2018: The year for women

On the anniversary of Donald Trump’s first day of presidency, the United States government shut down due to failed negotiations on several critical issues facing millions of people in America. The Senate and House encountered months of stagnation in implementing funding for a variety of programs, including Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health centers, and the Maternal-Infant-Early Childhood home visiting program. Also being considered in the negotiations were funding the Mexican border wall and reauthorization of the DREAM act, as well as provision of tax extenders for rural hospitals. The people in power were in a standoff on these issues. The president, who brags on his ability to make the best deals, was unable to facilitate a compromise. Matters that affect the health and livelihood of Americans, especially women and children, rested in the hands of imperious men who could not agree.

The day the government closed was also the anniversary of the largest one-day protest in American history, the Women’s March. In 2017, millions of people across the country took to the streets to protest the current administration’s disregard for human rights, especially women’s rights. This year, women again resisted the agenda of a president who, in less than 12 months, destroyed years of progress in racial justice, environmental protection, health care, women’s rights and economic equality. Over a million people marched in more than 328 cities and towns across the nation on Jan. 21 and 22, protesting Trump’s racist statements, his sexual misconduct, his disregard for health care for American citizens, his inability to pass immigration reform and various other issues. Women decided not to accept regression to the days when their place was in the kitchen.

While the president and his supporters remain mired in divisiveness, millions of women and their allies are uniting like never before. Women are organizing marches and rallies in resistance to draconian agendas of a patriarchy that strips away choice, equality and safety for women. Survivors of years of sexual harassment and assault by powerful men, many women are now coming forward with their truth. Women are denying political candidates who stand against the female agenda by running for office and winning. They are campaigning across the country for more female candidates, and are planning to vote for those who demonstrate pro-women platforms. The current fight is for a greater cause than individual rights. Women are uniting with a desire for common decency, for respectable behavior, for doing what is right for others and supporting goodness in America and the world.

Pivotal women in government have fought for common good. Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri supported the military by proposing an amendment to continue paying active troops and death benefits during the government shutdown, a proposal which Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, rejected. Senator Maxine Waters pushed for Trump’s impeachment following his despicable remarks condemning Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi gained support for social issues by marching with women in Washington, D.C., urging them to oppose repression by voting and running for office, saying, “we march, we run, we vote, we win.” Senator Kamala Harris spoke to a huge crowd at the D.C. march, recalling ideals of 1776 when the founders of this nation expressed equal rights for all. She identified the need to uplift women to a level of equality by prioritizing them when establishing policies, stating that women’s issues include the economy, national security, health care, education, criminal justice reform and climate change. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was instrumental in engaging women in politics, raising over a million dollars for female candidates. Senator Elizabeth Warren advocated for women’s health and equal pay, saying she is “sick of debating these social issues like it’s 1913.”

Back in 2013, during a 16-day shutdown, women were the driving force behind a resolution to reopen the government. Senator John McCain praised the 20 women senators for developing a bipartisan plan. “Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily from women in the Senate,” he said. Senator Susan Collins stated at the time, “Although we span the ideological spectrum, we [women] are used to working together in a collaborative way.” Collaboration and unification fueled by women has facilitated positive change throughout history. Learning from history, women have implored other women to support each other in the fight for equal rights.

Many people in this country, women included, profess that everyone is already equal, that sexual and racist biases do not exist, and that working hard and staying on the right track will lead to success. The reality is that large groups of human beings in America have been pushed to the periphery of society and denied rights based on culture, religion, sex, gender and race. It is important to realize that a problem still exists, even if one does not personally experience that problem. Looking through the eyes of marginalized people, those who walk along wearing a different color skin or identifying as a disenfranchised gender or worshipping a different god, will bring deeper understanding of their struggles and narrow the divide between us. Women of all different cultures and races have been subjugated throughout history. Rights enjoyed in modern times are the result of years of fighting for them. Women today are resolute in continuing the fight for true equality and justice, and this year, women will prevail.

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