For women, a drive for justice

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By Hannah Hayes

Did your heart stir at the recent news of the bravery of Saudi women as they dared to drive? Here’s a new word, “mihrim,” one they know all too well because this male guardian is needed to walk them to the store, give them permission to travel out of the country, or accompany them to the hospital to give birth.
Saudi religious police are gaining powers over women, humiliating them in public, even as women are beginning to be seen demonstrating all over the Middle East.
Getting a driver’s license is a huge step toward freedom for many youths, both male and female. Men under 25 have probably felt the sting of discrimination in their car insurance, even though statistics show them to have the highest accident rates and the most tickets. So we know women can drive, safely, but they are not allowed to in Saudi Arabia.
On June 17, risking everything for the right to drive, 400 Saudi women did just that.
Here, too, women continue to struggle for equality. A politicized Supreme Court just sided with big-business brigand Walmart, protecting it from a class-action lawsuit for discrimination against women in raises and promotions (Dukes vs. Walmart).
Every day low wages and no union protection pave the way for the poor treatment of all Walmart workers. Elsewhere, in South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, China and the UK, the global behemoth has been forced to unionize, and in India it sells locally sourced goods.
While world justice continues to push forward, here at home 1.6 million women won’t get any collective remedy from Walmart. The case now becomes a “Dukes and Goliath,” as working women will have to go it alone against the world’s largest retailer. The Supremes have once again decided that business interests must be protected. Female Walmart employees, it seems, represent too big of a group to challenge workplace discrimination.
Could Betty Dukes be our brave female driver who will continue to take Walmart to task for discrimination against women? She says “Yes!”
Women earn only 77 percent of what men do, but we still have to pay the same amount to fill our gas tanks. Republican senators should be urged to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.
Democrats are already parallel-parked on it.

Hannah B. Hayes is a former Both Sides Now debate columnist, small-business owner and peace activist. She has been a part of the Evergreen community for more than 35 years.