Women: Underpaid, Overburdened A Mother’s Day reflection on the contradictions of their responsibility and reward

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    What is Mother’s Day without a healthy woman?

    What is Mother’s Day without a strong woman?

    What is Mother’s Day without an assertive and visionary woman who is determined to etch a promising future for her children?

    All of the above attributes give us reason every year to say “thank you” to the mothers in our lives and those women who assume a motherly role for us.

    But days leading up to Mother’s Day, I kept on wondering if the significance of Mother’s Day has been hijacked by buffeting commercials spotlighting the occasion as merchants insist that purchasing expensive gifts is the best show of love for your mother.

    Or what about merchants using the occasion to rachet up the prices of their items because they are expecting us to flock to Somerset Mall like lambs for the slaughter on the capitalist alter of sacrifice?

    At the end of the day, the merchants have the last laugh, smiling all the way to the bank.

    Does a gift, no matter how pricey it is, take the place of giving our loved ones the attention and care they deserve?

    Does it take the place of spending quality time with them?

    Others, believing that gifts are products of guilt, use it to redeem themselves only on Mother’s Day while they proceed with their no-show tradition for the rest of the year.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am certainly not opposed to giving gifts because I do it myself, with no strings attached.

    But I’m a little concerned that we have become too consumed with finding gifts to show our love and less concerned with the challenges they are facing in today’s world.

    When every study released by advocacy groups and the United Nations shows that women suffer the most in poverty, war and every unfortunate situation that develops due to gender inequality, it begs the question, are we committed to a better world for women?

    Because of the seemingly insurmountable diffi­culties women face raising their children, a mother’s gift is priceless for anyone who recognizes and understands the essence of being birthed, taken care of and having the groundwork laid for a meaningful and productive future.

    No amount of gifts can compensate for the work of mothers who sacrifice daily to give their best to their children.

    But the celebration of Mother’s Day could be enhanced by advancing the progress of women and finding an answer to the greater questions of equal pay for women in the workplace, ending gender discrimination and health disparities in low income neighborhoods.

    While dinner or brunch on Mother’s Day is typically a time for fond memories of growing up, it should be used to draw attention to the growing impediments faced by mothers in our communities.

    Every year I observe how some of us make grand declarations about our love for our mothers. Sometimes we even brag on the job about what we plan to do on this special occasion. Yet these women we have just honored have to go back into society and face the monstrous inequity that forces them to trail behind their male counterparts.

    Whether they are working in a restaurant, in government or big and small companies they are still dealing with a society that puts women in a corner. They have to confront a community that still gives women a second row seat in all too many situations. The irony of this is that women comprise the majority in the workplace.

    It should be noted, too, that in our churches, women and their children make up the majority of the congregants. Despite the reality of women essentially being the backbone of the church, on Mother’s Day as I have observed that the men speaking from the pulpits don’t cry out in defense of women’s rights and the issues confronting them.

    Instead the women are praised — as well they should be — and are given flowers but I hear no clarion call or expressed commitment to assist women in their battles. Moreover, commitment to address the health disparities women face — especially women of color — in underserved neighborhoods.

    Because of the influence of the church and given that women are the majority offetory givers, it would make sense that there would be a return on their investment with pastors demonstrating a commitment to fight the root causes of discrimination against women.

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