5 Reasons To March for Women’s Rights Today!

“I find this onslaught of anti-women legislation repulsive,” says 23-year-old Amanda Velez. “These proposed laws condescend to a level where women are treated as something much less than human.” A resident of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Velez told me her feminist views are often met with hostility in her “typical Bible Belt” state.

But today, she’ll know she’s not alone.

It’s April 28, which means thousands of women and men across the nation are convening in state capitals and major U.S. cities for the Unite Against the War on Women rally. Started as a Facebook campaign just two months ago, the UAWOW rally has quickly become 2012’s largest grassroots women’s rights march to date, with events planned in 46 states and Washington, D.C.

The War on Women has been a “trending” topic in 2012—so trendy that the GOP and some in the mainstream media spend a lot of time calling it a “myth,” “fiction” and a “distraction.” But unfortunately, it’s all too real. In case you’re still on the fence about this whole “myth-fictional-distraction” thing, here are just a few reasons to march against the War on Women:

1. The War on Choice: In recent years, anti-abortion politicians have taken over state legislatures. Although 2011 saw a record high of anti-choice laws, here are some of the pieces of legislation that have piled up in 2012 alone:

2. Slut-Shaming Women Who Use Birth Control: Everyone from Catholic Bishops to Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona is up in our uteruses lately. When the Conference of Catholic Bishops learned that Catholic hospitals might have to dispense birth control at no charge under the health care plan, they had a collective freakout and began calling Congress. So the GOP pushed the Blunt Amendment. Then an all-male, uterus-free panel of “experts” testified before Congress on the subject. But it wasn’t until Rush Limbaugh labeled birth-control advocate Sandra Fluke a “slut” that the real colors of the anti-birth-control crowd showed: They find a woman’s sexuality shameful and immoral.

3. Equal Pay? No Way! Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s unceremonious repeal of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act right before Equal Pay Day made us realize why we need equal pay more than ever. Currently, there are eight states (plus Wisconsin) devoid of any equal pay laws. American women make, on national average, 77 cents to a man’s dollar. And female college graduates earn $1.2 million less during their lifetimes than their male peers.  Yet the Paycheck Fairness Act has stalled in Congress.

4. Attacks on Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood has been enduring the brunt of the vicious attacks on women’s healthcare. The campaign against Planned Parenthood began in February 2011, when Congress attempted to cut $75 million in federal funds to Planned Parenthood–the leading provider of women’s health services in the country–and to altogether eliminate Title X family-planning funding. That initiative failed, but it lives on in the states:

  • Planned Parenthood is currently fighting a defunding battle in Arizona.
  • Over in Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood has suspended all nonsurgical abortions at their clinics in order to protect their doctors from newly instated felony charges—only a few weeks after one of their clinics was bombed in an anti-choice terrorist attack.
  • Ohio Planned Parenthood narrowly missed the funding axe this month.
  • But let’s not forget the most notorious case—that of Texas and its women’s health advocate governor, Rick Perry. In March, the Obama Administration halted Medicaid funding to Texas’ Women Health Program after Gov. Perry blocked Planned Parenthood from the program. This funding cut affected 130,000 Texas women, who depended on Planned Parenthood for low-cost birth control, pap smears and breast cancer screenings.
5. Violence Against Women Act: When the Violence Against Women Act came up for vote this week, 36 Senators voted against it. Now the House GOP is working on a version that strips protections for Native women, lesbians and undocumented immigrants.
Still not convinced you should break out your protest signs? For Velez, who’s traveling more than an hour to attend the Louisville rally, the reasons to get yourself to your state capital today go far beyond the political battles of the moment. “Women’s experiences of oppression can be utilized as a platform from which to advocate equality for all,” she says. “My goal as a feminist is to improve my life and the lives of all women while also empowering other minority groups.”

Image courtesy of UniteWomen.org.


Lauren Barbato is a writer who enjoys focusing on the intersection of the arts and social justice. As a journalist, she has contributed to Ms., the Women's Media Center, IndieWire, MovieMaker Magazine and many others. She holds a B.F.A. degree in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. Follow her on Twitter @lauren_barbato.