New York, March 1, 2011
While WEDO is an international organization, it is headquartered in the United States; often, policies and practices in its own backyard cannot be ignored.
Now is certainly one of those times.
In less than 30 days, budget cuts and deregulation coming from Washington D.C. have severely threatened the promotion of clean energy, sustainable agriculture and effective action on climate change; and attacked essential life-saving health services for women and families in the U.S. and abroad. Focused on the links between women, environment and development, WEDO is deeply concerned about the cross-cutting impacts of these policies.
WEDO has been working towards empowering women and protecting the environment for almost twenty years – twenty years which have seen much progress. For everyone who has been part of these – or related – efforts, the news coming from Washington poses potentially huge setbacks for women’s rights and the sustainable future of our planet.
Read on for 4 opportunities to take action against these threats.
Last weekend, the House of Representatives passed a federal funding proposal that would slash all remaining hopes towards U.S. progress in the climate crisis by making deep cuts in programs that promote clean energy and reduce air pollution and by actively prohibiting the EPA from taking action to address climate change. Among other things, the cuts would:
- Prohibit the EPA from collecting information about the sources and amounts of global warming pollution and making this information available to the public;
- Prohibit the EPA from setting limits on global warming pollution from power plants, factories and refineries, among the most significant sources of greenhouse gas pollution in the United States;
- Prevent the United States from contributing to the IPCC;
- Eliminate or reduce sources of international climate finance funding, inhibiting the U.S.’s ability to honor its international climate commitments;
Such cuts are not only contrary to what Americans want (The Pew Research recently released a poll according to which 72% of Americans think federal spending on environmental protections should be either kept the same or increased) but they are also short-sighted, irresponsible, and severely detrimental to future actions to mitigate global climate change.
Take Action! A Budget Blow to Our Climate?
On January 27, 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it would fully deregulate genetically modified alfalfa. While the news release suggests this decision was based on careful consideration of evidence, recent media reports point to immense pressure from the White House as cause for this surprising reversal. Many view President Obama’s appointments of former Monsanto employees to key agricultural-policy posts as evidence that Washington has surrendered to the big food industry and their lobbying efforts rather than moving towards sustainable agriculture. Particularly problematic in this case, according to agricultural experts, is that the deregulation of genetically modified alfalfa will lead to an uncontainable and irreversible contamination of organic and traditional crops. Critics argue that potential adverse impacts of genetically modified food have not been sufficiently analyzed. However, since labeling is prohibited, consumers have no choice but to participate in a mass human experiment with irreversible potential impacts.
On February 18, 2011, the House voted yes on an amendment to block federal aid for Planned Parenthood barring their health centers from all federal aid for birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other lifesaving care. Planned Parenthood provides these essential services and preventive care for over three million people every year. This action by the House is the most direct attack on women’s health and reproductive rights in the history of the country. The vote was passed through the House 240-185, with 230 Republicans and 10 Democrats voting in favor of the amendment. Of the 240 Representatives who voted yes, only 22 were women. Now is the time for our voices to be heard. On February 17th, 22 members of the House went to the floor
of to stand with and passionately defend Planned Parenthood.
Take Action! I Stand With Planned Parenthood
After a seven year break under the Bush administration, the U.S. resumed its funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in March 2009. Just two years later, the House of Representatives will consider a Continuing Resolution (HR 1) that includes the elimination of funding to UNFPA. UNFPA’s mission is to promote the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA works towards reducing poverty, improving women’s reproductive health, preventing HIV and ensuring that every woman and girl is treated with dignity and respect. According to Americans for UNFPA, the elimination of U.S. funding will have a devastating effect on UNFPA’s global health programming and women’s health, particularly in times of emergency. UNFPA’s budget in 2009 was $783.1 million and the U.S. contribution is $50 million which is 0.0013 percent of total tax revenue and 35.9 cents per tax payer. If Washington really wants to decrease national debt, such marginal cuts in the wrong places will only serve to exacerbate inequalities and injustice.
Take Action! Tell Congress: Fully fund UNFPA!
WEDO works for a just world that promotes and protects human rights, gender equality and the integrity of the environment. The policies being pushed in Washington are out of sync with the world we live in and the challenges we face. We will continue to stand up for progressive policies and push back on ideologies which threaten women’s rights and the future of our planet.