The Occupy Chicago Gender Equity Committee works, both in our movement and in our communities, to protect and defend the equality of women, men, transgender and intersex individuals of all races, classes, and sexual orientations. We believe that all individuals deserve to be treated with humanity and dignity. We believe that individual liberation requires collective action in the political, economic, and social spheres.
We reject any and all restrictions to abortion access, equal pay, equal access to housing, healthcare, childcare, and other social services as an outrageous, governmentally-sanctioned attack. It is an attack on the people of this country, and particularly on minorities and the poor who are disproportionately affected by the closure and curtailment of these services. We view these restrictions of access as both a general assault on society and a targeted assault on women. Education, healthcare, childcare and care for the elderly are collective responsibilities. When these services are denied, women are expected to shoulder the greatest burden, but all of society suffers.
Occupy Chicago recognizes that the devastating program of austerity amounts to little more than a violent attack on the working class, an attack that disproportionately affects women, the LGBTQ population, and their families. According to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA), a non-profit, non-partisan organization concluded that specifically in Illinois, “Women—both directly due to losing access to services, and indirectly due to losing employment providing these services—are likely to bear the brunt of a substantial portion of human service budget cuts.” Almost 40% of households headed by women survive at or below the poverty rate: compared to 23% of households headed by men. In the fiscal year 2011, Illinois’ devastating austerity measures drastically cut funding to rape crisis centers, domestic violence counseling and resources, the DHS Childcare Assistance Program, early intervention programs, infant mortality programs, teen parent services, crisis nurseries, family planning services including access to testing for sexually transmitted infections and preventative birth control, and prevantative and transitional services for homeless families, among others. The CTBA has concluded that millions of dollars of cuts to these social services will fall squarely on the backs of all women in general, but on women of color and working class women in particular.
Austerity is a coordinated and systematic attack against gender equity in our society. Only when we have achieved full and unmitigated access to basic social services will women and transgender individuals be able to participate in society on equal footing.
Occupy Chicago resists both the legal and extra-legal methods of intimidation and misinformation whose sole design is to roll back decades of gains won by women and their allies. We demand an end to the neoliberal myths of free market economics which advocate slashing social services in the time of greatest need for women and transgender individuals and their families. We demand an end to government attacks on all social services, including abortion access , and, instead, insist that governments proper role should be to further its access, availability and safety to ensure the full partnership of women and transgender individuals in the social order.
The Occupy Chicago Gender Equity Committee demands full and open access to social services for all people. We recognize that issues of gender equality are inseparable from the long-running history of oppression of the working class and racial minorities. The fight for a truly democratic society cannot be achieved without the struggle for gender equity. We stand with all our brothers and sisters engaged in the fight for equality and ask all of you to join us in this: the fight for dignity, equality, and democracy.
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