By Martha Burk
WeNews guest author
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Voting this year can help stop recent setbacks of women's rights, says Martha Burk in her book "Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman's Guide to Power, Politics and the Change We Need." But before heading to the ballot box, press candidates and arm yourself with knowledge.
(WOMENSENEWS)--While it is true that 2008 ushered in a "regime change" in Washington, it would be a monumental mistake to assume our problems, particularly as women, have gone away or been solved magically. Our work is far from done and no single election can guarantee the changes we want and need. In fact, 2010 once again changed the face of government, and not for the better insofar as women are concerned.
That's why 2012 is so important. That's why we have to know the issues better than they do. That's why we have to know the right questions. Most crucially, we have to know the right answers.
The pay gap remains, there are unprecedented and growing assaults on reproductive freedom and medical privacy and we are the only industrialized country on earth without some form of pregnancy leave or paid family leave.
The child care system in the United States is a patchwork of "make–do" arrangements that leaves families struggling and the few federal child care programs that exist have been cut to the bone. Social Security, women's primary retirement program, is under constant pressure and long-term care is an increasing problem that families must solve on their own.
There are many other pressing national issues we don't normally think about as "women's issues," but that is indeed what they are. The faltering economy, the health care crisis, ongoing and potential wars, tax policies – these all affect women in different ways from the way they affect men, and all are growing concerns.
If this sounds like a doomsday scenario, it's not, though it is a challenge.Women are the majority and we have the opportunity to take control and make the changes we need in every election -- but having the opportunity is not enough. We must have the will, firmly grounded in essential knowledge of the issues and a path ahead.
But please don't think of this as just another "good citizens act – good citizens vote" sermon. Voting and taking action doesn't help, and indeed can hurt, if women end up doing something against their own interests because they don't know the facts. It is still true that knowledge is power, but knowledge won't bring change without action,