Mothers demand national paid family, medical leave in demonstration outside US Congress

Washington, May 17 (EFE).- Dozens of mothers and their children from nearly a dozen states demonstrated here Wednesday outside the United States Capitol building to demand that lawmakers do more to assist American families in the areas of childcare, paid leave and care infrastructure.

Among those in attendance at the “Honor Moms Every Day” picnic was Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California and a former speaker of the US House of Representatives.

“Here in the US, we don’t have what they have in Europe: (national) paid maternity leave. In such a wealthy country, it’s urgent” for lawmakers to pass national paid leave and paid sick days policies that benefit all of the country’s mothers, families and caregivers, Diana Limongi, the MomsRising organization’s early learning campaign director, told Efe.

She was referring to the need for congressional approval of the FAMILY (Family and Medical Insurance Leave) Act and the Healthy Families Act.

The demonstration organized by MomsRising, a national online and on-the-ground organization of more than 1 million mothers and their families, coincided with Wednesday’s reintroduction of those two bills in both houses of Congress.

A mother who has been fighting for national paid leave since her son was two years old, Limongi said it is regrettable that no progress has been made in a decade.

She added that her organization plans these types of actions to enable mothers to speak to members of Congress and make them aware of their “stories and challenges.”

One of the demonstrators at the picnic, Danielle Wilson, told Efe that as an African-American woman the problems she faces as a mother are particularly acute.

Wilson, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, was hospitalized during one of her pregnancies and did not have access to paid maternity leave during her ordeal.

“With my first two children, it was a hard time … as a teacher (I) was not able to get paid leave when I was hospitalized with a chronic auto-immune disease,” she said.

“It’s been difficult for us to find affordable childcare and I recently had a traumatic birthing experience where I did not have postpartum follow-up care. I ended up being septic and rehospitalized 10 days after my daughter was born with no follow-up from anyone.”

Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, took part in the demonstration and stressed the urgent need for national paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave, as well as increased childcare funding.

The senator said she and other lawmakers are working hard to garner sufficient support in Congress for the Child Care for Working Families Act.

According to the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy institute, that bill aims to expand access to and lower the cost of care for families, support childcare workers and address racial and gender disparities in the childcare system.

For her part, Pelosi called for congressional action that would ensure that mothers are honored year-round and not only on Mother’s Day, which was celebrated last Sunday in the US.

She said big legislative steps are required to ease the burden on mothers, mentioning the need for an expanded child tax credit, increased childcare funding, medical leave, an increase in home health care funding and universal preschool. EFE


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