Dawn News

Why women need Obama

AS election day looms, I know I’m not the only American woman biting her fingernails. We all care about who the next president will be, but for women the race is particularly anxiety-inducing.

The difference between President Barack Obama and governor Mitt Romney on issues of gender can be measured in decades: the latter candidate barely masking his desire to take women back to the 1950s.

We already know what an Obama presidency will look like for gender issues. Women appointed at the highest levels of office, from the Supreme Court to the State Department, expanded access to birth control and healthcare and protections against workplace inequities.

Unfortunately, we have a pretty good idea of what a Romney presidency will be like for us as well.

The former governor of Massachusetts has said he would remove Planned Parenthood’s funding and overturn the Supreme Court case that legalised abortion. His stance on pay equity — make sure women can get home in time to cook dinner for their families.

This is to say nothing of marriage equality, help for low-income Americans, or gender roles (Romney says one parent should stay at home with children — not hard to imagine which one he means).

It’s not hyperbole to say that women’s lives hang in the balance. Romney has promised to reinstate the ‘global gag rule’ — a ban on federal funds to foreign family planning organisations that either offer abortions or provide information or counselling about abortion. Global health experts have cited it contributing to maternal mortality across the world. If abortion is made illegal — a very real possibility under a Romney administration — women will seek out the procedure through unsafe means.

That’s not to say that Romney hasn’t been working hard to woo women’s votes anyway. But the Republican ‘pro-woman’ rhetoric has largely been comprised of damage control and obfuscation.

His campaign keeps repeating that women don’t care about birth control, abortion rights and reproductive health — that women are concerned about the ‘real’ issues, like the economy. The fact that women’s financial security is intimately connected to the ability to decide if and when to have children seems to be lost on them.

How women are actually likely to vote has been widely projected. The first polls showing the narrowing gender gap was likely a result of Obama’s lukewarm performance in the first debate, yet Michael Dimock, the associate director of the Pew Research Center, told Huffington Post that “the entirety of polling over the course of this year suggests ... that the gender gap is likely to look very similar to the last few election cycles, with women [likely] somewhere between six and eight points to favour Obama.”

I want women to be able to stop worrying about whether or not their hard-won rights will be stripped away. And I want to know that feminists, who have been tirelessly holding on to our gains, will have some space to think about progressive change rather than just reactionary activism. — The Guardian, London

Comments (5) Closed

Sue Sturgess
Nov 02, 2012 10:08am
Get real ... the president is not much more than a figurehead. Real decisions are made by a corrupt Congress
Nov 03, 2012 12:22am
American women do not sit around worrying that they may not be able to abort an unwanted pregnancy if a certain man gets to be president. American women are far more intelligent than that. At least we were - once. Now, we seem incapable of understanding how to prevent a pregnancy in the first place. I know the answer to that. It's not difficult. Abstinence until after marriage? There was a time, not the 50s, I believe it was the early 70s, when women's rights groups actually seemed to car about women. All women. Where were you when Malala, a teenage girl from Pakistan, was shot for giving voice to an opinion about something that shouldn't even have to be said? That women have a right to an education. Perhaps you don't hear of the abuse that happens to women around the world, but Ms. Malala's shooting was certainly talked and written about in the West. I'll bet even the Guardian wrote about it. NOW (National Organization for Women), a once proud group, standing for women's rights, today appears to be nothing more than a voice for the Left. If you really do care about women, Mrs. George Bush has been working long and hard for the women of Afghanistan. She could probably use some help. I certainly hope you don't spend too much time sitting around biting your nails over the possibility of women not being able to rid themselves of an unwanted pregnancy. It can't be good for you...
Nov 03, 2012 12:53am
Let the best man win, chosen and voted by majority of Americans
Nov 02, 2012 08:01am
I think people should decide to vote, based on how humans as a whole will be treated, rather than the offensively sexist position of how women will be treated. Are you implying that men should vote for Romney? Do you have any insensitive advice for coloured people? Do you really think that Obama apointed women in his administration without thinking of how good it would make him look? I just find it hard to believe there are women out there who could stomach working in such a corrupt institution, let alone promote it without pay. Women need Obama like they need a hole in the head.
Nov 02, 2012 03:41pm
Republicans want no regulations for Wall Street but want to regulate women -- they want to regulate their pay check 30% lower than men for the same work -- they want to regulate their reproductive choices -- they want to control even the types of intrusive gynecological test the women must undergo if they want to terminate pregnancy -- the republicans are a souped up version of Talibans in US misogynous politics -- can you blame women for voting Obama?