Keeping Score: Biden Acts on Gender Equality; House Passes Gun Control Legislation; Beyonce Makes Grammy History

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Lest We Forget 

+ “What’s the interest of the Arizona RNC here in keeping, say, the out-of-precinct ballot disqualification rules on the books?” Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked GOP lawyer Michael Carvin during a case on ballot harvesting.

“Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. … Politics is a zero-sum game,” Carvin responded.

+ “In our nation, as in all nations, women have fought for justice, shattered barriers, built and sustained economies, carried communities through times of crisis, and served with dignity and resolve. Too often, they have done so while being denied the freedom, full participation and equal opportunity all women are due. Their contributions have been downplayed. Their stories have been neglected.

“International Women’s Day is also a time for us to recommit ourselves to the cause of equity and equality for women the world over, and to shine a light on the systemic obstacles that fuel gender disparities and undermine women’s potential.”

—President Joe Biden on International Women’s Day, Monday, Mar. 8, when he announced an executive order establishing a White House Gender Policy Council.

+ “The government keeps dragging this out and letting everybody else out. … This has been a bunch of crap.”

—Richard Barnett while on trial for breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office during the Jan. 6 riots, declaring that his incarceration was “not fair.”

+ “In America, we are constantly telling people to pick themselves up by their bootstraps, and people don’t even have boots. Getting by in this country with such little cash is overwhelming. It overwhelms the mind. It overwhelms the body. And we are buying people just a bit of relief and some freedom so that they can make the best decisions for their families, both on how they spend their money and on how they spend their time, including with their own children.”

—Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality’s Indivar Dutta-Gupta on the expanded child tax credit included in the American Rescue Plan, passed last week.

+ “I’m not in a place yet where I’m comfortable with the bill as it stands right now. These kids are … just trying to stay alive. … There’s a reason none of them are playing sports. And so … I just think there’s a better way. And I hope there will be enough grace in our state to find a better solution. I don’t understand all of this. I don’t. But I’m trying to understand more. I’m trying to listen and learn and, again, trying to help kids figure out who they are and keep them alive.”

—Utah governor Spencer Cox (R) on opposing a bill which would prevent trans girls from participating in school sports.

+ “Access to menstrual products is a vital need and a health care right for over half the population. It is also a human right… Everyone who needs these products should—and must—have access to them. This is particularly true during the current COVID-19 crisis where the pandemic has financially strained millions of families. Periods do not wait for pandemics.”

—Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) in a letter urging President Biden to address the ongoing period poverty crisis. 

Milestones

+ Designed to stimulate the economy and help people survive the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed along party lines in the Senate, and on Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the bill once again. Thursday, President Biden signed it into law. In addition to $1,400 stimulus checks, it includes provisions for a variety of important feminist issues, including investments in the child care sector, child tax credits and education.

+ In two new executive orders signed on Mar. 8, International Women’s Day, President Biden established a White House Gender Policy Council and ordered a review of Title IX regulations and sexual violence policies by the Department of Education.

+ At this year’s Grammys on Sunday, Mar. 14, Beyoncé set a new record for most Grammys won by any artist, having received nine nominations in one night, and 28 wins over the course of her career. (Head here for a full list of some of the best feminist moments from the 2021 Grammys.)

(Illustration by Sarah Rosenberg)

+ On Friday, Feb. 26, 317 female students were abducted from their boarding school in northern Nigeria in “yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria,” said Nigeria UNICEF representative Peter Hawkins. “This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through.” He called on the gunman to release the kidnapped students. 

+ Outgoing Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, the first woman to lead the Ocean State, was confirmed by the Senate as commerce secretary on Tuesday, Mar. 2, officially joining the Biden administration. 

+ Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, withdrew from the confirmation process, writing to President Biden: “Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities.”

+ Evanston, a suburb north of Chicago, is the first city in the U.S. to issue $25,0000 reparations to Black residents in response to a stark racial wealth gap.

+ Mississippi governor Tate Reeves (R) signed the deceptively-named Mississippi Fairness Act into law on Thursday, Mar. 11, barring trans students from participating in school sports other than those of their assigned sex at birth.

+ Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) proposed a two percent wealth tax on Americans with a net worth more than $50 million. “A wealth tax is popular among voters on both sides for good reason: They understand the system is rigged to benefit the wealthy and large corporations,” Warren said. 

+ The European Commission, headed by President Ursula von der Leyen, plans to pursue full wage transparency, hoping it will force employers to address gendered pay discrepancies.

+ Bethany Christian Services, a major American adoption agency, announced on Monday, Mar. 1, it would extend its services to LGBTQ parents.

+ Malala Yousafzai announced a partnership with Apple to produce content for their streaming service, including children’s series and documentaries. “I believe in storytelling because it has been part of my life, it was my story that inspired so many people around the world to realize that not all girls have access to education,” she said.

+ The Sierra Club requested draft agenda reports regarding water-cooling at power plants that could harm endangered species. In her first signed majority opinion on the Supreme Court, Justice Amy Coney Barrett and six others ruled against releasing the documents. 

+  “The Tokyo Olympics made a symbolic gesture toward gender equality Tuesday by appointing 12 women to the body’s executive board,” the Associated Press reported on Mar. 2. “The board will now have 19 women among its 45 members, or 42%.”

+ For residents of Guam the past few years, accessing the closest legal abortion clinic requires an expensive, often impossible trip all the way to Hawaii. However, the ACLU recently won a lawsuit relating to remote abortion care, which could result in women once again have the choice to end their pregnancy. 

+ The House passed two pieces of gun control legislation highly popular among voters. Both would strengthen background check requirements, but it is unclear whether they will pass the Senate.  

+ A new ruling by the Communist Party in China reduces the number of lawmakers elected by Hong Kong voters—a move aimed at tightening control over the territory following pro-democracy protests.

+ Republican Arizona legislators proposed several bills designed to restrict voting access—specifically absentee and early voting—following attempts to overturn fair election results in Donald Trump’s favor. In Georgia, voting rights groups are asking companies to publicly oppose similar legislation. “Some of these companies have made beautiful statements for Black Lives Matter,” said Black Voters Matter co-founder Cliff Albright. “Yet here, in the moment where it matters most, they have been silent.”

+ In accordance with a state judge’s recent ruling, Texas’s Medicaid program can stop covering Planned Parenthood care. 

+ A ban by the Kabul authorities—prohibiting girls older than 12 from singing at public ceremonies—was overturned by the Afghan government this weekend after the Education Ministry stated it “does not reflect the positions or policies of the Ministry.”


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How We’re Doing

+ A study published Wednesday, Feb. 24 found that nearly half of people diagnosed with a UTI received the wrong antibiotic prescription. “Promoting optimal antimicrobial use benefits the patient and society by preventing avoidable adverse events, microbiome disruption, and antibiotic-resistant infections,” study author Anne Mobley Butler said. 

+ “At the current rate, it will take another 50 years before gender parity is achieved in parliaments worldwide,” the Inter-Parliamentary Union reported. Their recent analysis shows women occupying just over a quarter of parliamentary seats, up 0.6 percent from 2019.

+ Nearly a third of all women were victims of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, according to a new study by the World Health Organization.

+ For the first time in nearly 12 years, more than a third of Americans (35 percent) approve of “the way Congress is handling its job,” according to a Gallup poll.

(Gallup)

+ “The lack of adequate planning and preparation caused the Department to be reactive, rather than proactive,” stated a report commissioned by the Los Angeles City Council regarding the police response to Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. 

+ In a Media Report Card by GLAAD, several major news outlets received failing grades for their coverage of the Equality Act, which was passed by the House on Thursday, Feb. 25. CNN, CBS, the New York Times and Newsweek, among others, “failed to include any quotes from LGBTQ advocates; outlet failed to contextualize need for Equality Act” or “included harmful and inaccurate anti-trans rhetoric unchecked.”  

+ The World Bank reports that in 38 nations worldwide, pregnancy is a legal reason to terminate a woman’s employment.  

+ Mothers are returning to the labor force in record numbers after being forced out throughout the pandemic. “Neither [mothers nor fathers] have achieved pre-pandemic levels of active work, but mothers are no longer disproportionately affected,” said co-author of the analysis Misty L. Heggeness, a principal economist at the Census Bureau.

+ The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that hate crimes against Asians have increased by nearly 150 percent in the U.S. in 2020. In contrast, total hate crimes decreased 7 percent.

+ Among lead editors at major news outlets around the world, less than a third are women. However, in the countries surveyed, women comprised 40 percent of the total journalists.

+ According to The Guardian, “Only 20% of artists in 2020 Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 were women, academic survey reports, while female producers were credited on only 2% of hit songs.”


The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-movingDuring this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a Ms. Fellow and former Editorial Intern. She recently graduated high school and is completing a gap year before attending Tufts University.