Joan Blades is an
everyday woman living in Berkeley, CA.
She is the Co-founder and President of MomsRising, an online
organization for moms and the people that love them to connect on issues like healthcare,
flexible work options, paid family leave, childcare, and living wages.
Since its inception in 2006, MomsRising has
grown to a staggering one million members. Incited by eye opening statistics such as 20%
of children in the US live in poverty or despite being the wealthiest nation in
the world, the US is one of four countries that does not have paid leave for
new mothers, these folks are doing more than changing diapers.
MomsRising are helping to empower their online community to take on the big issues that impact families with email petitions, information on national and state campaigns and more. They have already played a key role in securing paid family leave in New Jersey, Washington, and paid sick days in Milwaukee and their efforts have helped pass legislation to remove highly toxic phthalates from young children's toys and products. Since moms don’t have a lobbyist on their behalf, MomsRising serves as a platform for their voices.
Tell us about MomsRising
I actually had the concept when I wrote the book Motherhood Manifesto after learning that there is a huge wage gap between men and women. Where that wage gap really happens is when women become mothers. If you’re a single mom your likely to make 60 cents to a man’s dollar. That explains why there are so many women and children in poverty. That’s got to be dealt with. We need to make it possible for parents to take care of their children and that’s what this is about.
We use the acronym M.O.T.H.E.R.S. from the Motherhood Manifesto. M is for maternity and paternity paid leave, O is for open flexible work, T is for technology and programs after school, H is for healthcare, E is for excellent childcare, R is for realistic and fair wages, and S is for sick days paid.
Where does the United States currently stand in providing paid leave for new mothers?
Out of 170 countries worldwide there are 4 that have no paid leave for new mothers. That is Papa New Guinea, Swaziland, Liberia, and the United States of America. In this country we have women going back to work days or weeks after giving birth. It’s not because they love their job so much. Most women work to take care of their children.
What impact is the lack of paid leave creating for women in the United States?
Having a child is one of the top reasons for being in poverty at old age and the top cause of cause of poverty in this country. We can do better than that.
How are you using online organizing to accomplish your goals?
I’m also the founder of MoveOn.org and have become a deep believer in the power of grassroots participation. It’s an anchor that should lead our elected officials and our organizations.
Online petitions are one of our core ways of enabling people to participate. I’ve gotten messages from single moms that say “thank you” this I can do. An online petition gives people the opportunity to stand up and be a part of a community. You have real people delivering these messages and saying why this is so important.
It’s friends telling friends and together we can make an impact. Leadership does want to hear from constituents and I’ll tell you moms are trusted voices. What we’re trying to do is to make it as easy as possible for members to get heard by the right people.
How can women support the work you’re doing?
One of the things everyday women can do is join MomRising.org and participate in your own local community. It’s a real opportunity to not feel isolated and make things better. There is a classic understanding that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and we’ve had too much of a tendency to say “this is my problem don’t bother”. It’s our family’s problem and for that reason we need to stand up. We actually need to stand up, not just for ourselves, but for other families too.
What would your message be to women around the world?
We are voices that have a special legitimacy. We show up sometimes and a few of us have little kids with us. You see them and you want to protect them and you ask why aren’t we.
Sidebar - Get Involved! Five things you can do today build a more family-friendly America!
- Become a member of MomsRising.org.
- Read the Shriver Report to learn how the way women live and work are changing the face of the nation. https://www.awomansnation.com
- Voice your opinion and sign a MomsRising petition to send to congress.
- Volunteer with a local organization that supports women and children.
- Host a MomsRising house party for healthcare.
Jesse Locks and Elisa Parker