A Woman's Place in Haven Society
Although in many respects it may seem women are regarded the equals of men in Haven society, in reality this is far from the case. Women are required under law to marry before the age of twenty-five and are expected to give birth to at least four children within their fertile period. A failure to fulfill these obligations other than because of health reasons can result in government censure. The government, and Haven society in general, take a woman's obligation to increase the population of the republic very seriously and a great deal of statutory and social pressure is placed upon young women to marry soon after they are declared "legal" and to have as many children as possible as soon as possible.
From a young age girls are taught the importance of their role in maintaining the human presence on the planet and how their contributions will aid in the reclamation of the world at some point in the future. For this reason the health of women on the islands has always been paramount, and one entire wing of Mercy General Hospital is devoted exclusively to women's health and maternity.
In recent years many young women have become more vocal in their opposition to the laws concerning marriage and the production of offspring. For the most part, however, this movement has gained little traction in Haven society, as many regard the statutes pertaining to the obligations of women to be essential for the future of the republic and for humankind as a whole. As a consequence, efforts to soften the laws forbidding contraception and abortion have consistently failed.
While women are expected to shoulder much of the responsibility for maintaining and expanding the population of the islands, they are also required to continue working outside the home. Because of the manpower shortage throughout the islands, it is essential women labor in all areas of service and industry.
Women's contributions to the republic are considerable, yet there are many who maintain they are still marginalized. Less than ten present of the seats in Parliament are held by women, and there is currently only one woman on the Presidential Council (Amelia Westerly). There has been an increasing push from some women's groups throughout the islands to set aside at least twenty-five percent of all seats in Parliament for women so as to ensure better representation. To date the government has resisted such moves, with some arguing such a system would be inherently undemocratic.
The general consensus is that women's rights will not be fully realized until such time as the vamp problem is resolved and the human population can once again resume its rightful place throughout the world.