Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner co-founded MomsRising.org, with the goal of bringing millions of people, who all share a common concern about the need to build a more family-friendly America, together as a non-partisan force for 2008 and beyond.
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What was your big dream?
That’s a huge question for a small text space! My dream is to help build a movement for a more truly family-friendly nation, and with that movement to get healthcare for all children, paid family leave, flexible work options, excellent childcare for all who need it, and to get rid of the “Mommy Wage Gap” (women without children make 90 cents to a man’s dollar, women with children make 73 cents, and single mothers make the least at 60 cents). We know how to solve these shared problems, and how to close this wage gap. It’s just going to take “mom power” to push the policies forward. As our logo, Rosie the Riveter says, “We can do it!”
And, something that isn’t well know is that countries with family-friendly policies in place, like paid family leave and the other policies advocated by MomsRising, don’t have wage gaps as wide as we do here. So we know we can solve many of the shared problems American families face simply by putting such policies in place here. And we also know that American women and families are in trouble due to the lack of such policies: A full quarter of American families with children under five years old are living in poverty. The wage gap, and lack of family-friendly policies, begins to explain why we have so many families in poverty, and so few women in national leadership.
The irony is that the United States is one of the least family-friendly nations in the world. For example, in a Harvard study of over 170 countries, only 4 didn’t have some form of paid leave for new mothers: The United States, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Liberia. It’s time for us to catch up the rest of the world, and it’s time for us to catch up the reality of our modern economy where ¾ of mothers are in the labor force. Frankly, times have changed, yet we’re stuck with a 1950s support structure here in America.
Working together, we can change this! And, I’m certain we will.
How did you accomplish it?
Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn.org, and I started MomsRising.org to build a more truly family-friendly nation. A full 82% of American women have children by the time they are forty-four years old; and we all have mothers. These issues impact us all. They impact our children, grandchildren, and parents. We also wrote a book together titled, The Motherhood Manifesto, which details personal stories, shared problems, and common-sense solutions—and this book has been made into a documentary film which is regularly featured on PBS and can be ordered at cost on our website.
Our major effort has been to build MomsRising.org to bring together mothers, and those who have mothers, to push for common-sense solutions to shared issues. We know parents are busy, and that is one reason MomsRising is an online organization that provides multiple avenues for people to help make a difference—people can spend 5 minutes a week from the comfort of their home computer making a difference, or can get together with other folks and spend more time. Each of our efforts, no matter how big or small, add up together to make a big difference.
Where did you find inspiration to get started?
After the birth of my son nearly eleven years ago, I began to explore what was really going on with motherhood and family issues in our nation and was shocked to find out that a lot of mothers and families are in deep trouble. My own experience with my infant son, who was born with a primary immune deficiency (and is now better), sparked this exploration. My eyes were opened, and I was shocked by what I saw—and I started writing magazine articles about it, then books, then e-outreaches for MomsRising!
It also became clear that when this many people are having the same problems at the same time, we have a societal structural issue that needs to be addressed, and not an epidemic of personal failings. It’s an honor to be able to play a part in putting shared issues out in the daylight where we all can see and discuss them, to connect people together so they can see they are not alone in their struggles, and to find new ways each day that people can truly make a difference.
What motivated you to keep going?
My son and daughter–as well as seeing that when people get involved in fighting for change they really do make a difference.
What’s your next Big Dream?
My next big dream is for MomsRising.org to pass a million members; and that critically important family-friendly policies move to center stage where they belong because of this large membership. We can do this by each getting 10 friends to sign on (it’s free!).
When you were 5 what did you want to be when you grew up?
Hmmm… when I was five I wanted to be a doctor.
What about when you were 15?
At fifteen I wanted to be a physicist.
Now, what do you want to be when you grow up?
I daydream of being a “blue-haired” crime fighter in my late 80s. I’m trying to talk my husband into joining me in my plan of creating an elderly husband/wife crime fighting duo. He’s skeptical, but I have many decades to work on him.
What book is on your night stand?
Too many. But right now I’m reading Ellen Bravo’s new book, Taking on the Big Boys; Kristin Gore’s book, Sammy’s Hill; Arianna Huffington’s book, Becoming Fearless; and a Clive Cussler novel, Polar Shift.
What’s your Guilty Pleasure? (Grey’s Anatomy, Peppermint Mocha Lattes)
Reading books by Clive Cussler!
What song moves you?
The Wrens, Happy.