Tammy Duckworth, a Democratic senator from Illinois and an Iraq Veteran, announced her pregnancy two weeks ago. Duckworth will be the first U.S senator to give birth while in office. Since the announcement, she has been receiving an overwhelming amount of attention from her colleagues, the media, and from the people all across the country. Her pregnancy is a wake-up call on parental paid leave and child care policies. It is time to refocus on
The United States is one of two countries in the world that does not provide paid maternity leave. Although under the Family Medical Leave Act [FMLA] Americans can get 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to care for children or family members, many workers don’t qualify for the benefits. This is due to a number of restrictions, which automatically disqualify individuals for the benefits. For example, individuals who work less than 25 hours a week are not eligible to partake meaning FMLA is not for everyone.
Considering that the United States is one of the lead industrialized nations, the lack of parental paid leave shows how the law of the country was so broken for America’s mothers and their families. Across the nation, working parents face barriers to staying in the workforce. People, and women in particular, often chose to leave the workforce and pursue avenues like entrepreneurship in order to stay home taking care of their children and a sick family member due to the lack of access to affordable child care and parental paid leave policy.
Senator Tammy has promised to work harder to create the best policy to make it easier for parents to stay in the workforce. She said in her twitter announcement, “Thank you for the outpouring of congratulations and support. I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my daughter Abigail has only made me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere.”