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Saturday, April 29, marks the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency, and what these 100 days reveal about the Trump administration’s outlook and agenda when it comes to women, and women’s equality, is pretty grim.
“President Trump often talks about empowering women and investing in women, but so far all we’ve seen is a real disconnect with families,” Shilpa Phadke, senior director of the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress (CAP) and a veteran of the Obama administration, tells Yahoo Style.
Phadke points out that to get a sense of the Trump administration’s supposed investment in women, or lack thereof, one need look no further than the president’s personnel choices.
“Trump’s cabinet has only four women,” Phadke says. “It is more white and more male than any cabinet since Reagan. For every three men that have been appointed, there is one woman when it comes to jobs that do require Senate confirmation. We’ve heard nothing as to what they are doing with the White House Council on Women and Girls. And when you couple the lack of women in high leadership positions with the people he is putting in power — Mike Pence, Tom Price, Jeff Sessions, Steve Miller, Steve Bannon — the people there to do the work don’t really reflect today’s families and the diverse challenges women are feeling.”
But that’s not all, Phadke says. The Trump administration has consistently made moves in every policy realm to jeopardize women’s security — physical, social, and economic.
The outline of the proposed Trump budget, for example, would lead to significant funding cuts for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and to the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. The new amendments announced on April 25 to the Republican-proposed health care bill that aims to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would stop coverage of critical preventive care services that women rely upon, in addition to rolling back coverage for maternity care, domestic violence services, and counseling services.
“Some of the things that scare me the most are the lack of Trump’s moves to fulfill campaign promises regarding maternity leave policy proposals, childcare policy proposals. We haven’t seen any of that. What we have seen is an attack on abortion rights and women’s health broadly,” Phadke says. “We’re seeing attacks on families when it comes to the Muslim ban, immigration raids, LGBT kids being bullied more, the declines we’re seeing among Latinas, especially in reporting sexual violence and rape — women are nervous to report things because there’s this fear of being detained. The Trump administration is creating fear in communities.”
Another example of how Trump’s first 100 days have hurt women? His administration’s delay in enacting the Obama-era overtime rule that would have broadened the base of hourly employees eligible for overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week.
“Women, and women of color especially, have the biggest pay disparities and thus would be most impacted by this,” says Phadke. The Trump administration has also blocked pay transparency protections, another critical measure for women’s economic development and security.
“This is hitting people at their wages,” Phadke says. “If you’re eroding families’ economic security and they can’t pay for the health care that you have planned on, this hurts the economy overall.”
Need more evidence of the kind of policy maneuvering that quietly hurts women’s ability to support themselves and their families? Look no further than the Trump administration’s hiring freeze, which is negatively affecting military childcare programs, along with budget cuts for nurse training programs (for a disproportionately female field), to name a few.
The Trump administration’s attacks on women’s health and reproductive rights are also particularly concentrated and hard to ignore.
On Jan. 25, just days after taking office, President Trump signed an executive order reinstating the “global gag rule,” also known as the “Mexico City policy,” thus barring U.S. foreign aid and federal funding from going to any international nongovernmental organization (NGO) that discusses abortion care or refers patients for abortion care. And he did so surrounded by a group of men, no less.
“We’ve got your best interests at heart, ladies. Believe me.” pic.twitter.com/2ZY4Sc6sKh
— Greg Greene (@ggreeneva) January 23, 2017
On Jan. 27, Vice President Pence and senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway both spoke at the March for Life. It was the first time a vice president had ever attended the event — a clear signal of where the administration’s priorities lie when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) January 27, 2017
On Jan. 31, Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch has long asserted the rights of corporations over individuals’ rights, including in the Hobby Lobby case that gave the crafting megastore the ability to deny its employees insurance coverage for contraception because it violates the majority stakeholders’ religious beliefs. Throughout his campaign for the presidency, Trump promised to nominate a Supreme Court justice who would ensure the overturn of Roe v. Wade and end the practice of safe, legal, and constitutionally guaranteed abortion in the U.S.
Georgia Congressman Tom Price became the new Secretary of Health and Human Services on Feb. 10, bringing his long voting record of seeking to defund Planned Parenthood, criminalize abortion, and ban certain forms of birth control, along with his vehement opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the protections it affords to women.
Pence met with anti-choice leaders on March 9 to “reaffirm [Trump’s] commitment to the sanctity of life” — and plan to make abortion illegal in the U.S.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) March 10, 2017
On March 13, Republicans revealed the first draft of the planned bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The draft contained language to not only block Planned Parenthood from serving as a Medicaid provider but also opened the door to insurance companies to not guarantee maternity care coverage in their plans. A revised version of the bill contained a clause that would force unemployed women covered by Medicaid to find employment within 60 days of giving birth if they wanted to keep their coverage.
On March 10 and March 23, respectively, Trump nominated Scott Gottlieb to head up the Food and Drug Administration and Roger Severino to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights. Gottlieb is opposed to insurance coverage for contraception, and Severino is a vocal supporter of systemic discrimination for LGBT individuals.
On March 30, Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to advance the Senate’s legislation seeking to undo the Obama-era federal family planning program, Title X, which prevents states from blocking Planned Parenthood and other abortion care providers. Without Pence’s vote, Republicans in the House would have been unable to advance the bill.
On April 3, the Trump administration announced that it would eliminate all U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the division of the United Nations that provides reproductive and sexual health care services, including family planning, HIV/AIDS screening and care, and infant and maternal mortality prevention services to those in need in more than 150 countries worldwide.
Representatives of the anti-choice organization called the Susan B. Anthony List were literally at Trump’s side on April 13 as he signed legislation rolling back former President Barack Obama’s rule that protected Title X funding for abortion providers.
— Susan B Anthony List (@SBAList) April 13, 2017
Or, as Kaylie Hanson Long, national communications director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, tells Yahoo Style, “President Trump’s first 100 days provide all the evidence needed to disprove Sean Spicer’s claim that the president is ‘committed to empowering women.’ Day after day, he has chipped away at the equality and freedom of women in the United States and across the globe. His administration poses an immediate threat to our rights, and we will keep rallying, marching, and calling in protest.”
So is there anything good that Trump has done for women in the first 100 days?
“No. There’s nothing good,” Phadke says. “We’re talking about a budget that slashes the budgets for WIC, strips public schools of funding, eliminates funding for after-school programs, endangers LGBT students and homeless kids, is proposing budget cuts for the agencies that fund AmeriCorps and the Boys & Girls Clubs and is cutting funding to prevent teen pregnancy. It feels like an all-out assault. You look at the personnel, the Supreme Court nominee, the attorney general appointee, the head of HHS, and you couple that with staffing in the White House, and it’s hard to feel that there’s any understanding of what women and families need.”
She continues, “We just came up with 100 ways that Trump has harmed women in the first 100 days, but there are probably more than that in terms of how the administration is falling short in affirming women’s progress. The first daughter is obviously representing the United States in talking about women’s empowerment, but it rings hollow. She’s not moving the ball on real, core issues for women, whether it be health care or economic security — she’s not looking at the structural impediments that limit women’s economic participation.”
Phadke adds: “What we want is to see concrete progress on something that feels like a push for women’s equality and real policy proposals to back that. There is this real disconnect — the [Trump] administration doesn’t really understand what women and families are going through and how all those challenges are connected.”
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