Allyson Felix is one of the most decorated athletes in track and field. When athletes like her speak out about the injustices they face, they are taking a stand for us all. So after Allyson publicly called out her sponsor at the time, Nike, for threatening to pay her less after she gave birth to her daughter in 2018, she had my attention and my support.
Pregnancy discrimination puts women and their families at risk. Any brand profiting from the attributes and accolades of women should ramp up their support during this period—not cut it back. To do less is unjust. Women have proved time and again that they can be more resilient after childbirth, and female athletes are no exception. They come back, oftentimes faster and stronger—in fact, Allyson took home her 13th world championship gold in fall 2019 and had been training to compete at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
After she came forward, Nike updated its maternity policies to safeguard athletes’ pay for 18 months surrounding childbirth. But society needs to protect all of its mothers. We need to ensure they have equitable access to safe and respectful care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum to not only survive but thrive in motherhood. Thank you for using your voice to advance maternity rights, Allyson.
Turlington Burns is the founder of Every Mother Counts
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