What do comedian Amy Schumer, actress Eva Longoria, Planned Parenthood president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke, and Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd have in common this morning?
They’re among the 50 female celebrities, business leaders, and activists who signed an open letter to President Joe Biden in today’s New York Times, asking that he come up with a COVID-19 pandemic plan to pay mothers for the work they do and pass policies for parental leave, affordable childcare, and pay equity.
The full-page ad was conceived of and organized by Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani, who first proposed the idea in an opinion piece for The Hill on December 7.
It’s dubbed a “Marshall Plan for Moms,” a reference to the 1948 federal government initiative that ultimately spent more than $12 billion to help rebuild Europe after World War II.
“It’s time to put a dollar figure on our labor. Motherhood isn’t a favor and it’s not a luxury. It’s a job. The first 100 days are an opportunity to define our values. So let’s start by valuing moms,” the ad says.
The letter also cites statistics that have overwhelmingly devastated the professional lives of female parents: More than 2 million women have left the workforce, and millions of others have had to work fewer hours or must work around the clock to stay employed and be full-time caregivers. In September, the rate of women leaving the workforce was four times higher than the rate for men.
“There’s a collective sense of exhaustion for women,” Saujani tells Fast Company in an exclusive interview. “We’re in a national crisis for mothers. This crisis has exposed the undue burden we place on mothers. The labor participation of mothers is what it was in the 1980s. Think about how much we’ve lost in the last year.”
She envisions a needs-based $2,400 monthly check with the money coming from the federal coffers.
Other signatories of the open letter include ClassPass founder and executive chairman Payal Kadakia, model and transgender advocate Geena Rocero, SHE Summit founder Claudia Chan, The Cru founder Tiffany Dufu, Birchbox cofounder and CEO Katia Beauchamp, Rent the Runway cofounder and CEO Jennifer Hyman, and actresses Gabrielle Union, Julianne Moore, and Alyssa Milano.