Former President Barack Obama spoke out on Monday in a new interview to claim that women “found themselves in impossible situation” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Women play a critical role in shaping economies, not just here in the United States but around the world,” Obama told The 19th. “And if women aren’t participating in the workforce, it makes everyone worse off.”
“We’re seeing that right now,” he added. “Over the last year, the pandemic has forced a lot of women to juggle working from home, online school and a lack of child care — on top of everything else they were already doing. They’ve found themselves in an impossible situation, and in many cases had to make a difficult choice.”
“We all have a role to play in reversing this trend,” Obama said. “Government can help by mandating more parental leave and better pay to begin with. But those of us who are spouses and partners need to make sure we’re doing our part, too — sharing the load and helping our sons and daughters understand that marriage and parenting is a partnership.”
Obama then talked about his two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
“I’m just incredibly proud of the kind of human beings Sasha and Malia have become,” he said. “Of course, like all of us, they followed the protests around our country. They got involved. And we had conversations about all of it.”
“My advice to them is the same as it is to all young people, which is that protesting — raising public awareness, putting a spotlight on injustice, making the powers that be uncomfortable — that kind of civil disobedience couldn’t be more important,” he added. “Throughout our history, that has often been the only way to get the political system to pay attention to marginalized communities.”
“But eventually, I tell them, movements have to be translated into laws and policies — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands,” Obama said. “Basically, my advice is to reject the false choice between participating in protests and politics. Do both!”
Unsurprisingly, Obama also touched on voting rights, saying that this country must guarantee “every American citizen has equal representation in our government, including the American citizens who live in Washington, D.C., and in Puerto Rico, and the formerly incarcerated.”