Ms is Me: Stories
The Ms. Foundation for Women funds organizations that provide comprehensive support for women – support that can save their lives. Read the ways that our members have made a difference.
Saving Childcare, Saving Jobs
“I work in a food processing plant in Mississippi. Before work, I always dropped my son off at a childcare center, and paid for it with federal vouchers. I couldn’t afford it any other way.
“Well, one day the state of Mississippi decided that all us working parents who use vouchers would have to be fingerprinted every time we dropped off our kids and picked them up. Childcare workers would only be paid for the time the kids were at the center instead of getting their full rate. If a child was out sick, they got no pay for that child that day. It was a disaster for everyone.
“Can you imagine how humiliating it was to be fingerprinted every day? But those ladies who ran the childcare center had it worse. Kids were out sick, one thing or another, and that brought the little money they made too far below what they needed to survive. They had to close the place. That means I had to quit my job. So did other mothers. We had to line up for meals at our church. But oh! The state saved money.
“Thankfully we had people on our side who fought for us – and won! We marched and organized. Together, we stood up to the state and got them to stop the fingerprinting. The childcare center is open again, and I’m working again. There are heroes out there.”
The Ms. Foundation is proud to have given our grantee, Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative, the support to fight for federal childcare vouchers that were rightly owed to working mothers.
Earning a Real Living Wage
“I’ve seen it all as a restaurant server. I’ve seen food handlers come to work sneezing and coughing because they can’t afford to stay home without paid sick days. And with no health benefits, they can’t go to a doctor.
“I’ve seen co-workers crying in the ladies’ room because they’re so dog tired being on their feet, lifting heavy trays and whatnot without being allowed a break.
“All this for a tipped-worker minimum wage of $2.13 an hour. And that’s before they take out taxes!
“I’ve stayed home when my child was sick, lost the day’s pay, and had to go without eating so my child could eat. I’ve been stretched so thin that missing even one day of work meant no food for my kids, or not enough money for rent. I pay a babysitter $100 a week because I don’t have childcare benefits. That’s a fortune for me.
“But an organization that represents restaurant workers got us organized. Now we get paid sick days, primary care medical insurance, and legal work breaks. They’ve clamped down to make sure our employer follows the law and pays us the difference if tips don’t bring our pay to $7.25 an hour. And they’re pushing to get more public funding for childcare, so that’s next. I love those people.”
The Ms. Foundation is proud to fund the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, dedicated to improving wages and working conditions for those with restaurant jobs – the majority of whom are women with some of the lowest paying jobs in the country.
A Safe Future
“My husband wasn’t always a bad guy. But then he started getting rough with me. Not long ago, he took me by force and hurt me so bad, I escaped and went to the hospital.
“That’s when everything changed.
“The nurse told me about a women’s organization that runs a shelter nearby to protect women and children from violence in the home. The shelter got me a lawyer to represent me in court, they’re helping me relocate, and learn computer skills so I can get a job. They even have ‘re-education’ groups for men.
“But first, the nurse offered me the ‘morning after pill.’ Until now, my insurance didn’t cover that kind of emergency contraception. Well, President Obama signed an order giving us this reproductive protection, the nurse told me. She said she learned about it through that women’s organization that campaigns for our rights. They fought to make it happen, she said.
“If my husband goes to the ‘re-education’ group they sponsor, maybe there’s hope for us. But I don’t have to count on that now. I’m set on my way to having a safe future. I’m going to make it a happy one.”
The Ms. Foundation is proud to support activist women’s organizations coast to coast, including the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center, that advocate for women at the local and national levels to protect their reproductive health and rights.
Photos are representative of Ms. Foundation programs and not portraits of the women whose stories are featured