The Global Fund for Women blogged today that ‘It’s worse than we thought’. Yesterday, a photo was released of a group of white men issuing the ‘Global Gagging’ edict that all reproductive clinics supported through US aid that counsel on safe abortion services will lose ALL their funding. Not just funding for abortion services, all the money they rely on to do contraceptive and HIV/AIDS work in areas where – by definition – that help is unavailable, so must be supported through aid. What are these doctors supposed to do – not tell women about their options even when pregnancies are unsafe, desperately unwanted and affordable or the result of abuse?
Simultaneously, the White House website has been stripped of equalities pages, leaving the LGBTI community out in the cold, as well as women. That Trump chose to do this so early into office shows the symbolic value of control of women and sexuality in Trump’s supra-macho administration. It has the material consequence of seriously disrupting reproductive health clinics in contexts where women lack that basic right to decide when (and if) to become a mum. It also goes much further. It represents men as the authority that manage women’s bodies. It reduces women to their reproductive capacities.
Over half of pregnancies worldwide are unplanned. Women lack power to make men use condoms. They are subject to social ideas about their sexual and mothering imperative. They NEED medical counsel to inform their own – empowered – decision making about pregnancy and contraception.
But rather than being anxious, let’s be angry. And let that anger stir us to action.
You could take two small steps today.
- First, write to your MP and ask that the UK match the Dutch government’s determination to increase investment for reproductive clinics, to help address the withdrawal of US aid. When Theresa May meets Trump she needs to make it clear that the ‘Special Relationship’ has its boundaries; the core rights of gender equality are that boundary. Find your MP’s email here and write a two sentence email, forcing them to write you a reply: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/
For more info, read this:
- Second, donate to The Global Women’s campaign to match a $10k dollar donation for reproductive clinics with $10k of new donations. It won’t change all women’s lives, but it’s an act of solidarity at a time when we all need to act as a collective.
Oh, and if you’re really interested, see Jessica Shortall’s brilliant Ted Talk on the US’s shockingly poor maternity rights. Some women are going back to work ‘hobbling and bleeding…’
And see the report I prepared with colleagues for the International Labour Organization to see how – globally – many women lack any effective maternity rights or employment support
The message seems to be: You’re there to have babies, but we won’t support you when you have them. Let’s not let THAT be the global narrative for women.
Prof Julia Rouse
Co-Head of the Sylvia Pankhurst Gender Research Centre