The Fate of Women’s Rights Is Tied to the Fate of Democracy. How Can We Secure Both?


Demonstrators collect at Indiana College in Bloomington to rally in help of reproductive rights on Oct. 2, 2021. Since Texas handed its six-week ban in September of final yr, dozens of states have adopted in Texas’s footsteps. (Jeremy Hogan / SOPA Photos / LightRocket through Getty Photos)

This yr, Ms. journal may have been revealed for 50 years—and if we’ve got realized nothing from the previous 5 many years, it needs to be that change can occur swiftly, each for higher and for worse. 

Earlier this yr, we watched in horror as 20 years of women’s and girls’ progress in Afghanistan had been worn out with the Taliban’s rise to energy.

Right here within the U.S., the democratic establishments we’ve got relied upon to advance girls’s rights are underneath intensifying assault, and as in different authoritarian regimes, girls are the canaries within the coal mine. 

States are passing more and more harsh and sweeping bans on abortion access. Final week, with none debate or questions allowed, the Republican-controlled Oklahoma legislature handed a six-week Texas-style abortion ban which can take impact instantly. Earlier this yr, Oklahoma handed a total ban on abortion that will make performing an abortion a felony, with as much as 10 years in jail if convicted—that might go into impact as early as August, relying on the result of the Supreme Courtroom’s determination.  

Quickly the Supreme Courtroom is predicted to additional weaken, if not obliterate, girls’s constitutional proper to abortion, a call that can threaten different basic rights individuals on this nation have come to depend upon—together with the fitting to birth control and the fitting to marry the individual we love no matter intercourse or race. 

The struggle for abortion can’t be separated from the struggle for different constitutional rights, together with voting rights—it’s a struggle for self-determination, which is essential to a very consultant democracy.

Within the Spring concern of Ms., researchers Erica Chenoweth and Zoe Marks clarify how threats to girls’s autonomy and civil liberties influence and mirror bigger political tendencies across the globe the place democracy is in decline and authoritarianism is on the rise. In a strong evaluation of the backlash in opposition to feminist progress—what we’re calling the patriarchs’ war on women—Marks and Chenoweth write, the “connection between sexism and authoritarianism isn’t coincidental … girls’s political energy is important to a correctly functioning multiracial democracy, and absolutely free empowered girls are a risk to autocracy.”

As Chenoweth’s and Marks’s analysis reveals, it’s been girls’s progress—the fitting to vote, to personal property, for reproductive rights and for civil rights for all individuals—that has led to an growth of democracy globally within the twentieth century.   

When the destiny of girls’s rights is tied to the destiny of democracy—and when each are in dire straits—how can we assist safe each? We have to be ready for what’s nothing lower than main battles for the survival and development of girls’s rights—and our very democracy. 

Within the Spring issue of Ms., we look at the backlash in opposition to feminist progress within the U.S.—from growing restrictions on abortions on the state stage, to restrictions on voting rights, to assaults on LGBTQ rights, and extra. Join today to get our newest issue delivered straight to your mailbox—and gasoline one other yr of our reporting, rebelling and truth-telling. 

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