CHICAGO (CBS) — Moms do it all, sometimes against big odds. They even take their daughters to their swearing ins, like City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin. Now there is a group of lawmakers — all mothers themselves — who say mothers deserve a louder voice.
Now they are joining forces to put mom friendly policies on the legislative radar.
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It would be the first political caucus of its kind. The Mamas Caucus is what they are calling it. They are 22 women, elected to city, county and statewide office, and they are ready to fight to help moms be moms.
Cook County Water Reclamation Commissioner Josina Morita was the first woman in the district’s 130-year history to have a baby in office. It was an eye opener.
“Nobody knew how to deal wit it,” Morita said. “Nobody knew how to deal with maternity leave, with pumping during meetings.”
Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia was elected a year before having her daughter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even if we’re underestimated, we always prove ourselves and our results,” she said.
That is one reason Valencia Morita and 20 other female lawmakers have formed this Mamas Caucus.
“we are everybody,” Morita said. “We are downstate. We are Republicans and Democrats.”
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“We have the power to change policies or laws to help other working moms,” said Valencia.
Issues like family paid leave, sick time and flex time are currently at the top of their agenda. They are all issues the pandemic spotlighted, especially when it comes to working mothers.
“We’ve seen millions, women, pushed out of the workforce at staggering numbers,” said Valencia.
According to data shared by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, 2.3 million women left the workforce since the start of the pandemic. The result is the lowest number of women in the workforce since 1988. Woman of color and moms were hit hardest.
“All these things we were told were impossible pre-COVID but have become the norm,” said Valencia. “We want to keep these to ensure moms can stay in the workforce.”
Morita said the do not want it to be an exclusive group but an inclusive one.
“What we joke about is if moms can’t figure it out, nobody can,” Morita said.
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The Mamas Caucus is holding a town hall open to women all across the state on May 1. They want to use concerns of regular women and mothers to help them, as they put it, make Illinois the most mama-friendly state in the country.