Why You Should Care About Women, in Birmingham and in Boston

Photo Credit (taken at the Boston’s Women’s March) by the amazing Alice Donovan Rouse http://alicekat.com/

In case you missed it, this week Alabama passed a law that both prohibits women from getting abortions (even in cases of rape or incest) and threatens doctors who continue providing abortion care to women with significant financial penalties. If you’re outraged, you should be. The law threatens the very health and safety of women, and at its core reflects a broader political swing that makes parallels to the Handmaid’s Tale both plausible and frightening.

To be clear, I’m angry on behalf of women in Birmingham, and will be donating and supporting the organizations nationally and locally doing work to challenge the legislation on legal grounds. But I also want to be sure Bostonians don’t lose sight of women’s issues and access in our own backyards as part of this conversation.

This year on International Women’s Day, Hired released a report calling out that Boston has the highest gender wage gap of any US city at 9%. It got a few pieces of media coverage, but didn’t spark the outrage it should have. The domestic violence epidemic rages on, and Rachel Louise Snyder rightly notes that Massachusetts, while an early adopter of spousal abuse legislation, rarely enforces its own laws on the topic. And on the issue of the incarceration of women, while behind the rest of the US, our female incarceration rates still outpace any other developed nation.

Simply put, if you’re worried about women’s rights in Birmingham, you should be. I am too.But if what’s happening in Birmingham feels far away, it’s not. You should also be concerned about women’s rights in your own backyard, regardless of where you live. It’s often said that all politics are local, and I happen to agree with that sentiment. But when it comes to thinking about fundamental human rights and access, I find sometimes people rally toward outrage in other places more readily than our own.

So if you’re angry, know you’re not alone. Let’s channel that anger into action, and not just in Alabama. A few options to consider:

Kofi Annan once said “gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It’s a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development, and building good governance.” He’s right — women’s rights are fundamentally connected to every issue of equity and access in our society. This is a global issue with profound local impact, and there’s no better time for all of us to make our voices heard on this issue and take inspired action.



Chief People Officer at HubSpot. Proud graduate of Bates College, MIT Sloan, and Space Camp. On the interwebs @katieburkie

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Katie Burke

Chief People Officer at HubSpot. Proud graduate of Bates College, MIT Sloan, and Space Camp. On the interwebs @katieburkie