Activism Can go Further than Flowers on Mother’s Day

April 29, 2021

Mother’s Day, the day when we look at the mothers or mother figures in our life and express gratitude for how they made us who we are today. As we approach Mother's Day this year, we at The Opportunity Agenda want to acknowledge the tireless work of our partners, who are advocating for the rights of mothers across the nation. Below are two examples of how our 2021 Communications Institute fellows are organizing for mothers. Please join us this Mother’s Day (May 9) in uplifting and sharing these advocacy stories. 

Moms Need Paid Leave 

This pandemic has made it quite clear that we cannot function as a society without balancing work and caregiving. We have seen some federal action to provide temporary fixes for paid leave. However, we also know that if paid leave is not expanded and made permanent, then these victories could result in us reverting to the same lack of coverage. Aisha Wells, Paid Leave Organizer with Mothering Justice, works with moms across the state to call for paid leave programs that align with what the public has already demanded. “Advocating for paid sick and medical leave is personal for me and for countless other moms in Michigan. I am hopeful that after years of struggling to balance care and work that we are finally at the precipice where we can help mamas and caregivers alike finally get the support, they need to care for loved ones while also keeping a roof over their heads,” said Aisha in her recent op-ed. Aisha provides historical background on how political maneuvers by legislators in 2018 undercut the will of the voters in Michigan around paid sick leave, and why advocates today are working to re-instate the paid leave support that is sorely needed. Aisha and her allies are calling on advocates across the country to support more expansive paid leave programs. 

End Immigrant Detention 

Recently, The Opportunity Agenda hosted a Shifting the Narrative livestream about the importance of building an affirmative vision for criminal justice reform and immigrant opportunity. Tania Mattos, Northeast Policy and Monitoring Manager at Freedom for Immigrants, talked about the challenges that immigrants face in immigrant detention and the urgency for ending immigrant detention entirely. Immigrant detention harms immigrant mothers by taking people who are trying to care for their loved ones and putting them, as well as their families, into harsh and inhumane conditions. As we “return to normal”, it is imperative that we remember the perils that immigrant women have faced in detention facilities. Tania points out that in the past year, “People have died in these facilities. People are suffering right now in these facilities. Last year, in December, we had three facilities organize hunger strikes inside because they couldn’t take the fact that COVID was killing them.” Today, Tania’s work to end immigrant detention continues in collaboration with many other immigrant rights groups.  Raising a family is tough enough without adding the threat of immigrant detention. It is because of this that we support Tania and all the other advocates who are supporting the right for immigrants to stay in their homes. 

These are just two examples, among many, where advocates have organized and taken to the streets to defend the mamas who are most overlooked. As we approach Mother’s Day and acknowledge the mothers in our own lives, let us also take action to support those who are doing the vital work to uplift mothers -- and those who identify as mothers -- across the country.