Thank You, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Women's Rights at Work
“Ginsburg will be sorely missed—as a mother, and as a champion of women and mothers across America.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a feminist champion who fought for equal rights for women, especially in the workplace. She insisted on equal Social Security benefits for mothers and fathers while experiencing workplace discrimination herself as she raised two children while pursuing her career in law. The level of grit, love, and sheer determination it took for her to balance her ambitious career while handling parental responsibilities can’t be overstated.
Starting from the lower courts, Ginsburg laid the foundations for gender equality by winning cases. She cleverly leveraged cases that showed how laws that hurt women and mothers also harmed men. In 1971, she helped a mother keep her rights by convincing an all-male Supreme court that the state had discriminated based on gender. Brimming underneath her soft-spoken voice and wide glasses was a fire that burned for equality!
Ginsburg will be sorely missed—as a mother, and as a champion of women and mothers across America. But as we mourn this loss, the ripple effect of her influence is still here. Positive changes are already in the works. The US used to lag behind other developed nations (41, to be exact!) without any time of mandated paid leave, but all of this is changing with a new amendment that passed last winter.
We’re all hard at work, even during a pandemic, and juggling parenting while dealing with the stresses of working from home is no joke. According to the Pew Research Center, the share of working moms in the US has increased over the past half-century from 51% to 72%, and almost half of all two-parent families now have both parents working full time. There are more working mothers now than ever before!
This also means that every mom needs all the help that they can get. Giving working mothers aid is essential to helping them and the next generation. This is where the new amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA, for short) come in. The US is finally implementing long overdue federally mandated leave for child care.
Now as a working mother, you’re eligible to take 12 weeks of leave to care for a newborn child, and your employer must provide break time and a private space for you to breastfeed or express milk. The mandate specifies that this space cannot just be a bathroom. This is a huge step towards assisting mothers at work—just a few decades ago women were expected to or forced to quit once they were pregnant.
“With all the benefits that breastfeeding carries, it’s imperative that employers enact more policies to support working mothers.”
A survey of over a thousand working mothers demonstrated that not only are many women more committed to breastfeeding, but they also plan to return to the workplace. Giving working mothers aid is essential for providing a sanitary and comfortable space to pump! So, we’re thankful for Ginsburg, who fought for women’s rights, and representatives today. Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks from Oakland, California, showed up to the Capitol with her 1-year-old daughter to make her point that all workplaces need to provide for mothers.
Research shows that longer maternity leave is correlated with longer periods of breastfeeding. With all the benefits that breastfeeding carries, it’s imperative that employers enact more policies to support working mothers. In fact, a systematic review of workplace-based breastfeeding support policies shows that it’s totally possible to maintain breastfeeding while working—all we need is for more employers to work towards enacting more support.