Here we are again, still fighting for abortion rights.
Roe v Wade
I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about this but I can’t keep silent. Women have been fighting for rights of every kind for as long as we’ve been alive. I, personally, have attended the Women’s March and protests against separating children from their families while Trump was in office.
Currently, the protests are about the possibility of overturning Roe v Wade. This is the landmark case in which the US Supreme Court ruled, in January 1973, that a state law banning abortion was unconstitutional. And people are protesting about what it will mean for women everywhere if it is overturned.
What prompts me to write about this issue?
I went through an abortion that changed my life.
My Abortion Story
I was in my mid-twenties and I had been dating someone for a few months. It was during that relationship that I became pregnant and felt my world turn upside down. I was devastated because I knew I wasn’t ready emotionally or financially to take care of a child. When I told my boyfriend that I was pregnant, I didn’t know what he would say or do. I just knew that I couldn’t have this baby.
An acquaintance helped me find a doctor to perform the abortion but I had no idea how to pay for it. I was only working a part-time job at that time and didn’t make enough to afford the procedure. Thankfully, someone close to me lent me the money so I could have the abortion.
After I scheduled the procedure and told my boyfriend when it would be, I wasn’t sure how he would react. What I didn’t expect was that he would take himself out of the situation entirely and let me deal with it on my own. I had never felt so alone and abandoned.
I remember that morning of the procedure like a nightmare that I couldn’t shake off. Luckily, I had a friend from college come with me and be there for moral support. I also have to thank another friend, who worked as a taxi dispatcher. He made sure that we had a ride to and from the clinic. There were only three people who knew what I was going through that day and they were my rocks.
I don’t remember the procedure, but I remember the pain after it. With the help my friends gave me through their connection with a cab company and by staying with me until the procedure was done, I got back safely to my apartment to recover. I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained after that experience; but I was so grateful I had the choice and access to have an abortion.
Grateful for Choices
As someone who went through an abortion, I believe that women should be the ones to choose. The right to determine whether a woman should or shouldn’t terminate a pregnancy should not be at the hands of a system that continues to devalue women and their rights. I would not have the family I have now if I didn’t have the right to choose what was best for me at that time.
My daughter is now the age I was when I had my abortion. I fear for her and for millions of women that will suffer if this law is overturned. The thought of returning to an era of to back-alley-abortions is abhorrent and senseless. As a Mom, I will continue to speak out against this injustice, because not doing so would undermine women’s freedom to decide what’s right for them and their bodies.
What can YOU do to make sure that every woman is able to “choose” what is right for her health and well-being? I hope that sharing my story will propel you to fight for what you believe in and give voice to the countless women and young girls who aren’t able to fight for their rights.
This is an original post to WorldMoms Network by our Senior Editor, Tes Silverman. The image used in this post is take from Creative Commons and has no attribution requirements.
The UN recently sent a delegation of human rights experts to the US to report on this country’s overall treatment of women. The result? This is how the preliminary report concluded:
“The United States, which is a leading state in formulating international human rights standards, is allowing its women to lag behind international human rights standards. Although there is a wide diversity in state law and practice, which makes it impossible to give a comprehensive report, we could discern an overall picture of women’s missing rights. While all women are the victims of these missing rights, women who are poor, belong to Native American, Afro-American and Hispanic ethnic minorities, migrant women, LBTQ women, women with disabilities and older women are disparately vulnerable.”
The report touches on these “missing rights” in the realms of reproductive health, wages, politics, and violence- particularly gun violence- against women.
One of the delegates, Frances Raday, told reporters “The lack of accommodation in the workplace to women’s pregnancy, birth and post-natal needs is shocking. Unthinkable in any society, and certainly one of the richest societies in the world.”
As I read their conclusions, which will be further developed in a more comprehensive report in 2016, I felt a familiar sick feeling overcome my being. It’s the same sick feeling I’ve gotten used to since moving back to the US, every time there is yet another mass or accidental shooting. The two questions that come with this feeling are when and why? When will enough be enough? Why not yet?
As a woman and a mother – both to a male child and a female child – the urgency of full and true equality for women and girls is plain as day, not just for me and my daughter, but for the well-being of my son and all boys and men. Everyone is harmed by inequality, and I agree with Ms. Raday, that it is unthinkable in the context of this nation.
After I sit with when and why, I have to move to what. What can be done? What can I do, each and every day in my life, to make a difference? I’ll admit to feeling totally overwhelmed by that question at times, but I’ve found that it can all be boiled down to two things: stand up and speak out. Stand up for what is just and speak out about what needs to change. Or, as Susan B. Anthony said: Organize, agitate, educate.
At times I’ve let my fear of being perceived by others as a downer keep me from standing up and speaking out, but at this point in my life, the stakes are too high to be afraid. The stakes are too high for me and my family and for the millions of families who are affected by the situation of women in this country. So instead I choose to organize (build community) agitate (speak out) and educate (stand up).
I imagine my grandmother at the time of my birth thinking about what a different world I was being born into than the one she had known, and yet she never lived to witness true equality. The dream of full equality has been shared by several generations of women now. Do I dare hope that it will be achieved by the time my daughter comes of age? Will I meet my granddaughter and welcome her into a world where she has no “missing rights”?
Were you surprised to hear the findings of this delegation?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Ms. V.
Image Credit: “We Can Do It!” by J. Howard Miller, artist employed by Westinghouse, poster used by the War Production Co-ordinating Committee – From scan of copy belonging to the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, retrieved from the website of the Virginia Historical Society.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
We always talk about “first world problems,” and, I, most of the time, complain about women not being able to drive in Saudi Arabia in the “first world problem” sense. “My driver is late!” or “It’s too hot in the car. I wish he’d switch on the AC before I get in” or “Why does it take so long for my driver to answer his phone!”
It’s easy for me to forget that for the majority of women in Saudi, it is very much a paralyzing issue. As I was leaving Saudi last week, I was in the airport lounge, and one of the women working there was having a private conversation on her mobile which got progressively louder. She kept saying, “Swear he’s ok! Why can’t I talk to him?”
After she hung up she said to me, “My son has had an accident!” I asked if he was ok. She told me she didn’t know and that someone at the scene had called her and told her about it, but they wouldn’t give him the phone and wouldn’t give her details. I asked why she didn’t just go to him, and she told me she couldn’t.
“Surely your supervisor wouldn’t have a problem with you leaving early to go there!” I said.
“I don’t have any way of getting there!”, she said. “My son is usually my driver. I don’t have brothers, and I’m divorced.”
And that’s the simple truth. Her son was on a street somewhere, in God knows what state ,and she was stuck at work. She eventually took a cab and declined the offer to use my car.
I always dread talking about women driving in Saudi because it’s been talked to death, and there’s nothing to discuss, really, since the fact that women should be allowed to drive is such an obvious one. It’s like discussing if women should be allowed to work… or walk even. Not driving means different things to different people. To me, it’s something I don’t think about on a day-to-day basis, unless we have a driver crisis. But even then, I rely on my mother’s, sister’s or brother’s driver to get me where I need to go, and I have never been stranded at home or elsewhere because of it. I forget that this is not the case for everyone.
Yes, some of my friends can’t do lunches on certain days because of the driver issues (lack of reliable ones or lack of ones all together), so when their husbands work they have to stay home. While many, many Saudi families have a driver working for them, not all of them do. And honestly, who cares if I can’t get to my family visit on time or to the shops before they close, when this mother couldn’t get to her son, who I pray was not badly injured in this accident.
And if, God forbid, he was badly injured, or worse, and he is her only “mahram” (male guardian), then she effectively has to put her life on hold till he gets better. And if it’s not a “getting better” situation, then she is stuck. Driving will be only one of her problems.
We do have taxis, which are generally decent, but many women don’t like to use them or the men in their lives don’t like them to. Which is all fine and dandy if these men are willing to be their wives’ personal chauffeurs, but if they refuse, then the women are stuck. But they do sometimes say “no,” and their wives, sisters, daughters comply. I have never really asked my husband how he would feel about me riding a taxi, since there never was a need to before, but I know that even if he didn’t want me to ride one, for what ever reason, he would never tell me I couldn’t.
Work has already begun on the metro system in Riyadh, and I am assuming that it will have a similar set up to Dubai, where there is a women’s tram. (Although in Dubai it is optional to go on that tram.) It will be interesting to see what we end up with, but is public transportation the answer to this problem? No.
Women being allowed to drive is a change that has to happen. It’s going to happen. I can guarantee that, but when? And the assumption that this is a governmental decision is totally wrong as the government is doing what the majority of the population wants.
When the subject of women driving is raised, it is always surprising how many people are against it. Women included. When they decided to introduce girls’ schools, the community also spoke out against it and were fearful and pessimistic. But the government just made the change, and the people got used to it. Now more than half the college graduates in Saudi are women! So, I hope we just rip the band-aid off.
And maybe the people will come around eventually and want this change, but how long do we want to wait? So many changes have come into our country, culture and environment that people are afraid to open up anymore, but there will be no progress without it.
Maybe I am wrong though. Maybe the views have changed, but the loudest voices are still of those who are against this. In Saudi the moderate voice is the one that talks at home among friends but doesn’t really rock the boat. The extreme views tend to be loud and very well organised.
A little side note to mention is there is no law against women driving. But there is a law against driving without a license, and women can’t get their licenses in Saudi.
It should just be done! Just as the 30 women were elected into the shours counsil by royal decree one morning, this change can happen too. It would, by no means, be mandatory, and whoever doesn’t want to drive, doesn’t have to. But for the women who are paralyzed, stuck and unable to get to their sons when they are hurt, a key to a car is not much to ask.
Do you agree with me that sometimes making unpopular decisions that will better your country is ok? Or is the government’s duty? Or do you think what the people want is more important?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mama B from Saudi Arabia. She can be found writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa.
Photo credit to hhdoan who holds a Creative Commons Attribution license.
I used to have a college professor—of women’s studies, of course—who would occasionally start class when we were particularly chatty and inattentive by saying, loudly, “SEX!” Our heads would whip around to stare at her and the room would be silent.
The professor would chuckle and then start the lesson, which almost never had anything to do with sex—or at least not sex in an interesting way. Her way of talking about sex was dry and academic, having to do with words like “hegemony” or “heteronormative.”
I thought about that professor a few weeks ago when I read about “International Topless Jihad Day,” sponsored by FEMEN in support of Amina Tyler, who had sparked a global controversy by posting a topless pictures of herself on Facebook with “my body belongs to me and is not the source of anyone’s honor,” scrawled on her naked chest in Arabic. Tyler’s life—and the lives of her family—were threatened after the pictures were posted; she has since left Tunisia, where she lived.
The topless jihadists claimed that their actions showed solidarity with Amina and sent a message to the world that women’s bodies belong to no one but themselves. And yet it seems a bit like my professor yelling SEX! FEMEN is yelling BOOBS–and the topless jihad did, it’s true, get a lot of press coverage. The coverage drew attention to Amina’s plight but also gave respected media outlets a chance to run pictures of boobs and more boobs: Huffington Post ran a whole slideshow of revolutionary boobs. (more…)
A few weeks ago, when I was in Guatemala learning Spanish and volunteering for a week, I had a special surprise. I witnessed my first ever El Dia de la Mujer (International Women’s Day), and it was an extraordinary experience.
Before heading out to Guatemala, I honestly admit that I had never even heard of International Women’s Day before. It wasn’t until I opened my email on March 8th and saw the post written by World Mom’s Blog founder/editor Jennifer Burden that I realized today was the day.
Back at home in Minnesota, I had never read any media coverage on the celebration or even knew it existed. Yet in Quetzaltenegao (nickname: Xela), Guatemala “El dia de la mujer” was a huge day. Not only was it the largest celebration of women’s rights ever to fall upon a traditionally “machismo” society, it was also attended by all walks of life. Men, women, children, school girls, Mayans, non-Mayans, foreigners (like me) and more. It was an unbelievably special day and I felt so lucky to have been there to see for myself what we western women often take for granted: Basic women’s rights. (more…)