Are the World’s Women Part of Our Political Agenda?


On Tuesday, June 3, RH Reality Check and Americans for
UNFPA joined together to host an online forum on global women’s health in American politics.

Our forum began with a video statement from Anika Rahman (below), President of Americans for UNFPA, and the insights of Democratic and Republican activists about their parties’ treatment of women’s issues. Anika Rahman has been watching the comments section to follow the discussion
and respond to your ideas on how to prioritize women’s health internationally.

Anika’s Introduction, Part 1


 

Anika’s Introduction, Part 2


 

Today, we have the insights of Darlee Crockett into the Republican Party and its recent struggles over women’s health and rights. We’ll follow up in the coming months with a contribution from a member of the Democratic Party. Please feel free to share your thoughts on both parties in your comments.

Darlee Crockett, national chair of Planned Parenthood Republicans for Choice, responds:

"No American woman should
be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic
condition. I believe, therefore, that we should establish as a
national goal the provision of family planning services…..to all who
want but cannot afford them."


"We need to make population and family planning household words.
We need to take sensationalism out of this topic so that it can no longer
be used by militants who have no real knowledge of the voluntary nature
of the program but, rather are using it as a political steppingstone.
If family planning is anything, it is a public health matter."

If I were to ask most people
if they could identify the American presidents who spoke these words
I suspect you might guess Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton, or other Democratic
presidents.

But think again: the first
statement was made by Republican president Richard Nixon and the second
by Republican president George H. W. Bush. I offer them to you
as an important reminder of what the Republican Party once was and the
leadership it provided in both domestic and international family planning
programs as well as other woman’s rights issues. The Republican
Party even endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment in earlier platforms
and was more progressive in their statements about women’s rights
than the Democrats in party platforms during the 1960’s. This
was the Republican Party I belonged to and proudly supported.
Sadly, I have witnessed the changes in the party and the party platforms
through the years as the New Right and the Religious Right merged forces
to control the party structure.

The first anti-choice plank
appeared in the Republican platform at the convention in 1976 even though
support for the Equal Rights Amendment remained that year. Alarmed
at the party’s new direction, a loyal group of moderate pro-choice
Republican women put up a valiant fight against these platform changes.
Unfortunately, they were beaten back by well-organized right wing forces
who stacked the platform committee and controlled the convention. These
platform battles would be repeated year after year, culminating in the
1992 Houston convention where Pat Buchanan gave his famous "culture
wars" speech. This was my first convention and a rude awakening.
It was an ugly display of animosity toward moderates in the party.
It also gave an unflattering bird’s eye view to the rest of the country
of exactly what had happened to the GOP. Republicans lost the
presidency that year.

The platform battles continued
in subsequent years with several pro-choice Republican groups fighting
the good fight….each time being sent to the back of the bus with
their existence hardly acknowledged. At the 2000 Republican convention
in Philadelphia I was walking down the street wearing my "Republicans
for Choice" button and was stopped by a bicyclist who was riding next
to the curb. He said "Excuse me, could I take a closer look
at your button?" After looking closer a smile crossed
his face and he remarked, "I didn’t know there were any pro-choice
Republicans. That’s great to hear."

The party platform and loud
voices of the far right can easily convince the country that there are
indeed no pro-choice Republicans left in the party. That is simply
not true. A recent poll by a respected Republican polling firm
shows that 72% of Republicans believe that the decision to have an abortion
should be left to women, their doctors and their families without government
intrusion. Be that as it may, Republican platforms have continued to
call for making all abortions illegal and have expanded to include statements
on contraception, abstinence and sex education, among others.

There are just four paragraphs
under the heading of "Women’s Health" in the party’s most recent
93-page platform. Reproductive health issues are not included
in this section of the platform which I think is less a reflection on
Republicans than a gradual evolution of how we treat these issues in
our culture. Over the years, and perhaps because of conflicting views,
we have somehow separated a woman’s reproductive organs from the rest
of her body as though her overall health is an entirely separate matter.

Our responsibility must be
to stress that reproductive health issues are as much a part of total
women’s health as issues dealing with heart health or any other part
of the body. In this framework perhaps we might even find some
common ground.

The world of abortion politics
may be with us for a long time. But there are other issues over which
we can come together in positive ways to improve women’s health.
I think it is safe to say that we can all agree the need for abortion
is a result of unintended pregnancy. Unintended pregnancy is an area
in which we can make improvements both domestically and internationally.
Polls show that there is overwhelming approval for government supported
family planning programs in both parties. Surely, this is an issue
of women’s health on which we could come together and improve the
lives of women and their families.

Too often, attitudes about
abortion have been allowed to influence our actions toward preventive
measures. A good case in point is the current discussion in Congress
regarding the distribution of HIV/AIDS money in Africa. It appears
that negotiations have resulted in situations where an AIDS infected
mother could receive the appropriate drugs paid for by U.S. funds, but
not contraceptives to prevent further pregnancies. We must do
better than this.

As Republicans we talk a lot
about personal responsibility. I have always felt that one of
the greatest examples of personal responsibility is the woman who walks
through the door of a family planning clinic in order to prevent an
unintended pregnancy. I hope there is a day in the future when
members of both political parties will consider it their responsibility
to help this woman achieve her goal. It will be great for women’s
health and the health of our country.

Join the Conversation! Respond to Anika and Darlee in the comments below, and Anika will answer your questions and engage your ideas from 1pm to 4pm EST on Tuesday, June 3.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • scott-swenson

    Anika and Darlee,

    Thank you both for working with RH Reality Check to create this forum highlighting issues of importance to all of us in the upcoming election. It is a great use of new media to counter the notion of a monolithic Republican ideal on reproductive health, and further demonstrates how disproportionate far right influence has been on our politics for much of the past generation. We look forward to working with others in the community to bring more issues to light like this on RH Reality Check.

    Darlee, my question is, will there be a concerted effort at the GOP Convention to change the platform by moderates, seeing as how John McCain really must find his way back to the center if he has any chance of attracting independent and moderate women in November. His genuflect to Falwell at Liberty College last year, and his request for, then rejection of the endorsements of Reverends Hagee and Parsley indicate he’s not doing well with the far right. Do you see this as an opportunity for moderates to advance their case in 2008 within the GOP, even though McCain is clearly anti-choice?


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

    • invalid-0

      Dear Steve,
      Unfortunately, I see no movement on the horizon to attempt moderate platform changes in the area of reproductive health issues at the Republican convention this year. For both political parties the platform serves not only as a public statement of beliefs, but as an instrument to satisfy the base of each party as well. The candidate himself will also have some sway as to the direction of the platform, since neither party seeks to have a candidate running on a platform that is in conflict with its candidate’s stated positions. As for McCain, he has already altered his previous position and now calls for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. This will certainly comport with previous Republican platforms and will satify the hard right base of the party. You are correct in that it would be a good opportunity to appeal to more moderate, independent voters, but I’m afraid it won’t happen through the platform.

  • http://www.womensenews.org invalid-0

    Darlee, Thank you so much for your time! Regarding the statistic that 72 percent of Republicans would prefer abortion to be an issue between a woman and the doctor, without government intrusion: What evidence do you see that abortion may cease to be a plank in the Republican Party platform? Do you think this could happen this election or in subsequent campaigns?

    A second question, if you don’t mind: If Hillary Clinton does lose the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, will the Republican Party view her pro-choice supporters as possibly McCain voters?

    Thanks again for your time.

    Alison Bowen, Reporter
    Women’s eNews

    • invalid-0

      Dear Alison,
      As in previous years, I do not think the abortion plank will be removed from the platform this year or in the near future. This is because the party structure and platform committees represent the anti-choice, hard right base of the party….not the rank and file Republican voter who might believe these decisions are better left to doctors and their patients. There is much talk of late among some party leaders, pundits and the media that the “Republican Brand” is not working anymore. There are definitely changes in the wind. Perhaps moderates may play a greater role in these changes. Let’s hope so. As to the pro-choice Hillary Clinton voters, Republicans will certainly do their best to attract these voters to McCain. I think this will be extremely difficult, however, especially among women when they view McCain’s record not only on abortion, but his negative votes on family planning. Indeed, the Republican party would be in much better shape with moderates if they could show a good record on family planning and prevention in the past eight years. Sadly, they can’t.

  • invalid-0

    This question is for Anika. When talking to people about the issues women face in other parts of the world and the need for the U.S. to be involved, people frequently say – we have probelms here at home that we need to address. How do you answer this question?
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Lisa

  • michelle-goldberg

    Looking at the history of American involvement in these issues, it was very rarely about (or only about) helping women. Initially, the United States helped create UNFPA during a time of widespread panic over overpopulation — and the fear that overpopulation could create social crises that would leave countries vulnerable to communism! It wasn’t until 1994, at the Cairo conference, that women’s rights took center stage. My question is this: how is American self-interest served by supporting global women’s health? (I have opinions of my own, but am eager to hear yours!) Should advocates be making arguments on those grounds, or is that just treating women as a means to an end, and thus inviting abuse?

  • invalid-0

    Even though Democrats are winning House seats and poised to pick up even more in November, many of the new members are conservative Democrats who are staunchly pro-life, which unfortunately means they are often anti-family planning and anti-reproductive health.

    Is the far-right winning the national conversation around family planning and reproductive health, despite losing seats in Congress? If so, how do those of us in the community begin to fight back? How do we frame the issue in a way that allows for progressive policies to be palatable to those on both sides of the aisle?

    Thanks for any insights you may have.

  • amanda-marcotte

    Can you speculate on why, since pro-choicers have the majority in the party, it’s so hard for pro-choicers to get a voice, much less control the party?

    • invalid-0

      Dear Amanda,
      This is a frustrating and important question. It can be answered, however, by reviewing a history of the Republican party and its relationship with the religious right. Social issues drew them into politics and they determined that they could best achieve their goals by becoming a major voice in the Republican party. They did their homework, organized (sometimes under the radar, as Ralph Reed put it), and started at the very bottom working to elect their people to central committees, lower level political offices, and behind the scenes positions of influence. It took them years to accomplish this, but they eventually took control of many state party structures and the national party. Their candidates now run for high offices, both state and federal. Each political party has a base that it fears to offend and this is the base that has been organized within the Republican party. As long as they can win elections with this base it will continue to stay in power. That is the key. There is a growing consensus that the Republican party is in trouble. This base risks losing some of its credibility and power if this downward trend continues. It is a good time for moderates to stay the course and help to bring the party back to the center.

  • invalid-0

    Dear Anika,

    I know a difficult roadblock to getting International Women’s Policy Items passed in Congress is that our lovely senators and congressional representatives that would vote in the affirmative are often not available for the vote. How do you appeal to these representives to ensure their attendance at these important votes? Is there a process in place?

    Best,

    Diane

  • invalid-0

    My question is for Anika.

    You bring up UNFPA and global women’s health in the context of these party platforms, but the platforms (or at least the GOP platform, according to Darlee) don’t even touch on that specifically now (it just references “women’s health” in general, and talks about things like healthy hearts!), what specific “plank” would you like to see added to each party’s platform. Would it be the same plank, or different planks for each party to take into account the parties different starting points?

  • megs2933

    Hi Darlee,

    McCain seems to be in a tough position when it comes to reproductive rights/issues.  On one side, he needs to appease the Christian right in order to gain their financial support, and on the other side, he needs to appease the "72% of Republicans" that appear to take a pro-choice stance.  What do you forsee happening as we get closer to November?  Will this even be a make-or-break stance from the average Republican’s view point? 

     

    As a pro-choice medical student and future abortion provider, I am extremely concerned about the future political climate that will affect women’s reproductive choices in this country and abroad.  It’s comforting to know that their are allies from the Republican party.

    Thanks for all of your great work!

    Megan

     

    • invalid-0

      Dear GW Medical Student,
      First let me say how wonderful it is to hear that you are studying to be a future abortion provider. With so many of the “old guard” retiring it is very important that these practitioners be replaced so that women’s reproductive services will be maintained. Your comment about McCain’s dilemna in trying to appease the religious right and the more moderate pro-choice voters is right on target. Polls show that a small percentage of voters whether on the pro-choice or anti-choice side put abortion as a single issue vote. This does not mean, however, that the issue will not be given much consideration in the overall picture, especially by pro-choice women. McCain has declared himself in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, and he also has a very poor record in support of family planning and prevention programs. I think voters are starting to understand that the right to choose is under threat as never before and that the vote for president in this election may be the final deciding factor. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for McCain to reconcile these conflicting positions in the general election.

  • invalid-0

    Anika, as a women, Im naturally concerned and interested in womens issues and the efforts of UNFPA. How can I, as an individal, help in these efforts?

  • invalid-0

    Hello and Thank you. This is for Anika.
    From my colleagues and myself, as healthy, educated women, how do we engage to use our voices, to make a difference where we can be heard?
    Thank you for your time.

  • emily-douglas

    Anika, I would like to follow up on Michelle’s question. The connection between family planning and environmental health gets more press every day. However, the frame for this conversation often begins with consumption and overpopulation rather than empowerment of women — or, if it is about empowerment of women, empowerment in order to achieve certain desirable social and/or environmental outcomes. Obviously, there is a great deal of overlap on these issues that could be harnessed for good — but there also seems to be room for coercion and, more basically, seeing women and their reproduction as instruments for an end. Can you comment on how we can make this connection in a way that’s positive for women and their rights and dignity? Thank you!

  • invalid-0

    I’ve been pregnant twice. Even without complications, the experience was so unnerving. Though I felt lucky to have the chance to get pregnant and give birth, I felt incredibly vulnerable and uncomfortable much of the time. My labors were both typical and yet, very painful–emotionally and physically. When I think of women and girls becoming pregnant when they didn’t intend to be and when they didn’t have an option to prevent it, it makes me furious and really sad, actually. We should all have access to birth control–it’s a crime to keep it from us. What can I do to convince my representatives to prioritize every woman’s right to birth control and routine gynecological visits?

    Sincerely,
    Joanna
    North Carolina

  • invalid-0

    Anika,

    What do you think are the major obstacles preventing Republicans and Democrats from advocating consistent views on women’s health goals?

    Has a focus on abortion detracted from the consideration of other women’s health goals?

  • yolanda-johnny-taylor

    This question is for Darlee. There is much confusion out there about
    UNFPA and what it does (particularly among Republications and conservatives). Misinformation
    about the work UNFPA supports in China was the main reason provided by
    the current administration not to fund UNFPA for the last seven years.

    The $34 million that the United States has withheld each
    year is close to 10 percent of UNFPA’s regular income. The amount withheld
    every year could have helped UNFPA prevent 2 million unintended pregnancies,
    800,000 abortions, 4,700 mothers’ deaths, and more than 77,000 infant and child
    deaths.

    Do you believe that the US should support UNFPA? If so,
    what do you think can be done to increase bipartisan support for this issue?

    • invalid-0

      Hi vitaylor,
      I agree that there is much confusion about UNFPA and the China issue especially among Republicans. As we know, the distortions have been pushed by the far right even in the face of Colin Powell refuting their contentions. This has improved somewhat from the early days in that the Congress has now approved these funds several times. It is only the Bush administration that has stood in the way. Of course, there were Republican votes for approval in the Congress which shows that progress has been made. I support UNFPA wholeheartedly. The vast majority of citizens in this country support government funded family planning both here and abroad. We need to continue to educate folks on how critical all these programs are.

  • anika-rahman

    Wow, thanks for the many great questions so far.

    Michelle, Lisa, DPM and Eileen’s questions are pretty specific, so I’ll be posting replies right under them shortly.

     

    But let me first respond quickly to the questions from Patty and JB+MM+MC:

     

    There are a few ways to get involved, but the most important thing is to make sure that our political leaders know that we Americans care about global women’s health. The reason our cause gets short shrift in party platforms and legislation is that most legislators think Americans aren’t concerned, and the few they KNOW care about the issue are the radicals on the far right.

     

    So take every opportunity you can to write your elected officials about this issue – I know we provide some through our online Action Center at http://www.americansforunfpa.org/takeaction. And soon we’ll be working on an action to allow you to write directly to the Party officials responsible for the platforms. So that’s one way to help.

  • invalid-0

    Thank you for your comments Darlee. Do you have any comments regarding the anti-choice platform having an underlying and/or broader anti-contraception platform.

  • anika-rahman

    Dear Michelle,

     

    This is an excellent question. 

    As a passionate believer in women, I believe that our starting point in any discussion is a global vision for women’s equality.   Women’s rights is also our end point, our goal. 

    American’s long term interest, indeed any superpower’s long term interest, is served by the promotion of social justice and equality around the world because of the enormous benefits that such equality produces.  If women achieve equal rights, then they will work, earn money, educate their children and families, increase the gross domestic product of their nation, have a say in their political system and shape their personal and national destiny.   We want all women to be able to exercise such rights.  Women’s empowerment thus not only benefits women, but their societies and the world in general.  In every way possible, a society that respects its women as equal is a richer society and a more stable one.  Richer and stable societies and nations result in a better world for all.

    But remember that women’s ability to achieve equality is based on women ability to enjoy good health and control their reproductive lives.  The experience of women in industrialized nations indicates how crucial control over their health and bodies is to women’s participation in public life. 

     

    We advocates must demand equality for all women.  It is only with the achievement of such a vision that we will move the world toward peace and security for each one of us.

     

    Anika

  • anika-rahman

    Dear Emily,

    As a woman’s rights advocate, my primary concern is the advancement of women.  I believe in the inherent humanity of each woman and our right to claim our place.  This is the lens through which I view all discussions, including the environmental one and those related to family planning. 

     Women need to be in an ecologically sustainable home and planet.  Low-income women are some of the most vulnerable groups in the world.  As a result, it is women who will suffer the most from environmental degradation since it is women who will most likely be unable to fend for themselves.  Climate change will have an enormously detrimental impact on all of us, but especially those people who live at sea level in countries such as Bangladesh.  And overlay climate change with gender discrimination and you see the enormously disparate impact that such change will have on women.   Women will be the first without water, land and rights. 

     

    In terms of family planning, it is women again who need to control their reproductive lives and destiny.  Given the incidence of HIV/AID and other STIs and women’s lower status around the world, it is women who need family planning to maintain their health.  Given that 500,000 women each year die from preventable pregnancy-related causes, it is women who must be able to control when and how they have children.  And given that so many million women are raped and brutalized, it is these women who must protect their future.

     

    I realize that Americans and people around the world express concern for many causes other than woman.  That is obviously a fine thing.  When these concerns relate to women’s life, then we need to be careful about the strategies we implement to achieve goals.  It is never OK to achieve one social goal — such as animal conservation or environmental health — at the cost of another. And these do not have to be viewed in such terms.  We need to develop strategies that address multiple needs and that do not ever sacrifice women.

  • anika-rahman

    Eileen,

    I think both parties could at least agree on some basic points about women’s health in their platforms. Off the top of my head, I think it would be reasonable for both parties to have a plank that read: “We, the [Republican or Democratic] Party are committed to the idea that no woman should die giving life. The United States should be a leader in the fight against maternal mortality, which currently claims half a million women’s lives each year from entirely preventable causes. As part of this fight, we should help every woman on earth who wants access to family planning receive it, and ensure that every girl has the option of staying in school as long as the boys in her country and pursuing opportunities in life beyond marrying and bearing children.” 

    Is there any part of that statement of values that the American people don’t already think of as a guarantee for American women? Shouldn’t it be so for the whole world?

     

    Anika  

  • anika-rahman

    Dear DPM,

     

    Over the last 2-3 decades, the far right has framed the debate around the issues of reproductive health and family planning.  We need to claim this space back and reframe the discussion in terms of women’s equality.  We care about family planning and reproductive health because they are essential to women’s equality — to our ability to be educated, to claim our space in public life, to our economic independence and to our political empowerment.  We need always to assert women’s equality and then discuss family planning and reproductive health in that context.

     

    Anika

  • anika-rahman

    Dear Joanna,

     

    I feel your pain.  I have always been a passionate advocate for women and my personal understanding of women’s reproductive health issues was enhanced by my own difficult pregnancy.  Although I had a planned pregnancy, I knew that so many million women did not have the same privelege I had.  In addition, I knew that I was most fortunate to have survived my pregnancy and to have delivered a healthy daughter.  I was pregnant in New York City and had great doctors.  In at least a 100 other nations, I would not have had access to the excellent health care I had here and I would surely have died.  

     

    I understand my privelege and I believe that such privelege comes with responsibility — the responsibility to ensure that all women survive pregnancy and that all women should determine when they become pregnant.

     

    As for how you can convince your representatives, sites dedicated to these issues like RH Reality Check often have good ideas, and I know (as I wrote below) that our website has a regularly updated Action Center at http://www.americansforunfpa.org/takeaction.

     

    Anika

     

     

  • emily-douglas

    Joanna, thanks so much for this perspective. I’m sure Anika will respond to your question, also, but I wanted to pick up on your astute suggestion that even women who are intentionally pregnant may need access to an abortion to protect their health or life. As Amie Newman pointed out today, abortion is a reality that comes with having people in our society who have the capacity to be pregnant. "How much woman will we allow women to be?" she asks. So well put!

  • anika-rahman

    Dear Lisa,

     

    As Americans, we need to be concerned about the world as well as our own country.  It is a false dichotomy to see the world in terms of us and them not only because the world is so enormously inter-connected today, but also because such thinking is detrimental to our long-term interest.  Let me explain.

    We need to be concerned about women here and abroad.  As we know so well, America is not an island that can shelter itself from the world.  We are part of a planet, an eco-system, a world economy.  Our well-being depends on how the rest of the world is doing.  We have become keenly aware of our interconnectedness after 9/11 and as we learn more about climate change and other environmental problems.  In terms of women’s concerns, we also need to see this as a global issue because women are everywhere!  The concerns of low-income women are the same everywhere, though their degree of need may be different.  There is great power in seeing women’s issues as being global because it reminds us from where we have come and where we need to go.

     

    Thinking of women’s issues globally is also in America’s long-term interest.  If we are to maintain our position in the world, we need to lead with our best foot forward — our principles, especially those of equality and justice.  A more just world that treats women equally is a world of more stable, peaceful and prosperous nations.  This is a world we need to achieve.

    Let me remind the audience that we are the world’s sole super-power.  America exerts a HUGE influence in the world.  It is time once again to use that power for good.

     

    Anika 

     

  • karim-velasco

    I think it is important to distinguish the role that UNFPA and the US Agency for International Development have been playing in recent years in Latin America. It is clear to me that the views and aims of both agencies have been different and even opposite regarding some issues such as emergency contraception and its limited access by poor women. Whilst USAID has remained aloof from the debate regarding this issue, -luckily for us in the region- UNFPA has played an active role in supporting and providing technical assistance to women’s rights NGOs and even to Constitutional Courts dealing with the theme. It seems to me as if UNFPA has been trying as far as possible to close the gap left by the radical shift in USAID’s priorities and targets in the last years.

    In the 90s USAID’s pro choice attitude regarding family planning programs in the region led to aggressive nation-wide campaigns that even led to abuses where women were sometimes forced to use contraceptive methods even without their consent in order to prevent unintended pregnancies. A decade later with a different party ruling in Washington family planning programs and NGOs working on these issues saw their USAID funding severely cut, forcing government policies to reorient its aims and NGOs to rethink its projects and activities if they were willing to continue receiving USAID financial aid. This has of course severely affected most long term projects focusing on women’s reproductive rights that started in the 90s, which has ultimately affected overall women’s rights in the region.

    If the Conservative Party remains in power and taking into account that it barely addresses women’s health issues in its platform, apparently the aid environment will not get any better in this part of the world. Shall we then focus on reinforcing UNFPAs role so that it becomes more proactive as it has been in emergency contraceptive issues? UNFPA has not always been proactive and sometimes it can be considered too “neutral” in some countries, but it seems it can become a very useful and important ally. Or is it possible or worthy to work on gaining “spaces” within USAID?

  • anika-rahman

    Kyra,

    I think DPM was onto the same idea as you: the fact that the far-right has managed to frame all women’s issues through the lens of the most controversial women’s right, abortion. We would all be better served if the frame were reversed: all reproductive and family planning rights should be viewed through the prism of women’s health, rights and equality.

     

    Anika

  • emily-douglas

    Hi everyone, thanks for your fantastic questions for Anika and Darlee. Darlee will be checking the site over the next couple of days and responding to your comments soon. We’ll leave the forum up and comments open for the rest of the week so that the conversation can continue. Please come back and see Darlee’s responses later this week! Thanks again for your participation!

  • anika-rahman

    Diane, I think the issue here is that many of our elected officials simply don’t know much about specific international programs, and don’t think their constituents care much anyhow. In some cases, what we’re up against isn’t really opposition so much as a lack of political will on the part of generally supportive officials.

     

    Of course the solution to that is clear, but hard: we must show them, time and time again, that there is a constituency that cares about the women of the world.

     

    Anika

  • invalid-0

    We need to restore a legitimate social welfare system. The cost can be covered by ending our excessive “tax relief” for the richest, and for corporations (which have used so much of that money to move our jobs to foreign nations). A quarter-century of this massive corporate welfare has clearly not been to the nation’s benefit.

    “One size fits all” policies tend to fit no one, and we need welfare policies based on reality, not party ideology. People can’t always work, due to circumstances or health problems; remember, while we do have Social Security Disability programs, the application process is so dauntingly difficult that it excludes a good percentage of qualified applicants, and under the best of circumstances, it takes at least a year from the date of application to receipt of the first benefits. Former welfare programs were anything but a failure, as they provided not only the means to survive, but access to programs that enabled millions of poor Americans to work their way out of poverty, creating the massive middle class we once had. Those who don’t fit a certain demographic (young, healthy, urban) are simply dumped by current programs and policies.

    Surely, America can (and once did) do better. Today, we have an economic funnel that merely pulls the poor to the bottom, and pulls the working class with it, resulting in the unprecedented economic disparities that have been so damaging to the US social and economic structure.