According to the Oxford English dictionary, patriarchy is a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. Many proclaim that this is a system of the past, ancient history, nothing that affects us today. However, this picture is one piece of evidence that backs up the fact that we’re still affected by a patriarchal society.
In this picture, we see Donald Trump, arguably the most powerful man in the world, surrounded by only men making a decision that affects women’s reproductive rights in developing countries. He stands around a table with several other men, making a decision that primarily affects women. The executive order that he is signing states that Donald Trump will be reimposing the ‘Global Gag Rule’, a law introduced during the Reagan era, that states that any U.S. federal funding to a non-governmental organization will be revoked if that organization promotes or performs an abortion. To get an idea of how extreme this law is, note that the U.S. government can also revoke their funding if an organization even mentions abortion as an option or refers someone to groups that provide abortions. This doesn’t only take away the opportunity for women to have safe abortions, it also means that people in these countries will have less access to contraceptives and information regarding planned parenthood. These organizations typically provide such things. When they aren’t being funded anymore, they have a harder time providing these services.
Reinstating the ‘Global Gag Rule’ won’t decrease the amount of abortions, quite the contrary. Due to the fact that contraceptives won’t be as accessible, the number of unintended pregnancies will increase. This will lead to a higher number of unsafe abortions, which will increase the maternal and newborn mortality. Unsafe abortions are a major contributor to maternal deaths, and kill tens of thousands of women a year. Something that I don’t understand is how exactly this is “pro-life”. However, that’s not the only way this has a negative impact. When George W. Bush reimposed the ‘Global Gag Rule’ during his presidency, it lead to an HIV epidemic. Without these organizations’ access to this federal funding, people were deprived of contraceptives and were then more prone to sexually transmitted diseases.
Reimposing this law will take away a woman’s right to her own body, it will take away her right to decide what happens to it. This is especially devastating due to the fact that this will affect women in developing countries, women that may feel they don’t have the resources to take care of a child. Children will then be born into families that may not be able to take care of them, and this will lead to unhappy lives and will have horrible consequences. Donald Trump hasn’t even been in office a week, and already he is affecting human rights around the world. This man, who has a lot of power in his hands, during his first week in office decides that he has the right to determine the fate of millions of women.
This weekend, there were women’s marches all over the globe. People all around the world joined together, marched and peacefully protested against Trump’s ideals and for a more progressive society. It was the largest protest in US history, and you could really feel a sense of unity between those who don’t agree with Trump’s discriminatory politics. These women’s marches were inspiring, and if you ask me they offered a glimmer of hope for the future. Yes, Trump has been elected president of the United States. But there are still millions of people who stand up for a more equal and fair society. When all hope feels lost, just remind yourself of who won the popular vote by a landslide. Now all we can do is continue to combat what we think is wrong, stand up for what we believe is right and try the best we can to do our part to improve the situation.