Keeping Score: Democrats Demand Repeal of Global Gag Rule; Sexual Harassment Is Now a Military Code Offense; Black Voters Eager to See First Black Woman to Supreme Court

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.

This week: Mississippi abortion ban threatens future of Roe v. Wade; McDonald’s employees pursue anti-sexual harassment and discrimination training; Democrats demand permanent repeal of global gag rule; California signs Equal Pay Pledge; same-gender couples face $30,000 income gap; and more.

More Work Ahead: Fighting Food Insecurity Among Military Families

In one of its last sessions of 2021, Congress passed a pared-down version of the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This marks an important first step toward closing gaps in our social safety net through which currently-serving military families have been allowed to fall. But it’s miles from enough.

In the wake of Congress’s lackluster response, it is more urgent than ever for the administration to use its authority to take action on concrete, long-term solutions to address military hunger.

The Ms. Top Feminists of 2021

From COVID vaccines to abortion rights, infrastructure bills to Olympic athletes, 2021 has been a monunmental year for feminists around the globe. With so many of our rights in jeopardy, and with so many women struggling to recover from the pandemic, activists have had to work even harder to stand up for the causes we believe in.

Tackling voting rights, public health, reproductive justice and much more, here are our top feminists of 2021.

The Feminist Peace Initiative Urges Intersectional Feminist Principles in U.S. Foreign Policy

The Feminist Peace Initiative, co-founded by MADRE, Women Cross DMZ and the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, challenges and reimagines a U.S. foreign policy in the interests of all people and the planet.

“The conditions people flee—economic, violence—are push factors often created by U.S. policies, and exacerbated by the climate catastrophe, a result of corporate extraction or militarized pollution.”

U.S. Military’s Male-Dominated Culture Harms More Than Just Women

Major gender gaps persist in the U.S. armed forces, negatively impacting operational effectiveness, military culture and compliance with international law, according to a report released by the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security.

To ensure women’s meaningful participation, the report suggests that women must be promoted to leadership positions and their input must be valued. To do so, the military must adopt better and more complete childcare and parental leave policies and decouple physical fitness standards from advancement.

Dear Joe Manchin: Think Build Back Better Is Expensive? Wait Till You Hear the U.S. Defense Budget.

The main objection to President Biden’s Build Back Better plan by Republicans and so-called “moderate” Democrats is the price tag—$1.75 trillion over 10 years. If that sounds like a lot of money, it is—until you compare it to the boys and their toys.

We don’t need a rocket scientist to tell us why women’s jobs aren’t recovering: a lack of childcare and universal pre-kindergarten, a lack of paid family leave. The Build Back Better Act would go a long way toward fixing that.

As a Woman Researcher, I Experienced the Harassment and Silencing of the Women Soldiers I Interviewed

Women peacekeepers are being asked to increase the security for women civilians in conflict zones—yet women peacekeepers are being sexually harassed and assaulted by men in their own militaries. How can the U.N. Security Council stand by its call to troop contributing countries to increase the numbers of women peacekeepers they are deploying, when they can’t keep them safe?

New Biden Executive Order Marks a Historic Change in the Handling of Military Sexual Assault

President Biden signed an executive order implementing sweeping changes to the way the military justice system handles sexual assault cases. The reform “transfers key decision-making authorities from commanders to specialized, independent military prosecutors in cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, murder, and other serious offenses.” The initiative, which consistently wins bipartisan support, is “the most significant transformation of the military justice system since … 1950,” according to the White House.

The reform effort has been led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and other survivors, advocates and members of Congress. “While it will take time to see the results of these changes,” said Gillibrand, “these measures will instill more trust, professionalism and confidence in the system.”