During a virtual panel event that included female lawmakers and activists on Thursday (February 18), Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted the dire situation women are facing as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. VP Harris specifically called attention to the financial and caregiving crisis millions of women are in because of COVID-19 shut downs and layoffs.
An estimated 2.3 million women have left the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a report by the Huffington Post. The closures of daycare centers, mass layoffs in retail and hospitality industries has contributed to this staggering number, which has disproportionately impacted Black and Latino women.
“Our economy cannot fully recover unless women can participate fully,” the VP said. “I believe, I think we all believe, this is a national emergency –– women leaving the workforce in these numbers is a national emergency, which demands a national solution.”
At the rate things are going, women could set a set back of 30 years or more. Currently, women make up 57% of the workforce, a number that was last recorded in 1988.
In terms of a national solution, VP Harris said the American Rescue Plan, which is the White House’s COVID-19 relief and recovery plan, would help. Specifically, the American Rescue Plan includes direct cash payment to women through the long-awaited $1,400 stimulus checks, and funding to get schools and child care centers reopened safely.
The plan also includes a $3,000 tax credit for each child. “And the beauty of the significance of this is, by doing that, we will lift up nearly half of the children who are living in poverty in our country,” she added.
An extension of paid family leave is also a part of the plan, designed to give flexibility to those who are taking care of loved ones who are sick, which is particularly useful as new cases of coronavirus are still being tracked.
Though the panel wasn’t made public, groups like Times Up, National Council of Negro Women, and the National Women’s Law Center, among others.
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