The motto for the 2017 International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017, is Be Bold For Change. As the old adage goes, think globally, act locally. It’s a contentious time; no one seems to agree enough to act together. Among the 157 million women and girls in the United States, there are probably no two women alike in terms of political affiliation, age, religion, and lifestyle.

Given our differences, is it even possible to be bold together?

Yes.

Regardless of our differences, women can link arms to improve their lives and bring justice and hope to their communities. Here are five ways women can work together to help other women in the US and abroad:

1. End Human Trafficking

Think human trafficking happens only in the developing world? Think again. There were more than 5,000 victims of human trafficking in the US last year. Through force or fraud, women and men were used for sex or labor which profits their abusers. Every year, many vulnerable young women are coerced into the sex trade.

This tragedy must end. Several organizations help young women to escape trafficking and to bring their perpetrators to justice. They need our help to recognize and report these crimes.

We can stand up for the victims of trafficking. For more information check out the work of Polaris, a non-profit organization that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline

2. Improve Reproductive Health

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972) legalized birth control in the US. Today birth control is widely available here in the States. Women’s reproductive health, however, is compromised in other parts of the world. For example, in some countries, girls are married young and do not receive adequate medical care during pregnancy and birth. Some of these women develop conditions after birth that leaves them unable to live normal lives. These women are often rejected by their husbands and driven from their villages.

Women in developed countries can help our less fortunate sisters by supporting medical treatment for women which they cannot afford to obtain on their own. We can help restore both their reproductive health and their lives.

We can and should support women’s reproductive health in developing countries, such as the Fistula Foundation and Sozo International.

3. Improve or Replace the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has reduced the quality and access of health care for all women in America. How many women have gone to the mailbox only to find a letter from their insurance provider telling them that their plan has — once again — been cancelled?

Congress intends to reform the Affordable Care Act, and it should. Women vary in their health insurance needs. One size does not fit all. Some people want fewer out-of-pocket expenses and higher premiums. Others prefer higher deductibles and lower premiums. Some want extensive coverage while other women just want catastrophic coverage. We know there are trade-offs. Congress should not choose for us. While there are still going to be areas of disagreement on the law, we can encourage Congress to increase options for health insurance.

We can urge Congress to prioritize patient choice. For more information check out our own Health Care page.

4. Support Right to Try

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Cancer comes in second. In women, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 230,815 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,860 died from breast cancer in the 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. The mortality rate of breast cancer is declining and new drugs are coming onto the market.

We can do more to promote cures for cancer and other lethal diseases. While the Food and Drug Administration works to ensure that lifesaving drugs do not have lethal side effects, the delay of mandated trials costs lives. Right to Treatment laws enable terminally ill Americans to try medications that have not fully completed the process.

We can urge state legislators to support Right to Try. For more information check out RightToTry.org.

5. Increase women’s wages

A 2009 Labor Department study found the wage gap between men and women is between 4.8 and 7 cents on the dollar when one takes into account men and women’s choices regarding occupations, college majors, and time in the job. Women set different priorities at different times of their lives. As for the remaining gap, some evidence suggests that young women may not be equipped to negotiate their first salary. One study found 57% men entering negotiated first salary 7% of women. Starting out a little behind, some women never catch up. Since it is already illegal to pay women less than men, we need to focus our efforts on equipping women to excel at the bargaining table. We need to mentor the next generation. We should also be leery of one-size-fits-all government mandates that would interfere with our abilities to set priorities for our time, family, and career trajectory.

We can empower women to reach their potential. For more information check out the resources on the Independent Women’s Forum’s Women at Work project.

What are your thoughts?

Can women only make an impact by supporting bigger government, or can we be more effective working directly with those in our communities?

Let us know on Facebook!

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