Commemorating International Women's Day

As we commemorate this day, we can take note of much progress, although we need to reflect on how much more there still is to do. In the US, we have had two women serve as Secretary of State (including one who was the first woman to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate), three women on the Supreme Court, the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives -- and now more than ninety-five women serve in both houses of Congress. Women hold posts as presidents of major universities and some major corporations.

But there are dark clouds. There are simply not enough women serving in elected positions. Indeed, the US is only 71st in the world in the number of women representatives. Perhaps this is why the US ranks so badly on indexes that measure life expectancy, infant mortality and educational achievement. Yes, our country has the military might to wipe any nation off the face of the globe, but why aren't we number one in the quality of life we afford to all Americans here at home? To achieve that, I believe we need more women's voices at the table.

It is distressing that the fight over the budget deficit is being used as an excuse to eliminate funding for women's reproductive health. Even though Roe v. Wade had been the law of the land for almost four decades, too many Americans still do not believe that women have a right to make their own decisions about their bodies. The victims are mostly poor women, and they pay a heavy price. Violence against women hasn't been eradicated. In fact recent reports suggest that women who chose to wear the country's military uniform face rampant harassment and sexual assault in the service. The pay gap is still present, as is the glass ceiling. And women are repeatedly degraded in our media and treated as mere sex objects. To top things off, a Supreme Court justice announced not long ago that women weren't protected from sex discrimination under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution -- which on its face covers all persons -- another attack on our basic humanity coming from one of the highest places in the country.

This means that we need to continue the fight for full equality. This is not a struggle for women only, but is one that can liberate all people from stereotypes that shackle and limit. It is a struggle for human dignity for more than half our population. It is a struggle we dare not lose.