Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Lights out

Last Tuesday evening, just hours before International Women’s Day and the “A Day Without a Woman” protests, the Statue of Liberty’s lights flickered out. Lady Liberty stood in the dark for several hours, a striking, poetic image of what would come the next day. According to the National Park Service, what appeared to be an act of solidarity with the plight of women was actually a power outage – nonetheless, many found the occurrence timely and fitting.

With issues like immigration and healthcare dominating national headlines, it is frighteningly natural to allow other civil rights issues – particularly women’s rights – to fall by the wayside. Seeing as a little over half of the population of the United States is female, making progress in women’s rights issues would directly benefit an enormous, dynamic proportion of the country. What is more, the paradigm shift accompanying such progress would cement a message of equality in the minds of all young people regardless of gender affiliation, dampening the insidious effects of institutional misogyny.   

The Obama administration made some notable strides in women’s issues. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which prolonged the time period in which victims of pay discriminations could make claims, was the first bill he signed into law. His administration established the Equal Pay Task Force during his first term. The Violence Against Women Act, efforts against sexual assault, support for abuse victims and the youth-focused Race to the Top initiative are but a handful of actions taken by the previous president in support of women.

Our new administration has not inspired much confidence in women, both here and around the world, considering its focus and the records of its most prominent figures are antithetical to those of the typical women’s rights advocate. In fairness and with some hope, I must note that the administration is still young. It does seem, however, that pushing for what is ours has shifted to a more popular grassroots effort, as was demonstrated by the Women’s March in January. What is key now, more so than enthusiasm, is persistence – the knowledge that the path forward is longer than we anticipated should catalyze our avoidance of hopelessness and apathy. While we have a civic duty to ensure that we are not diminishing the importance of issues like healthcare and immigration, we must be unwavering when our rights are thrust into darkness.

 

Contact Alizeh Ahmad at alizeha ‘at’ stanford.edu.