A New Era for Women: The Biden Administration Shifts U.S. Focus to Supporting Students and Survivors

This article is the final part of a series based on a feature article in Ms. “A New Era for Women” in the winter 2021 issue. The series breaks President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ pledges to “better build” women’s rights to health care, economic security, and physical security. Getting caught Here. And Become a member today to read the entire issue – via our app and in print.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are busy trying to rebuild the severely damaged US education system and prevent violence against women and girls.

Trump made clear his contempt and disinterest in ending violence against women and girls and ensuring their safety and success in schools. Trump’s Education Minister Betsy DeVos starved public education by cutting funding, rejecting teachers’ unions, cleaning up civil rights and federal education law enforcement, and worsening student debts. DeVos has also effectively gutted numerous Title IX provisions against university sexual assault. Even the Trump administration tries to relax the nutritional requirements for school lunches, more salt, white flour and flavored milk.

In addition, during the Trump presidency, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expired for the first time since 1994.

Women outside the US have also suffered greatly under Trump. His administration’s immigration policy prevented many women fleeing gender-based violence in their home countries from seeking refuge in the United States at the International Criminal Court, making it difficult for women and girls to seek justice.

The Biden-Harris administration already has theirs ambitious agenda to promote women’s rights in areas such as health care, reproductive rights, economic security, family life, education and gender-based violence. With this plan in mind MS. spoke to leaders, lawyers and activists to learn what women can expect and hope for in 2021 and beyond.

A New Era for Women: The Biden Administration Shifts U.S. Focus to Supporting Students and Survivors
Undoing the damage caused by the Trump administration’s war on women is an important part of the Biden-Harris Platform on Women’s Rights. (LBJ Library / Jay Godwin)


American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the current administration will polarize the chaos, cruelty and inoperability of the Trump administration.

“We have to expand the possibilities, let the economy continue to grow, but then also ensure that it is much fairer than it is now,” said Weingarten MS. “The trade union movement and public education are two of the most important tools for doing these things. Under Joe Biden’s leadership, we could see a renaissance in public education and a resurgence in unionization, which will create common prosperity in America that will help immensely in dealing with the polarization, division, racism and inequality that Trump has brought fueled so diabolically and effectively. Biden has to show people that the government can work for them. ”

Biden and Harris have put forward a national plan and guidelines for school reopening, pledging to ensure teachers receive competitive wages and benefits. They pledged to expand support for public education and offer free community college or other high quality education for two years; and for families with incomes less than $ 125,000, public colleges and universities are also free.

As recently as this week, important members of the Biden administration – namely the President, the Vice President and Dr. Anthony Fauci – calls for teachers to be prioritized in the vaccine distribution process, but have hesitated to call this a requirement for schools to be opened. These comments come on the heels of a current CDC instructions Encouraging schools not to wait for staff to be vaccinated to bring students back full-time, but to implement new containment strategies – starting with assessing levels of transmission in the community, then going through to regular testing, universal and correct use of masks, physical distancing and more. The CDC guideline also calls for vaccinations to be made available to teachers and staff as soon as supplies permit.

Biden and Harris also want to reduce existing student debt –two thirds of it is held by women by canceling all state student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities that have tuition fees for debtors earning up to $ 125,000 per year.

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Prevention of gender-based violence

Undoing the damage of The Trump administration’s war on women is an important part of the Biden Harris Platform for Women’s Rights. In fact, one of the top priorities for the first 100 days is to finally re-approve the Law Against Violence Against Women (VAWA). This legislation is “critical to ensuring program, education and crisis intervention funding,” said Latifa Lyles, vice president of advocacy and survival initiatives at TIME’S UP MS.

VAWA re-registration would also expand survivors’ access to housing benefits, provide cash benefits, guarantee paid time off from employment to deal with the harms of gender-based violence, and grant unemployment benefits when needed.

The Republicans in the Senate have blocked the passage of the VAWA because it would ban more abusers from buying guns. At the moment, “there are a lot of loopholes, and one specifically relates to domestic violence,” Lyles said. “If [the abuser] does not live with the victim, the restriction of access to weapons and firearms does not apply, which of course leaves out many protective measures for many people. ”

The VAWA re-authorization would prohibit unmarried abusive partners from buying weapons and would also apply to convictions for abuse. VAWA would also strengthen protection and programs for women in marginalized communities who experience particularly high levels of violence.

More than half of all indigenous women experience sexual violence at some point in their lives, and murder is the third leading cause of death for them.

A New Era for Women: The Biden Administration Shifts U.S. Focus to Supporting Students and Survivors
A participant at the Women’s March in Chicago, January 2017. (Shutter runner / Flickr)

Another important issue is violence against young women. Trump card “great strides rolled back made in the Obama administration dealing with sexual assault and violence on campus. … Trump opened loopholes for students accused of sexual misconduct and even narrowed the definition of sexual harassment, “Lyles said.

Biden and Harris vowed that they will restore the Obama administration’s Title IX guidelines and increase the fines imposed on colleges for failing to report incidents of violence on campus.

For women fleeing violence in other countries, Biden and Harris will lift Trump’s anti-immigrant ordinances, including cruel parent-child separation policies, and restore explicit asylum protection to domestic and sexual violence survivors whose home governments are unable to protect or you will. They say they will increase the number of domestic violence survivors visas, end processing delays, and ensure applicants are not arrested or deported while their cases are being processed.

February 4th Biden has taken the first step towards rebuilding the broken US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) by issuing an executive order that provides for the following: design for the rebuilding of the badly damaged asylum program.

The new administration has also vowed to tackle online harassment, reduce the backlog on rape kits, raise public awareness of viewer intervention, and establish guidelines to help survivors during the pandemic.

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