For 90 years, the non-partisan League of Women Voters of New Jersey has been fighting for women's equality. Frankly, we are disgusted with the need for this fight. It is shameful and disparaging that in 2010, we are still debating the economic and social benefits of family planning and basic preventative health care for women.
You would think that women wouldn't continue to be treated as second class citizens 90 years after winning the right to vote. But even as we prepare to celebrate Women's Equality Day on August 26th, we are forcefully reminded that women are not considered equal — at least not where our health is concerned. The fact that our governor vetoed legislation to provide funding for women's health services makes us acutely aware that the fight for equality is not over. And the prospect of our legislature not overriding that veto makes this disparity even clearer.
In the book "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn point out that after 1920, America's maternal mortality rate began to decrease dramatically. They write, "A society that gave women the right to vote also gave their lives more weight and directed more resources to women's health. When women could vote, suddenly their lives became more important, and enfranchising women ended up providing a huge and unanticipated boost to women's health." Apparently in the 1920s, our lives and health had more worth than in 2010.