Column: Backtracking on female progress

On March 8, 2003, the world will continue a long tradition of observing International Women’s Day. In the past, this day has been a celebration of global progress in women’s rights. This year, however, there is not much to celebrate. Since taking office, President George W. Bush and his administration have made numerous policy decisions that jeopardize the current state of women, both in the United States and the rest of the world.

President Bush and his administration have set back the progress of women. The administration has reinstated the Global Gag Rule, cutting off U.S. aid to international family planning organizations which services included, but did not use U.S. funds for, informing women of legal abortion options, providing safe and legal abortion options and lobbying for abortion law reform with their own funds.

Further, Bush closed the White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach and removed scientific information from federal Web sites regarding findings that abortions do not increase the risk of breast cancer and condoms’ ability to protect against HIV. He also appointed ardent “abstinence-only” education supporters to head key health policy divisions in his administration.

The list continues. Bush opted not to fund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) by withholding $34 million in family planning aid that would have been used to better the lives of women around the world. He withdrew support for Senate ratification of the International Women’s Treaty that requires nations to remove barriers of discrimination against women in areas like legal rights and health care.

It is astonishing that this administration has so quickly and easily turned back the clock on women’s rights – especially the right to control their family size and protect their health and well being. Giving women the power to control when or if they have children is essential to slowing rapid population growth, maintaining healthy children and slowing environmental destruction. We must ensure that women have access to the information and resources they need to make healthy choices for themselves and their families, which will lead to a better world for us all.

Come out this Saturday with the GW Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance to rally and march at the White House for peace. Speakers include Alice Walker, Janeane Garofalo, Granny D, Maxine Hong Kingston and many more.

The writer, a senior, is president of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance

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