Women's rights

  • October 19, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Marni von Wilpert, Associate Labor Counsel, Economic Policy Institute

    *This blog was originally published on EPI's blog

    In 2017, the nation has been publically discussing what many women have known privately for years —there is still a vast amount of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in America’s workplaces. The revelations about Harvey Weinstein are the latest example of predatory sexual conduct against women at work, but the list of business leaders engaging in or condoning a culture of sexual harassment at work is staggering: Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and reporter Bill O’Reilly, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Amazon executive Roy Price, SoFi CEO Mike Cagney, BetterWorks CEO Kris Duggan, Epic Records chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid … even the current U.S. president has admitted to sexual assault, and referred to his own daughter in sexually explicit and derogatory terms.  

  • October 17, 2017

    by Dan Froomkin

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a perplexingly contradictory view of civil rights law when it comes to transgendered people.

    On the one hand, he is enthusiastic about prosecuting murder cases in which the victims were allegedly targeted because of their gender identity. On the other hand, he went out of his way to give employers a green light to discriminate against transgender people in the workplace; rejected the Obama administration interpretation that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice;  and defended Donald Trump's half-baked tweet in favor of banning transgender troops.

    The backtracks on transgender protections are among several stark and abrupt reversals from practices during the Obama era that have come under Sessions's watch. One on level, that's not so surprising, coming from the attorney general for a president who on Monday described himself, accurately, as "very opposite" from his predecessor.

  • September 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Victoria Bassetti, Brennan Center Contributor

    In a departure from pattern, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate women to be US Attorneys on Friday. 

    Before today, President Trump had selected only one woman and 41 men for positions as the top federal prosecutors in the Department of Justice's district offices. He had come under criticism for not nominating women as US Attorneys.  

    In the president’s defense, his daughter Ivanka Trump earlier this year made headlines when she told CNN’s Gloria Borger, “There's no way I could be the person I am today if my father was a sexist.”

  • September 7, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Nicholas Kalin, President, ACS George Mason University School of Law Student Chapter, and Arya Shirani, Vice President, ACS George Mason University School of Law Student Chapter

    US Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University’s Arlington campus to announce changes to the previous protocols regarding Title IX and sexual assault.

    If the proposed policy shifts are put into place, sexual assault survivors will face greater pressure to contact the police instead of speaking to a trusted member of their university. Supporters of the previous policy state that students have been more comfortable reporting sexual assaults since the present policies took effect. We believe that the heightened requirement and the greater burden of proof required will make it less likely for survivors to come forward. We believe that the previous policy, while imperfect, allowed survivors to occupy a safer and more comfortable learning environment. This is a dangerous precedent to set. While we hope that not a single rape will occur and these policies will never be needed, we realize that is not the world we live in. The further weakening of Title IX practices and returning power to the schools will only erase the advances made for the rights of sexual assault survivors.

  • July 11, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Aziza Ahmed, Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law

    The United States has long been the largest bi-lateral donor in family planning assistance. Amongst other health services, this funding is dedicated to promoting reproductive health services, providing modern forms of contraception and responding to needs in maternal health care. In 1984, at the International Conference on Population in Mexico City, then President Ronald Regan announced the Mexico City Policy or what has come to be known as the “Global Gag Rule.” The policy mandated that United States family planning funding could not be used to “perform or actively promote abortions as a method of family planning.” The Mexico City Policy added restrictions to the Helms Amendment passed in 1973 which prohibits United States Foreign Assistance from paying for “the performance of abortions as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” The Helms Amendment, however, only applied to U.S. government money – non-U.S. funding could be utilized to provide abortion related services. The Mexico City Policy goes much further: mandating that U.S. government funds would not be given to non-governmental organizations who provide abortion related services with their own funding or funding from other sources. In other words, organizations receiving U.S. money would have to choose whether to refuse U.S. funds (risking closure) or turn away women needing abortion related services. In announcing the Mexico City Policy, Reagan further ensconced U.S. family planning assistance in domestic abortion politics and policy, placing the lives and health of people residing in countries where U.S. aid supplemented health services on reproductive health at significant risk.

    Since its inception, each Republican Administration has reinstated the rule while each Democratic administration (with some exception) has stopped its application to U.S. foreign assistance. Each time the policy is renewed or revoked days after the change in administration – making the Mexico City Policy a way to cater to the political base of the newly elected party. There has been subtle acknowledgement even from Republicans that the Mexico City Policy has a negative impact on health programming. The George W. Bush administration, for example, which initiated the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a multi-billion dollar initiative aimed at the prevention and treatment of HIV, limited the application of the Mexico City Policy to HIV/AIDS money despite the conservative anti-choice rhetoric of the party.