Are you gals ready for a rumble tonight?
A year ago this week, the Supreme Court decision to strike down a class action gender bias suit against Walmart had a sweeping and symbolic impact on women’s rights.
That ruling, and a host of other actions including moves by religious employers to derail contraceptive coverage for workers, a recent legislation defeat of pay equity legislation for women, and the rise in the number of pregnancy discrimination claims have all culminated into what many women advocates call a “War on Women.”
On Thursday, it was time to rally the troops, maintained Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, during a luncheon with a focus on stopping the war with more advocacy and also legislation to turn back the high court’s Walmart ruling.
“Who would have thought that in 2012, we’d be arguing over providing contraception for women, or debating the idea of equal pay,” Ness told a 1,500 member audience of mainly women gathered in the Washington Hilton including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who gave the keynote address. “Yet here we are.”
And Clinton offered the crowd a perspective on how slowly change happens and how far we’ve come. “The work of advocacy is often incremental, and may be even glacial,” she explained.
Clinton shared a story about when she was a young lawyer and pregnant with her daughter Chelsea.
“One of the lawyers called me the morning after I had my daughter and said, ‘when coming back to work.’ I said, four months from now. He said, ‘ok,’ because they didn’t know any better.”
Years later, she added, there’s still work to be done in the United States and around the globe when it comes to women’s rights. “We have to continue our own efforts to try and finish the unfinished business,” she stressed, through advocacy and volunteerism.
“Keep chiseling away at those barriers and keep working together to create a world where every little girl and boy grows up believing there’s a future for them,” she said, adding that they should believe that “if they work hard they too can make a difference in their own lives and the lives of their communities.”
Soon, she assured the crowd, there will be “that moment when hope and history rhyme and results actually happen.”
Are you ready to rumble? The guys from West Side Story rumbled and danced. You see, we can fight war but add a degree of wisdom and even craft.