May 212012

Last week was, by any standard a bad one for women.  Sure, it started out well enough with the annual platitudes of Mother’s Day,  but it went quickly downhill from there.  Here are some of the highlights, or more accurately, low lights:

In Washington, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) held a hearing on restricting abortion rights in DC and would not allow DC’s representative, the very honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton to speak at the hearing because heaven forbid, we wouldn’t want our forefathers turning over in their graves because women have the right to make their own health decisions or speak for themselves in the shadow of the Capitol.

Out west  in Franks’ home state, Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law two more draconian bills that significantly impact women’s access to  reproductive health services.  This in a state that recently declared that pregnancy begins the first day of a woman’s period.

And meanwhile back in Washington, as the New York Times notes,

(L)ast Wednesday, Mr. Boehner refuted his own argument by ramming through the House a bill that seriously weakens the Violence Against Women Act. That followed the Republican push in Virginia and elsewhere to require medically unnecessary and physically invasive sonograms before an abortion, and Senate Republicans’ persistent blocking of a measure to better address the entrenched problem of sex-based wage discrimination.

Further down the hall, other members  of Congress once again took a hatchet to UNFPA funding,

In one fell swoop, the Appropriations Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives voted today to wipe out $39 million in funding for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. By voting to ban any U.S. contribution to UNFPA in FY2013, House Appropriators made a judgment call that saving the lives of women and girls around the world is simply not a U.S. priority.

Despite valiant efforts led by State Foreign Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), amendments that sought to reinstate funding to UNFPA for specific activities failed. Committee members voted against amendments that would permit funding to UNFPA for preventing and treating obstetric fistula, ending female genital mutilation, and providing family planning services and contraceptive supplies in nine sub-Saharan African countries with high rates of poverty and maternal mortality where USAID does not provide family planning assistance.

And finally, in Chicago, NATO began meetings that demonstrate their commitment to Afghan women’s rights by excluding Afghan women from the table, necessitating  a shadow summit so that these voices, that are crucial to any realistic discussion of the path forward in Afghanistan, are heard.

That was just the last week in the sustained barrage of attacks on women’s lives.  But yet the New York Times opines that whether or not to call this a war on women is a political argument.  Oh really?  What the dickens else would you call it?  We have a wishful tendency to think of war as something that happens elsewhere.  But as this sad smorgasbord of women hating shows all too clearly, the powers that be in this country are deliberately intent on indeed waging a very global war on women.

 May 21, 2012  Posted by on May 21, 2012 1 Response »
May 112012

Mother’s Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

–Julia Ward Howe

Mother’s Day cards that won’t make you cringe:

 May 11, 2012  Posted by on May 11, 2012 Comments Off on Happy Mother’s Day
May 092012

Please support this important new campaign to stop rape and gender violence in conflict (received via email):

The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflictis the first ever global collaboration between Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organizations, and groups working at the regional and community levels in conflict areas.

The Campaign is led by the women Peace Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and an Advisory Committee comprised of 25 organizations. These groups have worked tirelessly on the frontlines to defend women’s rights, amplify voices of rape survivors, and stop rape. They include organizations working at the international, regional, and community levels.

The Campaign unites the organizations and individuals that have tirelessly worked to amplify the voices of survivors and stop rape, into a powerful and coordinated effort for change.

The Campaign will demand urgent and bold political leadership to prevent rape in conflict, to protect civilians and rape survivors, and call for justice for all—including effective prosecution of those responsible.

Our three pillars—prevention, protection, prosecution—signal a comprehensive effort to stop rape in conflict. We need the political will and resources to prevent and protect, while also ensuring that those who are survivors of rape find the justice and support they deserve.

Our four focus countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Colombia, and Burma—are places where immediate, coordinated action is needed. Within these four countries we know that our united efforts can make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.

Rape in conflict is not a new occurrence, but with more data and increased media visibility we are now able to demonstrate the widespread nature of gender violence around the world. Rape is a strategic weapon to destroy people, used by state security forces and armed groups around the world.

The Campaign brings men and women together. Rape is not just a woman’s issue—men are also victims of rape in conflict. The only way we will achieve our goal is by engaging all sides, including men, and bringing people from all sectors together.

Take the Pledge: you can join the Campaign online at by signing a pledge of support. You can also make a “personal pledge” to take an action in your community in support of the Campaign. Everyone is an active member of this Campaign and every action counts—whether it’s committing to blog and raise awareness, volunteering at a local organization, organizing a film screening or simply lending your voice if you are a public figure. Every action and every person counts.

 May 9, 2012  Posted by on May 9, 2012 Comments Off on International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict