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Egypt's Women, Nobels, Occupy Protests Are Gifts

Friday, December 23, 2011

Three Nobel Peace Prizes, untold numbers of protestors who are demanding economic justice and the women's march in Cairo are the best gifts of the holiday season, says Rita Henley Jensen, editor in chief and founder of Women's eNews.

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Anti-Woman Subtext

When I read the most recent demand in Congress for "Reform Social Security" and "Fix Medicare" I see an anti-woman subtext.

Women are 56 percent of Social Security recipients and receive less each check because of earnings that, on average, are lower than those of male counterparts. Women also depend more heavily on Social Security because fewer have pensions and other assets and on average live four years longer.

As for Medicare, women are 55 percent of those covered while 14 percent of all enrollees are women 85 and older. None of the roars emitting from Washington focused on changing Medicare have argued for lower premiums for those with lower incomes.

Women not only earn 77 cents to every dollar a man earns, nearly half of employed women are clustered in 20 job categories, with average annual median earnings of $27,383.

If OWS results in a reshaped safety net, including Social Security and Medicare, and perhaps a fairer tax structure, women's lives could be dramatically improved.

The OWS crowd even managed to distract politicians leading the charge during the summer to defund Planned Parenthood on the federal, state and local levels, campaigns that kept the Women's eNews summer intern Marley Gibbons fully occupied covering the latest developments.

Splintering Anti-Choice Movement

By November, Mississippi voters rejected the "personhood" amendment that would have made many forms of contraception illegal and given citizenship rights to fertilized human eggs. With its decisive defeat, the anti-choice movement appears to have splintered. Some plan to challenge Roe v. Wade by taking such a law all the way to the now anti-choice Supreme Court; others vehemently argue all should stick with the "chipping away" approach that has been so successful to date.

At this moment, the anti-choice fever appears to have dropped a degree or two as Republican candidates have begun to talk about job creation and tax policy. (Unfortunately, the cooling down was not sufficient to prevent President Obama from limiting teens' access to Plan B, but a new year is coming.)

Many have complained that Occupy Wall Street and its spin-offs have not articulated a specific agenda. That's fine with me. I am delighted the movement has been able to spotlight how badly we need a more equitable distribution of resources. And it is quite likely that the women in the movement will come to the fore, just as they have in Cairo.

Thank you OWS demonstrators. Even if it's not the focus, you might be pushing the nation in the direction of better treatment of women and to that I can only say Hurrah. And I am sure other thank you notes are on the way.

Thank you women of Egypt, thank you Nobel committee and thank you the women of OWS. Happy New Year for all of us!


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Rita Henley Jensen is editor in chief and founder of Women's eNews.

For more information:

Christina Gonzalez video, Occupy Wall Street 9/24/11::

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Thank YOU! I'm only curious where the information on the wage gap is coming from, I find it unfortunate but very interesting how employers can still get away with a clear wage difference among genders.

Samantha, information on pay gaps can be found at the Department of Labor website