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Girls & Women

How Tammy Duckworth Went From Fighting in Iraq to Fighting for Working Moms

“Duck, duck, duck...duckling!” 

That’s how Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced her pregnancy yesterday. Due in April, she would be the first sitting senator to give birth while in office, NPR reports.

Duckworth, as the Washington Post has reported, is no stranger to firsts, having been the first Asian-American woman to serve as Illinois Senator; the first female amputee in Congress; and first Thailand-born member of Congress.  

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But Duckworth is using her newest first to make an important point about the challenges facing working mothers, and parents, across the country. 

“Though millions of American women have become mothers while continuing their careers, Senator Duckworth is one of only 10 women since our nation’s founding who have given birth while serving in Congress,” her office said in a statement. "Her experiences as a working mother give her an important — and underrepresented — perspective in the halls of Congress, where she has long advocated on behalf of working families."

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, which broke the story Tuesday, Duckworth brought up the disparity between working mothers and fathers in congress. 

“Men have been having children while they’ve been in office,” Duckworth told the Tribune. “I hope if anything comes out of the Women’s March, it’s that we get more and more women running for office. It would be good to have some company here.”

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Duckworth has backed up her words with action. Last year, Duckworth introduced the FAMILY Act to bring a universal paid leave program of up to 12 weeks for new mothers, adoptive parents, and people taking care of seriously ill family members. 

She also pushed for the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act, which would require mid-sized and large airports to have lactation rooms for new mothers. 

The United States lags behind other developed nations when it comes to offering paid leave to new parents. According to Pew Research, the United States is the only Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country that does not offer any paid leave for parents. Estonia, in comparison, offers up to 87 weeks.

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“Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue and an issue that affects all parents,” Duckworth said. “As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a senator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent.” 

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Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number five, gender equality, which calls for the “promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family.” Creating conditions for women and men to equally care for their young children is critical in the fight to eliminate poverty around the world. You can join us and take action here

Although Duckworth has said she has friends and family to help her care for her newborn as she works, many women across the country struggle each day to provide for their “ducklings.” Luckily for them, they can now count on Duckworth to continue to champion women’s rights in one of the highest political offices in the country.