Archive for the ‘Women’s Rights’ Category

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Unmarried? It’ll Cost You: CAP Report On Unmarried Women

March 23, 2010

I recently started contributing to the newly launched blog over at Ms. Magazine. This is my first post, which looks at a new study out from the Center for American Progress. Bottom line: being unmarried puts a significant number of American women at an economic disadvantage, but Congress is looking at legislation that may help address this.

new report from the Center for American Progress gives stark details on what it means for single or unmarried women in our economy today that our classic definition of “family” hasn’t changed in decades. Although they make up just under half of U.S. women, unmarried women represent 60 percent of women without health insurance, 63 percent of unemployed women, and 75 percent of women in poverty. They are less employed, make less money, and perhaps most significantly, face additional discrimination and financial burdens because of the pervasive assumption that every family has a male “breadwinner.”

As Msreported this Fall,  government policies such as Social Security, designed decades ago, were crafted to support so-called “family men” who worked 40-hour weeks at the same job for their whole career. Health insurance, car insurance, retirement plans–nearly all are still defined by one’s marital status. Thus single women face higher costs for all of these things simply because they are single. This continues even though, in a radical shift from the 1960s, nearly half of American women are now unmarried.

The report finds hope, however, in several pieces of legislation currently in Congress that would address the needs of unmarried women.

Click here to read the rest at Ms.

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    International Women’s Day. Emphasis: International

    March 8, 2010

    Happy International Women’s Day! There’s not a whole lot I can say that others haven’t already said more eloquently. And while I know women in America still have ground to cover, I want to emphasize the international part here as well. Women in other parts of the world still need helping getting basic human rights and basic education — and that, I think, is what today is about.  

    Below, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a great IWD video message, repeating her 1995 statement in Beijing that women’s rights are human rights. Well said, Hill!

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    New AOL Lemondrop post: Women & the Iran Protests

    July 15, 2009

    The following is an excerpt of my latest post with AOL’s Lemondrop.com. To read the full post, click on the link at the end of this post.

    Contrary to the news media’s coverage, the protests in Iran contesting the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn’t end when Michael Jackson died — though they are fading. One of the most intriguing facets of the protests is who’s at the forefront: women.

    In a country not well known for women’s rights, this is quite remarkable. You might have heard about the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, a young Iranian woman shot in the streets of Tehran. Though it’s worth noting that Neda’s family said she wasn’t political, she has become the female face of the protest.

    Women have been vocally supporting the candidacy of Mir Hussein Mousavi, the chief opponent to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was declared the winner the morning after the June 12 election. While the Guardian Council — which oversees elections — did a partial recount after Mousavi filed an appeal, the original results were upheld. For the last four weeks, women have marched alongside other protesters through the streets of Iran, even as officials try to stop them, tear-gas them or beat them.

    Click here to keep reading.

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    New Lemondrop post on the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act

    June 20, 2009

    This week I published my first post with AOL’s Lemondrop, where I discussed the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act — a crucial piece of legislation dealing with women’s health issues that has been stalled in Congress for over a decade.

    Check it out here and I hope you’ll consider signing the accompanying petition as well!

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    Quick Hit: Who CARES if Susan Boyle gets a makeover or not?

    April 24, 2009

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    A friend of mine just tweeted: “Susan Boyle gets a makeover. At last.” And then linked to this article. It’s a piece of crap, for many reasons. But I want this to be a short post with one main point, so I’m only going to highlight the most important thing. The article talks about how Susan Boyle has now died her hair, and got new, supposedly more fashionable, clothes.

    “Susan Boyle, the frumpy “Britain’s Got Talent” sensation, has had a makeover. Boyle, 47, dyed her tangled gray hair a rich brown, and ditched her “drab dresses” for more fashionable attire. It’s heartwarming to see that having the opportunity to share her “beautiful voice” with millions has given Boyle new enthusiasm for life.” [emphasis mine]

    When exactly did changing your looks to conform more to society’s standards of beauty become the same as a “new enthusiasm for life”? I’m not faulting Susan Boyle if she felt pressure to change her looks. Lord knows no one can talk about her WITHOUT talking about her looks. But I am faulting society for basing a woman’s worth, or at least part of it, on her looks. It doesn’t matter, apparently, how talented you are, unless you at least somewhat fit the description of what society thinks a woman should look like. No one is talking about Susan Boyle’s voice without simultaneously  talking about her looks and how “frumpy” or “drab” she is. It’s sending the message that her talent isn’t worth anything unless she were better looking.

    I know I’m going to get at least a couple comments saying, but it’s not bad to be more attractive if she wanted to update her look. No, it’s not. But it is bad that everyone is judging Susan Boyle – and her worth – based in part on her looks, rather than JUST on her talent. Her looks shouldn’t matter, people.

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    Quick Hit: The Afghan Rape Law

    April 6, 2009

    I just want to share briefly how saddened I am by a new Afghanistan law commonly known now as the “Afghan Rape Law.” This law, passed just a few days ago, was called “abhorrent” by President Obama. Basically, it legalizes rape of a woman by her husband. From Think Progress:

    “As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night,” Article 132 of the law says. “Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.”

    The law would also force women to get their spouses’ permission before leaving the house, looking for a job, going to the doctor or receiving education.

    The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said the law “legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband. … The law violates women’s rights and human rights in numerous ways.”

    The good news is, after substantial international outcry Afghani president Hamid karzai has agreed to “review” the law. However, he still argues the law has been “misinterpreted” by the West. Really? Seems pretty clear to me.

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    In the spirit of Ada Lovelace Day…

    March 24, 2009

    It’s funny that I just wrote a post about feminism because now I found out it’s Ada Lovelace Day, or something, and I like the idea too much to not post about it. So in the spirit of Ada Lovelace day, here are some women in tech who I really admire. They don’t necessarily work in tech, but they’re doing cool things in the realm of tech/web 2.0/social media/blogging anyways.

    Ellen Miller: Ellen Miller is co-founder and Executive Director of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington DC nonprofit dedicated to using the internet to increase government openness and transparency. The Sunlight Foundation rocks. Seriously.

    Penelope Trunk: although sometimes she seems a little crazy, she runs an internet startup, has run other internet startups, and has one of the most widely read career blogs ever. She gets a lot of criticism for her decisions, some of it no doubt because she’s a woman, but she seems to take it in stride really well.

    Who are the women in tech that you admire?

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    Oops, I said the F-word

    March 23, 2009

    Feminism, that is. I get a lot of flack from people about being a feminist. Sometimes from men; sometimes also from other women. It seems women are often afraid to call themselves “feminists” because they don’t want to be viewed as crazy or radical.

    I think the term has been hijacked from us, and we’re at the point where it is perceived as something totally different than what it truly means. I can say something about feminist bloggers at a table and get smirks — not even from guys, but from other women.

    So I will say it once and for all: there’s nothing wrong with being a feminist. And there’s certainly nothing “radical” about wanting equal rights and equal opportunity for all. The notion that wanting such a thing would make you considered radical, crazy, or bitchy, is just plain nonsense.

    If you are a woman who tries to disassociate yourself with feminism, I ask you: why? Is it because of all the negative connotations that come with the F-word?

    We don’t hate men. We don’t think women should be superior to men. We don’t think all women should put their careers over family, or that no woman should be a stay-at-home mom. What we do believe in is that women should have options to do whatever they want with their lives, just like men. We believe in eradicating problems like wage gaps and gender discrimination, and we believe in pushing forward legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Law and the Family and Medical Leave Act which create equality for women and men.

    It’s really not much more complicated than that, so I’m not sure why feminism gets such a bad rap.   You shouldn’t have to be ashamed of calling yourself a feminist.  If you are a woman who is afraid to call yourself a feminist, it might be time to get over it. Equality is kind of worth fighting for.

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