11 Ways Our Government Is Silencing Women Of Color
Months before Donald Trump became the president of the United States, lots of people were apprehensive that the 2016 presidential candidate would herald an era of regression. In January, voicing their dissent against the newly-elected face of the country, thousands of women across the nation rallied in the Women's March and made their many voices heard. Among the protesters were women from racial and religious minority groups who demonstrated against the president, fearing that Trump's administration would silence women of color.
In March, Trump told Congress, "Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing and hope." But it's safe to say his words have yet to match his actions. In fact, several of his political announcements and decisions have been the stark opposite of "healing" and "hopeful."
From orders for the Labor Department on retirement protection for women to blocks obstructing the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, this list of various orders signed by Trump sheds light on just how the president is making life significantly more difficult for women of color who, in the context of America, already face widespread social and economic uncertainty as minorities.
1. Stepping Away From Overtime Rule
Under Trump's presidency, the Department of Justice announced that it won't safeguard certain protections for workers once mandated by former President Barack Obama. These protections ensured that eligible workers who earned less than $47,000 a year would be paid $47,476 annually if they worked overtime.
This ruling will devastate low-income women of color, many of whom get by as domestic workers and often work overtime. According to the most comprehensive data on domestic workers that was compiled in 2012, 95 percent of domestic workers are women, while 54 percent of that demographic were women of color.
2. Rolling Back Protections For Female Workers
In March, Trump revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, which mandated that employers clearly follow major labor and civil rights protections meant for workers. Two rulings under the 2014 act required that employers remain transparent about salaries while also shielding women against sexual harassment and discrimination.
Revoking the order would undoubtedly hurt minority women. Women of color make up 18 percent of America's population but they constitute 33 percent of the American female workforce, according to the nonpartisan policy institute, Center for American Progress. Without the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, employers will have carte blanche over women of color especially in lower-wage jobs where the possibility of a non-white female worker is two times higher than a white female worker.
3. Cutting Down On Retirement Savings Plan
Under Trump, the Department of Treasury ruled that the Obama-era protections for retirement savings plan were too costly. So, they went ahead and ended them. Women of color already suffer a gender wage gap — that is, they are on an average paid less than men — as well as a racialized wage gap wherein they're often paid less than their white peers.
In a U.S. Census Department survey conducted in 2012, it became clear that elderly women of color were more likely to be exposed to poverty after retirement as the report said, "Elder men studied report typical annual incomes that are nearly 75 percent higher than the typical elder woman’s income ($24,300 compared with $14,000). Women of color report median incomes that lag even further behind." Under Trump's administration, these women are doubly exposed to the dangers of weak retirement plans that could happen due to the Treasury's ruling. Weak retirement plans can mean lack of access to medical help, the inability to pay rent, or cover day-to-day expenses.
4. Discriminating Against Working Women Via The Paid Leave Plan
In spite of claiming it would help families, Trump's paid leave plan seems to discriminate against working class mothers who already live in impoverished conditions. The president's plan to give six weeks of paid leave to mothers sounds progressive on the surface but it only allows women to take advantage of this proposal. The paid leave plan doesn't consider the difficult position of a single working mom.
For single working moms of color, this could be disastrous. According to the Center for American Progress, single black mothers have a poverty rate of 50.3 percent while single Latina mothers have a poverty rate of 47.1 percent. Working class and single mothers of color would be harmed the most by such a plan for one simple reason: they don't have the option to take leave for six weeks.
5. Cutting Down Spending On Education
With a proposed $9.2 billion cut to education spending, Trump's budget could hurt women of color who seek education training that would help them find employment upon completion of courses. Without proper funding, departments will be unable to address the needs of students.
Education funding for women of color is often critically needed in "pipeline programs" to enter colleges. Pipeline programs help economically-disadvantaged minority communities, like African Americans and Latinos, get a chance to enter education with grants. Cuts to such programs can result in direct loss of access to higher education.
6. Using "Religious" & "Moral" Grounds To Deny Birth Control
According to the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, black women and Latinas have higher rates of unintended pregnancies. The research concluded that such demographics need better access to contraceptive pills. But this may not be possible under Trump's administration. By allowing employers to cite religious or moral reasoning to oppose birth control, Trump's administration has silenced women of color by attacking their fundamental right to accessible and judgment-free reproductive health care.
7. Cutting Down On Pell Grant Funding For Students
Scores of young women of color from low-income backgrounds would be hurt the most due to Trump's cut to Pell Grant funding. Trump's proposed $3.9 billion cut would leave female students of color looking for others avenue for financial help. At this moment, the Pell Grant is a great source of help for African American women as it allots $4 billion to black college students on an annual basis, according to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. Eligible students need to be earning less than $20,000 per year to win $4,000 for one college year. Without such a grant, the administration puts a kibosh on women of color's opportunity to gain a robust education.
8. Attacking Planned Parenthood
Trump's calls for defunding Planned Parenthood are well-known. The organization helps women of color, particularly those who suffer poverty and have high unintended pregnancy rates, by providing critical reproductive health care but this can entirely change if Planned Parenthood's funding is stifled. This could be especially cumbersome for black women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's research says that black women comprise a third of America's population that seeks reproductive health care like abortion service. If funding to Planned Parenthood ceases, the community could witness an acute shortage in medical help.
9. Trump Administration Reinforces Global Gag Rule
Trump's green signal for the Global Gag Rule, which mandates that organizations cannot mention "abortion" in their services and threatens to cut funding if they do so, is another attack on women of color seeking safe abortions around the world. In this particular case, the administration doesn't simply silence women of color on a domestic level by forbidding the mentioning of abortion; it also spreads its poisonous misogyny beyond American borders and affects women around the world.
10. Cutting The United Nations' Family Planning Fund
Trump's opposition to the United Nations Population Fund is yet another strike against women of color. The United Nations' fund helps women, particularly from Asia, South America, and Africa, to gain more education on family planning, mental health, and reproductive health care. By refusing to allot $32.5 million in funding, the president makes his stance on female autonomy and prosperity pretty clear.
11. Proposal To Cut Financing For The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Latinx community in the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancies, followed by the black community. Trump's cuts to grants helping with teen pregnancy prevention programs would undoubtedly hurt initiatives meant to reduce teen pregnancies in racial minority groups.
Keeping all of these anti-women positions taken by Trump in mind, it's hard to believe the president has the safety and prosperity of women of color on his agenda. Whether it's within the United States or abroad, the priority of women of color's well-being seems to rank fairly low on Trump's agenda.