On Jan. 21, over 670 women’s marches took place worldwide, showing global support for gender equality. Protests in Wash. D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and N.Y. City attracted about two million people. Here in San Jose, 25,000 people joined the protest for women’s rights. However, women are far from achieving true equality.
With a shift in the federal government’s political ideology, women’s rights are at stake, with policies that do not account for the concerns of American women. For instance, Senator Elizabeth Warren was barred from reading Coretta Scott King’s letter against Attorney General Jeff Sessions; despite the opposition against Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders was allowed to read the letter, signifying the blatant double standard being set in the national government, as well as the suppression of women’s voices. Because women in power are also being silenced, policies targeting women’s rights are gaining traction and are being implemented.
Less than a week after his inauguration, President Donald Trump was pictured with a group of men in his cabinet signing an executive order banning federal funds from international groups that provide information about or perform safe abortions. Even though their decision directly affects women’s health, there was not a single woman present to offer her input. Furthermore, the House of Representatives passed “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” on Jan. 24 by a vote of 238-183, leaving it up to the Senate and the President to make the final decision.
Even bills and court rulings passed during the 1970’s feminist movement are under threat; the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prevents employers from discriminating against pregnant women, often goes unenforced in the workplace.
In addition, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortions nationwide, is undermined by state-controlled efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Recent legislation for women’s rights, such as the Affordable Care Act, which prevents gender discrimination in healthcare and provides women with contraceptives and maternity care coverage, is also under attack. In light of these threats, the Women’s March movement has gained increased popularity, catalyzing change on the state and local level. As President Barack Obama stated, “One voice…can change a nation. And if it can change a nation, it can change the world.” If a less politically charged city like San Jose can create political noise, it is evident that there is a significant number of people willing to fight against discriminatory policies.