The Coronavirus’ Toll On Women Can’t Be The “New Normal”
According to NBC News, “After several months of mixed messages on the coronavirus pandemic, the White House is settling on a new one: Learn to live with it.” Donald Trump and the governors who follow his anti-science playbook are telling us to just get back to living our lives. Never mind the terrible ongoing toll to public health—particularly for minority communities and women who were already facing life-threatening challenges. But NOW members are persisting in our determination and resisting calls for complacency as we defend the rights of women. We refuse to be left behind, ignored or lied to by those in power.
These qualities defined the life and work of NOW cofounder Pauli Murray. I was inspired by this article that appeared about her in Forbes, highlighting the story of how she convinced Congress to include the word “sex” in the Civil Rights Act. This is especially relevant today, the authors write, as “Earlier this month, the Supreme Court used the very word that Murray helped cement into the Civil Rights Act of 1964—’sex’—to provide workplace protection for LGBTQ+ individuals, a group with which Murray strongly identified.”
Today, our struggle is being shaped in part by the response to the coronavirus.
Human Rights Watch has just come out with a report calling on governments to do more to prevent violence against women during COVID-19 lockdowns. And the Harvard Health Blog posted this article about “When lockdown is not actually safer: Intimate Partner violence during COVID-19.”
On the economic front, Sofia Sprechmann, the Secretary-General of Care International, recently spoke at an event that examined the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 is having on women entrepreneurs. She says that the pandemic is the biggest setback to gender equality in a decade. And an article in Psychology Today asks, “Will COVID-19 Push Women Out of the Labor Force?”
Last week, I called your attention to the PBS American Experience series, “The Vote” which tells the story of how American women fought for the right to vote—and how we’re still defending that right. I came across this interactive experience inspired by the series that I think you’ll enjoy.
Finally, here’s this week’s musical break. Southern Colorado’s NPR station KRCC curated a series called “Our Daily Breather,” where they asked writers and artists to recommend one thing that helped them get through these challenging days of isolation. “Salva-Mex-American” musician Angelica Garcia opens our ears to ranchera music that she says “comes from a generation of writers who dealt with crisis regularly.”
“These old songs are guidance and sanctuary to me,” she says, “I’m challenging myself now to have that same directness with anything I create during this time. Life is precious and chaotic. I am most at peace when I look it in the eyes for what it is.”