Moms are fired up. A pandemic without childcare support, followed by the demise of the paid leave plan, more than 193 incidents of gunfire on school grounds during the 2021-2022 school year, and, of course, the fall of Roe v. Wade has given women plenty to be upset about—and put them at the forefront of this year's midterm elections.
After the “Great Resignation” many women have still not returned to the workforce. And no wonder. Women have held a disproportionate amount of the responsibilities in the home while still expected to break through that glass ceiling. According to a McKinsey Women in the Workplace study, women feel far more exhausted, burned out, and under pressure than men.
“We still have over a million women in the country that have not gone back to work yet,” New York Governor Hochul noted during my interview with her last month.
The loss of women in the workforce is no accident. It was the culmination of a lack of paid leave, a lack of upward mobility, and a lack of help in the home. In 2021, when the country was poised to finally offer a comprehensive paid leave policy that would provide both women and men with the resources they need to care for their children and loved ones, the bill died in the Senate because Democrats could not achieve a simple majority.
But even at school, where moms should be confident their children are cared for and safe, they cannot be. On May 24, 2022, 19 elementary school students were shot along with two teachers. The heartbreaking scene that played out in the halls of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, is all too common. From Sandy Hook, to Stoneman Douglas, to Oxford High School, to Santa Fe High School, it is no wonder parents are afraid to send their children to school.
And when, after the death of 19 children, nearly 200 congressional reps voted against gun control legislation, it became clear that if things were going to meaningfully change, we, the moms, had to change them. Local mom and organizer Bryony Freij is doing just that in New York’s 1st Congressional district, deemed the second most competitive district in the country. Freij has mobilized other moms to vote on initiatives like affordable housing, a key issue in places like Long Island.
The power of moms is already on display. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Republican legislators and governors across the country immediately moved to make abortion illegal in their jurisdictions. In Kansas, the right to an abortion was on the ballot during the primaries in August. Leading up to the vote, women made up more than 70 percent of newly registered voters, according to an analysis of the state’s registered voter list by the New York Times. (It’s a nationwide trend; since the Dobbs decision, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania have also seen surges in women registering to vote.) Thanks to those who went to the polls, the initiative was overwhelmingly rejected, meaning essential health care for hundreds of thousands of women both in Kansas and in surrounding states was maintained.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Vice President Harris to talk about reproductive rights, or the lack thereof, recently, and during my conversation, she noted the implications of the Dobbs decision, “So much about the progress of our nation has been measured by the expansion of rights. And now we are seeing an intentional restriction of rights. What is that saying about the trajectory and the direction of our country?
Families have been completely left out of the conversation surrounding access to abortion. More than 60 percent of those who seek an abortion already have children. Without my access to essential women’s health care like birth control (which is also being threatened), millions of women would be unable to properly plan for their family.
Moms across the country are mobilizing around candidates who address these key issues. Take Wisconsin, where Moms for Mandela has emerged in support of Mandela Barnes, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. This group is just one example of the organic organizing that will be influential to the outcome of this year's midterm elections.
To think that in the face of no paid leave, rampant gun violence, the loss of our bodily rights, and more, women would not show up to the polls this November is simply ignorance. Come November, I have no doubt that women will be the largest force for change. They will be the deciders, holding the ability to tip the scales toward a safer future for our children, our bodies, and our country.
Are you registered to vote? Check your registration at vote.org and register TODAY to vote on November 8th.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly listed Moms for Mandela as Moms of Mandela. We regret the error.
Emily Tisch Sussman is the Founder and Host of “She Pivots,” the podcast in partnership with Marie Claire about women, their stories, and how their pivot became their success. She is a contributing editor to Maire Claire and the guest host of the Marie Claire Instagram Live series “Getting Down to Business.”
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