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Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

Former President Obama, speaking to The 19th, called on the government, spouses and partners to play their role in addressing the decline in women's labor force.

Why it matters: Women's labor force participation in the U.S. was at a 33-year low in January. The pandemic has driven mothers out of the workforce, and there's reason to be concerned about "permanent scarring," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in March.

  • When women are not maximized in the labor force, they earn and spend less, resulting in less economic growth, according to Nicole Goldin, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Program.
  • Women of color are also disproportionately impacted by economic inequality.

What he's saying: "Women play a critical role in shaping economies, not just here in the United States but around the world," Obama told The 19th's Errin Haines in an interview published Monday. "And if women aren’t participating in the workforce, it makes everyone worse off."

  • "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," he added.
  • "We all have a role to play in reversing this trend."
  • "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."

The former president also highlighted the need to protect voting access amid a slew of GOP-led voter suppression bills across the country.

  • The U.S. must guarantee that "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," Obama said.

Go deeper

Sep 22, 2021 - World

India's Supreme Court allows women to apply to top defense academy

Indian Women Army officers pose for a photograph in New Delhi, India. Photo: Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Starting in November, women in India will be allowed to take the entrance examination for the national defense academy for the first time, India's Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, per AP.

Why it matters: The ruling marks a landmark achievement in the push to allow women into the premier academy that churns out the country's top army, navy and air force commanders and become full-time officers, according to the New York Times.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Credit: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

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