Tonight’s historic win by Barack Obama and Joe Biden is truly a victory for women and girls in the United States and around the world. After eight years of the Bush administration slashing away at women’s and civil rights, shredding social services, and favoring ideology over science, women voters cleaned house today.
We believe Obama-Biden will be the most feminist, progressive administration ever to lead this country, and we are ready to work hard to help bring about policies that will increase equality and opportunity for all.
This year we witnessed several potential firsts in the race for the White House, and as an organization committed to ending racism and promoting diversity, NOW is proud to celebrate the election of Senator Barack Obama, the first African-American U.S. president. This achievement marks the beginning of a new chapter in our nation’s history – a chapter that NOW is eager to help write, a chapter that will move us forward as women and as a people.
What do feminists expect from this next administration? For starters, we want women to have the opportunity to succeed in the workplace, and to be rewarded fairly for their labor. The economic downturn has had a disproportionate impact on women, who are paid less than men and occupy the vast majority of low-paying jobs. As a result, women have fewer savings and little cushion to carry them through a financial crisis. We will work with President Obama to close the gender wage gap, increase the minimum wage, and pass legislation that will help women better balance family and work, including expanded paid sick days and family and medical leave.
Another key component in women’s ability to thrive in our society is access to health care, including the full range of reproductive health services and contraception (not just Viagra!). NOW will closely follow the implementation of President Obama’s health care plan, and advocate for the full coverage of women’s health needs, just as men’s health concerns have always been covered. Recent news reports highlight the fact that women pay more for health care, and we expect this blatant discrimination to end during the next administration.
On the issue of reproductive rights, there are many ways an Obama administration can help pull women back from the brink. We believe President Obama will immediately reverse the Global Gag Rule, as President Bill Clinton did; restore and increase international family planning funds; and halt the taxpayer giveaway to ineffective, dangerous abstinence-only sex education. As for the Supreme Court, the Roe v. Wade decision hangs in the balance after Bush’s two ultra-conservative additions to the Supreme Court, and we know President Obama will appoint judges and justices who recognize and respect women’s rights.
The Iraq war is a key issue for women because of the pain and suffering visited upon families both domestically and abroad, as well as the enormous financial cost — billions that could be helping to save lives and improve communities, not destroy them. For those reasons, we look forward to President Obama quickly honoring his campaign promise to end the war in Iraq and begin bringing our troops home.
On so many issues, an Obama-Biden administration can lead our country in a positive, transformative direction — from advocating for a constitutional guarantee of gender equality, to supporting same-sex civil unions and parenting rights. NOW also will urge the new administration to take the lead on ending violence against women and girls here and around the globe and to push forward on the ratification of CEDAW, the United Nations treaty to end sex discrimination.
Hope and change have been the hallmarks of the Obama campaign-the guiding force that led to an indisputable victory. The change that feminists hope to see includes equality and justice for all.