Women's Equality Day: What We Can Learn From Activist Bella Abzug

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Women's Equality Day: What We Can Learn From Activist Bella Abzug
"This woman's place is in the house — the House of Representatives."

Even more troubling, there has been a recent movement throughout the nation by some who disregard the importance of our health, who seek to erode our reproductive rights, and who attempt to shame and silence us. 

In February of 2012, Sandra Fluke was prohibited from testifying before a House committee about the vital importance of insurance companies' coverage for birth control.  She eventually addressed only Democratic members of the House, and was then famously labeled a "slut" and "prostitute" by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. (Limbaugh later retracted his remarks, though Fluke characterized his apology as inadequate. She later was a featured speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.) 

Earlier this year, an all-male panel of eight House legislators met to consider a restrictive abortion law that would not provide exceptions for rape, incest or even the health of a mother. Regardless of one's views on abortion, it would make sense to have a woman included on a panel that discusses our bodies and health.

More recently, feminist activist Sarah Slamen was forcibly dragged out of a Texas State Senate committee meeting when she fiercely voiced her opposition to similar strict anti-abortion proposals. Internationally, women face even harsher battles, and are still tortured, starved, raped (and punished for being raped), and even killed, just for being women.

So, what does this mean? That the work of our fearless leaders like Bella Abzug is far from over and that a holiday like Women's Equality Day still matters.

Abzug and so many others activists disregarded their critics, held steadfastly to their beliefs, fought for what they believed in and did not let sexist slurs, stereotypes, or setbacks stand in their way on the road to equality. They fought fiercely yet peacefully, passionately and with dignity to earn and protect our equal rights. So too, can we, by remembering on Women's Equality Day and always, how far along we've come, where we are today, and where we want to go tomorrow — men and women, together. As equals.

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