Harris says 2.5 million women leaving workforce is ‘national emergency’

'Our economy cannot fully recover,' said Vice President Harris, 'unless women can participate fully.'

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According to the Labor Department, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, 1.8 million men have left the workforce, compared to 2.5 million women. 

On Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris called those statistics a “national emergency” that may be addressed in the American Rescue Plan, the Biden administration’s new strategy to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during Thursday’s virtual roundtable discussion with female leaders in both Congress and advocacy organizations on “the critical importance of passing the American Rescue Plan – particularly for women.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

According to The New York Times, women are leaving work in higher numbers due to the demands of childcare, which has drastically changed since the start of the pandemic. 

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During a virtual call with several politicians and women’s advocacy group leaders, Harris made it clear: “Our economy cannot fully recover unless women can participate fully.”

Harris continued on to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has singlehandedly put the decades of female empowerment and progress at risk. 

The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan proposed by President Joe Biden — which has not yet passed and has received major criticism from Republican officials who believe the spend is too high — includes tax credits for families with children and $40 billion allocated to assist family with child-care assistance.

The Biden package also outlines a strategy for reopening schools safely, which could reduce the childcare burden for some working women. Harris continued to sing the plan’s praises, telling those on the call it would “lift up nearly half of the children who are living in poverty in our country.” 

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Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said women are not just leaving the workforce; they’re being pushed out.

During the call with Harris, the 30-year Democratic congresswoman implored the administration to be wary of “Band-Aid” fixes and said that things cannot go back to normal.

“What we ought to be doing,” DeLauro told The Times, “is thinking about how we deal with transformational change.”

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