Friday, July 11, 2014

What We've Been Reading- Week of 7/7

“63 Abducted Females Escape Extremists in Nigeria,” New York Times

As of July 7th, it has been reported that 63 of the girls and women kidnapped by Islamic extremists in Nigeria have escaped. While this is good news, over 200 of the girls are still missing. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is committed to finding them and following any leads that may help locate where they are being held. Boko Haram, the extremist group, has repeatedly attacked northern Nigeria throughout the past five years. They are “demanding the establishment of an Islamic state,” a cause that sparks violent tactics when faced with opposition. This article also notes, “Boko Haram is demanding the release of detained fighters in exchange for the Chibok girls but Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly has refused to consider a prisoner swap.” In short, the Nigerian government and military are trying to fight the group and protect their own people without conceding, but it has proven to be extremely difficult. The government and president have received criticism worldwide in how they are dealing with Boko Haram and, specifically, the abduction of the girls in April. Hopefully they will continue to work closer to finding the girls and keeping their population safe.

"Why Families Face So Many Child Care Struggles"
In an article by Maria Shriver for NBC News, she writes about a new book by Elizabeth Palley and Corey Shdaimah titled, “In Our Hands: The Struggle for U.S. Child Care Policy.” This book explains the history of child care policy in the U.S. Both authors discovered many issues with child care in the United States, including access and cost. One thing they uncovered was the antiquated way our government has looked at child care, and how that affects families in the twenty-first century. They also touched on how men are now  getting more involved in child rearing. Now, it is much more common for both parents to have full time jobs, and fathers have had to be involved more than before. Their book provides hope for the future and ideas to improve the system.

Many supporters of Barack Obama are disappointed in his lack of action regarding immigration reform. Over his 6 years as president, Obama and Congress have failed to pass substantial immigration reform. According to a recent a Washington Post article by David Nakamura and Zachary A. Goldfarb, Obama announced he will redirect immigration enforcement efforts to the border.” In the same speech, he vowed to fix as much of the immigration system as he could using his executive powers. Obama mentioned immigration as a top priority for his second term during his reelection campaign, yet the GOP-controlled House has still not approved a bipartisan immigration bill that was passed in the Senate. With only a few working days in the year left, and a recent surge in women and children crossing the border illegally, Obama pledges to do everything within his power to to reform U.S. border control. There is a lot of tension between Congress and the President regarding his usage of executive power; House Speaker Boehner threatened to sue Obama for overreaching, and the Supreme Court ruled that Obama acted unconstitutionally by appointing high-level aides when the Senate was on recess. Besides this tension in Washington, Obama also faces immense pressure from his supporters, Latino voters, and business with interest to reshape immigration laws. “More than 52,000 unaccompanied children and 39,000 women with children have been apprehended at the border this year — a significant increase from previous years.” In response to this huge influx of immigrants, on Tuesday Obama asked Congress to give approximately $4 billion to confront what he is calling a “urgent humanitarian situation”. The $3.7 billion would go to new detention facilities, aerial surveillance, new immigration judges, and Border Patrol agents. Currently, women in many Central and South American countries have limited opportunities, which explains why so many young girls decide to take on the rigorous journey to the Texas border. In the coming weeks, we will see how Obama and Congress respond to this “urgent humanitarian situation”, and through their action we may see how legislatures regard the rights of women from other countries.

Success (or Lack thereof) in the Feminism Movement- Emily Schacter

Mark Joseph Stern wrote an engaging opinion piece for Slate on July 7th, titled Why Are Women Losing While Gays Win? It’s All About Sex,” discussing the reasons behind the success of the LGBTQ movement in contrast to the repeated defeats in the feminism movement. He cites the recent Hobby Lobby case, of course, and the attitudes of certain Supreme Court Justices to show the misogyny that continues to hurt the feminist movement. Stern suggests that perhaps conservatives favor gay rights more than they would women’s rights; he also says that feminism is about sex while the LGBTQ movement has come to focus more on dignity. I would correct him by saying that feminism may be viewed as all about sex when it really is about basic equality! Otherwise, I loved this article and his connections and observations.

Stern continues to explain that conservatives can set aside sex in the LGBTQ movement and look at the individuals and their personal freedom. Sex does not have to be a major part of the conversation. When it comes to women  though, conservatives, and especially male conservatives (including Supreme Court Justices), cannot separate sex from personal freedom. They do not separate women’s rights from their opinions on birth control and abortion; instead, the line is blurred. They want to control the right reproductive freedom, which essentially controls women and rids them of their basic human rights. As Stern says, “Conservatives clearly refuse to acknowledge women’s sexual freedom as a fundamental right, instead dismissing the whole concept as a liberal crock meant to excuse women from the consequences of their libidinous actions.” The attitude of these conservatives towards feminism and the progression of women is extremely disappointing, condescending, and, in short, unfair. Stern brings up some really great points in this article that could start a very interesting conversation.
Coakley and Women's Leadership Council- Allysha Roth
On July 9th, MassLive journalist Robert Rizzuto reported on Attorney General Martha Coakley’s efforts to organize a Women’s Leadership Council. Since the U.S. Supreme struck down the Massachusetts buffer zone law, and upheld that businesses are exempt from providing healthcare coverage to women which conflicts with religious beliefs through the Hobby Lobby decision, Attorney General Coakley has been very vocal in expressing her disappointment with the rulings, and her conviction to overcome the setbacks by designing legislation to fight back and protect women’s rights. Part of the action she is taking includes forming a coalition of pro-choice women leaders dedicated to protecting women’s rights to access reproductive health care and advancing other women’s rights issues such as equal pay. Rizzuto also mentions that, although she did not win the Democratic endorsement for her bid for Governor at the convention, Coakley is leading the polls to win the Democratic primary