By: Josephine Kalipeni
To survive and thrive in this country, most of us must work. In fact, over 60% of people in America are working. But the inability of policies to shift to meet the new needs of workers who are trying to meet caregiving demands is making life and work nearly impossible. Between cutting back on hours, calling off from work, turning down promotions, or being unable to work because of caregiving, many are feeling squeezed between making life happen with low to no wages and keeping a job.
Throughout history social and political forces, driven by colonization, sexism and racism, resulted in the devaluation of caregiving work. This devaluation was acceptable because care work was initially done by enslaved Black women. The impact of caregiving on workers is a silent driver of multigenerational poverty. Yet, women have devoted their lives willingly to caring for loved ones, while earning lower wages to care for others.
For some of us, care is a duty, a responsibility, and a labor of love we perform for family and friends we deeply care about. For us, care is love. But love has not been enough.
State and federal legislatures got us into this by failing to create an equitable care infrastructure; they must get us out. The Family Values at Work Network has invested 20 years of coalition building to win a new care infrastructure for all of today’s workers and families. To do this, we have to engage our federal, state and local leaders to promote policies that respond to the needs of families. Family supportive policies include increased wages, affordable childcare, and paid leave that make work actually work. Our voices and our vote are the way we change our futures and the nature of work.