Hollywood trio Greta Gerwig, Ava DuVernay and Reese Witherspoon are battling for the rights of new mothers in the workplace by taking a dig at the Directors Guild of America on behalf of new and expectant moms. The three of them recently co-signed a letter by documentary filmmaker Jessica Dimmock asking the DGA to revise its policies for health insurance and maternity leave. The reason for this is at the moment, the DGA allows for health insurance only if filmmakers earn $36,000 a year from directing work in a 12-month period and this is easier said than done if the director is a woman who is planning to go on maternity leave after giving birth or a few months earlier.
New mothers should be afforded additional time to make their yearly minimum in the year that they give birth
Not only is this subtly excluding new and expectant mothers, but it also is showing America’s opinions towards pregnant working women and maternity leave. Today, the US ranks last in government-mandated paid leave for new parents among 40 nations of the world, according to Pew Research. So, if women directors want to take time off to spend time with their child or even take leave to allow their bodies to recuperate, they run the risk of losing their health insurance in the process. The letter said, “Here is our ask. New mothers should be afforded additional time to make their yearly minimum in the year that they give birth. This provides new parents the opportunity to take the time they need to physically care for their child as well as recover and recuperate. Women will return to their work better equipped to handle the challenges of balancing parenting and work and better equipped to delve into their future projects. This should apply for adoptive parents as well.”
Women directors often start from the bottom and have to work their way up and rules like these prevent them from getting there
Dimmock, the author of the letter has experienced this first hand when she gave birth to her daughter in 2017; she was forced to come back to work while still recovering from childbirth and in the first year she had to sacrifice her yearly minimum earnings, while her partner and DGA member didn’t have to. In addition to Witherspoon, DuVernay, and Gerwig, other supporters too signed the letter like Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, Rashida Jones and many more. One might think that why are big names signing a letter that they need health insurance, however not all women in Hollywood are Reese Witherspoon and Amy Poehler, women directors often start from the bottom and have to work their way up and rules like these prevent them from getting there. Also, the big picture reveals that even an industry like Hollywood needs to reinvent their policies when it comes to parental leave and insurance cover and while these blatantly are not sexist, they do affect women negatively more than men and this needs to be addressed.
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