The War Against Women

By Wiha Powell

No man is good enough to govern any woman without her consent”- Susan B. Anthony

For centuries there has been an outright war against women equality and rights. Even with landmark cases and legislation, this war remains prominent in 2013. Today’s political agenda is similar to that of the 17th,18th and early 19th centuries where women had no rights and political leaders fought to keep it that way.

However, the difference between these centuries and today is that our political leaders across the nation are implementing and introducing policies that will take away the rights women already have. These policies place restrictions on women’s health care and erode protections for women and their families, such as restricting access to contraception; cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood; mandating medically unnecessary ultrasounds; abortion taxes; abortion waiting periods; forcing women to tell their employers why they want birth control; prohibiting insurance companies from including abortion coverage in their policies, and challenging contemporary views of women’s roles in the workplace.

Fifty years ago, on June 10, 1963, the Equal Pay Act was signed into law by then President John F. Kennedy as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The law stipulates that women must be paid equal wages for equal work. Fifty years ago, when this bill was signed, on average women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man earned. Fast-forward, the gender wage gap still exists and women, on average, earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

In an attempt to bridge the gender wage gap, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009. Upon signing

the bill, the President said: “It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act – we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness”. He went on: “…we will close the pay gap and ensure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedom to pursue their dreams as our sons.”

The question remains, when will the gender wage gap be closed? The fact is that the gender wage gap has widened recently. Job tenure, industry and occupation, education, work patterns, race, and marital status only explain 20 percent of why the gender wage gap has widened, but the remaining 80 percent is not accounted for and unexplainable. These facts have made it harder for women to address this type of discrimination.

The war against women does not stop with the widened gender wage gap, it continues with women reproductive choices. Over time we have seen the strengthening of women choices with the emergence and approval of the birth control pill in the 1960s and the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade, which addresses the issue of abortion. In both instances, women gained the right to make personal health care decisions. However, over the past two years, our political leaders have waged an assault on women reproductive rights, which has resulted in hundreds of new laws restricting these rights.

One would think after 40 years these assaults would have stopped. This is not the case. Recently we have seen 41states including North Dakota, North Carolina, Arkansas and among others implement laws that take away or limit women reproductive rights. The underlining message our political leaders are sending to the citizens is that women are too stupid to make any decision for themselves. If our political leaders continue to wage war, there will be a resisting effort; resisting efforts similar to that of the 1848 women’s right movement; 1869 National Woman Suffrage Association movement, and the1903 National Women’s Trade Union League movement in order to secure the rights women already have.

Our leaders have spoken. They are fundamentally taking a woman’s decision, rights and free will saying that the state should be trusted and that it knows the best type of medical procedure she should have. If our state leaders continue on this train ride, the Supreme Court will once again be deciding the same issue it did 40 years ago.

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