cox in 2010 states “this country’s extraordinary record of medical advancement makes its haphazard approach to maternal care all the more scandalous and disgraceful.”

 

Health care in America needs a mother/woman-centered approach. American mothers and women are in great need of holistic, patient centered care, rather than disease care centered around drugs and diagnostic testing.

But That’s Not All

In the US, there are more women living in poverty and suffering from chronic diseases than men. (1,2)  As a woman and mother, I am saddened but not surprised. The findings provide us with the objective evidence of what we have felt intuitively for some time – women’s health care, its delivery, and the proactivity of women in America to take (back) control of their health and health care – must improve.

We Need Change in Health Care Delivery for American Women. Now. 

Here are some of the women’s health statistics from the US Department of Health and Human Services and the American Heart Association.

The scandalous statistics on the poor state of women’s health in America:

  • The US ranks number one of all industrialized nations in maternal and infant mortality. (4)
  • Women suffer from more chronic disease and pain than men. (1,2)
  • Since 1984, more women have been dying from heart disease than men. (1)
  • More women die from stroke, heart disease, and stress related illness than men. (1,2)
  • Women suffer more from autoimmune diseases than men, at rates from 2:1 to as high as 10:1.2
  • More women than men suffer from arthritis. (2)
  • Because of the difference in sex-related cancers, women are more apt to get one of the “top 10 cancers” than men. 2
  • The leading causes of death in women are (in order): heart disease, cancer, and stroke. More than ½ of all these deaths were attributed to heart disease and cancer. (2)
  • Obesity has increased in alarming rates since the 1960’s, with over 61% of both men and women now overweight or obese. (3)
  • Stress related disorders and mental health illness like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, attempted suicide, depression, and anxiety disorders, occur most often in women. (2)
  • Three times as many women attempt suicide as men. (2)
  • Lastly, when polled, more men (who have good reason to) report they are in excellent or very good health. (2)

Why are Women in the US Less Healthy than Men?

Could it be because…

• more women live in poverty than men? (2)
• women in families experience higher rates of poverty than men living in families? (2)
• men report higher satisfaction levels with heath care and access to health care than women? (2)
• more money is spent (per average expenditure) on men’s health care than women, despite one of the primary reasons for hospitalization and medical visits being maternity care? (2)
• because women use prescription drugs more frequently than men, and of those drugs, the common ones are taken for depression and mental health? (2)
• more women’s health care is paid for by Medicaid or out of pocket? (2)

The reasons are multi-faceted, but the bottom line is women urgently need better access to health care. Access to both conventional and integrative medicine is also an imperative. Why? Because integrative medicine techniques are less invasive, less costly, and highly effective. For an example, see my post: Why Every New Mom Needs Physical Therapy

Most importantly, in a time when women are severely underrepresented in the corporate, political, and legislative spheres, women also need and deserve the empowerment that comes with enjoying better health. And by the way, it (women’s health) isn’t “just” a woman’s issue – it is a family issue.  Or as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton puts it, “we must learn that women’s rights issues are human rights issues.” Read my past blog on A Mother’s Bill of Rights

“What’s good for women then, is good for the world.” Dr. Riane Eisler, Founder of the Caring Economy Campaign

If your wife, partner, mother, grandmother, or daughter doesn’t have access to health care when she needs it – every American is affected. Common sense might even say that investing in women’s health is investing in America health – and its future prosperity. Dr. Riane Eisler of the Caring Economics movement, launched this past summer in Washington D.C., has unequivocally shown that raising the status of women raises a country’s economic status. Well, it’s settled then, women’s empowerment is good for our country, its citizens, AND its economy. What’s good for women then, is good for everyone.

Sources
1. American Heart Association
2. US Dept. of Health and Human Services 2006. Women’s Health USA 2007 report
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Overweight and obesity. June 2004
4. Save the Children “State of the World’s Mothers” report 2011

American Childbirth Needs Change

Ginger Garner MPT, ATC Practicing Empowering Prenatal Yoga During her First Pregnancy

American Childbirth Needs Change

The Birth Experience As Empowering

Childbirth in America needs to change.  America has the highest infant and mortality rates of any industrialized nation. Additionally, women are scared of birth and being scared into making fear based decisions about childbirth, rather than being respectfully informed and supported in their birth decisions.

We need to start acting like birth is valuable. We know full well it gives rise to our entire future. There is power in a woman’s ability to give birth to that future.

As women, we need to reclaim that power. As women, we have given up that power and allowed ourselves to be pushed into a corner. That corner is an operating room where birth is a procedure. Birth is a beautiful life enriching rite for the women who choose the road less traveled.

Giving Birth in the USA is Disempowering

Birth is not a pathologic event. It is a natural rite of passage. Birth is not a sterile, capitalistic business owned by hospitals and medical professions from which to generate profit. Birth is the private, nurturing business of women and belongs in the hands of women.

Unfortunately, prenatal care and hospital birth are an astoundingly profitable business for ob/gyns and hospitals. For the mother, hospital births are very expensive, between $5000 – $10,000 for a simple vaginal delivery. The cost of a midwife, in contrast, is a fraction of that. (Plus, when my I gave birth to my first child [in 2005], my midwife stayed with me throughout my labor). In addition, I knew that when using an ob/gyn, my chances for a c-section would increase to 33%, roughly, or 1 in 3. Most of my friends who ended up with c-sections labored a fraction of the time I did (about 1/3) before their ob/gyns emphatically stated they must have a c-section because of “failure to progress.” Additionally, many hospitals still have antiquated policies in place, such as requiring lithotomy position for birth or blocking mothers from using alternative methods for pain relief.

Obstetricians are trained as surgeons and should attend high risk, not low risk, births. Midwifes have all privileges and training that a physician has, except to perform major surgery. We are taxing an already burdened health care system by using health care providers who are not needed. Obstetricians are stretched extremely thin and are responsible for more work and more liability (and higher malpractice costs) than any other physician subspecialty. We need to utilize ob/gyn’s only when they are needed, so they may attend to higher risk births and provide the critical care that is needed for those high-risk expectant mothers.

The Value of An Empowered Birth Experience

We could ensure a future generation of women who will be strong, empowered mothers who trust their own bodies. Our views on birth are being shaped by an overly technocratic maternity system, when what we really need is a humanistic return to holistic birth. If we do not act, the next generation may completely lose the experience of birth.

Robbie Davis-Floyd, in her book Birth as an American Rite of Passage describes birth as it can be, as “wholistic” women’s health, rather than the medicalized “technocratic” process that currently defined birth in America. Women should be fully educated and informed about all of their birth choices, and not scared into making decisions based out of fear or belittlement.

Improving the Status of Women in America

We have only an illusion of control and choice when we birth in a hospital.

There are serious cultural implications for women’s social status if women reclaim the right to birth on their own terms. Women gave up their rights to birth in the early 20th century. Instead, they fought for medical intervention as a way to liberate themselves from the biology of giving birth. However, what happened was the opposite of liberation.

Now, 100 years later, the medical establishment owns birth. Hospitals require FM (fetal monitoring) and other medical interventions and insurance companies refuse to allow women to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or to cover costs associated with VBAC’s.

We have only an illusion of control and choice when we birth in a hospital. I had a hospital birth, and had to drive 2 hours to get to a hospital which would even “allow” me to use a birthing ball or a midwife whose hands weren’t “tied” by antiquated hospital policy.

When we give up our rights to birth the way we choose, we devalue birth, which is the ultimate feminine act. We thus simultaneously devalue ourselves. Millions of women through all of history have been strong and confident enough to trust their bodies. We can return to that place of trust.

Modern medicine saves lives during truly high risk births, and ob/gyn’s are an absolutely necessary and very valuable part of the process; however the fact remains that the majority of births are low risk.

If we can reestablish ownership of our own bodies, then we can foster improved social status for women in every way: physically, financially, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and intellectually.

See the post on Modern Mom

 

Do American Mothers Need a Bill of Rights?

Pictured with my newborn son, James June 2012

Do American Mothers Need a Bill of Rights?

As mothers, it is imbedded in our very nature to take care of others. What mothers should know is that society has taken advantage of this fact for centuries. And while they continue to take, mothers continue to give.

How does society take without giving to mothers?

I think the National Association of Mothers’ Centers Advocacy Coordinator Valerie Young says it best,

“Alone among industrialized nations, we (mothers) have no guaranteed paid leave policy for childbirth, adoption, illness, or even the occasional sick day. Our federal pension system only accounts for paid work, leaving women with the short straw after time out bearing and raising children, tending to ill parents, spouses, or other family members. We do most of the unpaid work in the home, and when we are employed outside the home, our income trails men’s by as much as 40%. We lack anything near equitable political representation, we don’t occupy our fair share of board room seats, CEO suites, or participate proportionately in the distribution of financial assets around the world.”

A Harvard study firmly places America at the bottom of the barrel for mother support. The study found:

“Out of 168 nations in a Harvard University study last year, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave, leaving the United States in the company of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.1”

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/05/24/489973/paid-maternity-leave-us/Mothers receive very little support, not only from our own government but also from society. And the proof is in the proverbial pudding.

Society gives lip service to the value of parenting, motherhood, and child rearing. After all, the children are the future of our country; yet, childcare workers typically earn at or minimum wage. Further, if you are a mother working from home to raise up the future of our country, you get nothing. Not even a social security credit. You must depend entirely on your partner’s wages and retirement. You in effect become a financial dependent, unable to qualify for credit or loans.

This poor show of support must change. Women have historically banded together to fight for their rights. Now mothers need to do the same. Mothers need support urgently or else the well being of our children and the future of the family unit in the US will be jeopardized.

But wait, our children’s health already is being jeopardized by this lack of support.

Women and mothers suffer from depression at nearly twice the rate as men.2,3 The CDC reports women suffer from postpartum depression (PPD) between 10-30% of the time, but that over 85% of mothers suffer from some type of depressive or mood instability in the postpartum period. Further, studies support that PPD occurs, and may even be worse, during the toddler years, and is (PPD) now not only pulling fathers into its grip but also responsible for adversely affecting toddler and teenage academic performance and psycho-emotional well being.4

Are you a mother who has felt depressed, alone, tired even exhausted, overwhelmed, and unable to cope with the mountain of responsibilities? Mothers do have more responsibilities than ever with more mothers working both outside and inside the home. We live in a two income society now where it has become almost impossible for a family to get by on one income. In addition, 75% of household management and child rearing still falls to mothers who also work outside the home.5

Further, families members often no longer live in proximity to one another because of job availability, choices in education, personal, or professional decisions or requirements. This means mothers can’t drop their children off with a relative to run important errands, go to work, go to a doctor’s appointment, or even to get a moment of silence to deal with existing problems or trauma. The FMLA may be in place in the US, but it is for a finite amount of unpaid leave and is reserved only for employees of large companies.

Where does that leave those women who own or work for small businesses?

When will there be change in America to support mothers, parents, and all childcare givers?

Change usually starts at a grassroots level with the persons who are being adversely affected by the situation. That would mean mothers organizing themselves to become active in policy by:

1. Joining together and supporting one another through communities of support like National Association of Mothers’ Centers, my blog here on, Fit and Fearless Birth, Modern Mom, and others.

2. Entering the political arena to create change. However, this is difficult to do if we cannot garner any support to re-enter (and remain) in the work force. I often say that the best I can do, failing aspiration to a political office where mothers’ rights was high on my agenda, is raise sensitive, intelligent sons who will fight for their mother and the rights of all mothers. (I currently have three sons who are already learning the ropes.) The bottom line is, we must find (and fight for) a way to be agents of change.

3. Getting involved with existing organizations who are already working for mothers’ rights. See the Resource List below for more information on depression, postpartum depression, and the movement to create what could be called a “Mothers’ Bill of Rights.”

What would be included in a “Mothers’ Bill of Rights?”

There is not enough space in a blog forum to discuss discrimination against parents (both mothers and fathers) in our workplace and social forums today. However, a mothers’ bill of rights might just as well be named the “Parental Bill of Rights” because it would help eliminate workplace and social discrimination against American families. It would implement a paternal leave policy, breastfeeding rights, inclusion of caregiving (for both the young and elderly) social policies (such as Family Friendly Jury Duty Laws) and include caregiving in the GDP (gross domestic product) as put forth by Ann Crittenden in her book, The Price of Motherhood. It would implement policies suggested in Dr. Riane Eisler’s bestselling book, The Real Wealth of Nations, and in her Caring Economics Campaign. Lastly, it would set up social security credits or related policies to safeguard those who have sacrificed to spend a life in caregiving.

As it stands now, women and their children are the poorest segment of society.4 They unfortunately have to depend on the handouts of others (usually their spouse’s retirement). In fact, just being a woman means you are most likely to be poor in your old age, based on the number of “zero income” years that women have on their social security statement compared to men.6

It is time for change. Value must be given to parenting objectively instead of forcing us (parents) to be deafened by the continual din of empty lip service that rises from the streets of our hometowns and inside the political beltway of Washington D.C.

Read the entire post as featured on Caring Economy
Read the entire post as featured on Modern Mom

A “Fantasty State of the Union”

As American mothers our opinions may differ on many topics – from politics to diapering to schooling to daycare to working outside vs. inside the home, just to name a few.  Some of these topics cause us to draw battle lines and take sides in contentious and unnecessary “mommy wars.”

However, I think perhaps, we can all agree on this statement – a country that discriminates against its own families is a country that cannot prosper. In other words, if America and its lawmakers (continue to) neglect the well being of America’s families – then it cannot thrive.

Last night’s State of the Union Address had many Americans tuned in – and as a mother, you are naturally (and voraciously) concerned about your children’s future and your family’s well being.  Your (Wo)Man in Washington blogger and Advocacy Coordinator for the National Association of Mothers’ Centers, Valerie Young, has published a clever piece about just that topic.  It is entitled Fantasy State of the Union,” and it addresses the very thing which I believe, is hindering the well being of our Nation.

In it, Ms. Young details an America where:

  • equal rights for mothers and families exist
  • being a mother is not the most common risk factor for living in poverty.

Please take time to read Valerie’s post, which she has so graciously permitted me to piggyback from her blog to mine today.  It is an urgent message that should spur our Nation’s leaders to action, and should naturally spur all those who currently follow and suffer from these inequities – to stand up and lead.

I believe her message, and others like it such as Dr. Riane Eisler and her Caring Economics Campaign, harness effectual ideas that, if heeded, can lead our country toward a more prosperous, compassionate, and solvent age – which benefits everyone.

READ FANTASY STATE OF THE UNION

As mothers, we are raising up our country’s future.  Therefore, we have a voice. We have power. We can create change – for our children’s future and to strengthen this, our American family and country.

A New Work Ethic (that ends gender discrimination) for the 21st Century?

Bringing Baby to Work
(My second son at work with me in 2008)
Family friendly policy is critical, especially during the first year. 
(It helps that I own the company and set family friendly policies.)

To borrow the words of John Lennon, Imagine if

…there was no more discrimination against women in the workplace, there was paid maternity leave for mothers and fathers, every workplace had flex-time, job sharing, compressed work schedules, the option of working from home when possible, and no child went without quality care from their parents during their first year of life…

…it’s easy if you try…

Actually, these progressive workplace policies, which I believe are basic human rights, already exist – in almost every developed country except the United States.  The time to change this – to support the American family – is now.

For example, in the Netherlands, one attorney states “working part time is now the rule rather than the exception among his friends.”  Fathers are taking a more active role in child rearing, which also allows mothers to continue working as well.  The difference – a flexible, progressive workplace that values the family.  In the Netherlands there are “part-time surgeons, part-time managers and part-time engineers. From Microsoft to the Dutch Economics Ministry, offices have moved into “flex-buildings,” where the number of work spaces are far fewer than the staff who come and go on schedules tailored around their needs.
“The Dutch culture of part-time work provides an advance peek at the challenges — and potential solutions — that other nations will face as well in an era of a rapidly changing work force.”  Read the full article here.


Staying informed with the information below – can help you advocate for a modern workplace in your own profession. Policies such as flex-time, job sharing, telecommuting, and the Dutch concept of “flex-buildings”should be considered. At present, only 22% of American workplaces even offer telecommuting.

It’s About Time

Mindy Fried, a sociologist, questions the lack of paid family leave in the US versus how common it (paid family leave) is around the world. Opponents of the recently squashed Paycheck Fairness Act argue that it is the fault of women for putting themselves in the position to have to take lower paying jobs – because they demand flexibility and more time with family. 
However, Your Wo(man) in Washington’s Valerie Young disagrees, as do I.  She argues, “Women do most of the unpaid family carework in this country. Culturally and socially, it is more acceptable for women to do it than men. Is that fair? At the same time, women have to support themselves and their families. They work without the benefit of paid sick days, or family leave, or even the ability to ask for an alternative schedule. Is that fair? Is it even a good idea? Paid leave is a political issue, a gender issue, and as Dr. Fried shows below, a class issue as well.” Read Mindy’s full essay, It’s About Time, here

What Working Women Want

A Rutger’s University conference, “What Mothers Want,” sponsored by the National Association of Mothers’ Centers, gave this report from a recent blog post by Valerie Young.
Pamela Stone – Professional women were three times more likely than their male counterparts to interrupt their employment for “family responsibilities.”  When they return, they frequently turn away from their former fields and enter lower paid, lower prestige sectors of the economy motivated by the desire to “give back” or pursue caring professions or social service.  Becoming a mother has a profound impact on a woman’s values, priorities, and sense of identity.  After a career hiatus, a mother often changes both her behavior and career aspirations.  Motherhood exerts a powerful transformational effect. Read What Mothers Want here

The Glass Hammer: Shifting Gender Roles in the Workplace

From The Glass Hammer, an online community for women executives in business, law, and financial services…Director of External Affairs and the Women’s Institute at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Carla Goldstein reports “Women have been doing double duty since WWII, but now we need to shift our focus and figure out how we can support men and women at work; how do we ensure that parents have the time to nurture happy, healthy families?” Read Shifting Gender Roles in the Workplace here

White House Report on Jobs and Economic Security for Women in America

Family support, especially for women, in the workplace, has gotten the attention of our current administration. Here is the official report and Executive Summary on how the US intends to respond to family discrimination in the workplace.  However with the recent squash of the Paycheck Fairness Act, it remains to be seen just how or even if this administration can begin the process of modernizing the American workplace. Read the Summary and Report here

Remote Working and Productivity
Opponents of modernizing the workplace, i.e. those who might argue that telecommutinghttp://www. is not productive, should read the latest report from The Glass Hammer on Remote Working and Productivity in the US.

In the UK, businesses are reporting huge savings by instituting telecommuting.  “Fifty-five per cent of businesses are seeing more home working now than before the recession,” said Mick Hegarty, Strategy and Communication Director at BT Business. Productivity is up by 20% in those who work flexibly compared with those who don’t, he went on. BT have generated a saving of between £6million and £7million as a result of improved productivity. Read more here 

Slowly but surely…To be learned, each day add something. to be enlightened, each day drop something.

…The US can be the example of family friendly work ethics, which stand to benefit every worker – not just those with children.

More Resources
How To Negotiate Better Every Day
Remote Employment
Your Wo(man) in Washington 
The Price of Motherhood

The American Woman: Telling Our Story

Ginger in the UK
at the beginning of her own “Eat, Pray, Love” journey in 2004

A few weeks ago, a BITL reader wrote to tell me know how much this blog had helped her get her life back.  After suffering from long standing depression and struggling with her weight and the stresses that attach themselves to it – she found my blog and in it the tools she needed to arm herself for self-healing.

After reading her story, I knew that Cindy (not her real name) was a courageous young woman with a mission – and that she could be a powerful help to other women struggling under the pressures of daily living.  I asked if I could share her story with BITL readers, and she quickly obliged.  “If my story can help another woman and empower her to take charge of her body and her health,” Cindy wrote, “please share it.”

Cindy shares her story below, and I want to encourage you to keep sending your stories of struggle and success.  Please send us your story – to help build a community of women who help each other thrive.

Hi Ginger….I just spent the entire morning looking at your web page and blog. I love it! I printed out a lot of material that I found useful, helpful, inspiring, motivating, and educating!

I love the Vitamin D article. I have been struggling with some health issues lately from weight gain to depression. After looking at blood test results, the doctors found that I was Vitamin D and B12 deficient. Right now I take a prescription dosage of Vitamin D. I also need to get a B12 injection each week. I have felt the results. I am so much more energetic and able to accomplish much more. I also found that each of these vitamins can help with weight loss and depression…directly and indirectly.

The blog posts that I absolutely love are the Happiness Inventory parts 1-3. I have gained about twenty five pounds in the past year and a half. I printed out all the info. Plus, I am going to order a few books as well as your yoga DVD. I was on medications for depression and migraines. I felt like a walking medicine cabinet. After much debate, I decide to quit my meds (I didn’t quit cold turkey, but had to keep lowering the dosage). I am currently through my second week of not taking anti-depressants and my migraine meds. I just take my Vitamin D and get my B12 injection.

I can cry at the drop of a hat…but I keep telling myself to give it time. I am going to try and make life changes that are positive: diet, exercise, extra curricular activities:) We will see how it goes.

I have probably flooded your ears way too much! But a lot of your blog posts seemed to click and I found connections. I had even researched the adrenal gland and stress…..I printed that article too.  

Thank you again for your blog.
Love,

Cindy 


Resources Cindy Uses

Other Helpful Resources


I encourage you to comment below and keep sending your stories so we can continue to build a community of women who help each other thrive. 

Gift Giving for World Peace & Equality for All

Okay people, if you are looking for some last minute Christmas gifts, and especially if you are looking for a great read…here is a fantastic list of books from Riane Eisler, PhD, the co-founder of

Center for Partnership Studies

Dr. Eisler’s books paint a beautiful portrait of peace for our world today. Her organization, CPS, exists to build a culture of gender and racial equity, economic justice, and a sustainable environment.


The Real Wealth of Nations — hailed by Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu as “a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking.”

The Power of Partnership — hailed by Christiane Northrup, M.D., as ” a brilliantly accessible plan for transforming ourselves and our world.”

The Chalice and The Blade — hailed by Ashley Montagu as “the most important book since Darwin’s Origin of Species” and by Isabel Allende as “one of those magnificent key books that can transform us.”

Dr. Eisler also recommends books by her partner, the social psychologist David Loye:

3,000 Years of Love: The Life of Riane Eisler and David Loye — the story of our 30+ years of adventures together.

Darwin’s Second Revolution — the first of David Loye’s trilogy, Darwin and the Battle for Human Survival, with nine pages of endorsements by leading scientists.

For the children in your life, I recommend:
The Warmest Place by Licia Rando — beautifully written and illustrated, conveying the most important message of all: what matters most is love.

For pre-teen girls, a subscription to New Moon magazine — I have been giving it for years, and the girls (and parents) love it.

For parents, you can download — for free — our acclaimed Caring and Connected Parenting Guide (also by Licia Rando)  — endorsed by Dr. Brazelton, Dr. Siegel, as well as two Nobel peace laureates.

For teachers, here are some more ideas:
The award-winning Tomorrow’s Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education for the 21st Century (the book or DVD).

Holiday Wishes for Happy Reading & Creation of Positive Social & Cultural Change in 2011 and beyond…