Tag Archives: International Women’s Day

A Day Without Women? Strike Sex Instead

The Capitol Building, still draped in flags for Donald Trump’s inauguration the day before, is backdrop for nearly 1 million who flooded Washington DC to stand up for Women’s Rights. The success of the march led organizers to call for “A Day Without Women” strike on International Women’s Day, March 8 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

For those women who flexed their liberated muscles by opposing Hillary Clinton (because after all, what did they have to lose?), two stories from this week stand out:

GOP Lawmaker Asks Why Men Should Pay for Prenatal Care

Judge resigns over rape trial comment: ‘Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?’

Trump has not only set back American progress on every aspect of civil, environmental, economic and criminal justice a century to the Gilded Age, but threatens to do the same with women’s rights and standing in society. And I’m not just referring to the fact that he has made it okay to be a misogynistic, sexist, racist, xenophobic bit.

Hillary Clinton in her campaign noted that it isn’t just “attitude” or “culture” that propagates bias, but systemic reinforcement in the economy, the tax code, the courts, the law, and most especially health care and reproductive rights, that, more than anything else for all practical purposes keep women down and lacking power.

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), explicitly reversed those impediments, which allowed insurance companies to make women pay higher premiums for their pre-existing condition of being a woman.

The health care “reform” that Republicans are trying to ram through would not only restore that ability of insurance companies to charge women more so that they couldn’t actually afford prenatal care, or for that matter a delivery, or the necessary care for their infant, especially one that is born without all the advantages of its mother having had access to prenatal care, but they propose to defund Planned Parenthood, used by 4 million people (52 million visits a year), resulting in 551,000 fewer unintended pregnancies, and of course, they intend to end women’s reproductive rights altogether.

After the Women’s March on Washington the day after inauguration, which brought out millions across the US and the world, I proposed that women should strike to demonstrate how essential to the economy women were. On March 8, International Women’s Day, there was just such a strike, “A Day Without Women.” But as the big day approached, I realized it had to fail because women predominate in jobs that are life and death – nurses, teachers, home healthcare and daycare providers, legal services (the list goes on and on and on).

“My babies,” is how a Great Neck kindergarten teacher described her students during a school board hearing on the proposed bond, noting that there is a significant difference in learning readiness for children who come to kindergarten with or without having attended pre-K, which follows through throughout their elementary schooling. They don’t catch up. I am quite sure she was in her classroom teaching instead of joining the “Day Without Women” strike.

Moreover, unless a woman worked for a sympathetic boss, she likely could not afford to lose pay, and possibly her job.

Consequently, the full impact of women on the economy, and in society – that women comprise half of the entire paid labor force for the first time in history, mothers are now close to 50 percent of all primary breadwinners, and women drive 70 to 80 percent of all consumer purchasing – went unnoticed, and women as a political force were pretty much told to sit down and shut up, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Senator Elizabeth Warren.

But, as ever, Senator Warren expressed best why “women’s issues are economic issues” and how the system is rigged against them:

Women are the main breadwinners, or joint breadwinners, in two-thirds of the families in America, she said, but:

  • Having a child is the single best predictor that a woman will end up in financial collapse.
  • Single moms are more likely than any other group to file for bankruptcy – more likely than the elderly, more likely than divorced men, and more likely than people living in poor neighborhoods.
  • Single moms who have been to college are actually 60% more likely to end up bankrupt than those with just a high school diploma.

“The deck has been stacked against working women and moms for years. And with the Republicans in charge, it’s getting worse – a lot worse.”

Warren noted:

Women struggle under the burden of student loan debt, child care costs that equal college tuition,  make 78 cents to the dollar of her male colleague and can be fired just for asking what the guy down the hall makes (Republicans are blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act).

Mothers are 10 times more likely than fathers to take time off when their kids are sick, and 60% are not paid for that time off. Too many women fear losing their jobs because they are stuck having to choose between work or caring for someone they love. (Republicans won’t even let us have a vote on paid sick time and family leave, and Trump rolled back Obama’s executive orders on parental leave and overtime pay).

Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women but the minimum wage hasn’t gotten a federal raise in seven years, and mothers of very young children disproportionately work low-wage jobs (Trump rolled back Obama’s executive order and Republicans have blocked every effort to raise it.).

Because women make less than men throughout their lifetimes, they receive, on average, about $4,000 less a year than men in Social Security benefits (as well as pensions). This really hurts because women are less likely to have other assets, so they rely more heavily on those Social Security checks to keep them out of poverty. Republicans still threaten to cut Social Security for women and families and raise the retirement age, while their health care plan would also increase the cost of having health care and likely toss off millions of women and children from any health care at all.

“Donald Trump was right about one thing: the game is rigged. It’s rigged for rich guys like Donald Trump. The system works great for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists, but it leaves women and families behind. A system in which Republicans work tirelessly to rip away health care from millions of women and defund Planned Parenthood health clinics, while giving away billions of dollars in subsidies to Big Oil. A system that cuts Head Start programs and NIH medical research, but protects tax breaks for billionaires and giant corporations,” Warren stated.

And no where is this “rigged system” more apparent than in the Trump/Ryan plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan that will strip health insurance from millions, raise the cost for women, for older people, for the poor and sick, in order to give the 400 richest Americans—who averaged incomes of $318 million in 2014—a tax cut of about $7 million a year, a windfall that they will happily reinvest in buying the election of candidates who will do their bidding. (Trump doesn’t pay taxes, so this wouldn’t benefit him.)

Indeed, as it turns out, there isn’t a single “Women’s Issue” but rather, a broad gamut of issues are central to women: climate change, nuclear nonproliferation, gun violence prevention, food, water and drug safety, education, workers rights, health care and public health; infrastructure and mass transportation; immigration rights, criminal justice reform, affordable housing. What is there about life that doesn’t concern women?

The fascinating thing about that ignorant lout who is unbelievably serving in Congress but can’t understand why a man should have to pay for prenatal care is that society has a collective interest in women’s health, and public health. If someone doesn’t go to the doctor and can’t afford to stay home from work, their communicable disease will spread. When people don’t go to the doctor for an early diagnosis, but only go when the condition becomes severe, society as a whole foots the bill for catastrophic care, and is deprived of that individual’s productivity.

Clearly, there should be a different sort of strike, one that would not require women to relinquish their work responsibilities: they should strike sex. Women are considered mere vessels to incubate an embryo (an elected official actually said that), a lesser person with fewer legal and political rights than a zygote. Women are singularly punished for having sex. Sex in Trump’s misogynistic RightWing America has come to mean enslavement. (And yes, I realize this sounds as crazy as Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who has taken over Housing & Urban Development, who equated the slaves who were brought to the US in chains at the bottom of boats to “immigrants” with their high aspirations.)

John Oliver, in his summation of International Women’s Day on Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, said: “Every year, the best way of gauging not just how far women have come, but perhaps how far they still have to go, is by watching powerful men around the world trip over their dicks while talking about the day.”

He highlighted Vladimir Putin, who told his nation, “Women give us life and perpetuate it in our children. We will do our utmost to surround our dear women with care and attention, so that they can smile more often.”

Women in Congress (still only 20%) wore white to Trump’s joint address, to symbolize the suffragettes of a century ago and show solidarity.

“We wear white to unite against any attempts by the Trump Administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century, and we will continue to support the advancement of all women,” Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., the chair of the party’s Women’s Working Group, said in a statement.

See also:

Lessons From the Historic Women’s March: How to Counter Trump


© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

International Women’s Day: Obamas Point to Progress on ‘Let Girls Learn’ Initiative

First Lady Michelle Obama, discussing her "Let Girls Learn" initiative © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
First Lady Michelle Obama, discussing her “Let Girls Learn” initiative © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Today, on International Women’s Day, we recommit ourselves to achieving a world in which every woman and girl enjoys the full range of rights and freedoms that is her birthright,” President Obama stated.

“Women and girls make extraordinary contributions every day across all fields of human endeavor, including in business, education, sports, art, science, agriculture, parenting, and governance.  Without these contributions, economies would collapse, communities would fail, and families would fall apart.  And yet, in too many places around the world, women still struggle to rise out of their status as second-class citizens.  They are denied opportunities for full economic and political participation.  Some are forced to marry and have children when they are still children themselves, while abusive practices, such female genital mutilation/cutting, still persist in too many places.  Moreover, secondary education-arguably the most powerful tool for helping girls escape cycles of poverty and abuse and take control of their lives–remains beyond the reach of tens of millions of girls around the world.

“That is why I am proud that my Administration launched the Let Girls Learn initiative, which is already helping adolescent girls around the world to surmount the barriers that stand between them and a quality education.   It is also why I am pleased to announce that, in the coming days, Secretary of State John Kerry will be releasing the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, which lays out a whole-of-government approach to provide the next generation of women the tools they need to pursue their aspirations.

“We know that when we invest in women and girls, we are not only helping them, we are helping the entire planet.  A future in which all women and girls around the world are allowed to rise and achieve their full potential will be a brighter, more peaceful, and more prosperous future for us all.”

Meanwhile, the White House issued a fact sheet on the progress made after one year of the “Let Girls Learn” initiative.


 In March 2015, the President and the First Lady launched Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative aimed at helping adolescent girls attain a quality education that empowers them to reach their full potential. The recently released FY 2017 President’s Budget has requested more than $100 million in new funds for the initiative, building on the $250 million in funds requested in the FY 2016 President’s Budget to launch the initiative. Additionally, foreign governments, including JapanSouth Korea and the UK, have collectively pledged nearly $600 million towards global girls’ education programming. Domestically, the First Lady is galvanizing students to become global citizens, from launching the #62MillionGirls social media campaign last September, to releasing the Let Girls Learn toolkit at last summer’s Girl Up Summit, to talking directly to girls at the Apollo Theater at last fall’s The Power of an Educated Girl town hall with Glamour Magazine.  Another key approach to making Let Girls Learn a success is through public private partnerships.  The independent commitments described below build upon commitments announced at last year’s Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit.  For the latest update on Alex and Ani’s commitment, click HERE. 

Private Sector Commitments to Let Girls Learn:

JOHNSON & JOHNSON will support global fundraising efforts in support of the girls’ education through Global Moms Relay and Donate a Photo App, totaling more than $200,000 over two years.  In addition, Johnson & Johnson will contribute $50,000 to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund.

PROCTER & GAMBLE is making a $100,000 donation to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund to enable adolescent girls’ education programming with a focus on Africa and Asia.  For International Women’s Day, Always will promote Let Girls Learn by proposing girls’ education-emojis, including a Mrs. Obama Let Girls Learn emoji. In addition, P&G and Peace Corps will explore expanding Always Confidence Teaching Curriculum to help more girls build and maintain confidence through education.

STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS WORLDWIDE, INC. will produce original promotional video content to run on SPG TV, an in-hotel TV network reaching upwards of 12 million consumers a month, as well as distribution across its many social media channels. Starwood will also designate Let Girls Learn as an official SPG charity partner, designing a promotion which allows members to donate Starpoints® to benefit Let Girls Learn.

JETBLUE will produce an original seatback video about Let Girls Learn for all flights during a key amplification month, raising awareness and inspiring all around international girls’ education. Additionally, JetBlue will provide a financial donation to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund.

LYFT will drive donations to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund through their tip-matching program, which will match funds when passengers tip their drivers. Lyft will identify key moments to activate this collaboration throughout the year.

J.CREW will support Let Girls Learn through their Garments for Good initiative and will design specific items to be released later this year. Garments for Good is a J.Crew initiative to lend support by selling items in their stores and online, with all profits being donated to the selected charity.

CSOFT INTERNATIONAL will translate Let Girls Learn materials, including the Peace Corps training literature, from English into multiple languages.

THE GIRLS’ LOUNGE is helping raise awareness around Let Girls Learn by commissioning a Let Girls Learn mural at Union Market and bringing a Let Girls Learn bus to Washington, DC to celebrate International Women’s Day. The Girls’ Lounge, in collaboration with partner Rubicon Project will also provide digital media campaigns to drive awareness and messaging for Let Girls Learn throughout 2016.

SALESFORCE.ORG will financially support Room to Read’s expansion of girls’ education in Cambodia and Sri Lanka. This commitment will support the work the First Lady has done to shed light on the importance of girls’ education in Cambodia, where she visited Room to Read’s work as part of the Let Girls Learn launch.

Public Sector and NGO Commitments to Let Girls Learn: 

DINING FOR WOMEN is a global giving circle dedicated to transforming lives and eradicating poverty among women and girls in the developing world. They will support the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund with a $100,000 grant to fund community projects that address barriers to girls’ education and promote empowerment. 

RTI INTERNATIONAL, a nonprofit institute that provides research, development and technical services worldwide, will donate to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund.

CONNECTHER is raising awareness about access to education and schooling in the developing world through Girls Impact the World (GITW) Film Festival. Connecther is launching the GITW Global Chapters to screen short films from the Film Festival about the education of girls, economic independence for girls, redefining beauty and other critical issues.  Each screening will include a session about girls’ education.

AMY POEHLER’S SMART GIRLS, along with the Peace Corps, will share educational resources such as video and classroom correspondence activities to give “Smart Girls” the opportunity to learn about the world and connect with other “Smart Girls” eager to engage and support girls’ education.

See also:

First Lady Michelle Obama suggests will make ‘Let Girls Learn’ her work after WH and slideshow