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Friday, March 31, 2017

Women's History Month: A Reflection

As Women's History Month comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the month, what has been accomplished, and what is still to come.


We are not the first generation of women to fight for equal rights, but hopefully our daughters wont have to fight for what their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers have fought for.  Hopefully, by the time they are adults EQUAL will really mean EQUAL.

Our Progress Women's History Month 2017
We have accomplished a lot in the last 30 days, both at home and globally.

A Day without a Woman:  millions of women marked International Women's Day with varying degrees of protest and nods of solidarity as organizers aimed at demonstrating the economic power of women in the United States.   Female members of congress dressed in read and walked out of the Capitol together to show their commitment to women's issues.  Many schools were closed across the country as school districts supported female teachers and administrators dedication to this demonstration.  Marches in protest of the Global Gag Rule disturbed the natural flow of Washington DC, and a statue in the Financial District in New York City left residents and tourists feeling inspired.  But the impact of A Day Without A Woman was not just felt in the United States.  Similarly to the Women's March in January, International Women's Day was commemorated across the world with speakers at the UN and rallies in Tokyo and Madrid.  Even the president and his immediate family showed support for women with tweets and words of encouragement about women's' equity.

India Extended Paid Maternity Leave to 6 Months
In a controversial move, India mandated that new mothers be given 6 months of paid maternity leave.  In a country where only 30% of the work force is female, this is a giant step forward to providing mothers and families the financial and work stability needed to stay working after having a family.  This legislation coincides with similar laws which require companies with greater than 50 employees set up day care services for working mothers. This increases the paid maternity leave for Indian mothers to one of the highest internationally with countries like Italy, Hungary, Czech, Ireland, and Poland.  In comparison, the U.S. does not (and is the ONLY industrialized county to not) mandate paid maternity leave.
Weeks of Paid Maternity Leave Mandated by Industrialized Nations

Russian Women Fight Back
President Putin signed a bill in February that decriminalizes Domestic Violence towards women, effectively making it legal for Russian men to abuse their wives.  But Russian women are fighting back against this bill.  In a country where upwards of 12,000 women are killed annually by domestic violence, women in Russia petitioned the government to allow them to hold a protest against the bill that decriminalized domestic violence.  While they were denied the permission to protest, the women have vowed to continue the fight.

What Is Still To Come:
I find myself seeking a "next step". Where do we go from here?  What do we do to move forward?  How to we reach our end goals? The answer is simple: don't stop fighting.  Just because Women's History Month is over and the marches and protests have died down doesn't mean our commitment should waver.  Just today, a vote in the Senate was 51-50 (showing a handful of Republican Senators crossing the aisle to vote with Democrats) overturning Planned Parenthood protections put in place by the Obama Administration.  While this is a step backwards, it can also be looked at as a promising change for a few Republicans who supported keeping protections in place.  We have gained a few allies, but we still need more!  Women's reproductive rights are just one of the issues still being debated.  Here are a few ways that you, as parents and activists, can continue to fight for Women's Rights:

1.  Keep Emailing, Calling, and Writing to your Representatives.  Maintaining your communication with your Representatives is crucial.  They don't know how we feel about topics unless we TELL THEM!  They also don't know what issues are important to us unless we keep those issues on top of their desks.  Keep calling!  They will listen!
2.  Keep Talking to your Children about the Issues.  Your children need to know that the fight isn't over and that this impacts their futures also.  Teenagers can be involved in helping do activist work (marching, rallying, attending meetings, calling/writing representatives, etc) while younger children can be involved through simple conversations.
3.  Find a Group To Join.    Wikipedia offers a great list of Women's Groups, some of which work towards furthering Women's Rights.  Many offer local branches where you can get involved in local action.
4.  Get your Husbands, Fathers, Brothers, and Boyfriends involved.  We need men to fight along side us.  Their support goes a long way in the home and the work place.  They need to vouch for our needs and they need to physically show their support by attending meetings and groups.
5.  Get Inclusive.  Women's issues cross party lines.  Equal pay, access to healthcare, equal civil rights, freedom from violence, and justice equality (see my previous post on cross-party issues here) are issues that impact us all.  Talk to your Republican friends and get them involved.  Talk to your Democratic friends and work together with them locally.



The most important thing that we can remember going forward is that
Real Feminism Excludes NOBODY.
The only way that we are going to make real progress is if we all work together.  And my ALL I mean not only across political lines, but also across national boarders.  Women's issues are global.  The United States is the ONLY Industrialized country that doesn't require some amount of paid maternity leave.  The United States has failed to make the top 10 and top 20 list for Most Gender-Equal Countries.  Women in the U.S. workforce do not make up an equal number of Executive Positions.  Women in the U.S. do not hold equal numbers of representative positions (we rank 72nd internationally in terms of political equality for women).  The United States is ranked 64th globally on Women's Healthcare issues.    These issues are all addressable if we work together.  It's time to do as President Trump said and PUT AMERICANS FIRST and strive to attain that First Place status not only in Women's Rights but in Economics, Education, Environment, and so many more issues that are at the heart of the American Dream.  

What ways will you continue to fight for equality in the coming months?  Please share your RESPECTFUL thoughts below.  

3 comments:

  1. It is really super ridiculous that America ranks so low as far as women are concerned. I hope that we are all doing our part to educate ourselves and vote for the local representatives who believe in advancing women and promoting equality. This is a great post and so important to keep in mind.
    - MG https://malissagreenwood.com/

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  2. Such an informative post! Thank you for sharing!

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  3. Such an informative post! Thanks for sharing!

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