Alyssa Milano: Pay moms for getting us through this crisis

Alyssa Milano with her kids Milo and Elizabella.

Alyssa Milano is an actor and activist who helped #MeToo go viral. She lives in LA and works in Georgia. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. Read more opinion articles on CNN.

(CNN)In December, following the Thanksgiving holiday when lockdowns again became necessary because millions of people selfishly decided to ignore Covid-19 guidelines, the economy lost 140,000 jobs. On its own, that's bad enough, but it's not even close to the whole story. The truly shocking part is that women made up 100% of those job losses, losing a total of 156,000 jobs, while men gained 16,000 jobs that month. While women fared better than men in the January jobs report, 275,000 left the labor force that month.

Alyssa Milano
These statistics are illustrative of just how severely this pandemic is affecting women. This why I support the Marshall Plan for Moms, which attempts to bring equity back to women and the labor force. Its most discussed feature -- a short-term monthly payment to moms to compensate for the unpaid and often invisible labor we are doing -- is so important, but it's just a small part of what the plan will achieve.
    Other fundamental tenets include passing policies that support working women such as pay equity, family leave and affordable childcare; retraining programs that will help women step into emerging jobs; and safely re-opening schools to take the childcare burden off mothers. By focusing on these issues, the plan will begin to address persistent structural disadvantages that take economic power and freedom from women and perpetuate a workforce that allows us to be underpaid and left out of positions of power and influence. When we can go back to the paid workforce, a Marshall Plan for Moms can make sure we can do it in a way that is equitable.
      We all already know that the economy and jobs market are worse for women. As a whole, we are paid 82 cents for every dollar men make, according to a report from the American Association of University Women based on US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics' data. It's even worse for Black, Indigenous and women of color: According to the same report, Black women make just 63% of what white men make, and Latina women make just 55%. At the outset of the pandemic last spring, women were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Our unemployment rate increased by 12.8% compared to 9.9% for men between February and April of 2020. Not only do we make less money when we are employed, it's harder for us to get and keep jobs.
      But to be clear, it's not that women aren't working; it's that we are doing the critical and extremely difficult unpaid labor of motherhood. And for so many women during the pandemic, this is a forced career change, one they did not ask for and did not train for, but one which they undertook anyway.
      Last September alone, four times as many women left the labor force as men, and twice as many women as men did so for childcare purposes. At home, we suddenly became teachers and full-time caregivers. We're figuring out how to keep our kids engaged in their education and participati