Saturday, April 17, 2010

Actions for Balancing Work and Family

I have had a bunch of conversations lately, about how squeezed many of us feel between our multiple roles in our families, communities and workplaces. We all do the best we can, and in so many conversations people lament how exhausted we feel at the end of each day.  How do we stay healthy, keep our families well, and pursue a few ambitions and leisure activities all at once?

A bunch of new reports stress that the answer might be in creating 21st Century Public Policies rather than simply relying on individual problem-solving skills and good luck.  We are one of  only 4 countries in the world that does not provide paid family leave for caregivers;  European countries have "soft touch" laws that place the burden of accomodating part-time schedules on the employer;  Costa Rica is considered one of the happiest countries in the world, despite relatively low personal income, because the common good is so highly valued.  Call me a crazy, but a happier country seems like a good idea.  More and more, it is clear that overall happiness is linked to our ability to create social relationships, to stay healthy and be home when we or our loved ones need care, and to not be stressed about money and work all the time.  Feminist initiatives to integrate women into the workplace and help men participate more in caregiving are central to this effort.

Books & Resources on Happiness & Public Policy -- Geography of Bliss, Yes Magazine's Happiness SectionGreater Good, New Yorker's article

Books & Resources on Social Policy to Improve Family Life : Women's Lobby op-ed about closing the wage gap,  the Shriver Report (a comprehensive review of 21st Century policy initiatives), The Global Gender Gap report (ranking countries around women's rights)

Activist Organizations:  National Partnership for Women and Families MomsRising (the move-on for family policy), the Maine Women's Lobby