Keeping Score: Rest in Power, Madeleine Albright; Shalanda Young Is First Black Woman to Lead OMB; State Policies Threaten Trans Kids

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

“Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided. The destiny of our people, whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to preserve their democracy. Russia has attacked not just us, not just our land, our cities. It went on a brutal offensive against our values. Basic human values. Against our freedom, our right to live freely, choosing our own future. Against our desire for happiness, against our national dreams. …

In the end, to be the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace. Peace in your country does not depend only on you and your people. It depends on those next to you, on those who are strong. Strong does not mean weak. Strong is brave and ready to fight for his citizens as citizens of the world. For human rights. For freedom. The right to live decently and die when your time comes and not when decided by somebody else.”

—Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressing the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, March 16 from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city. He pled with U.S. Congress members to send more aid and support a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
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A pro-E.U. rally in Kiev on Nov. 26, 2013. (Ivan Bandura / Flickr)

“I think we’ll see a lot of unsafe abortions and women dying. … Every totalitarian regime has shut down access to reproductive health. … Doing abortions matters for the woman, for her family, for society and now for freedom.”

—Dr. Warren Hern, an American physician committed to ensuring legal abortion access, on the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade by upcoming Supreme Court ruling.

“For decades, Black and Brown people have been penalized for wearing natural hair styles deemed as ‘unprofessional.’ It is unacceptable to be discriminated against for wearing your natural hair in the workplace, in school, or anywhere.

Rep. Watson Coleman, Rep. Pressley, Rep. Omar, Rep. Moore, and I have taken direct aim at prohibiting race-based hair discrimination because everyone should be able to show up as their authentic selves and be treated with respect. I’m pleased that the CROWN Act has once again passed the House. It’s time for the Senate to finish the job and make it law.”

—Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on the passage of the CROWN Act in the U.S. House—legislation which, if passed by the Senate, will prohibit discrimination based on one’s natural hair texture or ethnic hairstyles.

“We are yet again being forced to protect the work we do and show up for Texans who need abortions and the people who love them. We won’t be harassed or intimidated out of serving our community, in the courts or anywhere else. We are proud to fight back, even when we have no choice.”

—Lilith Fund executive director Amanda Beatriz Williams announcing joint legal action with the Texas Equal Access Fund against anti-abortion extremists in Texas who are suing individuals on the basis of S.B. 8.

“This is a critical issue for reproductive health, rights and justice. Despite decades of proven safety and effectiveness, people still face immense barriers to getting birth control due to systemic inequities in our healthcare system. These barriers are disproportionately borne by people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, low-income individuals, young people, and people in rural communities—individuals who have faced and continue to face the greatest inequities. FDA has an important role to play in removing unnecessary barriers to provide individuals greater control over their reproductive lives and health.”

—U.S. legislators, including Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.), in a letter pushing the FDA to consider making birth control pills available over the counter.

Milestones

+ Madeleine Albright, the first woman U.S. secretary of state, died of cancer on Wednesday, Mar. 23. She was 84 years old. She served many roles in the executive branch throughout her storied career, including President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations and later his secretary of state.

“There seems to be enough room in the world for mediocre men, but not for mediocre women, and we really have to work very, very hard,” Albright once said.

+ U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’s commitment to gender equality grade decreased in score from a “B” to a “B-” in 2021, according to the Feminist U.N. Campaign’s latest report.

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The Feminist U.N. Campaign’s report authors said they docked points for Guterres’s systemic accountability, inconsistent transparency with information and access, and a limited understanding or push for intersectionality in gender initiatives. (Courtesy of ICRW)

Over the last five years, the Feminist U.N. Campaign, spearheaded by the International Center for Research on Women, has graded the secretary-general’s performance toward a feminist vision for the United Nations.

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In 2020, the SG received a ‘B,’ his highest grade to date—reflecting, most notably, his leadership on gender equality amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of ICRW)

+ A program initiated by the Biden administration extended temporary protected status to more than 74,000 Afghan refugees in the U.S. as of March 15, allowing them to remain in the country legally for at least 18 more months.

+ Shalanda Young is the first Black woman to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget after being confirmed by the Senate 61-36 on Tuesday, March 15.

+ Katalin Novák became the first female president of Hungary after beating out her opposition with 137-51 votes. Following her win, she called the Russian invasion of Ukraine “unacceptable.”

+ While reporting on the invasion of Ukraine, U.S. video journalist Brent Renaud was killed during conflict in a Kyiv suburb. Ukrainian interior ministry advisor Anton Gerashchenko said in a statement that Renaud “sacrificed his life trying to show the insidiousness, cruelty and ruthlessness of the aggressor.”

+ Following a moving speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, President Joe Biden granted Ukraine $800 million more for security against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

“The world is united in our support for Ukraine and our determination to make (Russian President Vladimir) Putin pay a very heavy price,” Biden said, signing a presidential memorandum at the White House. “America is leading this effort, together with our allies and partners, providing an enormous level of security and humanitarian assistance that we’re adding to today and we’re going to continue to do more in the days and weeks ahead.”

+ A bill to be introduced by Democratic California legislators would provide safe haven for families of transgender youth at risk of being separated or prosecuted because the child’s parents supported them in obtaining gender-affirming care.

+ After Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) directed state authorities to investigate gender-affirming care as child abuse against transgender youth, state district Judge Amy Clark Meachum blocked it on Friday, March 11 in Travis County in response to the investigation of a state employee’s family under Abbott’s directive.

+ Missouri state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R) introduced legislation that would allow individuals to sue residents for obtaining abortions in other states, a strategy inspired by Texas’s S.B. 8.

Another bill modeled after Texas’s ban passed the Idaho legislature and threatens to ban abortion after six weeks if signed by the governor. It would also allow close relatives of the pregnant person, including the fetus’s father, to sue abortion providers.

+ The Colorado House passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act on Monday, March 14, which ensure that “every individual has a fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; every pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”

How We’re Doing

+ Gender-affirming care for more than 58,000 transgender individuals over age 13 is on the line as a result of bans and policies in 15 states, UCLA’s Williams Institute found. Half of the bills prohibit the use of insurance coverage or state funds to cover the cost of care.

+ Women journalists around the word were detained, harassed, sued, threatened and assaulted 33 times in the month of February, according to the Coalition for Women in Journalism’s Press Freedom Status for Women Journalists report.

+ A survey revealed that people of color were undercounted in the 2020 U.S. census by about 700,000, with Hispanic people undercounted by 5 percent and Black Americans by 3.3 percent.

“…The 2020 census undercounted many of the same population groups we have historically undercounted, and it overcounted others,” Census Bureau director Robert Santos said, despite calling the 2020 census “fit for many uses in decision-making.”

+ Americans are largely supportive of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson in her Senate confirmation hearings, with 44 percent of survey respondents hoping the Senate votes in her favor, and only 20 percent opposed.

Sign and share Ms.’s relaunched “We Have Had Abortions” petition—whether you yourself have had an abortion, or simply stand in solidarity with those who have—to let the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House know: We will not give up the right to safe, legal, accessible abortion.

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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a rising sophomore at Tufts University studying sociology and community health. She is a Ms. contributing writer, and was formerly an editorial fellow, research fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.