With right-wing assaults on women’s rights and reproductive health growing fiercer (and more sensational) by the day, we can all draw strength from the committed struggle women from around the world have waged in pursuit of full gender equality. The Nation has a long history of championing woman-friendly policies and standing firmly behind the feminist principles that have revolutionized the role of women in our society. That’s why today at The Nation we are proud to mark the 100th International Women’s Day by not only highlighting the achievements of women, but also reflecting on ways we can effectively face the many challenges that still lie ahead.
For starters, frequent Nation contributor Sharon Lerner will be guest-blogging for the next two weeks on the GOP’s sustained and multi-pronged attack on women’s reproductive health and rights. She’s already taken on the gray-haired white guys deciding your reproductive fate and the right’s hypocritical anti-life stance—that is, when it comes to a woman’s life. Check out The Notion for more of Lerner’s spirited dispatches from the frontlines of the war on women.
The ultimate aim of the GOP’s social agenda, says Melissa Harris-Perry, is to define women’s citizenship as rooted in motherhood, and they are prepared to use state power to enforce this vision. By attacking reproductive rights, cutting funding for preschool care and even going after the Fourteenth Amendment, Republicans are trying to push women out of public life and back into the home. Not to mention that governors faced with depleted state coffers have put public employees—including nurses, teachers and other pink-collar workers who are disproportionately women—at the top of their list of budget-trimming cuts. As Bryce Covert sums up, it’s time we start talking about the “womancession.”
Part of the reason the right has taken up their anti-woman policies with such gusto is because these tactics neatly fit into their larger effort to muzzle any cause that empowers working men and women. In “Why the Right Attacked Unions, ACORN and Planned Parenthood,” Ilyse Hogue explains that these progressive service organizations connect real world needs to Beltway advocacy and lobbying. Of course, Conservatives will try anything to keep them down.
But with their assault on unions now taking major flack in Wisconsin, has the right also gone too far with their crusade against choice and family planning? From Ohio’s "Heartbeat Bill" to a Georgia senator’s effort to criminalize miscarriages (not to mention Mike Huckabee’s failed attempt at dissing Harvard-educated career woman Natalie Portman as a bad example for our youth), conservatives seem to be getting desperate in their ever-more outlandish schemes to disempower women. As Katha Pollitt explains, Republicans at the state and federal level are letting their misogyny, their fundamentalism and their sheer nuttiness show, and the massive protests across the country in late February in support of Planned Parenthood may be a sign that conservatives have over-reached this time.
To fuel this new wave of pro-woman protest, can we draw lessons from the Iceland that Janet Elise Johnson describes in her article, “The Most Feminist Place in the World”? After a testosterone-fueled economic boom and bust, the women of Iceland took charge, and a powerful and organized women’s movement has already scored a number of notable achievements: Iceland has closed 85 percent of the achievement gap between women and men and last year was the top scorer on the World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Gender Gap Rankings. The country also offers generous government-provided parental leave to be shared by women and men and subsidized high-quality preschools and day care, which allow most parents to combine parenting and work. Iceland’s example proves the importance of learning across borders as we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day.