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Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation will not overshadow RBG's legacy. We will keep fighting

File:Amy Coney Barrett.jpg - Wikipedia

While I was at the Women's March two weekends ago, I saw a sign that brought a tear to my eye. The sign read: If we must be Ruth-less, we need to be ruthless.

The sign was a play on words regarding the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who indeed was ruthless when it came to fighting for equality.

On Monday evening, The Senate voted to confirm Trump's third Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Although she will NEVER replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Barrett will take Ginsburg seat on the Supreme Court; only one week before the election.

The Senate voted 52-48, a mere two vote difference.

Barrett's confirmation locks in a 6-3 conservative majority which will dramatically transform U.S. law and dismantle decades of progress within our country. The last time I felt this disheartened was the night Trump won the presidency. I remember my stomach feeling as if it had been twisted into knots, along with the sensation of breaking into tears every five minutes.

I remember never wanting to feel that way again. But 2020 keeps throwing out punches and this was the final blow.

For individuals following U.S. politics - or those simply interested in the wellbeing of our country - the news of Barrett's confirmation doesn't come as a shock. Nor does Republicans choosing to expedite the process of Barrett's confirmation. Trump had been alluding to his pick for Ginsburg's replacement ever since her passing was announced on the evening of September 18h.

Coney Barrett, a religious conservative who was appointed to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals by Trump in 2017, is the polar opposite to Ginsburg, who tirelessly advocated for women's rights and gender equality. Since being appointed to the appellate bench, Coney Barrett's conservative views have taken a front seat in regards to immigration, gun control and abortion.

A vast contrast to Ginsburg in all forms.

When the full 7th Circuit rejected to reconsider an argument over an Indiana abortion regulation in 2018, which required post-abortion fetal remains be cremated or buried, Coney Barrett voted with fellow conservatives. She and her conservative counterparts turned their attention to making it unlawful for physicians to perform an abortion due to race, sex or disability of a fetus. This was later referred to as the "eugenics statute," by conservatives.

Coney Barrett has already considered two laws restricting abortions in her home state of Indiana, including one which would block minors from seeking abortions. Now that Barrett is officially confirmed to The Supreme Court, Americans can bet on similar cases making their way to the Supreme Court inevitably resulting in detrimental consequences regarding abortion access. Considering Roe v. Wade is already in jeopardy, confirming Barrett could potentially result in its reversal.

In addition, birth control could also face legal challenges. With Barrett's confirmation, The Supreme Court could potentially side with companies choosing not to cover birth control - including IUDs and the pill - in their insurance plans. This would make it more difficult for women to afford contraception. According to Planned Parenthood, more than a third of women in America already struggle to afford birth control. This often results in women using contraception inconsistently and can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

Co-pays for birth control pills can cost between $15 and $50 per month. That can quickly add up to $600 per year, and that's with insurance. As for IUDs, those can easily cost several hundred dollars without insurance. With the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, individuals can still seek contraception at little to no cost. However, with Barrett on the bench, the future for the ACA remains uncertain.

The Trump administration has already introduced a case arguing the act's individual mandate is "unconstitutional." With The Supreme Court scheduled to hear oral arguments on November 10th, they could very well declare the ACA unconstitutional. If that happens, 20 million Americans will ultimately lose their health care, including 12 million Americans currently on Medicaid. In the midst of a global pandemic, having reliable and efficient healthcare is crucial... something the Trump administration appears to overlook.

What's more, Barrett's presence on the Supreme Court could ultimately affect the livelihood of LGBTQ Americans. Following news of her nomination, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a statement by Alphonso David, the organization's president stating:

"Coney Barrett has demonstrated hostility toward LGBTQ+ rights in her words and rulings. She defended the Supreme Court's dissenters on the landmark marriage equality case of Obergefell v. Hodges, questioning the role of the court in deciding the case. She said Title IX protections do not extend to transgender Americans, claiming it's a 'strain on the text' to reach that interpretation. She misgendered transgender people, referring to a transgender women as 'physiological males,' while casting doubt on transgender rights."

The press release continued to oppose Trump's nominee, stating if Coney Barrett is appointed she would "dismantle all that Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for during her extraordinary career."

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia on Nov. 4th, which according to the HRC, "considers whether governments must allow taxpayer-funded organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ people when providing critical services,"

As you can imagine, the decision has the ability to gravely impact the LGBTQ+ community. I'm not saying Barrett isn't qualified to be appointed to the Supreme Court. With eminent intellect and extensive experience, Barrett is more than qualified to have a seat on The Supreme Court. But if intellect and experience were all it took to be appointed to The Supreme Court, the majority of U.S. citizens would be qualified.

In my opinion, being a great Supreme Court Justice requires more than a credible background and skill set. It requires a strong character that doesn't allow hers/his personal or religious views to interfere with their decision making. They should be concerned for the country as a whole and create laws that reflect all its citizens, instead of creating laws serving their own personal agenda. After all, The Supreme Court is responsible for protecting civil rights and liberties by blocking laws violating the Constitution.

When you have individuals defying that right for their own, personal gain, how does that constitute as justice? Perhaps if we were residing in the early 1960s, Barrett's conservative views would be universally celebrated. Then again, she probably wouldn't have the opportunity considering women weren't appointed to The Supreme Court until 1981, with Sandra Day O'Connor being the first.

Till this day, only four women have served on The Supreme Court, making up only 3.5% of the total.

Regardless, it's safe to say our country has come a long way. Thankfully, we're no longer residing within the archaic, patriarchal reality America once was. And we can thank individuals such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg for that, who notoriously fought for equality and inclusion, continuously persisting in the face of discrimination. But our country faces the risk of resorting back to its traditional origins if the Trump administration is granted another four years in office.

Make no mistake, the trajectory of Barrett's confirmation to The Supreme Court will result in disastrous consequences for our judiciary system, as well as our country. But that won't stop me from continuing to fight for justice. Although this is a difficult time for our nation, it's also a hopeful one.

Whenever I think about giving up, I think of that sign I saw at The Women's March. Now is not the time to cower.

I will not allow Barrett's confirmation to overshadow my loyalty to fighting for justice. I will continue showing up and fighting harder for the causes I believe in. Not just to honor RBG's legacy, but because I made a vow to stay committed to the fight. A warrior doesn't give up at the first sign of hardship. And believe me, we've witnessed a lot of it these last four years.

But I'm still here and I'm still fighting. Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court doesn't change that.

Women founders continue to come up against common challenges and biases

Written by Kelly Devine, Division President UK & Ireland, Mastercard

Starting a business may have historically been perceived as a man’s game, but this couldn’t be further from reality. Research shows women are actually more likely than men to actively choose to start their own business – often motivated by the desire to be their own boss or to have a better work-life balance and spend more time with their family.

The recently published Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurship 2021 found that in the category of 'Aspiration Driven Entrepreneurship’ – capturing those who actively choose to start their own business – women in the UK surpass men: 60% vs 56%. And Mastercard research from February 2022 found 10% of female business owners started their business in the past two years compared to 6% of men – meaning women were 67% more likely to have started a business during the pandemic.

Yet, there are common challenges that women founders continue to come up against - not least the gender imbalance in the household and long-held biases which are still prevalent.

In the UK, women are almost three times more likely to be balancing care and home commitments than men, and this was exacerbated during the pandemic as the additional barriers of school closures and lockdowns meant that the care time of dependents rose significantly on a day-to-day level for women. In addition, women were less likely to have access to a home office, greatly impacting the work they were able to accomplish when working from home was the only option.

It's also widely known that female business owners are still more likely to struggle to access funding for their business ideas. According to Dealroom, all-women founding teams received just 1.4% of the €23.7bn invested into UK start-ups in 2021, while all-male leadership teams have taken almost 90% of the available capital.

Without financial support, and when juggling significant time pressures both at home and at work, how can women grow their companies and #BreaktheBias (as this year’s International Women’s Day termed it)? What tools or support can save them time and money, and give them the headspace they need to focus on building their business?

With female owned businesses collectively estimating revenue growth of £120 billion over the next five years, solving this problem is bigger than supporting women – it’s about supporting the national economy.

Using tech to level the playing field

There are clearly societal issues at play that need to be resolved. But when we look at the rise in technology businesses during the pandemic, we can plainly see an alternative source of support critical for business growth: digital tools.

A third of female business owners say new technologies will be crucial to the success of their business in the future and one in five say it is the most important thing for business growth.

With new technology comes new ways to pay, create, and work. And yet there are barriers that prevent business owners accessing this technology. Women are significantly more likely to say they want to use more digital tools but don’t know what is best for their business and also more concerned about the security of digital tools.

When technology is adopted by businesses – whether using online accounting solutions or messenger services for communicating with staff – it saves them time, allows them to maintain and grow their customer base, and ultimately increases cost savings and profit.

By drastically improving the training and support that is available to women-owned business to access and utilise technology we will allow these businesses to grow and succeed. And we know there is demand for it.

Research done by the IFC and Dalberg shows that female entrepreneurs are more likely to invest time and money in business development. This includes product development, customer base expansion, and digital tools and training and there are plenty of services available offering this type of support – many of them for free.

One such programme is Strive UK – an initiative of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth – which aims to reach 650,000 micro and small business owners across the UK and empower them with the tools they need to thrive in the digital economy through free guidance, helpful tools and one-to-one mentoring.

Working together with small business experts – Enterprise Nation, Be the Business and Digital Boost – we hope to ensure hundreds of thousands of UK female business owners have the tools they need to succeed and reach their ambitious goals. Because this ambition remains strong in the UK, with female business owners largely optimistic about the future despite the multitude of challenges they are facing. Four in ten say they will grow their business in the next five years – compared to only a third of male business owners – and they’re also 35% less likely than men to say they plan to downsize or close the business.

But if we do not empower female entrepreneurs to access the tools and technology they need to grow, there is a risk this optimism could be misplaced. Support programmes that provide business owners with guidance and mentorship can help ensure this isn’t the case, allowing female entrepreneurs to not only survive but thrive in the months and years ahead.