Keeping Score: Capitol Statues Honor RBG and Sandra Day O’Connor; Military Survivors Launch Campaign to Address Sexual Assault

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: Michigan governor appeals to state Supreme Court to enshrine abortion rights in constitution; track star Allyson Felix plans to retire; Florida and Oklahoma move to criminalize abortion; Ukrainian refugees face a lack of sexual and reproductive healthcare; U.N. funds Bilan Project to give a voice to female journalists in Somalia; and more.

Universal Pre-K, Childcare and Paid Leave Aren’t Just for Women and Families—They’re Key to Economic Recovery

In 2021, Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan that included $40 billion in childcare relief funding, helping providers to stay afloat, parents to get back to work, and businesses to stabilize. But it’s not enough for the long-term improvements our families and providers need to succeed.

That’s why I’m calling for us to continue the fight to secure universal pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year olds and affordable childcare for all.

Death of Build Back Better Will Hurt Women and Kids the Most

It’s been just over a year since the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was passed, through which the federal government invested in people by giving them stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits and an expanded child tax credit that benefited nearly every parent in the country. While there was no shortage of energy from House Democrats and many of their Senate colleagues to pass Build Back Better—ARPA’s successor—the bill stalled in the Senate.

Policies that help women aren’t just the right thing to do—they’re the smart thing to do. Now is not the time to shrink behind austerity politics that prevent our government from meeting the needs of its people, especially those who have always been marginalized.

Is It 2157 Yet? How Businesses and Policymakers Can Accelerate the Timeline for Equal Pay

At our current pace, we won’t close the wage gap between men and women until 2157—nearly 136 years from now, with 36 of those added to make up for pandemic setbacks. We can’t hand off this injustice to our great-great granddaughters. So how can public policymakers, philanthropy and private businesses come together to accelerate the process?

There are solutions for narrowing the wage gap between men and women—let’s start by raising the federal minimum wage to $15; providing paid leave to all employees; and changing hiring practices.

What Biden’s State of the Union Means for Women

Biden’s demands to create a more equitable economy for women, which reflect decades of activism and leadership on the part of racial and gender justice advocates, aren’t simply bullet points on a progressive wish list. They aren’t “nice-to-haves.” They are fundamental building blocks of an economy and society that values women and families, which explains why the United States doesn’t have them.

Paid Family Leave Act: Get Real on Gender Gaps in Academia Now

There is significant gender inequity in higher education that serves to disparage women’s role and contribution in academia. While women outnumber men in university attendance, they are less represented in faculty and continually paid less than their counterparts.

Many attribute these inequities to starting a family, as the benefits many professors attribute to parenthood, are overshadowed by the challenges to research, funding and tenure recognized by faculty and institutions. Improved paid family leave policies would help overcome these barriers and make strides towards greater equity in academia.

Parental Leave: The Time for Change Was Yesterday

After giving birth, new moms are faced with the struggle of balancing the physical needs of their recovering bodies, emotional needs of being a new mother and the financial needs of returning to work. With one in four women returning to work just two weeks after delivery, it is past time for the U.S. to prioritize paid parental leave. Taking care of mothers, who make up 57 percent of our workforce, is the first step towards a safer and healthier tomorrow.

Americans Are Entitled to Government That Truly Reflects Them. Let’s Start With the Supreme Court

When one assesses who has seats at the table—predominantly wealthy white men—it is no surprise that the issues that matter to so many everyday Americans are not lifted up.

This won’t change unless the country collectively acknowledges the literal concentration of American power among white men, decides it is not ideal, and takes affirmative steps to remedy it. The Supreme Court is a great place to start.

U.S. Backslide on Abortion Rights Is a Grave Danger to Democracy, Say Both Reproductive Rights Experts and Legal Analysts

Saturday, Jan. 22, marked Roe v. Wade’s 49th anniversary—and it very well may be its last. 

On Friday, Jan. 21, experts on democracy and elections from the Brennan Center and Ms. discussed the implications of the Texas abortion law S.B. 8 and the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that directly challenges the precedent of Roe.

Sponsored by Ms. and the Gender and Policy Center at George Mason University’s Schar School, the rousing discussion set the stage for how the U.S. got to this point, and outlined where we go from here.

The U.S. Is in Urgent Need of Childcare Solutions. Build Back Better Would Be a Game-Changer

The U.S. has not prioritized childcare. Even before the pandemic, many families could not find childcare when and where they needed it. More than half of all families lived in childcare deserts, and those who didn’t faced exorbitant prices. That’s gotten even worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who can afford childcare, extremely high prices take a toll—many families pay more than mortgage payments or rent for care. It’s unacceptable.

The Build Back Better Act will be a game-changer for parents across the nation, lowering prices and increasing the supply of high-quality care at the same time.