Dear Speaker Pelosi & Leader Schumer

I’m not an elect official or politician. Like many others, I’m an active citizen and parent.

Because you, along with your congressional colleagues, have a part in shaping the family outcomes for future generations of families, this is why I am writing to you as a mother to support paid parental leave.

The pandemic exposed many long-standing fault lines within our communities over the last 20 months. Alarmingly, millions of female workers quit the workforce to stay home with their children and take care of loved ones. Either the parent or working mother is faced with the choice of being there or getting paid. It is not easy to choose between the two. 

Many people see this as more than just the last 20 months. It’s also 20-30 years or longer. Decades of sacrifice not only in pursuit of American dreams, but in order to achieve stability.

Sizzler was a $4.99 restaurant that served salads. It may have been less expensive back then, although I cannot remember. But I will always remember how it felt to eat out. As a Girl Scout, I remember going to the same restaurant for lunch when we went to big events.

 I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13. To make ends meet, I worked as a waitress, babysitter, or piece worker at the local frozen yogurt shop. Although I saved as much money as I could, I was still working all my adult life. I was always trying to make ends meet. I had enough to pay rent and gas.

Many of your constituents will have their own versions of this story. Perhaps you do too. The people of this country are hard workers, but the demand is low: for everyone to have equal opportunity to attain their own version of the common dream. This means that there must be fairness, equality, justice, and justice. Unfortunately, many of the economic systems in America are beyond their useful life span. As a result, Americans often feel they are being cheated when it comes down to what is important to them.

My husband and I had our second baby in June. We were overwhelmed, just like any parent. We were overjoyed, just like many parents. We weren’t faced with the difficult reality of having to spend those crucial months with our baby, or go back to work. We were confident that we would be able to take our baby home and, in this crucial (and precious) stage of our lives, give everything to our children and our families. By doing this, we didn’t need to make difficult decisions about work, childcare or medical care like so many others have to every single day.

These decisions should not be made by a family. The decision of whether to earn a living, take care their child, or a family member, should not be made by a family. 

By taking care of your children, you also take care for your community and the country. Because paid leave is an entitlement, it creates a framework that addresses mental health and costs as well. We spend too much money as a nation on causes and symptoms. While I can understand people feeling apathetic with all the current events, it’s easy for them to ignore Washington D.C. and then feel like their voice isn’t being heard, they tend to use it less frequently. But with such high stakes, none of us are able to afford to lose our heads.

This letter is on behalf of the millions American families that are voicing their opinion against comprehensive paid leaves. On the contrary, many countries have already established paid leave policies. Estonia offers more than a year’s worth of parental leave that can be used by both parents. Other countries offer robust programs which allow both adoptive and birth parents to spend months at home with their children. In stark contrast, the United States doesn’t guarantee employees a day of paid parental leave. One in four employees has not received paid family leave from their employers. If we wish to maintain our exceptional status, we must not be an exception.

Your strong leadership is essential for the families that you represent. You are on the brink of making paid leave a reality. You must be able to hear directly from constituents on the challenges they face every day in order to provide for their families and make ends meet. 

Paid leave shouldn’t be considered a fringe benefit or a limited option for those with policies. Let’s ensure that every American has access to a solid paid leave program that is guaranteed and accessible. This will help us create a family-first era.

I know how politically charged things can – and have – become. This isn’t about left or right, but about right and wrong. Family is more important than politics. It’s a refreshing shift, and we seem to all agree on it. Let this be the shared goal that unites all of us in a time when so much is being said about everything.

In behalf of Harry and Lili, my families, Archie, Lili, and Lili, thank you so much for reading this letter. I also ask that you ensure this momentous occasion is not lost.

As ever, 

Meghan, the Duchess Of Sussex