Posted By Jamie Quient,
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
| Comments (1)
| "Women Hold the Power in this Election - Let's Use It!"
On the day of the final presidential debate of this election cycle, my mother-in-law told her classroom of third-grade students something she had never told her students in her twenty-five year teaching career – she said that while ultimately it is up to their parents to decide, she did not think it was a good idea for them to watch the debate.
As the debate kicked off, my college roommate from Canada texted me as she pulled up to the couch, popcorn in hand, to watch the best reality show on television.
While it may seem like we are watching a bad reality show, what is at stake in this election is far too real. Many people are so appalled with this election that they plan to stay home on November 8. It’s hard to blame them. At times this campaign has been appalling – stirring up pockets of racism, xenophobia, anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, and sexism, among other hateful viewpoints.
While deciding not to vote is also an important right, this election is too important to sit out.
The bedrock of our society is the right to vote and women fought incredibly hard for this basic right of citizenship. Less than 100 years from when women gained the right to vote, women now have the power to decide who runs this country – from President to City Council; from Congress to School Board. In 2012, nearly 10 million more women than men voted. And this year, the gender gap is expected to be the largest in history.
With this power comes responsibility. The first and primary responsibility is to show up and exercise our constitutional right. Staying home would be a disservice to all those who fought for us to have this right nearly 100 years ago.
While an important first step, simply voting will not achieve our mission of women’s advancement. As leaders in the feminist movement, we have a duty to ensure that we elect representatives who will fight for women, justice and equality for all.
We also have a responsibility to ensure that the people we elect actually advance issues we care about once they are elected. As feminist lawyers, we have a critical role to play in the policy-making process at all levels of government. There are so many issues impacting women that we have the power to influence.
One of the key areas where women need our help is workplace reforms. According to the United States Department of Labor, women comprise 47% of the total U.S. labor force. Nevertheless, workplaces have been slow to evolve and adapt to the presence of women, who biologically remain responsible for child-bearing and who still shoulder more child-rearing responsibilities than men. Men too want to see workplace reforms that enable them to support their families such as paid family leave and affordable child care.
We also need to advocate for polices aimed at eliminating poverty and ensuring economic security for all. Nearly 6 in 10 minimum wage-earners are women. That means that by raising the minimum wage to a living wage, we are helping women and families.
We must also continue our work to protect women’s reproductive rights and advance other reproductive justice issues. Reproductive justice goes far beyond the issue of choice – it encompasses all issues relating to women’s social, political and economic power.
Finally, the Presidential election and a number of recent high profile cases have made the issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault front and center. When the election is over, we must keep these issues at the forefront of the public discourse and stand up to say enough is enough!
No matter what political party or candidate you support, go vote. Women fought too hard for the right to have a say in our political system to stay home on November 8. And on November 9, the real work begins.
Jamie Quient practices insurance coverage and intellectual property litigation at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLC and is President of Lawyers Club.
enough is enough