10/05/2020 | |

Mother’s Day Call for Healthcare for All – WILPF U.S.

Originally published in WILPF US website

On Sunday we honor mothers. In this pandemic period, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom US honors all mothers and women nationwide who have lost their lives to COVID-19, including 88 (mostly female) nurses, as of this writing. Two women who had cared for both Civil War soldiers and community health needs founded Mother’s Day. In that horrific time of social and economic crisis, they advocated for peace. During this catastrophic pandemic, we, too, call for healthcare for all and peace as we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Today’s nurses carry on this dedication of the Mother’s Day founders. This year’s Nurses Week 2020, May 6-12, founded in the early 1990s, comes during the World Health Organization’s International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, of National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union of registered nurses in the United States, recently said: “In a year supposedly dedicated to us…we cannot emphasize enough that praise is empty – even insulting – without protections.” On May 7, in front of the White House at the line-up of white shoes representing nurses who have died, Stephanie Sims, RN, said, “We are here today to say that nurses are not being valued by our employers and our government who are failing to provide us safe workplaces and optimal protection as we care for others during the COVID-19 pandemic.” For both caregiver and patient, healthcare is a critical issue!

Covid-19 has exposed fault lines too long ignored; now we see clearly those who have been hurt the most. This hurt is not just because of the virus, but because of the social structures in which it has taken hold – structures characterized by gender, racial, and ethnic discrimination plus economic and political disparities. These people and communities are the ones who must be at the table, to propose solutions based on their harsh experiences of discriminatory policies, lack of representation, and continued inequality.

On this Mother’s Day, we call for:

  • thorough investigation of the failure of this administration and Congress to exercise “due diligence” in being prepared for a pandemic and the delayed, disorganized and fragmented response that has cost so many lives and pitted state against state; this failure comes on top of a healthcare system already decimated for years by federal and state “austerity” cuts and private care facilities protecting their profits;
  • universal healthcare as a basic human right, with funding now for mental health services, to respond to increased gender-based violence and domestic violence;
  • appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all essential workers – in health care, transportation, all aspects of food production and sales, sanitation, public safety, and in other essential areas; it is reported that one in three jobs designated as essential are held by women, with non-white women most likely doing these low-wage job often no healthcare;
  • decarceration and other serious steps, including PPE and immediate safety and health measures, to protect prisoners, and adults and children in ICE detention, from surging COVID-19;
  • restoration of tens of millions of dollars repeatedly cut from underfunded Indian Health Services, to provide urgently needed COVID-19 treatment for underserved, vulnerable Native Americans and Alaskan Natives;   
  • an end to the military-industrial-congressional complex stranglehold on our economy and lives; systematic annual cuts in the over $750 billion military budget, including closing the 800 US military bases around the world and ending unneeded weapons purchases, nuclear weapons upgrades, and new weapons systems;
  • an end to all unilateral US sanctions undermining emergency response to COVID-19 in the “targeted” countries.

While those currently in power in Washington and in corporate boardrooms – weapons manufacturers and investors – would like us to believe we must sacrifice everything for “security”, we reject this policy of militarism and propaganda of fear. “True security is found not in domination and weapons of war, but in peaceful international cooperation.” (Patricia Hynes, Traprock Center for Peace and Justice)

Accordingly, we call upon all nations, including the US, to join us in endorsing the call of UN Secretary General Guerres and supporting inclusive peace negotiations – with women equally represented at the peace table.

When all children of the world have access to clean water and affordable health care, are well fed, and live free of fear in homes with loving people around them – then, indeed, we can celebrate a happy Mother’s Day!