Feminist Wins of the Week

By Aina Ramiaramanana

I don’t know about you, but this week (and all of last month), I have been desperately searching for some good news. August was a pretty bitter month, and we now get to start September with Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Plus, the horrible heat wave didn’t make things any better. But as I looked around, I found that under all the heavy, bitter news, there have been some incredible things happening in the U.S. and around the globe.

So – say goodbye to August and welcome September  by celebrating these feminist wins:

Bill expanding abortion access on college campuses passes CA Assembly

The California Assembly passed a bill on Wednesday that requires state universities student health centers to offer medication abortion starting January 1, 2022. SB-320 also gives community colleges and private universities the option to receive this funding, and is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown to be signed into law. Medication abortion services in student health centers will be privately funded and will include equipment, facility and security upgrades, and a 24-hour medical advice line. SB-320 began with a resolution dreamed up by the Students United for Reproductive Justice organization at UC Berkeley. The bill was first introduced by Senator Connie Leyva in February 2017 and passed the Senate in January 2018. In a June press release, Sen. Leyva said,

Students should not be forced to delay important medical care, travel long distances or even miss class or work responsibilities when medication abortion can be offered by trained health care providers on campus.”

Scotland to provide free sanitary products for students

With aims to fight period poverty, the Scottish government announced it will make sanitary products free for all students. According to The Guardian, period poverty is “when girls and women struggle to pay for basic sanitary products on a monthly basis, significantly affecting their hygiene, health and wellbeing.

According to a period poverty research by Plan International, more than one in ten girls has had to improvise sanitary products due to affordability issues and thousands of young people in Britain regularly miss school because they cannot afford to buy period products. Scotland will be the first country to make sanitary products free for students.

Legislation banning NDAs in sexual harassment cases makes gains

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, California legislators recently passed two bills regarding sexual harassment in the workplace and nondisclosure agreements (NDAs). The first would prevent companies from making secret settlements and forcing those who come forward about sexual harassment to sign nondisclosure agreements, and the second would stop companies from forcing NDAs in their employment contracts.

Although the bills are currently waiting to be signed by the governor, this is already a major win. NDAs have played a crucial role in covering up sexual harassment and assault in the workplace as many survivors fear legal liability if they violate their NDA. For example, according to the New Yorker, Harvey Weinstein’s secret settlements (which included NDAs) allowed him to repeat his actions and avoid accountability for sexual assault and harassment claims.

England’s new abortion pill plan

England took an incredible step forward for reproductive health care by creating a new abortion pill plan to legalize the use of misoprostol, an abortion drug, at home. Currently, those who seek to terminate an early pregnancy must take two pills at a clinic: mifepristone and misoprostol. Although patients are still required to take the first pill at a clinic, with the new plan patients would have the option to take the second pill (misoprostol) at home.

California to require companies to add women members to their boards

California is at it again! On Wednesday, legislators passed a bill that would require all companies headquartered in the state to have at least one woman board member. Currently, one-fourth of California’s companies do not have a single woman on their board. The bill would also require companies with five directors to add two women, and companies with six directors to add three women by the end of 2021. The bill is waiting Governor Jerry Brown’s signature in order to be signed into law.

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