Parents with minor children comprise about one-third of the country’s work force, according to the Brookings Institutions. In 2018, 23.5 million working parents relied upon school and child care programs while they went to work.
“For the last 10, 20 years, this has been sidelined and siloed as just a women’s issue,” said Brigid Schulte, who runs the Better Life Lab at New America, a research group. “It’s not and it never has been.”
Throughout American history, women have wielded an image of maternal respectability to push for labor reforms, temperance, stoke fears of communist infiltration in the 1950s and other political causes.
In recent years, mothers-turned-activists have begun political organizations, including Moms Rising, Vote Like a Mother and Moms Demand Action, a gun control advocacy organization. The majority of volunteers with Indivisible, a liberal advocacy group that helped propel several Democrats to Congress in 2018, are women, and the topic of child care has become a de facto part of many meetings across the country.
“There isn’t a single thing you can offer up to women now, whether it’s text banking, leadership training, organizing skills, that’s not immediately oversubscribed,” said Cecile Richards, the head of Supermajority, an organization founded last year with the goal of mobilizing female voters. “It is this extraordinary moment when women are in the ascendancy and finally the issues that women have to deal with every day are at last in the public conversation in a way that they have not been in any time I remember.”
Ms. Richards says Supermajority planned for 800 women to sign up for a recent organizing training it offered. It got 1,800 responses in the first week.
“Moms definitely know how to multitask,” said Smitha Chadaga, who has spent a career working as an internist in a hospital and became politically active after the 2016 election, when her children asked if their family would have to leave the United States. (Dr. Chadaga’s parents immigrated from India and her husband’s family came from Nicaragua.)