Donald J. Trump’s first year in office is coming to a close, and as such, I wanted to evaluate what he truly has and hasn’t accomplished, especially in regards to women’s rights.
During his time on the campaign trail, Trump made numerous promises regarding advances for women. But like most of his campaign promises, his claims made to protect women’s rights are diametrically opposed to what he has actually done, so much so that one can’t help but wonder what led 53% of white women to vote for him in the first place.
In fact, on a grading scale of A – F, Trump fails in four major areas when it comes to protecting and expanding equal rights for women. Let’s take a look at exactly how the Trump presidency affected women’s rights issues today in America.
Paid Family Leave? F.
Trump loved to tout instituting a formal federal family and medical leave policy while running for office. In fact, even earlier this year in May, the Donald promised a paid family leave program that would allow up to six weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child.
The problems with his so-called “plan” are numerous. First, his plan for “paid” leave was not actually a plan for paid leave at all. Instead, it allowed women who were taking time off to recover from giving birth to collect from their state’s unemployment compensation program, which means receiving far less than their ordinary salary in addition to burdening the already strapped federal unemployment safety net.
Furthermore, the plan only extended to mothers. It did not extend to fathers or adoptive parents. In doing so, Trump’s plan furthered the sexist ideal that women are ultimately responsible for raising children.
It also left out single mothers, many of whom could not afford to live on the meager unemployment benefits they’d receive under leave.
Finally, six weeks is barely adequate for a woman to recover from childbirth, let alone put in place a plan for what happens after she returns to work.
Equal Pay for Equal Work? F.
On the campaign trail, both Trump and first daughter Ivanka pledged a platform of “equal pay for equal work” when it came to women in the workplace.
This was an outright lie. Not only has Trump done absolutely nothing to insure pay equity in the workplace, he also worked behind the scenes to repeal Obama-era protections for women in the federal workforce.
Trump quietly repealed Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order that required federal contractors to provide their employees with basic transparent facts about compensation, including overtime pay, hours worked and whether or not women and men were being paid fairly and equitably.
Reproductive Rights? F.
In the 80s and 90s, Trump was outspoken about his support for abortion rights. However, during his campaign and later presidency, not only has he done a 180 on his belief of abortion as part of a woman’s fundamental right to privacy, he’s also made unwanted pregnancy more likely to occur by repealing the ACA mandate that employer health plans cover birth control free of charge for women in favor of “religious freedom” (read: freedom to discriminate against women).
Trump re-instituted the “Global Gag Order” which prohibits doctors overseas from discussing abortion as an option for women faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Furthermore, his repeal of the ACA birth control mandate and his efforts to defund Planned Parenthood means millions of low-to-medium income women won’t be able to obtain birth control to avoid becoming pregnant in the first place.
Trump seems more in line with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s statement that women should have more babies to insure more low-income workers, which big corporations can easily exploit.
Combating Sexual Abuse On and Off Campus? F.
Even more odiously, Trump has made it easier for sexual assailants on and off campus to get away with assault. His appointed Education Secretary Betsy Devos rescinded two key provisions that would allow victims of sexual assault on college campuses to see their rapists behind bars.
Among the provisions removed was the Obama-era mandate that stated that campus sexual assault cases be judged using the lowest standard of proof, the preponderance of the evidence, to prosecute campus sexual assault cases. Instead, victims now must meet the higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence‘ to see their rapists prosecuted.
In addition, Trump has made it more difficult for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace to seek compensation for the discrimination they have faced. By enforcing mandatory arbitration clauses instead of omitting sexual harassment claims from this unjust requirement, women now have to be even more cautious in reporting harassment, as their employer, not a judge, will determine whether harassment actually occurred.
While Trump has tremendous power as POTUS, even his power is not absolute. The US system of checks and balances allows for legal challenges to his executive orders and changes to proposed rules. Multiple legal groups have pressed forward with cases challenging the president’s actions.
Still, with the 2018 midterms still approaching, it is important for all of us as voters, but particularly those of us as women, to exercise our Constitutional right to vote. While we can’t get rid of Trump in 2018, we can clean both the House and Senate of his Republican lackeys who support his discriminatory actions without so much as blinking an eye.
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