International Women’s Day on March 8 has been observed globally since the early 1900s, but in India, women are only 12% of the legislators. Writing from the US, after decades of feminist activism, I would think facts like the following would no longer be pertinent to the United States. A UN fact-finding mission in the US in 2015 reported a shocking gap between rhetoric and the facts of “women’s missing rights” in the US. They said, “In global context, US women do not take their rightful place as citizens.” The report specifically pointed to the increasing barriers to abortion and other reproductive health care, low numbers of women legislators (the US ranks number 72 globally), a 21% gender wage gap, and cuts to social safety net programs. Many of Trump cabinet appointees voted against the Violence Against Women Act and the Fair Pay Act, as well as being anti-choice and climate change deniers.
The silver lining of the Trump Administration is women are in the forefront of standing up for human rights, famous like Elizabeth Warren, Sally Yates, plus the large numbers of unknown women who show up at townhalls around the country. Representative David Brat told a meeting of conservatives in Virginia, “We’re getting hammered. Since Obamacare and those issues have come up, the women are in my grill, no matter where they go.” When the Senate prohibited Warren from continuing to read Coretta Scott King’s letter protesting racist Jeff Sessions appointment, a Twitter storm resulted with the hashtag #shepersisted where women posted pictures of their heroines like Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Margaret Sanger and Ruby Bridges. Young women globally exhibit great courage in fighting for their fights, as I discovered researching a book about them (you’re invited to critique chapters). Think of Pakistani Malala Yousafzai’s advocacy of education for girls since she was 11, awarded the Nobel Peace prize at age 18. As a Muslim, would Trump want to ban her from our country? Young women led more recent uprisings in Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Israel, and Chile; the list is available on https://globalyouthbook.wordpress.com. Women and allies will continue to be in legislators’ grills in the US. What about India? Report on your activism in the Facebook page “Sexism in Indian Universities.”