Women’s rights

H Patricia Hynes
Friday, Mar 10, 2023

Boston is a severely unequal city with an extremely segregated public school system: 80 percent of children in public school are low-income; 90 percent are students of color, mainly Latino and Black; higher income families with children leave for suburbs when their children become of school age, according to the Dorchester Reporter. Almost all new residential buildings are high-income; and the city is referred to as “two Bostons.”

In one of these “two Bostons” live low-wage women workers, a wage that consigns them to poverty compounded throughout their lives and in old age. “Nearly two-thirds of all low-wage workers in the United States are women,” an inequality worsened by racial inequality. Consider, too, the persistent “motherhood penalty”–whereby mothers are further set back financially by lack of paid parental leave and government-funded child care.

But, my worry today for these working mothers and their children that day concerned only one dimension of the arduous reality facing many women – most egregiously women of color – as we mark International Women’s Day, March 8, a day founded on the fact of women’s inequality. Female textile workers launched the first march on March 8, 1857 in protest of unfair working conditions and unequal rights for women – one of the first organized strikes by working women, during which they called for a shorter work day and decent wages.

Women have gained considerable rights since that and subsequent marches, through our own organizing, protests, and arrests: the right to vote, to own property, to inherit, to education, to have once-legal rape in marriage criminalized. A revolution for human rights without weapons, fists or a drop of blood spilled. Yet, only a handful of countries are nearing full equality for women; and ours is not even close. Indeed, US women's progress in gaining equality has both stagnated and lost ground.

Worst of all, violence against women by men in all its forms: pornography, rape, prostitution, physical beating, murder increased during Covid. Women’s reproductive rights have been trampled by the 2022 Supreme Court decision to void the right to abortion; and many states are sponsoring a plethora of regulations to deny women access to abortion and birth control. The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that domestic abusers can own guns – a “death sentence for women and their families,” given “abusers are five times more likely to kill their victims if they have access to firearms.”

From 2001 to 2019, approximately 7,000 U.S. soldiers died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, a period of time in which more than 18,000 US women were killed – nearly 3 per day – by current or former intimate partners.

(For those who assume male violence and war are inevitable, don’t waste your time on a doomed view. Consider this: during thousands of years in Neolithic Europe women and men lived in egalitarian, peaceful societies, according to respected archeologist Dr. Marija Gimbutas.)

Excerpted: ‘Setting Our Sights on the Equality of Women’. Courtesy: