Every day politicians attack women’s right to choice somewhere around the world. The U.S. seems to be leading the charge with the GOP focusing on regulating women’s uteri rather than corporations. As activists we are fighting an uphill battle against politicians who are bound and determined to crush choice for all but the wealthiest women, the women who can afford to fly someplace to get an abortion. Abortion is becoming a 99% vs 1% issue where the 99% will soon not be able to afford a safe abortion. It is time for us to change tactics. Reacting and defending choice is not sufficient. We must be proactive. We have to stop reacting to new anti-choice laws and we must begin creating pro-choice laws.
A recent report on global gender equality by the World Economic Forum places Canada 18th overall and the U.S. 17th behind such countries as Burundi and the Philippines,
… in business — where the study measured inequality in wages and management positions — Canadian women have only about three-quarters of the attainment level of men. The gender inequality is starkest in politics, where, judging by the number of female legislators and cabinet ministers, Canada has closed just 21 per cent of the gap, placing it behind Sri Lanka, Uganda, Burundi and Latvia, among others.
Even Iceland where the leader is a lesbian woman, women in general only attain 70% of the level of men. Worldwide women have closed less than 20% of the gender gap in politics. It is no wonder that anti-women laws are rampant: there are almost no women with a voice in politics!
What this means is that the politicians making the laws that affect women are most likely men. It is insufficient for women to constantly react to the laws of men. Activists can no longer just volunteer at clinics, speak out for abortion rights and be satisfied. More pro-choice women, and men, must become politicians; we have to be the ones making the laws. We must be lawyers and judges, interpreting the laws and striking down the unconstitutional ones. We must be involved in municipal/county politics, provincial/state politics, and federal politics.
Men have made the decision in Topeka, Kansas to stop prosecuting domestic violence, leaving women terrified as their abusive partners are released from jail because the city doesn’t want to spend the money to prosecute them. A male politician claims that a woman can’t be raped by her husband if she is wearing a “nightie.” In an article in Forbes online, a man suggested that women won’t become CEOs because women are more concerned about gossip and looking pretty. There is no shortage of women who hold these archaic beliefs, but I find mansplaining far more offensive. And the anti-women men are prevalent, powerful, and dangerous.
Activism is great, it is a grassroots fight for rights. It is relevant but it is insufficient. We must approach women’s rights from both directions: from the grassroots and from the glass ceiling. We must have a coordinated attack on anti-women lawmakers and politicians. I beg of you, please consider running for politics, of any level. Even one pro-woman voice among the anti-women contingent that speaks out will help. When the only voice people hear is anti-choice, anti-women, they start to believe that is the only voice. We must make the pro-women voices heard from positions of authority. First it will start as a whisper, but your pro-women voice will reach another person and inspire them to speak out for women. We must become more than a mere annoyance. We must begin reversing the anti-women laws until being pro-choice is the norm. It won’t be easy. Politics is draining and it is hard work, but unless we only want the richest 1% of women to have access to safe abortion, we must sacrifice our time. Being a politician can be a thankless job but if a pro-choice politician can help one more woman get a safe abortion it would be a worthwhile sacrifice.
It’s time for a new approach.