This Working Mom Founded A Political Action Committee To Help More Progressive Moms Get Elected To Office

When Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016, the nation held its collective breath to see if we would elect our first ever female president. Sadly, we all know what happened on November 8, 2016. But just two years later, on November 6, 2018, the United States would see not just one, but a record number of women, and especially minority women, LGBTQ women and women of color get elected to the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and a number of state legislatures and Governorships around the country.

The January 2017 Women’s March, which saw a record number of people marching in protest of the Trump presidency, became the catalyst for women especially rising up and stepping into their power to run for office. It became collectively known as the “Women’s Wave” which crested in the November 2018 mid-terms, and doesn’t look to slow down any time soon.

But what distinguishes this wave from others in the past is the number of mothers who are realizing that in order to see more family-friendly policies that benefit all people, we NEED more moms in political leadership positions. One woman who recognizes this and is taking action to continue the momentum we are seeing is Simona Grace – a mom, an advocate of progressive family policies, and the founder of a Political Action Committee called Moms In Office.

Image via @Momsinoffice Instagram account

As the website states: “Moms in office is a on online media and giving forum founded to empower moms. We are on a mission to strengthen the political voice of all moms and help elect women with children to public office. We want to provide information that is relevant to the lives of families—not just advice about changing diapers- we are about issues at the intersection of culture and society.”

As we now look to the 2020 Presidential election with a record number of women running for the Democratic nomination, we wanted to speak with Simona to hear her thoughts on the current political climate, why family-friendly policies are important to her and are the backbone of our society, and how her own upbringing in Hungary behind the Iron Curtain shaped her into the fierce, determined, progressive advocate she is today.

Image via @Momsinoffice Instagram account

How did the idea for Moms in Office come about? 

I have always been passionate about women’s rights and gender equality. When looking at gender advocacy in broad terms, it is a serious undertaking, we are talking about empowering half of the world. I think it is important to outline some specific goals that we want to achieve with regards to gender equality and to be targeted in our approach. 

During the midterm election, I became very intrigued with candidates such as Katie Porter. She is an individual with a passion for change, a single mom of 3 and I believed she was the best person to win the congressional seat in her district. While following her campaign I realized that moms face a unique set of challenges when running for office. It is much harder for women with young children to fundraise and to reassure voters they can balance work and family. I began researching some statistics and I became determined to make a change, so that we can give all women the equality they deserve.

At the beginning of 2019 there were no Political Action Committees in the United States supporting moms. I formed a PAC to help progressive moms run for office at all levels of Government. I also wanted to do more than just fundraise, I wanted to empower all moms and strengthen the political voice of all women. At this time, I have been writing about parenting topics at the intersection of culture and society for some major online outlets such as Scarymommy. I thought it would be great to merge my passion for writing with my passion for change and start a parenting site with a purpose. 

That’s how Moms in Office was born! Moms in Office takes up space at the intersection of online media and giving. We are a purpose-driven media channel for moms and our PAC provides an avenue for giving to those we want to see elected-moms running for office. It is our mission to amplify the voice of all moms and strengthen women’s political participation. We aim to bring stories, voices, conversations and facts to our community to positively impact the lives of families. I founded Moms in Office to bring together a community of women with a shared sense of purpose.

Image of article Simona Grace contributed to

Why do you think it is important to see more mothers in the political world? 

I want to see moms equally represented at all arenas in life. About 88% of women become mothers by the age of 44 in the USA. If we want to see women equally represented in politics, this must include moms.

Out of the 149 countries WEF measures, the U.S. ranks 98th in representation of women in our political institutions. The report measures the gender gap in four areas globally: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The largest gender disparity is on Political Empowerment globally, which maintains a gap of 77.1%

Moms make up a large segment of our population in the USA and they make up the smallest number of our Federal Government. Increasing the representation of moms in politics would improve women’s political empowerment and get us closer to closing the gender gap globally.

A record number of women have been elected to Congress during the 2018 mid-term elections. While we are inching toward gender parity in our government, the percentage of women currently serving in Congress is less than 24% and only 5% are women with children under 18. We have 25 moms in Congress out of 535 voting members.

Our government should be representative of our population and the numbers simply don’t add up when it comes to women. More moms in office would likely influence legislation being considered by Congress that would create meaningful change in the lives of children and families.

Moms In Office dinner party/networking event in Los Angeles

Can you tell me about some recent bills that your organization has helped champion for working mothers?

We are big proponents of paid parental leave, equal pay and women’s rights. Moms in Office PAC supports candidates who get behind these policies. The United States is the only developed nation in the world without federally mandated paid parental leave. 1 in 4 women return to work just two weeks after giving birth. While a handful of states offer paid parental leave, such as California and New York, we need a paid parental leave on the national level. There is a bipartisan push around paid leave right now and we need to see this go through. Working mothers sponsor family-focused bills more often than others and help enact significant measures into law. As is, only 17 percent of civilian workers have access to paid leave. 

Lack of paid leave is also one of the many factors that contributes to the gender pay gap, we are paying a high cost for our country’s policy failure. Childless women have earnings that are quite similar to men, while mothers experience a significant wage gap. For women under 35, the wage gap between mothers and non-mothers was even larger than the wage gap between men and women. 

What does your PAC do to help more women get engaged in politics and decide to run for office?

Through our media channels, we provide stories, women’s voices, conversations and facts to our community to positively impact the lives of families. Moms don’t have time to extensively read about politics between making lunches and picking up kids from school, but they desire to stay informed. We decided to meet moms where they are- in bed at night scrolling through Instagram for a few minutes before they fall asleep.  Our site and social media channels have the same look as a parenting or lifestyle site— it’s like pop culture meets politics—but the content is different.

We provide short and digestible posts in an approachable voice. We post a shorter summary on Instagram and if moms want to dig deeper, they can click on the to read more on the blog. Some of the feedback we have been getting from moms have been great, one mom said that we are tricking her into reading this. I believe in empowering women with information to amplify their political voice and we should also have fun while we are at it.

Image via @Momsinoffice Instagram account

With regards to women running for office, we seek out candidates who support and represent our ideals. We just endorsed a mom of 4 who is running for city council in LA. Our PAC made a financial contribution to her campaign and we will organize events for moms in our community to meet her and learn about her campaign. We want to bring moms together- moms at home who are waiting for a change in the lives of their families and moms running who can make that happen. It takes a village, right?

One of our most important activities is fundraising. Fundraising is one of our most important activities for moms running. A link is provided on our site and moms who read our blogs are encouraged to donate, even if it is just a price of their coffee. We find that moms often feel excluded from politics, because politics is so much about time and money. Moms in office is inclusive and we want to make staying information and making financial contributions feasible for all moms. We also seek out big donors who want to get behind our cause.

What was it like growing up in Hungary and seeing the role of women in your life as a young girl?

My earliest memory from childhood, as a young girl—I was standing outside my house in the doorway watching a caravan of Russian tanks move toward the border and leave the country. Before the Berlin wall fell in 1989, Moscow maintained over 70,000 soldiers, 1,000 tanks and 1,500 armored vehicles in the Hungary. I also remember having to stand in line for bananas as at grocery store, they were considered a luxury for us. The role of women were important in my life as I lived under one roof with my grandmother, great-grandmother and my mom.

More importantly, the way I spent my childhood years awoke in me a very strong sense of justice and equality. I do not remember birthday parties or family vacation from my childhood, I remember living in oppression behind the iron curtain and the celebration of freedom in 1989 after many years of communism. Democracy is precious and those of us lucky enough to have the opportunity to live in a democratic society must strive to defend it. I understand on a visceral level what it means to live without civic liberties and this set the stage for my life. 

Image via @Momsinoffice Instagram account

When you moved to the United States, what were some of the factors that made you realize we still have a long way to go in supporting mothers in the workforce? 

I moved to the USA when I was 18 years old with one suitcase and without any knowledge of the English language. I came here to pursue my academic goals and I earned a degree from UCLA in Comparative Literature, summa cum laude. When I entered the workforce, I experienced gender pay discrimination as I was paid less for the exact same job that I performed than a man. When I was pregnant in 2009 pregnancy was still treated as a pre-existing condition and I remember other pregnant women not being able to get access to healthcare. We still have a long way to go with regards to living in an equitable society where laws are not based on gender. We need to stop penalizing women for bearing children and provide an infrastructure for mothers to return and stay in the workforce after starting a family.

What do you hope to see happen in the 2020 election?

I hope to see a woman elected president and I want to see the number of women and the number of moms elected to Congress increase. 

What makes you a powerful woman?

I think my resilience and determination inspires a lot of people. They see the challenges that I was able to overcome, and they also see the strength that emerged in me because of my life— my life defined by daring to fight against adversity. I believe anyone with a voice who stands up for what she believes in is an important and powerful person. Power is not defined by position or by the accolades and accomplishments collected; it is defined by your ability to create meaningful change for others.

You can learn more about Simona Grace, Moms In Office or how to donate to their mission, click here. Additionally, if you are in Los Angeles, Moms In Office is hosting a fundraising dinner on Saturday, November 16 at 1046 S Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA 90019 – a restaurant in Little Ethiopia – to benefit refugee mom chefs who will be cooking the food. The money raised will go toward endorsing more candidates running for office. Moms in Office strives to be an inclusive PAC and give visibility to underrepresented and overlooked women in various communities.

Image from Moms In Office website

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