The spring issue of Ms. magazine features a poll showing overwhelming support for the movement to strengthen women’s rights. The poll reveals that 83 percent of women and 75 percent of men approve of the movement. In addition, a whopping 92 percent of 18 to 24-year-old women approve of the movement.
Furthermore, 76 percent of women believe that the women’s rights movement has made valuable contributions to their own lives–crediting the movement for greater job opportunities, higher education levels, changes in the workplace that allow combining jobs with families and better pay for women. A full 75 percent of men believe the women’s movement has made a valuable contribution to their lives, according to the poll.
“The Ms. poll shows a marked growth in the popularity of the women’s movement over the past three decades,” said Eleanor Smeal, noted political scientist and president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, the publisher of Ms. magazine. “When [pollster] Lou Harris first asked if people felt favorable toward the women’s movement more than 30 years ago, approximately 40 percent of Americans said yes. The Ms. 2003 poll, conducted by his son Peter Harris, shows how far we have indeed come.”
Consistent with polls from the last 17 years, once again the Ms. poll shows 56 percent of all women self-identify as feminists. In fact, more women self-identify as feminists than as Republicans (28 percent), conservatives (33 percent), Democrats (34 percent), or liberals (18 percent).
On the question of abortion rights, the Ms. 2003 poll shows 73 percent of both women and men strongly favor a woman’s right to an abortion with the advice of her doctor. Approval ratings for Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of family planning services in the U.S., came in at 79 percent–with more than 90 percent of young men and women expressing their support for the organization. By comparison, only 30 percent who support the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, a group actively working to eliminate family planning services. The Ms. poll also shows that both women and men do not support the Bush administration’s anti-reproductive rights policies. Seventy-three percent oppose Bush’s attempts to stop the distribution of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS while 80 percent oppose Bush’s efforts to limit access to scientifically accurate health information about condoms, abortion, and breast cancer.