Women, Childcare, and Equality

By Kristen Johnson

True equality of opportunity and freedom of choice for women requires such practical, and possible innovations as a nationwide network of child-care centers, which will make it unnecessary for women to retire completely from society until their children are grown, and national programs to provide retraining for women who have chosen to care for their children full-time. (National Organization for Women, Statement of Purpose).

I recently had a conversation with an Evangelical male, who shall remain nameless, who asked me “what do you propose to do with all these people who just live on welfare? What about women who keep on having children when they can’t take care of the children they already have?” (As a side note, this individual talks endlessly about how the U.S. is killing babies on a massive scale…..yet, apparently sees no reason to provide any sort of social services for the babies that these “welfare-abusers” carry to term. But, that’s a subject for another post.)

My answer to assisting all people to continue to work or to be able to work at all is to provide universal childcare for every American. Obviously, childcare will also provide a lot more equality for women, as they will be able to pursue their career aspirations while still being able to afford to pay for childcare.

All the way back in 1971, Congress cleared the way for a national daycare system. Unfortunately, Richard Nixon proceeded to veto the bill and in spite of some small gains since then, no national daycare system has since been created. Luckily, both major party Presidential candidates are proposing some help for childcare this year. (CS Monitor).

The average full-time childcare center costs families $9,589 a year, which is a fifth of the average yearly income in the U.S. Trump is proposing tax credits, tax deductions, and tax-free savings accounts for childcare. Clinton is proposing capping childcare expenses at 10% of family income and universal pre-K education for all 4-year-olds. Analysis of the plans shows a savings of $4,241 per child under Clinton’s plan and $1,435 with Trump’s plan for families. The current tax credit for childcare is $1,000, which is abysmal. (CS Monitor)

The obvious solution to the problem is to provide a system like that proposed in 1971, but it’s encouraging that the candidates are at least discussing the issue. (It’s sort of like the obvious solution for healthcare in this country is single-payer healthcare for all, but at least we’re getting a start with Obamacare.)

Taking care of each other, and helping families take care of each other should be an obvious way to serve each other. Leaving struggling families out in the cold or accusing them of “living on the dole” without any way to take care of their children is hypocritical and un-Christian.

Proverbs 22:6 (NRSV): Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io

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3 thoughts on “Women, Childcare, and Equality

  1. If I recall my history correctly, there was a form of national childcare that was instituted during WW2, while the men were shipped overseas, women stepped up to work in the factories, and a childcare system was put into place to help them do so. When the war ended, the easiest way to vacate those jobs was to shut down the childcare system, leaving women with no choice but to retire, allowing the men to recover their jobs. Perhaps that’s something of the reason why our government is dragging it’s feet on the issue? The lack of having other options forces women to remain at home and allows men greater choice as to the jobs they can have.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. Although I really enjoy studying American history, I don’t recall this! I’ll have to do some research to find out more information, but what a fascinating thing to think about. I do recall that many women were really upset about the situation after the war (lack of career opportunity due to the men returning from war) – and then we have the 50s and baby boomers, etc…..

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      1. To be fair, pretty much all the stories about wars are mostly written by men and about men. I didn’t find out until recently that Britain had a social club called the Womens’ Institute that organized the evacuation of children from London during the bombings as well as basically kept their communities fed by working together to preserve food. Finding women’s stories from the past tends to be quite a challenge, most went unrecorded and the ones that were generally were too infamous or abnormal or wealthy or somehow not average or poor.

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