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Issue Position: Protect and Enhance Women's Rights

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Women have made considerable gains over the years but they still do not have equality or full rights in America. The greatest gains for women can been seen in their nearly equally representation in the work force and progress in acquiring education as they are more likely than men to complete undergraduate and master's degrees. Recently series of anti-woman legislative proposals, government regulations and policy rhetoric have refocused our attention on the need to protect the gains made by women and prevent any efforts to unravel protections and services for women. It's time that women take their power, the future of our nation and the world depends on it. Together we must all stop the assault on their bodies, finances and rights.

Women in Leadership
Women remain seriously under represented in congress. While women constitute a little over half the population, they only hold 17% of the congressional seats in 2011. In the same year, women held a comparable number of position as leaders in Fortune 500 companies - holding only 14% of executive officer positions and 16% of board positions.

Violence against Women In 2010, a White House report showed that women are less likely than in the past to be the target of violent crimes, including homicide. The report also found that women remain victims of certain crimes, such as intimate partner violence and stalking, at higher rates than men.

Women in the military face the greatest threat that of forcible rape. Despite efforts to improve the situation it goes on unabated. In 2010, 3,158 sexual assaults were reported by the military. The Department of Defense estimates that this number only represents 13.5% of total assaults in 2010, making the total number of military rapes and sexual assaults in excess of 19,000 for FY 2010. Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine Corps captain and executive director of the Service Women's Action Network, states: "This crime continues to see massive amounts of underreporting because victims do not feel the climate is safe to report, and perpetrators are not being brought to trial in sufficient numbers." - Women are the majority within the military who experience rape. Holding their colleagues and seniors responsible is extremely difficult to do, where there is no support for confronting these actions. This must change and the perpetrator held accountable.

Equal pay
Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963 there remains a differential between women's and men's salaries. This gap has slowly closed since 1963 when women made 59% as much as their male counterparts. In 2010 women made 77.4% as much as men did. Minority women did not fare as well. Hispanic women earned 59 cents to every dollar earned by white males while African-American women earn 69 cents to that same dollar. Employers must be held accountable in guaranteeing the right to equal wages.

Reproductive rights
Abortion has been a legal medical procedure in America for over 30 years but there remains a constant effort to roll-back this right. Roe v. Wade needs to be codified in law so that a woman will always have the right to choose an abortion at any time during her pregnancy to protect her own life and health. And all women should have this right regardless of income level or age to access safe, legal, confidential and affordable abortion and reproductive health care. There should be no requirement allow a waiting period to obtain an abortion and emergency contraception should be offered to all victims of rape or incest.

The Equal Rights Amendment
It's time we pass the Equal Rights Amendment first proposed in 1923. In 1972 it passed both bodies of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification. Thirty-five states ratified the amendment, falling three states short of the 38 needed to pass the amendment despite an extension of the deadline to 1982. A campaign was mobilized that resulted in four state legislatures rescinding their ratification prior to the original 1979 deadline and a fifth qualified its ratification by setting an expiration date of 1979. Since that time, the amendment has been introduced each year. Let's make 2012 the year of the woman and move this amendment out to the states to guarantee women's rights.


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