A couple times a month throughout 2022, our Marketing Communications Leader is connecting with parents of young children at our partner organizations to lift up the insights of these hard-working parents and the work of our amazing partners. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest story delivered right to your inbox and share the inspiring nuggets from these dedicated parents on social media when they resonate with you.
- Name: Sumera Syed
- Location: Raleigh, NC
- Year when she first became a parent: 2018
- Sumera’s day job: Organizational Equity Officer at the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation
- Organizations she’s involved in: NC Early Childhood Foundation, Triangle Association of Muslim American Mothers (TAMAM), AL Muslim Net, Zakat Foundation
- About her kid(s): 4 and 1 year old
6 Questions with Sumera Syed, Equity Leader
Lindsay, Question 1: In May, we typically observe Moms Equal Pay Day, raising awareness about the wage gap experienced by moms and its disproportionate impact on moms of color. How do you think organizations and society can demonstrate more equitable support for moms, along with their worthy recognition and success in the workplace?
Sumera, Answer 1: An easy change that can be implemented immediately by employers and organizations is to only post open job descriptions that include the salary range – women and people of color are less likely to negotiate their salaries than men; on average, women make only 83 cents for every dollar that men make. Increasing pay transparency by listing salary ranges is a small band-aid towards diminishing the wage gap, which is part of a larger systemic problem that intersects race, gender, and geography.
Lindsay Question 2: What solutions or strategies do you think could uplift families?
Sumera, Answer 2: Covid-19 put a glaring spotlight on the importance and unsustainability of the current child care system in North Carolina. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, nearly three million American women exited the workforce and accounted for 55 percent of overall job loss due to child care and caregiving responsibilities. Child care providers are amongst the lowest-paid workers in the nation in a profession that is primarily female and a large percentage of whom are Black, Asian, or Latine.
Care and Learning (CandL), a cross-sector coalition that NCECF is a part of, is aiming to uplift families and change the face of the early care and education system in NC so that it is accessible, affordable, high quality, retains educators of color, and stays committed to family choice.
Lindsay Question 3: What are your biggest challenges or worries as a parent of a child in early childhood?
Sumera, Answer 3: Parenting was already challenging pre-pandemic and now it is a whole different world of unknowns that we are facing and do not fully know the long-term effects (e.g. developmental delays from social isolation, learning loss, reliance on screens, grief, anxiety, etc). The bright spot is that children are resilient, brilliant and adaptable, and with proper wraparound supports and services, they can come out better on the other side.
Lindsay, Question 4: What are your thoughts on creating an ecosystem that is more supportive of Muslim families?
Sumera, Answer 4: All parents want their children to succeed, and that is the same for Muslims families. There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding around Muslims, and that can be changed by getting to know more Muslims in the area or becoming involved with the community. There are Muslim-led nonprofits across NC that are doing some phenomenal work across the state for young children and families such as the Amir Insititute, Triangle Association of Muslim American Mothers, and Helping Hand for Relief and Development North Carolina. Get involved, get active, trust the community, and expand your base of people that you know.
Lindsay, Question 5: What shifted in your perspective since becoming a parent?
Sumera, Answer 5: The amount of free time I had before becoming a parent! Parenting is a lifetime commitment that comes with its own set of time requirements at every stage in the process – middle of the night diaper changes, dropoff and pickup at child care and preschool, undistracted quality time and playtime, and coordinating weekend visits with grandparents. It is equally challenging and rewarding.
Lindsay, Question 6: What is something unique about your family?
Sumera, Answer 6: Whenever we travel out of town as a family, we try to visit different masajid in the area. Some interesting ones that we visited across the United States were a Cham Refugee Community Mosque in Seattle which serves the ethnic Cham population from Vietnam and Cambodia for over 30 years, and the Diyanet Center of America in Maryland which is one of the most expensive mosques built and considered one of the most beautiful in the United States.
North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation’s mission is to marshal North Carolina’s great people, ideas, and achievements to ensure equitable access to opportunity and success for every child by the end of third grade. Sumera guides the team in centering racial equity in our work and communicating why it is critical to close the opportunity gap for children of color in their earliest years.
We believe the best results are achieved when we tap into the potential and positive energy of diverse perspectives and cultures. We value and respect differing opinions and contributions, and actively seek to include them in our work. Follow North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation on LinkedIn and be sure to connect with Sumera on LinkedIn, if something on this blog resonated with you.