To the Editor:
The letter about women’s rights by Margery Abel in last week’s Smoky Mountain News says it very well. I’d like to add the following to what she has said.
• Current Republican budget proposals call for cuts in child care, Head Start, job training, Pell Grants, housing, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — all of which would fall disproportionally on women.
• Recent cutbacks in state funding have led to reductions in the public sector workforce, so that teachers and civil servants — the majority of whom are women — have increasingly been forced into the ranks of the unemployed.
• Fewer services means more unpaid care work. Employed or not, women are the majority of our nation’s 67 million informal caregivers, who pick up the slack when services disappear. The growing practice of moving the elderly and disabled from publicly-funded residential centers to home-based care, and discharging hospital patients still in need of medical monitoring and nursing services, puts an increasing burden on women. They are either grossly underpaid for these essential services or else perform them at home for free while also holding down another job.
• With the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs and the decline of the construction industry, the majority of union members are now women in the service sector. Hence, attacks on unions become thinly-disguised attacks on the rights of women to engage in collective bargaining and seek better pay and working conditions.
• From June 2009 to May 2012, women suffered 61 percent of public-sector job losses, while gaining only 22.5 of the 2.5 million net jobs added to the overall economy. In 2010, the poverty rate among women rose to its highest level (14.5 percent) in 17 years. It is not much better today.
• Denial of government funding to Planned Parenthood and other agencies providing family planning services leads to more unwanted births, more children being raised in poverty, more need for childcare services so women can work to support their families, larger school enrollments — and thus heavier burdens on women for all these reasons.
• Men in legislatures, courtrooms, and the media voicing opinions and making decisions about women’s bodies, without consultation with women, is an insult to human dignity and equal rights.
Would that we had more Margery Abels to stand in the heroic line of the Elizabeth Cady Stantons, Susan B. Anthonys, and Lily Ledbetters she mentions in leading the cause of women’s equality.
P.S. We men can help, too.