Women’s Equality Day — Demanding Freedom Now, Ensuring Freedom for the Future

Women’s Equality Day was established in 1973 to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote. As we celebrate how far we’ve come in our progress toward achieving women’s equality over the past century, we must keep in mind that we still have a long way to go. Here’s what we need in order to truly succeed in securing equality for all:

Reproductive Freedom

When women (and all people) are able to make their own reproductive health care decisions, they are more empowered to make choices that are best for them and their families. For everyone to truly have reproductive freedom, there must be freedom from oppressive TRAP laws, abortion stigma, financial barriers to reproductive health care, and coercion of any form.

Gender Equity

According to the International Labour Office, “Gender equity means fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs and interests. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.”

The United States continues to place gender equity as a low priority by enacting policies that restrict opportunity for those who do not identify as cis-gender males. Examples include the transgender military ban, forcing Planned Parenthood out of the Title X program, stacking the courts with anti-choice judges, and slashing funding for teen pregnancy prevention. Moving forward, we need to see policies that actively work to expand rights for all who identify as women.

Ending the Global Gag Rule

The Global Gag Rule is an odious U.S. policy that prohibits any foreign NGO that receives U.S. funding from providing abortions, counseling patients on abortion as a pregnancy option, referring patients to abortion providers, or advocating for laws to expand safe abortion in their own countries, with their own non-U.S. money. It forces health clinics around the world to refuse U.S. health aid, which causes staff layoffs, supplies shortages, and clinic closures. While we are still fighting for passage in the Senate, the House passed a spending bill including language of the Global HER Act, which would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule.

As we approach the 2020 presidential election, we must hear commitments from every Democratic candidate on repealing the Global Gag Rule on day one, and improving the United States’ global reproductive health care policies.

Access to Safe Abortion

Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, women in the U.S. have had the right to access safe abortion without excessive government interference. For many women, getting an abortion means taking time off work, traveling long distances, being subjected to invasive and unnecessary exams, and scrambling to collect procedure and related costs from a variety of sources (friends, family, national and state abortion funds). Those who can’t get to a qualified provider sometimes turn to the internet for less costly and less effective at-home remedies that pose dangerous health risks and even risk death.

Until every abortion is safe, affordable, accessible, and free of stigma, our fight for equality will not be over.

Bodily Autonomy

While the #MeToo movement brought the issue of bodily autonomy into public discussion, women continue to fight for this right on a daily basis. As the conversation around bodily autonomy continues, it is important that we uplift the voices of those who are fighting to preserve and defend this right. For centuries, Black women have been fighting not only for the right to bodily autonomy, but the right to defend it, too. In order to make necessary change, our work for bodily autonomy must center the voices of those who are most impacted by policies that restrict their bodily autonomy.

Trans Rights

There is no space for TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) in Population Connection Action Fund’s work to defend reproductive rights at the national and global levels. By providing space for trans voices when we discuss Women’s Equality Day, we can help advance the movement for equality for all women-identifying individuals.

You can read the words of a few trans women on their Women’s Equality Day experiences here.

Equal Pay

Must we explain? Equal pay for equal work. Regardless of gender identity. Period.

Paid Family Leave

U.S. law states that employees who qualify are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave after childbirth, adoption, or foster placement. Employees who don’t qualify or who can’t afford to take unpaid leave are forced to choose between bonding with a new baby and putting food on the table.

Paid family leave is crucial for gender equity. It provides parents time to heal from childbirth, to bond with their children, and to care for sick family members. Paid family leave ensures a better future for all.

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