My Facebook feed is filled with pictures of the Women’s March that took place in the days following Donald Trump’s inauguration. Pictures of slogans, posters, and unique chants flood my newsfeed, and I’m sure this phenomenon is not exclusive to me. Even as I sit in India, half the world away from the sites of action, the women’s march, Trump’s inauguration and the subsequent fervor it’s generated in terms of the resistance, is all anyone can talk about. And yes, that’s how it should be. If it’s not us talking about these things, voicing our issues, concerns and fears with what could be 4 years of confusion and a constant struggle to be heard and respected, then who will?
The turnout for the women’s march was revolutionary. However, so was participation in other marches such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. The latter two, even though successful in their own right, didn’t result in a widespread political change. It still remains to be seen whether the Women’s March will result in some tangible action, but there is definitely hope. Minutes after the march ended on Saturday, its organizers and leaders help a pep-rally and networking session called “Where Do We Go From Here?” On Sunday, Planned Parenthood and other groups held a training session for 2000 organizers on turning mobilization into political action, with health care atop its priority list. A large part of the march was geared towards the potential threat to women’s health issues. Especially considering previous statements like Vice President Mike Pence’s opposition to abortion rights and Planned Parenthood funding cuts, this doesn’t come as a surprise.
We can only hope that these sort of events do manifest into political change in the realm of women’s health. Currently, even though there are plenty of statistics that point to the desperate need for women’s health in regards to awareness, education, and professionals, many remain unaware of this fact. Women make up more than 50% of the American population, and subsequently make 80% of all health related decisions. Still, there are less than 5% of nurse practitioners that specialize in women’s health issues! It goes without saying that women’s health has faced many challenges, even before the Trump campaign. With the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, some of these challenges were lessened. For example, the ACA demands that pregnancy and maternity be covered under the 10 essential health benefit categories. Prior to this, insurance providers could get away with charging women more for care based on their gender, and even completely excluding maternity coverage.
Trump’s fixation on repealing the ACA will affect a lot of women, and the damage goes even beyond this. The effort to defund Planned Parenthood will pose a major threat for those women seeking affordable reproductive care. According to an article in The Verge, “ though Planned Parenthood is synonymous for “abortion” in some conservative circles, the bulk of its mission is low-cost care for poor women; its 650 health centers across the country help 2.5 million people. Defunding it penalizes these patients, who might not otherwise be able to afford health care.”
Now more, than ever, women’s health issues face a turning point in terms of progress.
“From the onset of puberty to menopause and beyond, women require the services of well-educated nurses who understand the uniqueness of the female body and health concerns”, states a report from the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing.”
To safeguard the present and future generations of women and to finally change the devastating statistics about inequity of women’s care worldwide, we must all strive to not only be heard, but make sure our words define recognizable actions. Healthy women are strong women, so it is important to not let the fervor of the Women’s March die down, taking with it the road to empowerment.
Akshata has a passion for traveling and exploring the world. She in very interested in entrepreneurship and sustainability in everyday life. Being a foodie, she spends a good amount of time cooking up concoctions in her kitchen, recording her recipes and travel adventures on her blog, With Love From Akshata.