The Women United Global Leadership Council announced last year our commitment to advance gender equity and empower women and girls everywhere. Since that time we have hosted convenings for our membership focused on these principles, developed a rubric for evaluating policies and procedures with an equity lens, and advocated locally to advance policy.
Our learnings, conversations in community, and feedback from our membership over the past year has culminated in narrowing our focus to advancing gender equity by expanding access to quality, affordable, and educational childcare. We see this as a triple win: supporting the growth and development of young minds at a very critical age, helping women return and stay in the workforce, and advancing opportunities for women business owners.
Access to childcare in America has been a long-standing issue in the United States, but the COVID-19 pandemic put an unbelievable strain on mothers and childcare providers. With most of the children doing online learning from home, many mothers were forced to leave the workforce to fill the gap of a lack of available childcare options. According to the McKinsey “Women in the Workplace” study, 1 in 4 women considered leaving the workforce or downshifting their career, versus 1 in 5 men in 2020. For women with children under the age of ten, their likelihood for leaving the workforce was 10% higher than men with children under ten.
Working to make quality, affordable, educational childcare accessible to all not only helps mothers who are seeking childcare, it also helps the women who own and work in those facilities. It is estimated that 90% of childcare franchise owners are women and over 50% are women of color. Women also make up 92% of childcare workers.
So many Women United members are already doing tremendous work in this area. Yet, we know that we are stronger together and our hope as a Council is to raise greater awareness and create more opportunities for women to access quality, affordable, educational childcare.
Our announcement of this issue also coincides with Women’s Equality Day. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution was certified. This Amendment was the first step in securing the right to vote for women throughout the U.S. followed by the Snyder Act in 1924 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As we celebrate the strides made for women in the past, we must continue to make those strides in the present. We cannot advance change without making our voices heard. The strongest and most effective way to do this is through exercising our right to vote. I encourage our members and supporters across the country to review your voter registration status. If you need help locating the information in your state please visit nationalvoterregistrationday.org.
With a membership of over 70,000 women in almost 200 communities, Women United is accustomed to creating lasting change. My hope is that we can share innovative models, rally to support local legislation, and invite community collaborations in support of expanding access to quality, affordable, educational childcare.
For more information about Women United and the Women United Global Leadership Council visit womenunited.org.