North Dakota is known for its wide open prairies and abundant natural resources. But few are aware of the uphill battle women in the state face in order to gain and remain in control of their own rights. In 2017, North Dakota earned an “F” grade from the Center for Reproductive Rights for its laws related to abortion, contraception, and sex education.
What’s more, North Dakota ranks as one of the bottom three states when it comes to gender wage gap. According to data compiled by the National Women’s Law Center, women in this state earn around 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. The numbers don’t improve when comparing median wages across different races — in particular, Latinas earn 59 cents and Native American women receive 53 cents for each dollar that men make.
Wage inequality isn’t the only obstacle facing women in this State; workplace discrimination remains rampant despite protections put in place by organizations such as the EEOC. Recent studies have highlighted increased problems with sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence. In many cases, wrongful termination occurs as employers feel their employees do not need protection from unlawful practices.
To fight back against these issues, several organizations such as ND Women’s Network are uniting to strive for legislative change that will help protect and promote women’s rights throughout the state of North Dakota. These groups seek to raise awareness about existing issues and offer support to women facing challenges related to discrimination and inequality at work or other areas in life.
North Dakota has been a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights. From granting women full suffrage in 1918, two years before the 19th amendment was ratified, to becoming the first state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) on March 22, 1973, North Dakota has been in the forefront of the women’s rights movement.
Today, the fight for gender equality continues to remain a priority in North Dakota. Women are able to expect a number of basic rights including equal pay and access to abortion services. In June of 2019, state legislators passed a bill banning abortion after six weeks of gestation—which was quickly struck down by a federal judge—and mandated that physicians must describe medical risks associated with the procedure including suicide and depression.
Furthermore, North Dakota has passed laws recognizing pregnant employees’ right to reasonable workplace accommodations. These laws have ensured that pregnant women are not subject to discrimination based on their pregnancy and are given necessary compensation if medically required to not work or work fewer hours due to their pregnancy.
In addition, North Dakotans have passed an act allowing unmarried partners to file claims for domestic violence and provide more protection for victims facing assault. This law provides unmarried partners with legal recourse if they identify as victims of domestic violence, as well as more accurate statistics related to intimate partner violence.
The fight for gender equality is still ongoing in North Dakota. Women continue to face discrimination in the workplace, making 78 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts. There is hope though that future generations of women will have greater access to similar rights and opportunities that men have long enjoyed. Until then it is important that citizens continue to advocate for gender equity initiatives and promote change within their community.