The Mother Pac Hopes to Build the Political Power of Oregon Mothers
The Mother PAC, a political action committee, was created by mothers and is a sister organization to Family Forward Action, an advocacy organization focused on building the political power of Oregon mothers. Their mission is to elect more pro-equity and pro-family decision-makers. By pooling their resources, they hope to get involved in races across the state, educate candidates about the economic issues impacting mothers and families, and to elect key pro-family candidates who will champion the strong, family-friendly public policies that Oregon families need.
The PAC’s focus is to elect more leaders who accurately represent us, and who will fight for the policies Oregon families need. We started the PAC in 2010 when we realized that our mostly white, male, and economically well-off legislature was unlikely to do much to improve the lives of mothers (and the families who rely on them). Without different people in charge—without mothers, women of color, and more women from across the income spectrum—essential things like paid family and medical leave, affordable child care, protection against discrimination and harassment, equal pay, and a whole host of other issues would never be prioritized.
2. What are some of the issues mothers and families are facing today?
We believe a lot of the disparities that moms face stem from one root problem: caregiving is not valued in this country. We all agree that raising the next generation and caring for our elders is important, but there are almost no systems set up to support this essential work and the overwhelming majority of women who do it. Many women do this invisible work without pay for their own families, and they do so at the expense of their own economic security. And the women who do it as paid work (in child care or senior care) are paid poverty level wages. Our government invests very little in these essential systems, and as a result, mothers and caregivers are living in poverty at incredibly high rates. A quarter of new moms are going back to work within two weeks of having a baby. Just having a baby is the primary cause of poverty spells for families (when income drops below what it takes to afford the basics). And, because high-quality child care is so expensive, many women are forced out of the paid workforce.
What this leads to is American women’s declining participation in the labor force, and persistent (and harmful) wage and wealth gaps—which are especially stark for women of color and for mothers.
And because of the combined institutional racism and sexism they experience, mothers of color face the greatest penalties in all of these systems – which results in continued health and economic disparities compared to white mothers.
3. Do you feel that mother’s voices are taking a back seat in the current administration?
The current administration is not listening to mothers’ voices. In most cases, we aren’t seeing mothers at the table or in decision-making roles, and we aren’t seeing the issues that would improve our lives being discussed. When they are, the solutions being offered are inadequate, unrealistic, or worse—harmful to families. What we’re seeing instead are continued attacks on our civil liberties, on the programs mothers rely on, on a family’s ability to stay intact, and on our reproductive rights, the very rights that allow women to decide if/when/whether to become mothers at all. We have lost so much over the last few years, and we will continue to lose until we put new people in power.
4. Who are some of the major candidates you are endorsing and why?
We are focused mostly on races in our own state. We are concerned about what’s happening at the federal level, and we want the women we organize to engage there, but we also have a lot of work to do here at home. Oregon faces the same threats as the rest of the country does, and we need Oregon mothers to hit the streets and the phones so that we can elect champions here. States are typically incubators for things that eventually go national. We need Oregon to be a good laboratory for what kind of change is possible.
Locally, we’re focused on re-electing our Governor, Kate Brown, one of only six women governors in the country and a life-long champion of women’s rights. We are also prioritizing a crew of women candidates running in key state legislative districts. We believe they have a strong shot at winning if more of us get involved and engage with their campaigns.
5. What Tell us about “Dance Like a Mother” and why is it’s so important for your organization?
Dance Like a Mother is our annual fundraising event, but it’s not your typical political fundraiser. We think it’s important for moms (and the people who love them) to just let loose sometimes—to dance, drink feminist-themed cocktails, and enjoy the company of friends and other women who are working to make this country better for mothers and families.
It’s one of many ways that anyone who wants a better future for moms and families can support our work.
Once the party’s over, we’ll also need volunteers and donors to help us elect new leaders, from top to bottom, here in Oregon and in D.C.
Find out more about The Mother PAC and our priorities for this year at www.motherpac.org/
This piece was featured in the Oct. 7th edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.