International Women’s Day is an awesome activist holiday. It was proposed in 1910 at the International Conference of Working Women by Clara Zetkin as a day for women to celebrate and to demand their rights. (More on its history here.)
Here in Austin, Texas, it seems like we don’t have very much to celebrate this year. Governor Perry and the Legislature’s war on women has taken its toll. Low-income women all over the state have lost access to health care as funding cuts devastated what used to be one of the best family planning clinic infrastructures in the country, but funding for fake clinic “crisis pregnancy centers” was increased. About 150,000 women lost care due to these cuts.
And things got worse at the end of 2011 when the state tried to exclude Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, one of the only remaining programs aimed at helping low-income women obtain reproductive health care – and a great deal for Texas, as the feds kick in $9 for every $1 the state provides. (This was especially ridiculous since PP provides 40% of the care funded by the program! Where else did the Gov and the Lege think women could go?! Have they not heard about the health care provider shortage in Texas? For pete’s sake.) The Obama administration said this request violated federal law by unfairly preventing women from choosing their health care provider. Gov. Perry and his cronies say they’ll pay for the program with state funds – but this isn’t truly a viable option for two reasons. 1) Where will they get the money? The budget for this biennium is already in effect, and everything from public education to state parks was cut to the bone. There’s no extra anything anywhere. 2) Who do they imagine will suddenly develop the capacity to see all these patients if PP, the most trusted women’s health provider statewide, isn’t eligible, nor is any other affiliate of an abortion provider? And at stake here is basic health care for another 115,000 women.
It’s damn depressing around here, y’all.
But today is a day for hope and for re-commitment. To that end, we offer the following inspiring stories to remind us all that women struggling together for our rights are incredibly powerful and that we can change our communities and the world for the better.
- Africa’s girl power – great piece about smart international cooperation that helps girls go to school and the amazing mentoring and support those girls (now women) are paying forward to the next generation.
- Marcia Ball rallies a few hundred of her friends – the beloved local musician got fed up with the aforementioned shenanigans around women’s health and mobilized hundreds of folks to protest in front of the Capitol. You can join her this coming Tuesday and the following Tuesday, in front of the Capitol from noon to 2:00PM! Put on something red, take your best pro-women’s health sign, and go make your voice heard!
- Awesome feminist victories around the world – The Global Fund for Women put together this inspiring list of 10 key wins for women’s movements on issues ranging from constitutional equality to LGBTQ rights to domestic violence.
- Cecile Richards rocks – The Nation‘s piece on how Austin’s own Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, has made the organization a political force to be reckoned with and mobilized millions of women to fight for reproductive health care. So proud of her!
- The Guardian gallery of things to celebrate – The UK’s Guardian asked 11 activists from all over the world to choose what we should be celebrating this year. Go check out how amazing women in Russia, India, Egypt, Afghanistan, and more are kicking patriarchy’s butt!
- Women in Texas history – Need some more homegrown inspiration? The fine folks over at the Ruthe Winegarten Memorial Foundation for Texas Women’s History have a great collection of short bios of Texas women, from Angelina, the Native American woman whose multilingual translation helped facilitate the founding of San Antonio, to contemporary heroes like Irma Rangel, Barbara Jordan, and Sarah Weddington.
So much great stuff! So many awesome women struggling together and making a difference! I don’t know about y’all, but reading all this has fired me up. I’ll see you at the Capitol next week with Marcia Ball, dressed in red and raising some hell.