When the world stops, life keeps going — especially for communities where social isolation and living off of savings are not viable options.
It’s a well-known fact that COVID-19 has made life at the bottom of the social pyramid even harder. Women and girls around the world, particularly in communities of color, are among the hardest hit by the ripple effects of the pandemic. The news reports address loss of income, life, and community, but the lesser-known impacts should not be forgotten.
Access to healthcare, particularly for women, was already a commodity difficult to come by in certain parts of the world. Now, in the wake of the pandemic, women and girls’ access to contraceptives, feminine hygiene products, and maternity care hangs more precariously than ever before.
Americans often think of high childbirth mortality rates as a problem plaguing low-income countries, but U.S. maternal mortality rates, particularly for African American and Native women, are high. Merck for Mothers’ “Safer Childbirth Cities” initiative is combating this trend, and its latest call for proposals is expanding its efforts beyond its initial ten-city cohort.
While the U.S. maternal mortality rate is substantially lower than most countries of the Global South, according to the World Health Organization, the U.S. maternal death rate of 19 deaths per 100,000 live births it is substantially higher than Canada (10 per 100,000), the United Kingdom (7), Japan (5), Spain (4) and Italy (2). Countries comparable to the U.S. include Russia (17), Turkey (17) and Romania (19). Moreover, the U.S. is the only high-income country with a rising level of maternal mortality.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Heidi Gonzalez, Executive Director of Adoptions From The Heart (AFTH). In addition to her duties as the new Executive Director, Heidi is the Regional Supervisor of Wynnewood, PA, Allentown, PA, and Wilmington, DE for AFTH.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I never really thought about it. In fact, I take each day as it comes. I try not to look back and get caught up in a “woulda shoulda coulda” mentality. Instead, I focus on the future and what I can do to improve my agency and myself. Every profession has its challenges: it’s all in how you handle them, and if I don’t think I did a bang up job the first time, I try to look at where I made mistakes and try to correct them the next time. Every day is an opportunity to do better–so that’s what I aspire to do.
The number of small businesses facing hardship due to COVID-19 continue to rise every day. In partnership with New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC), the Pascale Sykes Foundation is building a safety net for local New Jersey businesses impacted by the pandemic. The announcement comes alongside the Foundation’s intention to sunset operations in the next few years–and their intention to make as big of an impact as possible before closing their doors.
On April 23, the Foundation announced its commitment to the expansion of the THRIVE South Jersey Initiative, a program designed to combat economic hardship in four South Jersey counties. In light of COVID-19, NJCC and the Foundation introduced zero-based interest rate loans for small businesses in Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, and Western Atlantic Counties.
In March 2020, the National Domestic Workers Alliance announced the Coronavirus Care Fund, a campaign to raise $4 million in emergency relief funds for domestic workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Domestic workers, a large percentage of whom are women, immigrants, and people of color, are among the unsung heroes on the front lines of the pandemic. They take care of homes, families, and people who are at high risk of catching the virus, like the elderly and people with chronic illnesses. What’s more, many domestic workers find themselves faced with the COVID-19 crisis without any kind of support network, savings to fall back on, or union to protect their rights.
Here at Philanthropy Women, we are primarily concerned with how gender equality movements are being cultivated through charitable giving. However, we occasionally like to step out of our silo and bring in news about how gender equality can be fostered through our collective distribution systems known as governments.
Which is why, today, we want to talk about Elizabeth Warren’s proposed ‘Wealth Tax’. According to Nancy L. Cohen, author, historian and thought leader on gender and American politics, “Warren’s wealth tax would be a massive investment in gender equity.”
“Senator Warren’s proposed wealth tax is a massive investment in gender equality – and if enacted, would be a gamechanger for women and girls across the US,” said Cohen, further describing the tax plan as a “bold investments in universal childcare and early education” that would “raise wages for childcare workers” and “unleash the potential of American women – increasing workforce participation and helping to close the gender wage gap.”
We know that childcare needs to be valued and supported for society to thrive. Yet, time and again, we leave parents, particularly low-income and young parents, out of the picture for access to childcare.
Today, a new study released by the Ms. Foundation for Women validated that state and local officials need to take the reigns and steer their community toward economic growth by funding access to childcare.
“Our approach has not only helped the local organizations achieve policy gains, but also provided necessary resources to develop intersectional leadership in grassroots organizations,” said Aleyamma Mathew, Director of Economic Justice at the Ms. Foundation for Women. “To achieve economic security in the Trump era, we have to win on the state and local level,” she added.
Mathew emphasized that progress can continue if policymakers adequately fund childcare access for our nation’s most marginalized women. “Progress is possible if we continue to break down silos and work together.”
The Ms. Foundation strategy to address child care access calls on funders to do three things:
Support low-wage workers’ rights organizations and workers’ centers who organize in sectors that are made up of up 50% women.
Support new and innovative campaigns that increase public sector funding for childcare at the local and state level.
Work to raise wages and the quality of jobs in the childcare sector.