Women in Louisiana must fight for human rights

State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, led the New Orleans Women's March on Jan. 21. Photo credit: Meg Denny

State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, led the New Orleans Women’s March on Jan. 21. Photo by: Meg Denny

MEG DENNY
Managing Editor

The state of women in Louisiana is deplorable. Indeed, it was fitting when the Population Institute gave Louisiana an “F” on their report card for reproductive health and rights in 2015.

We lack comprehensive sex education in schools, and as a result, 60 percent of pregnancies in the state were unintended in 2015 (Guttmacher Institute).

According to The Guttmacher Institute, the public cost of unintended pregnancies in Louisiana was $651 million ($530.4 million was paid by the federal government, and the state covered $120.6 million).

Furthermore, it’s important to note that 20.7 percent of working-age women had incomes below the poverty line in 2015 (Center for American Progress), and equal pay for women in LA seems more unreachable every time the legislative sessions begin.

In 2015, unplanned pregnancies cost the state $120.6 million, the federal government $530.4 million and more than 104,572 family households had incomes below the poverty line (CAP). The comparison of these two statements weighs heavy on the women in Louisiana.

On Saturday, Jan. 20 and Sunday, Jan. 21, over 21,000 people took to the streets of Baton Rouge, Shreveport and New Orleans to stand up for the rights and liberation of women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, people with disabilities, undocumented workers, immigrants and other marginalized groups.

Yes, Louisiana’s women are affected by this dangerous time. However, statistics and facts for the other marginalized communities listed above are even worse.

As women who suffer in this state daily, we know what fates await our children and their children in this political climate. So, this is what I need to say: privileged women (white women especially) must do better.

Remember that while 94 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton in this election, 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump (CNN). 53 percent of white women saw Trump’s racism, sexism, islamophobia, homophobia, etc. and voted for him regardless.

My fellow white women: we really messed up this country for marginalized communities. We need to do better. Show up to your local protests and screenings. Volunteer for local and national non-profit organizations that fight for justice and liberation. Donate, donate, donate. If you cannot donate, share the organization’s information with as many people as you can.

It is time that white women show up for our beloved trans women, queer women of color, people with disabilities, Latinx people, undocumented people and all of our communities suffering under white supremacy and political oppression.

What comes after the Women’s March on Washington? Refusal to remain complacent in an oppressive climate. Refusal to stand still. We must continue to show up. We must be ready for action always.

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