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‘You are tough.’ Vice President Kamala Harris has a message for American women

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‘You are tough.’ Vice President Kamala Harris has a message for American women

Suzette Hackney and Nicole Carroll, USA TODAY

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Vice President Kamala Harris emphasizes the energy of American women Wednesday in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Place of enterprise. The bust of Frederick Douglass, created by Isaac Scott Hathaway in 1908, is on loan from Harris’ alma mater, Howard College.
Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

The pandemic has been “devastating” for women, especially women of color, Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday in an interview with USA TODAY.

“I possess that the pandemic has exposed the failures, the fractures, the fissures that have lengthy existed in our society, and it has made them larger and more evident,” she said. 

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The yearlong pandemic has finest magnified America’s gender inequalities, all while stifling the decades of progress women have made.

Women are leaving the workforce in alarming numbers. Female entrepreneurs salvage their stores shuttered or empty. Stressed with the brunt of little one care tasks while teenagers are learning from home, Black and Latina women in particular are falling deeper into poverty.

Harris characterizes the regression as a “national emergency.”

She said the country wants a commitment to universal paid ailing leave and paid family leave, and “little one care wants to be affordable and available.”

COVID-19 has resulted in the disappearance of 4.5 million little one care slots across the country because of social distancing and lockdowns, according to The Center for American Growth.

“We have many places in the country, together with our rural communities, that are experiencing what we call little one care deserts. So even before the pandemic, little one care was no longer available and it certainly was no longer affordable,” Harris said.

The latest stimulus invoice, called the American Rescue Plan, presents $39 billion to the little one care sector. Of that, $15 billion will expand funding for states to provide little one care subsidies for low-income families with teenagers 13 or younger; $24 billion will saunter to pork up little one care suppliers and back them restart or maintain little one care services and products. 

In addition, the plan increased the little one tax credit score from $2,000 to $3,600 for teenagers younger than age 6, and $3,000 for other teenagers younger than 18. Young folk 17 and younger (the old cleave off was 16) will now be covered.

“Women need to restful no longer have to be equipped with false picks that say, ‘You both have a career otherwise you raise your teenagers.’ They must be able to attain each,” Harris said. 

Harris also has targeted on supporting small enterprise owners, meeting with many in her time in place of work.

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The Backstory: When women are pushed out of workforce, it impacts far more than suitable the women themselves

Vice President Kamala Harris embraces role of representing American women

Staff Video, USA TODAY

“I am working with Janet Yellen, our first woman Treasury secretary, on what we can attain to pork up community banks and glean more resources there to glean greater access to capital for our small enterprise owners with, again, a priority around women and minority-owned companies,” she said.

Harris is a litany of firsts: the primary woman, the primary Black American and the primary South Asian American to ascend to the vice presidency. In this barrier-breaking role as the nation’s 2d-perfect elected official, she watches with a eager glimpse as the COVID-19 pandemic takes an unbearable toll on women.

She knows the expectations that she’ll be at the table representing American women with considerate conversation and pointed policy. It’s a role she embraces.

In her USA TODAY interview, Harris expressed deep empathy and squawk for women attempting to claw their way out of the abyss, usually carrying family members on their backs. 

When asked what message she would ship to those women, Harris said she wanted to gape instantly into the camera. She wanted to speak to them about their resiliency, their energy, their ability to situation-resolve.

Vice President Kamala Harris
Know you are no longer alone. Know that you are supported and know that your narrate is tough. It’s tough, and don’t let any circumstance diminish that or take your energy from you. You are considerable. … You are tough.

“Know you are no longer alone,” Harris said. “Know that you are supported and know that your narrate is tough. Or no longer it’s tough, and don’t let any circumstance diminish that or take your energy from you. You are considerable. … The measure of energy, personally, is based no longer on who you beat down, it’s based on who you exhaust up. And I know you are lifting up folk every day.

“You are tough.”

The interview has been edited for length.

Nicole Carroll, USA TODAY editor in chief: At USA TODAY, all thru the year, we are going to be celebrating women. We’re going to be talking about extraordinary accomplishments, especially women who’ve been serving to women. We know this pandemic has been particularly impactful on women, and that’s what we want to talk to you about today, the road ahead.

As you have written yourself, more than 2.5 million women have left the workforce, many have misplaced jobs in industries pain by the pandemic, others have had to leave because of little one care or caretaking. So 2020 was devastating, and we want to hear your vision for our country and for its women in 2021.

Vice President Kamala Harris:  The pandemic has been devastating to so many families, to our financial system, to our adolescents, and in the course of this profound disaster, and actually crises, I possess there are so many heroes and angels who have been exposed for their courage, for the value and the importance of their work and for their courage to maintain doing it even in the face of revealing themselves and their families to harm and, in particular, publicity to COVID.

I imagine, in particular, how I was raised, and there are three women who had a profound impact on who I am today. And during the pandemic, I have realized and mirrored on their work and how the importance of their work has been highlighted thru the pandemic. So my first grade teacher, Mrs. Frances Wilson, attended my law faculty graduation. She was, admire every teacher I’ve identified, invested, dedicated, satisfied me and all of her college students that we can be and attain anything.

TOP: Vice President Kamala Harris, accurate, is pictured with Frances Wilson, left, and her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, heart. ABOVE: Harris, accurate, is pictured with Regina Shelton.
TOP: Vice President Kamala Harris, accurate, is pictured with Frances Wilson, left, and her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, heart. ABOVE: Harris, accurate, is pictured with Regina Shelton.
LEFT: Vice President Kamala Harris is pictured with her first-grade teacher, Frances Wilson, left, and her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, heart. RIGHT: Harris with her “2d mother,” Regina Shelton.
Courtesy of Vice President Kamala Harris via USA TODAY NETWORK

I possess about my 2d mother, so Ms. Shelton, who lived two doorways down from us after I was growing up. My mother, working lengthy days, and she labored weekends usually, and my sister and I’d walk down (to) Ms. Shelton’s home. And she was our 2d mother. She took care of us.

I possess about folk admire Dr. Kizzy Corbett, the scientist who contributed to the discovery of the vaccine that I actually took and so many of us have taken, and what these scientists have accomplished by way of revealing no longer finest the seriousness of this pandemic, nevertheless growing and creating the issues that will save us and save lives. And my mother was a scientist. My mother had two goals in her life, to raise her two daughters and smash breast cancer.

And she would actually take us to the lab with her usually. And I watched how these scientists, they have this passion. Or no longer it’s a deep passion to toughen human life and condition and to inspect what is conceivable, unburdened by what has been to inspect what can be.

So those are a few of the issues that I’ve been pondering about for the duration of the path of the pandemic. And pointless to say, all of the oldsters I am talking about are women and it really highlights, I possess, the work that women have historically accomplished and the work that women are doing at explain.

Suzette Hackney, USA TODAY national columnist:  As we know, Black and brown women have borne the brunt of this disaster in health care jobs, care taking, et cetera. Or no longer it’s suitable various for women of color. Or no longer it’s more critical. Or no longer it’s more devastating. What are the answers? How can we pay special attention to these folk?

Vice President Harris:  I possess that the pandemic has exposed the failures, the fractures, the fissures that have lengthy existed in our society, and it has made them larger and more evident. We had racial disparities lengthy before this pandemic struck. And after we talk specifically about Black women, take for example the fact that even before this pandemic, Black women have been three to four instances seemingly to bear from maternal mortality, to die in childbirth than other women.

Let’s take, for example, what we have viewed for the duration of the path of the pandemic, which is that Black folk are exponentially vulnerable to contract the virus and die from it because of lengthy-standing disparities around the birth of health care and health care accessibility.

TOP: Kamala Harris, then a California senator, speaks to an overflow crowd before a 2019 Women of Color roundtable discussion in Davenport, Iowa. LEFT: Demonstrators hold a sign tagging Vice President Harris

TOP: Kamala Harris, then a California senator, speaks to an overflow crowd before a 2019 Women of Color roundtable dialogue in Davenport, Iowa. LEFT: Demonstrators maintain a stamp tagging Vice President Harris “Madame VP” at a rally in Lancaster, Pa.’s Penn Square on Nov. 7, 2020. RIGHT: Harris greets a woman while touring the West Oak Lane neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sept. 17, 2020.
PHOTOS: CHARLIE NEIBERGALL, AP; JIM GERBERICH, AP; MARK MAKELA, GETTY IMAGES; ILLUSTRATIONS: USA TODAY NETWORK

And after we talk about Black women specifically, you can gape at the entrance-line workers, those folk who, be it in little one care or in health care, who all thru the pandemic have been going to work every day, usually taking public transportation, exposing themselves for the duration of the path of attending to work much much less at work, to the virus, nevertheless doing the work that has actually been about saving lives, nevertheless taking a much larger toll by way of the harm that they’ve skilled from no longer finest publicity to the virus, nevertheless publicity to the inequities around pay, around paid family leave, around paid ailing leave, around affordable little one care. These are all factors that have disproportionately impacted Black women in the workforce.

Carroll:  You introduced up the difficulty of pay. And as we know, women, especially Black and Latina women, disproportionately maintain low wage jobs. A few of that’s by alternative, a few of it’s discrimination, and a few of it’s funneling women into these lower paid career tracks. What attain you’re thinking that it can take to change this imbalance?

Vice President Harris:  Effectively, to your level, I am informed the majority of minimum wage workers are women and women of color. And by the way, federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and the math on that, that’s $15,000 a year. And we are talking about those same jobs disproportionately being jobs that attain no longer give paid ailing leave, paid family leave. These are jobs that make little one care unaffordable.

Vice President Kamala Harris listens during a virtual roundtable discussion Feb. 18, 2021, with female leaders in both Congress and advocacy organizations on “the critical importance of passing the American Rescue Plan,” particularly for women.

Vice President Kamala Harris listens for the duration of a virtual roundtable dialogue Feb. 18, 2021, with female leaders in each Congress and advocacy organizations on “the critical importance of passing the American Rescue Plan,” particularly for women.

PHOTO: ALEX WONG, GETTY IMAGES, ILLUSTRATION: USA TODAY NETWORK

And so what attain we want to attain? We have to have a commitment to universal paid ailing leave, paid family leave. Right here’s part of what now we have accomplished in the American Rescue Plan, saying that little one care wants to be affordable and available because we have many places in the country, together with our rural communities, that are experiencing what we call little one care deserts. So even before the pandemic, little one care was no longer available and it certainly was no longer affordable.

We also want to value the dignity of work. And after we gape at the jobs that women are performing, in particular in lower wage positions, these are the jobs that invariably are about caring for other human beings. And we, as a society, need to restful value that. Or no longer it’s an fantastic reward that they supply us as a society, nevertheless we have sadly diminished our recognition of its value and the reflection of our diminishing appreciation of its value is that we’re no longer paying folk ample cash to attain the work that they’re doing.

Carroll:  And suitable to practice up on that, and you talked about this, nevertheless one in all the main reasons women leave the workforce is little one care. What need to restful the federal government’s role be in little one care?

Vice President Harris:  Effectively, one in all the issues that the president and I had been advocating, actually for each of us, all thru our careers, is we want to have a national commitment to affordable little one care. And in many cases, the reason for that is that folk are paying almost more for little one care than they’re paying for college tuition for their adolescents. That’s how costly it’s. And again, speaking from my personal expertise … Oh, that every mother would have a Ms. Shelton to your life who lives two doorways down who can back take care of your adolescents, nevertheless that’s no longer the reality for most parents. And they want to leave their adolescents in little one care, which means they have to be able to afford it so they can saunter to work.

And usually the situation is that little one care is more costly than their salary. So it’s each by way of what we attain to pay folk their value, nevertheless also have a national commitment to affordable little one care. We attain that in the American Rescue Plan and there are billions of dollars that we have save into the little one care machine and also into what we want to attain around extending, for example, at least for the duration of the path of the pandemic, every part from unemployment advantages to what we’ll attain by way of extending advantages for the oldsters around the $1,400 checks.

Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2021. Harris hugs her great-niece, Amara Ajagu.

Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible for the duration of the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2021. Harris hugs her great-niece, Amara Ajagu.
Photos: Andrew Harnik, Pool, AP; Hannah Gaber, USA TODAY

Hackney:  Since you have been in place of work since January, what have you learned about factors facing women? What has shocked you and what resources are there, gleaming spots, and where are the disparities?

Vice President Harris: Effectively, I’ve been targeted on factors affecting women and girls my complete career. So while I’ve been in place of work, the issues that I’ve identified before have been reinforced, to make certain that. For example, for the years that I was a prosecutor, I specialized in crimes against women and teenagers. And we have viewed for the duration of the path of the pandemic when women and teenagers are isolated and alone in that way, that we are seeing increased incidents of abuse. And it does highlight the importance of having a social carrier structure, having a structure where we have the ability to have safe places for women and teenagers to saunter so that they can be freed from harm and are living in safety.

These are the issues that now we have been working on for years, understanding that women need to restful no longer have to be equipped with false picks that say, “You both have a career otherwise you raise your teenagers.” They must be able to attain each.

TOP: Then-Sen. Kamala Harris leaves the Capitol after the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial proceedings Feb. 3, 2020. LEFT: Harris' Converse high-top sneakers in 2020 feature

TOP: Then-Sen. Kamala Harris leaves the Capitol after the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial complaints Feb. 3, 2020. LEFT: Harris’ Squawk high-prime sneakers in 2020 feature “Black Pleasure” buttons. RIGHT: Harris joins a women’s advocacy community, MomsRising, to order against separating teenagers from their parents along the border in 2018.
PHOTOS: BILL CLARK, CQ-ROLL CALL, INC VIA GETTY IMAGES; WILFREDO LEE, AP; J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE, AP, ILLUSTRATIONS: USA TODAY NETWORK

Carroll:  You have been a major part of the American Rescue Plan. The president has said you are the primary one in the room and you are the last one to leave the room at these conferences. So what does it mean? What impact does it have when women are entrance and heart of recovery? Originate the discussions or outcomes fluctuate when women are at the table?

Vice President Harris:  Effectively, no longer finest first and last, nevertheless all thru the meeting in the room, participating. (laughing)

Carroll:  Obviously. Obviously.

Vice President Harris:  And serving to to shape the dialogue and to inform the alternatives. And the president has been very generous in attempting for my input and participation, so I have to say that about him. He really is really great that way and in many ways.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Wilmington, Del., on Aug. 12, 2020.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Wilmington, Del., on Aug. 12, 2020.

Carolyn Kaster, AP

Glance, one in all the issues that I’ve been targeted on is what we want to attain to pork up small enterprise owners. And I’ve been meeting in particular with women small enterprise owners. And again, the little one care squawk comes up, nevertheless also access to capital. I am working with Janet Yellen, our first woman Treasury secretary, on what we can attain to pork up community banks and glean more resources there to glean greater access to capital for our small enterprise owners with, again, a priority around women and minority-owned companies.

We want to make certain that there may be an equal alternative for access to capital for them to no longer finest start their enterprise, nevertheless develop their enterprise, so this has been one in all the areas of level of curiosity.

Another area targeted in, and so right here is part of the discussions we have in those rooms, is what we want to attain around acknowledging disparities. So what now we have been talking about, racial disparities, gender disparities. There may be actually a invoice that I had after I was in the Senate around creating a racial disparities task force and that is incorporated in our American Rescue Plan and the work we are doing to track disparities by way of how populations have been affected by COVID, by the pandemic, by what we’re doing or must be doing by way of turning in resources to parents who need them.

TOP: People walk past a large-scale, outdoor crochet art installation of Vice President Kamala Harris in celebration of International Women's Day, by LA-based, international

TOP: Of us walk past a large-scale, open air crochet art installation of Vice President Kamala Harris in celebration of International Women’s Day, by LA-based, international “yarn bomber” and aspect road artist London Kaye, at the Wharf in Washington, D.C., on March 8, 2021. ABOVE: With the U.S. Senate preparing to vote on another coronavirus stimulus package, Harris visits Fibre Space, a woman-owned small enterprise in Alexandria, Virginia, March 3, 2021. Proprietor Danielle Romanatti, left, and manager Maiah Davis, accurate, sell yarn, fibre and other presents.
PHOTOS: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS, AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES; WIN MCNAMEE, GETTY IMAGES

Pay equity, (that’s a) grand squawk that now we have been talking a lot about and with a want to address in a very severe way, I possess women generally (make) 82 cents on the dollar (for males); Black women, 62 cents on the dollar; Native women, 57; Latinas, 54. So there may be the work we want to attain there.

And also back to the level about the dignity of work, the work we want to attain to combat for working women, to make certain they are receiving the wages and advantages they deserve for their work. I convened women labor leaders impartial lately, who are every part from women who are working development net pages and constructing trades to the women who are teachers to the women who are entrance-line workers in the health care and services and products industry, home health care workers. And I introduced those women leaders together to say let’s work together on supporting women who are in the workforce in every capacity to make certain they are receiving the dignity they deserve and the dignity (is) being mirrored of their wages and their advantages.

Hackney:  Yes, so many women are struggling accurate now. They’re stretched skinny with little one care, demanding jobs, public facing jobs. What would you want to declare them? We would want to hear from you. Leave America’s women with a message, please.

Vice President Harris:  First of all, know you are no longer alone.

These have been complicated hard instances, where you obtained to take a seat down at your kitchen table after the teenagers have gone asleep, where you are attempting to identify the particular way to make ends meet, the particular way to glean thru it all.

Know you are no longer alone. Know that you are supported and know that your narrate is tough. Or no longer it’s tough, and don’t let any circumstance diminish that or take your energy from you. You are considerable. You are considerable.

And after we all stand together, after we all stand together, that’s after we are our handiest selves. And so let’s continue to know we are no longer alone. We are all on this together. And maintain doing what you attain, because you have an fantastic amount of courage. You have an fantastic amount of conviction. You are dedicated. And so know that that is the stamp of energy.

The measure of energy personally is based no longer on who you beat down, it’s based on who you exhaust up. And I know you are lifting up folk every day.

You are tough.

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‘You are tough.’ Vice President Kamala Harris has a message for American women