To the editor:
For the first time in history the United States has a woman vice president and female speaker of the House of Representatives. They were prominently featured, sitting behind President Joe Biden during his recent State of the Union Address. In the address, Biden promised clean drinking water and high-speed internet, enabling families to be safe and parents to work from home and proposed cutting the cost of childcare in half, extending the child tax credit and urging Congress to pass the equality act, the paycheck fairness act, paid leave and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, all policies which will help more women succeed.
President Biden also supports passage of the ERA by Congress and for putting it in the Constitution, which would give women equality in our constitution for the first time, empowering women to get equal pay and equal protection under the law from sexual harassment and violence.
Unfortunately, we know violence against women is still a major problem, causing distress, mental health concerns and consequences throughout women’s lives. We should applaud Biden on the successful negotiation of a new authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which has passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate.
Women still struggle to achieve pay equity, known as the gender pay gap, which affects daily life, as well as lifetime earnings. Women have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, hurt by the struggle with school closures and affected because small businesses have been hurt disproportionately during the pandemic, affecting female-owned businesses.
On the other hand, women have been behind the wave of unionizing across the United States. Unions can fight for fair pay, paid leave, health insurance and other benefits and can help create better working conditions for women. This year is also the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or education program that receives federal funding.
Women around the world have had to seek refuge because of war, climate migration or violence in their home countries. More women and children have had to leave Ukraine because of the Russian invasion, as men have been asked to stay home and fight. More than three million people have fled the country, having to care for their children and pets and bringing very few belongings.
Russian bombings have also targeted hospitals, maternity wards and schools, and specifically targeted women and families. Ukrainian troops are made up of 24% women, so they have been fighting on the front lines of this violent conflict as well.
We should celebrate women and their achievements all year round, not just during Women’s History Month. We should be concerned with their struggles and look for ways to help women. Their struggles are our struggles. We are “all of women born,” to paraphrase Shakespeare, so we should treat all women with all the respect we would treat our mothers.
-Boyd Walker, Alexandria