Moms Are Largely Missing From the Law-Making Arena, New Report Reveals

“There is a reason why our nation’s policies are failing moms—we are systemically kept out of the conversation, out of office and out of power.”
save article
profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
By Wyndi Kappes, Assistant Editor
Updated October 19, 2022
wood desk at the texas state capitol
Image: JC Gonram | Shutterstock

As midterm elections approach, voters often have many questions about candidates’ backgrounds, where they stand on the issues and what their goals are. One of the seemingly simple questions the Vote Mama Foundation had for this election—how many mothers with young children are serving in state legislatures? It turns out this question wasn’t so easy to answer, with no data available—until now.

What The State of Motherhood Report Found

After gathering information throughout 2022, The Vote Mama Foundation’s State of Motherhood report recently revealed that only 5.3 percent of state legislators are mothers with children under 18 even though 17.8 percent of people in America are moms with kids under 18. This means that moms with young children are represented in state legislatures at less than half the rate they appear in the population. Researchers report that more than 900 mothers with young children would have to be elected for government representation to equally reflect the population.

Why Representation Matters

Mother’s rights advocacy organizations point to the lack of young mothers in government as one of the reasons that family-friendly legislation is often ignored.

“American moms are not okay. The United States is the most dangerous country in the industrialized world to give birth. More than one million women are still missing from the workforce since the start of the pandemic, mainly due to lapses in childcare and our nation’s inaction on paid family leave. Time and time again, proposals that would support working families are the first to hit the chopping block,” Liuba Grechen Shirley Vote Mama Founder and CEO told The Bump in an email. “There is a reason why our nation’s policies are failing moms -— we are systemically kept out of the conversation, out of office, and out of power.”

The State of Motherhood report also highlights the many ways that young mothers make a real, positive change in the lives of many when elected to state seats. For example, after struggling to find affordable childcare, New York State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Sarah Clark introduced the Early Learning Child Care Act in 2022. The bill, if passed, would provide subsidies for children to attend early learning childcare programs and establish the New York state childcare board.

Childcare affordability, the national maternal and infant health crisis and paid family and medical leave are just a few of the things on this year’s ballot that could use the voice of young mothers to be heard during discussions.

Barriers to Entry

There are barriers to entry into political office. A lack of staff and childcare, long campaign days and no pay all keep young mothers out of office. Not to mention once elected, moms have to contend with low pay, unpredictable hours and lack of changing tables, pumping rooms and affordable on-site childcare.

So what can you do to help young moms be better represented in state legislatures? The Vote Mama Foundation encourages parents to take action in their communities by doing a few easy things.

4 Ways to Help Young Moms Get a Seat at The Table

  1. Join the Vote Mama Lobby, an app to help moms build their political power, find advocacy opportunities and lobby for family-friendly legislation.
  2. Help Vote Mama Foundation pass Campaign Funds for Childcare in your state. The cost of childcare is a structural barrier that prevents so many moms from running for office. Authorizing the use of Campaign Funds for Childcare is a simple change that empowers more moms to run and helps transform the political landscape.
  3. Support young moms candidates in your community on November 8th. From School Board to the US Senate, review your state and district’s sample ballot and get to know your local candidates.
  4. Donate to the Vote Mama Foundation to help the nonprofit continue its groundbreaking research on the political participation of moms and close the motherhood gap in politics.

Learn more about how you can advocate for maternal health policies and check out organizations like the Chamber of Mothers and MomsRising, which are also dedicated to advancing mothers’ rights.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List

Next on Your Reading List

Kristin Davis at the New York Pemiere of "And Just Like That..." A New Chapter of Sex and The City held at MoMA on December 8, 2021 in New York City
Why Moms Are Loving Charlotte's ‘and Just Like That’ Monologue
By Wyndi Kappes
78 Percent of Moms Are Overwhelmed by Pumping at Work
78 Percent of Moms Are Overwhelmed by Pumping at Work
By Wyndi Kappes
mother holding sleeping baby at home
Caregiving Reduces Mom's Lifetime Earnings by 15 Percent, Report Says
By Wyndi Kappes
mother working on laptop while holding baby
These Are the Best States for Working Moms in 2023
By Wyndi Kappes
working mother sitting at home with baby and breast pump
What the PUMP Act Means for Working Parents
By Wyndi Kappes
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hugs his daughter Poppy on the ninth hole during the Par 3 Contest prior to the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2023, in Augusta, Georgia
Kids Take the Masters by Storm Dressed as Adorable Caddies
By Wyndi Kappes
mother wearing baby in wrap while working on laptop at home
Study: Parents Work Longer Hours Than Non-Parents Amid Recession Fears
By Wyndi Kappes
P!nk attends the 2022 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
Balancing Acts: Pink Shares Her Journey as a Rockstar Mom
By Wyndi Kappes
Sanya Richards Ross and family
Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross on Motherhood and Finding Balance
By Nehal Aggarwal
Reps. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., Andy Kim, D-N.J., left, and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., conduct a news conference to announce the Congressional Dads Caucus outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, January 26, 2023
Congress’ New Dads Caucus Advocates for Working Parents
By Wyndi Kappes
Shonda Rhimes attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
Shonda Rhimes Shares the Secret Behind How She Does It All
By Wyndi Kappes
MommiNation founders talking at fundraiser event
How MommiNation Is Helping to Empower a Community of Black Moms
By Jen Hayes Lee
Rihanna is seen outside the Dior show, during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear F/W 2022-2023, on March 01, 2022 in Paris, France
Rihanna Says Being a Mom Pushed Her to Perform at the Super Bowl
By Wyndi Kappes
mother working from home with baby on lap
New Report Explores if Remote Work Is Really Working for Parents
By Wyndi Kappes
pregnant woman working from home at desk in bedroom
Remote Work May Have Led to a Mini Baby Boom, Study Says
By Wyndi Kappes
gabrielle union and dwyane wade smiling with their daughter
Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade Champion Community at Home and Work
By Ashlee Neuman
Amanda Kloots and her son, Elvis
Amanda Kloots Talks About Life as a Single Mom and Multi-Hyphenate
By Lauren Kay
Meghan Markle and Serena Williams
Meghan Markle & Serena Williams Talk Ambition and Motherhood on New Podcast
By Wyndi Kappes
Alyson Felix and Daughter running on the track together
Allyson Felix’s Last Race With Her Daughter Bookends a Legacy of Change
By Wyndi Kappes
Serena Williams, daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. and husband Alexis Ohanian attend the 2021 AFI Fest - Premiere of Warner Bros. "King Richard" at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 14, 2021 in Hollywood, California.
Serena Williams Is "Evolving Away From Tennis” to Grow Her Family
By Wyndi Kappes
Article removed.