Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Ranked-Choice Voting Will Open Doors for More Women and Minorities; Women Leaders Convene in Tanzania

Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation. 

This week, read about Arlington’s preparations for RCV in the upcoming November elections; celebrate Shirley Chisholm, who continues to receive high recognition as a new stage play prepares for its debut; explore the impact of the increase in women mayors in Turkey; learn about women leaders advocating for women’s leadership in politics and global health; and uncover why the U.N. is concerned about Georgia’s removal of electoral gender quotas.

A rejuvenating family vacation only strengthened my resolve. With the Fair Representation Act and ranked-choice voting gaining traction, I am optimistic about achieving gender balance in government in my lifetime.

The Terrifying Global Reach of the American Anti-Abortion Movement

When performed properly, abortion is considered extremely safe. But nearly half—45 percent—of the 73 million abortions performed worldwide each year are unsafe.

One big reason: American anti-abortion policies.

For decades, the U.S. has used the power of the purse to force poorer nations to abide by the anti-abortion values of American conservatives or forgo aid for family planning and other healthcare—giving women around the globe no alternative but to seek backstreet abortions that send some to emergency rooms and others to their graves.

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: U.S. House Dissolves Office of Diversity and Inclusion; More Black Women in Office Is the Real ‘American Dream’

Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation. 

This week: as of March 25, the government’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) office has closed, as part of a $1.2 trillion government spending bill; nearly 30 percent of LGBTQ women candidates were discouraged from running for office due to their gender or gender identity; how the ERA would empower Congress to address gender-based violence; the Fair Representation Act can make Congress work; and more.

Can Beyoncé’s Foray into Country Music Change the Genre’s Conservative Views?

Beyoncé’s much-anticipated country album, Cowboy Carter, drops on Friday, March 29. Beyoncé’s immense success in country music is a clear signal that there is a huge audience for country music around the world, but that audience won’t settle for the music’s often conservative conventions. Black music and musicians are at the heart of country music, and recognition of Black women’s music on this scale is long overdue.

Beyoncé doesn’t need country music. But, if it’s going get the global traction the CMA and other parts of the industry desire, country music needs artists like Beyoncé.

As U.S. Faces a Rising Tide of Abortion Bans and Restrictions, France Enshrines Freedom of Access in the Constitution

In 2023, seeking “to avoid a U.S.-like scenario for women in France, as hard-right groups are gaining ground,” President Emmanuel Macron promised a constitutional amendment affirming women’s right to abortion and to control over their own bodies. The amendment subsequently passed by a crushing majority of 780 to 72 votes and was inserted ceremoniously into the French Constitution on March 8, 2024, International Women’s Day.

Meanwhile in 2022, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade that held abortion as a protected right under the United States Constitution

How do we explain the radically different trajectories on this critical dimension of women’s rights between two countries with strong feminist and anti-abortion movements that decriminalized abortion within a few years of one another?  

The Militarization of U.S. Culture 

Since Sept. 11, publicly criticizing militarization has been widely viewed as an act of disloyalty. Militarization, in all its seductiveness and subtlety, deserves to be bedecked with flags wherever it thrives—fluorescent flags of warning. 

(For more ground-breaking stories like this, order 50 YEARS OF Ms.: THE BEST OF THE PATHFINDING MAGAZINE THAT IGNITED A REVOLUTION, Alfred A. Knopf—a collection of the most audacious, norm-breaking coverage Ms. has published.)

Lessons from Bosnia to Gaza and the Urgency for Change

As someone who lived in a war zone for over five years, north of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, Sarajevo, I have borne witness to the horrors inflicted upon innocent souls women and children, my own community torn apart by violence and despair. Yet, in the face of such darkness, I have also seen the flicker of resilience, the unwavering spirit that refuses to be extinguished.

The failure of the international community to support a timely intervention in Bosnia has been well documented, but as I witness new conflicts across the globe in the three decades since, I see that we did not learn anything about protecting humanity. We cannot ignore the cries of innocent lives, including all the hostages caught in the crossfire of this conflict. Now is the time for decisive action; advocating to end relentless fighting and supporting urgent adequate delivery of humanitarian aid and medical assistance.

Lost Women: Aphra Behn—Novelist, Spy and the First Woman to Earn a Living as an English Writer

This Women’s History Month, we’re reviving the iconic “Lost Women” column—diving into the archives to make these histories more accessible to our new age of Ms. readers.

For any writer to have produced 19 plays and 13 novels, plus 11 volumes of letters, translations and miscellaneous prose and verse, is remarkable. For a 17th-century woman to have done so is phenomenal. That was the literary output of Aphra Behn (1640-1689), the first woman to earn her living as a writer in the English language.