Millions of Women Have Left the Workforce. Biden’s American Rescue Plan Could Bring Them Back.

Culture
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Since March of 2020, more than 2.5 million women have lost their jobs—including my sister-in-law, Christine. Along with so many others, her job in the hospitality industry evaporated overnight.

“The government had no plans to deal with COVID or the financial hardship, and for six months I was unemployed,” Christine told me. “I’m fortunate to be back at work. And I’m grateful that we have a president who understands the real financial loss for so many of us.”

In education, healthcare, and the service sector, women—and especially women of color—have faced the brunt of this crisis, leading the nation in jobs lost. The pandemic has ravaged our country and forced millions of families into economic turmoil. Now they have to worry about putting food on the table for themselves and their children.

But there is hope on the horizon. 


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Last week, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), an economic recovery plan that provides much-needed support for women and families across the country. It will protect women who have lost their jobs in the past year and are now worried about paying their bills on time. It will also help them find access to quality childcare.

“Even if you were lucky enough to have a job during the pandemic, finding childcare has been next to impossible,” explained my Supermajority co-worker Emily, who has been working out of her apartment with her wife and young daughter. “Every mom I know was trying to piece it together for the past year. This investment in the child care system is much needed and long overdue.”

The ARPA includes immediate relief for working families in the form of $1,400 checks for individuals who need them most, paid leave for 100 million additional workers, over $30 billion in housing assistance, and $40 billion to expand access to quality, affordable childcare.

nancy pelosi and chuck schumer holding hands and celebrating the passage of the american rescue plan ac

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer held a bill enrollment ceremony for the stimulus plan on March 10.

Kent Nishimura

The plan will help end the pandemic through a nationwide vaccination program and provide $130 billion to get kids and educators back in schools safely. This bill is both for the women dropping their kids off at daycare, and the women working in that daycare. It helps women who have left the workforce, and those still struggling to juggle it all.

It is real, meaningful action that will be felt by women in every community, whether it’s women who can’t afford healthy food or childcare, or moms who are juggling work and helping their kids with Zoom classes.

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This holistic approach to pandemic relief is revolutionary. The plan was met with bipartisan support across the country, including from Republican voters. We’ve heard from people like Barbara Jankowski, a lifelong Republican voter from the Philadelphia suburbs, who praised ARPA and criticized Congressional Republicans who voted against it.

“Shame on them,” Barbara told CNN of the GOP’s opposition. “Voting along party lines was wrong because it was not right for America. It was not right for you, it was not right for me, it was not right for my children.”

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Last year, in the midst of a crissis that was disproportionately impacting them, women came out, and women of color in particular, to deliver the White House and Senate to Democrats. Now, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are delivering for them.

But the daunting challenges we still face, from getting people back to work and our kids back in school to protecting and expanding access to health and childcare, require ambitious solutions.

headshot of cecile richards wearing a navy blue suit

Cecile Richards

Carl Co

As President of Planned Parenthood, I met countless women across the country who spent decades fighting for a better future for themselves and their families. We worked with women and young people who needed accessible and affordable health care. These are the same women who will now be getting direct financial support from the ARPA.

Female frontline workers at hospitals and nursing homes literally held our country together this year—women like Lori Key, the nurse who sang “Amazing Grace” to her coworkers treating COVID-19 patients. They have worked tirelessly to protect us and our families from this virus. They are our heroes, and they need more than just our appreciation. They need the type of economic assistance that the ARPA provides.

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