FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2020
Contact: Erin Ryan, 440-382-2900, firstname.lastname@example.org
Advocates Call on Gov. DeWine to Prioritize the Needs of Women in the State’s Next Steps of COVID-19 Recovery
Columbus, OH — Today, 31 of the state’s leading advocacy organizations for women and families came together to send a letter to Governor DeWine urging him to prioritize, value, and respond to the needs of women and families as the state moves forward with plans to reopen child care centers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even before COVID-19, many women regularly faced economic barriers, including disproportionate representation in low-security and low-wage jobs. Now, the crisis further threatens the stability of Ohio households – especially for women and people of color whose wages and employment status have been hit the hardest. In the letter the group sent to Governor DeWine, they call attention to the need to invest in solutions that support women, with a focus on women of color, as state leaders move to rebuild our economy and revitalize our state.
“While Governor DeWine and his administration moved swiftly to address the health, safety, and economic consequences of this crisis, the needs and perspectives of women, particularly women of color and low-wage women, must be better centered in the next steps of our state’s recovery,” said Elizabeth Brown, Executive Director of the Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network, which circulated the letter. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the gender and racial inequalities in access to economic security and workplace protections, and the solution must be to advance policies that support women, with a focus on women of color.”
As Ohio’s economy opens up, women’s ability to return to work and the wages they earn will be crucial to supporting their households. In fact, in Ohio, 85 percent of Black mothers, 62 percent of Latina mothers, and 53 percent of white mothers are key family breadwinners in their households. These are the facts in normal times. In the COVID-19 crisis, the importance of women in our economy and families is exponentially greater, as they are on the frontlines of this pandemic both as caregivers within their families and as the majority of essential workers.
However, for many working mothers and working women, the option to return to work is impossible without access to care for their children and other dependent family members. Women’s ability to participate in the workforce typically relies on a web of supports to balance their caregiving responsibilities – many of which are now compromised or unavailable.
In the letter, the group issued eight main recommendations for the governor and his administration to consider as they move forward with the re-opening of child care centers across the state, including:
Strengthen work-from-home guidance for Ohio employers to ensure that working people who have the ability to work remotely can do so, even as more businesses begin to reopen workplaces;
Guarantee job protection for working parents and caregivers who are required to return to work but are unable to access care for their family;
Expand unemployment compensation eligibility to allow access to benefits for working people with caregiving responsibilities who are forced to leave their job if they are unable to secure care;
Ensure that solutions to provide care options for working people are comprehensive and include caregivers of elders and family members with disabilities
Utilize CARES Act funding to address gaps in the federal emergency paid sick and paid leave provisions for child care access, including providing full wage replacement and extending benefits to the millions of people exempted from coverage
The group stressed the importance of paying thoughtful attention to and taking timely action on these needs, to ensure that no family is left behind. Otherwise, they write in the letter, there is a risk that far too many Ohioans – disproportionately women – will be forced to make the impossible choice between caring for a loved one and earning a paycheck.
“We believe that the measure of success for our nation, our state, and our communities is in large part determined by the success of women. The reality is: We cannot rebuild our economy and revitalize our communities through this crisis without investing in solutions that center women. That means recognizing the dual role that many women play as caregivers and breadwinners in their families – and responding in kind.”
Read the full letter here. Below is the list of organizations who signed onto the letter:
Children’s Defense Fund, Ohio
Columbus Early Learning Centers
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio
National Association of Social Workers, Ohio Chapter
National Coalition of 100 Black Women Central Ohio Chapter
National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland
National Council of Jewish Women, Columbus Section
Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence
Ohio Domestic Violence Network
Ohio Federation of Teachers
Ohio National Organization for Women
OPAWL – Building AAPI Feminist Leadership in Ohio
Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Ohio Women’s Alliance
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio
PL+US: Paid Leave for the US
Policy Matters Ohio
Queen City Certified
South Side Early Learning
The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network
The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio
URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity
Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation