Happy International Women’s Day! Now where are those rights I was promised?

RosieBy Jessica Huseman

Happy International Women’s Day! It’s a good time to step back and celebrate how far we’ve come on women’s rights, and then cry a little after we realize how far behind pretty much everyone else we are.

Let’s start off with government: The United States ranks 77th in the percentage of women in national parliaments — which, in our case, is Congress. We’re sandwiched in between Sao Tome and Principe and Madagascar. Just makes you feel good, doesn’t it?

Of the 435 seats in the House, women fill only 78. And of the 100 seats in the Senate, women fill only 20. Compare this to the No. 1 country for women representation, Rwanda, where women fill 56 percent of lower chamber seats and 38 percent of upper chamber seats.

But that’s just one measure where we’re not so good. We may not be very high up politically, but we’ve got to be doing better everywhere else, amirite?

No, no I’m not.

According to the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report conducted by the World Economic Forum, the U.S. ranks 22nd when compared to other countries on measures of index benchmarks on economic, political, education and health-based criteria, narrowly beating out Mozambique and Burundi.

But it’s OK ladies! Shake it off! This is the U-S-of-A — at least our personal freedoms are high up on those ranking lists. I mean, they kind of are, according to a poll by Thompson Reuters. It contacted 370 experts on gender from across the globe to consider things such as “discrimination, harassment, gender-based violence and the extra burdens of care giving.”

The poll ranks the U.S. at No. 6, stating that in the states “women have good access to education but suffer disproportionately from a lack of universal healthcare. Reproductive services are being rolled back.”

That last bit is certainly true, at least in certain states. Texas is in the process of passing a bill that would roll back the time limit on abortions by seven weeks, Georgia passed an identical bill that’s currently been frozen by the courts and Arkansas made abortions illegal for after 12 weeks. And nationally, House Republicans are trying to roll back birth control coverage.

Meanwhile birth control is available over the counter in most other countries. The U.S. is one of the 44 out of 147 countries surveyed by Dr. Daniel Grossman, of Ibis Reproductive Health in Oakland, Calif., where a prescription is required to get birth control. Of the other developed countries included in the 44, birth control is typically covered at no cost by their universal healthcare programs. Not so with the U.S.

And while the U.S. just begrudgingly (for some) passed the Violence Against Women Act, other internationally accepted bills still remain stuck in the congressional backlogs. The U.S., for instance, is one of seven members in the United Nations not to have passed the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The other six include such countries as Iran, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

Former President Jimmy Carter originally sent CEDAW to the Senate for consent in 1980, and it has remained stuck in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations ever since — despite having been given five hearings in the past 25 years.

The U.S. has an absolutely abysmal record on women’s rights for a country that claims to be the best country in the world. We rant and rave against countries that subjugate their women to a lack of rights, but we ignore the rights and opportunities we deny women in this country every day.

So, on International Women’s Day, let’s give a round of applause to the other countries that continue to slam the U.S. in the rankings. Let’s also go ahead and call our congressmen (and women) to complain.

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Posted by on March 8, 2013. Filed under Recent News,Women. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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