1. Will Planned Parenthood Survive?
Last year, a measure introduced by a congressional Republican to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood passed the Senate. Since then, the association has been a target for those who oppose abortion as well as those who oppose government programs for the poor. Critics simply don’t think abortions should be paid for by taxpayer money. Nearly every single GOP presidential candidate this year is staunchly opposed to Planned Parenthood. So what will become of the 800 clinics around the U.S., and how will it affect the one in five women in the country who have been treated by the organization? Conservatives have lately been pushing for “personhood” amendments that, in the case of states like Mississippi, where nearly 60 percent of voters just rejected the measure on Tuesday, would have made several forms of birth control illegal and outlawed abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
November 11, 2011 1:15 PM
2. U.S.: Arab Women Still Mistreated
Despite great revolutions reversing decades of oppression and dictatorship, the U.S. State Department said the position of women in many Arab Spring countries is tenuous at best. "No country can get ahead when it leaves half of its people behind," Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee Wednesday, during a hearing to look into gender equality after the Arab Spring revolts. Recently, in Tunisia’s first truly open election, women won close to a quarter of the seats in Parliament. But Egypt’s ruling military council has not appointed any female governors, and only one female member serve in the cabinet. Many women in Libya cannot freely worship and are being threatened with murder.
November 7, 2011 5:35 PM
3. GOP Blows Off Cain Allegations
Patt Morrison writes in a Los Angeles Times editorial that Republicans are not taking sexual harassment seriously by flocking to defend GOP candidate Herman Cain, who was accused of misconduct by two women in the ‘90s. Fellow presidential hopeful Ron Paul said that “there are people now who hesitate to tell a joke to a woman in the workplace—any kind of joke—because it could be interpreted incorrectly.” Morrison says the congressman should really think twice before telling that joke. “Conservatives now scrambling to Cain's defense are blowing off sexual harassment claims as just a bunch of women not getting the joke,” she writes, which reminds her of the way women are treated in France.
November 7, 2011 5:32 PM
4. Sexist Advertising for the 21st Century
Sexist advertising is not just a relic of the 1950s. The Atlantic notes that today’s advertisements present two speeds of sexism: “Winking Sexism”—wherein the implied sexism is “okay” because the advertisers are aware of it—and “Boomerang Sexism,” which encourages men to defend their manhood and take a stand against the feminine influence over their lives. Though it’s clear that advertising won’t shed its sexism anytime soon, we’ve come a long way from the image of “women as second-class citizens, failures, or helpless victims of male superiority. Having lost the argument that women are incompetent, American advertising has had to settle on the argument that women are attractive.”
November 7, 2011 5:31 PM
5. U.N.: Women Key to Controlling Population
As the world welcomed its 7 billionth member Monday, the United Nations says the empowerment of women will be the key to the world’s stability as population continues to grow. The U.N.’s Population Fund said educating women and girls is the one thing that could best stabilize fertility rates and control the number of children born—a key to managing population growth. Judith Bruce, a senior associate at the Population Council, said fewer children born later in the mother’s life leads to better-cared-for kids. The council’s data show that delaying marriage and childbearing just five years in the least developed countries would lead to 224 million fewer children born by 2050—a 39 percent drop in the expected population growth.
November 7, 2011 5:26 PM
6. Women Join Elite New Army Unit
Congress still bans women from combat, but they’re currently making their way into a special unit serving alongside their male counterparts on the battlefield. After undergoing physical and mental endurance tests, female soldiers are forming a team that will be critical to work with women and children who are typically held separately during village raids. Since it’s against cultural norms for Afghan women to interact with male soldiers, female trainees will strengthen trust and rapport with women and children—and hopefully prove vital to gathering information on enemy activities.
November 7, 2011 5:22 PM
7. Female Wal-Mart Employees File New Suit
The female employees from Wal-Mart whose bias case was dismissed four months ago aren’t giving in. Lawyers representing the 1.5 million female workers who claimed Wal-Mart stores had discriminated against them filed a new suit on Thursday, limiting their claims to the retail chain’s California stores. They vowed to follow up with an “armada” of other discrimination cases in specific regions across the country, in place of the national class-action suit that was rejected by the Supreme Court in late June 2010. The court dismissed the original suit because it didn’t satisfy certain class-action rules. It was thus never determined whether Wal-Mart had in fact discriminated against the women, only that the women could not move forward with their case as a single class.
November 7, 2011 5:20 PM
8. Women Get Equal Rights to Throne
The British royal family is joining modernity. Female heirs will be given equality with men in the rules governing succession to the throne, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Friday. The changes to the centuries-old rule were agreed to unanimously by the 16 nations of which Queen Elizabeth II is monarch, and the queen has indicated she supports changing the succession rules. In laymen’s terms, the firstborn child of Prince William and Kate Middleton will become fourth in line to the throne, regardless of gender—something denied to Princess Anne, the queen’s second child, who follows her younger brothers and their children in the line of succession. Cameron said the historic rules were “at odds with the modern countries that we have become.” The 16 nations also agreed to cancel a law which banned the spouse of a Roman Catholic from taking the throne.
November 7, 2011 5:15 PM
9. Study: Women Avoid Halloween Births
Fewer women give birth on Halloween than on Valentine’s Day, and a new study says that may not be a coincidence. The study found a spike in births, both natural and induced, on Valentine’s Day and a drop in births on Halloween. It’s possible that women’s subconscious feelings about the holidays actually influence their body’s readiness for birth. "The positive connotations of Valentine's Day may increase a pregnant woman's will to initiate birth and the negative connotations of Halloween may precipitate her will to resist giving birth," the study’s researchers write.
November 7, 2011 5:13 PM
10. Dodgers Name Sue Falsone Head Trainer
Never before in the history of major professional sports leagues has a woman been head trainer of a team—until now. The Los Angeles Dodgers have selected Sue Falsone, who has worked with NFL, NBA, and NHL players, for the position. Falsone, 37, was hired by the Dodgers in 2008 as the first female physical therapist in the majors. Since she was promoted, Falsone has received thousands of congratulatory emails, but she doesn’t view change as gender-specific. “It’s ironic that people think that the change is about being a woman,” she told MLB.com. “It’s about us as a medical staff looking at new and innovative ways to deal with injuries.” Falsone’s credentials include supervising Curt Schilling’s ankle injury when he was pitching for the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 postseason—when they won the World Series and ended the “Curse of the Bambino.”
November 7, 2011 5:09 PM
11. The Housewife’s Moment of Truth
Forty years ago, in the midst of the feminist revolution, activist Gloria Steinem and a group of female journalists started a magazine that would tackle the most controversial issues of the day. In 1971, New York magazine included a 40-page excerpt of the first issue of Ms., with articles such as “The Housewife’s Moment of Truth” and “Women Tell the Truth about Their Abortions.” It was a time when sex discrimination was rampant in the workplace, and Steinem and her cofounders wanted a magazine run and read by women. “nothing happened without men,” one of the editors remembers. Looking back, Steinem is impressed with the legacy: “I’m not at all sure that I understood it at the time because I was so conscious of what there was to do and what we had to leave out. But today I reread the first issue and said, ‘This was really good.’”
November 7, 2011 4:58 PM
12. Interactive Map of Abortion Rights Released
The Center for Reproductive Rights has released an interactive map of the world’s abortion laws. The laws are simplified into a color code: red means abortion is banned except to save a woman’s life; green means abortion is not restricted. Though many countries have liberalized abortion laws over the years, roughly 25 percent of the world is still in the red zone. CRR legal fellow Johanna Fine said: “One of [the anti-abortion movement’s] tactics is to spread misinformation about abortion laws. We want to provide factual, accurate, and nonbiased information so that you can find the legal status of abortion in your country and compare to other countries around the world.”
October 28, 2011 11:58 AM
13. Wasserman Schultz Dishes on Running the DNC
As a mom, cancer survivor and female politician, Florida congresswoman Deborah Wasserman Schultz knows that if she listened to her critics, she wouldn’t be where she is today. Schultz tells Marie Claire that her first foray into politics, running for student government in college, was like getting “hit by a lightning bolt.” A few years after graduating, she won a statewide post and 18 years later, the political veteran is leading Obama’s re-election campaign as the head of the Democratic National Committee. In the interview, Schultz talks about keeping her breast cancer secret because she “didn’t want people to decide for me what I was capable of doing,” and how her battle inspired her to incorporate awareness for young women into health-care reform.
October 28, 2011 11:56 AM
14. Yemen Women Burn Veils in Protest
In an act of defiance, hundreds of Yemeni women set their full-body veils on fire in the streets of the capital on Wednesday, protesting a brutal government crackdown on protesters. The fire was a symbol of support for the tribal fighters who have been clashing with regime security forces for months—on Tuesday night alone, 25 were civilians were killed. The role of Yemen’s women in the popular uprising was highlighted this month by Tawakkul Karman, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts at finding resolution.
Read it at Associated Press
October 28, 2011 11:53 AM
Women in Charge
15. IBM Names First Female Chief Exec
IBM has appointed Virginia Rometty, the company’s current head of global sales and senior vice president, to be chief executive in 2012, making her the first woman ever to lead the legendary U.S. computer technology company. Rometty, 54, will take over for Sam Palmisano on Jan. 1, who will remain chairman of the board of directors after heading the company for more than a decade. Rometty's new role at IBM makes it the largest U.S. corporation by market value to be headed by a woman. (IBM is also known for its eco-friendliness, coming in at No. 1 on Newsweek's 2011 green rankings.) She joins a select group of women at the helm of U.S. tech companies, including Meg Whitman, the former head of eBay who was recently named CEO at IBM’s biggest rival, Hewlett-Packard.
October 28, 2011 11:49 AM
16. Castro Dissident Dies From ‘Cardiac Arrest’
Laura Pollán, the leader of the dissident Ladies in White during Castro's Cuban dictatorship, died 10 days ago from cardiac and respiratory arrest, according to hospital officials. Given that several deaths of healthy people out of Castro’s favor were often attributed to heart attacks during his reign, people in Cuba are suspicious about Pollán’s alleged cause of death, particularly since she was attacked by a mob on Sept. 24 as she left her home to attend Mass. Her right arm was reportedly scratched and bitten, causing outrage among several Ladies in White who claimed they fell ill after being routinely hunted down and pricked with needles by Castro’s men. Pollán's daughter and husband have said she became violently ill eight days after the attack.
Read it at Wall Street Journal
October 28, 2011 11:45 AM
17. Woman Takes On Egyptian ‘Virginity Test’
Samira Ibrahim, a 25-year-old former general manager of a marketing firm, is taking on the Egyptian military, vowing retribution for being administered a “virginity test.” Ibrahim was arrested in March in Cairo's Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. She said she and 16 other women were forced to undergo a procedure in which they were forcefully penetrated in order to document blood from the hymen as proof of virginity. The practice has been condemned by Amnesty International as a form of torture. “I was forced to take off my clothes in front of military officials,” Ibrahim said. “The person that conducted the test was an officer, not a doctor. He had his hand stuck in me for about five minutes. He made me lose my virginity.” She lost her job after the arrest, and has filed a lawsuit against the military for sexual assault.
October 28, 2011 11:43 AM
18. Mammograms Less Effective Than Thought
The chance that a woman with breast cancer actually avoided death because of mammography screening is lower than previously thought—likely to be below 10 percent, according to a report published by Archives of Internal Medicine. The study, by physicians at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, suggests that the benefits of mammograms might be inflated, which could lead to overdiagnosis, overtreatment, and unwarranted screening. The study did not deny that cancer screening can be tremendously beneficial, but cautioned that they might not always provide the expected benefits, and could cause harm as well.
October 28, 2011 11:37 AM
19. Women’s Running Pioneer to Repeat Historic Race
On Thanksgiving Day, women’s running pioneer Dr. Julia Chase-Brand, 69, will run in the same 4.75-mile race in Manchester, Conn., that she ran in 1961 as a student at Smith College— despite rules that banned women from participating. The Amateur Athletic Union forbid American women to compete in road races, while the Olympics would not let them compete in races longer than a half-mile for fear that their reproductive health would be negatively impacted by the physical strain. When Chase-Brand ran in the Connecticut race 50 years ago, it was widely publicized as an act of civil disobedience. This time, she’s running in celebration of the milestone—and she won’t be in the minority.
October 28, 2011 11:33 AM
20. Argentine President Wins Reelection
It’s a landslide! Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was reelected Sunday, after winning 55 percent of the vote. None of the other opponents came within 40 points of her. Argentina’s economy has been soaring, though Kirchner's policy relies on heavy state spending. Critics believe that the high spending and current world-market meltdown will catch up to the country, some comparing the current situation to a dance on the Titanic. Kirchner, who took over for her late husband, had the first two years of her presidency see a struggle of protests and plummeting ratings.
October 28, 2011 11:31 AM
21. ‘Unwanted’ Indian Girls Fight Discrimination
Almost 300 girls named Nakusa, literally meaning “unwanted” in Hindi, have picked new names for themselves in a ceremonial effort in Maharashtra state to try to overcome a gender bias that plagues the country. “Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy,” said a young girl who renamed herself Ashmita, or “very tough.” Others drew inspiration from Bollywood stars or Hindu goddesses. The ratio of girls to boys in India dropped sharply this year, as parents favor boys because the financial strain of providing a wedding and a dowry sends many families into debt. Hospitals are no longer allowed to disclose the sex of an unborn child, but AP reports that this is not always enforced.
October 28, 2011 11:28 AM
22. Giffords Running for Reelection?
Could Rep. Gabrielle Giffords be running for reelection? The congresswoman, who was badly wounded in the Tucson shootings, hasn't signaled any intention to run, but the Arizona Capitol Times reports that her campaign is spending money as if she were gearing up for a race. Between July and September her team raised $189,000 and spent nearly half of it—almost double the amount the same time two years ago. Her campaign has also paid thousands of dollars to fundraising consultants. However, her advisers are also reportedly encouraging former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona to run for the seat.
October 28, 2011 11:26 AM
Not so idyllic
23. One in 10 Women in Norway Raped
Norway is in a dead heat with its Scandinavian neighbors for the distinction of most gender-equal society in the world. But it has just as bad a problem with rape as much less equal countries: one in 10 Norwegian women over 15 years old have been raped. Eighty percent of cases are never reported, and of the ones that are, only 10 percent end in a conviction. Most of the abuse is happening at home: Norway does not explicitly criminalize spousal rape, unlike most developed countries, including the U.S. Experts told The New York Times that the country’s high rate of sexual violence could be a “last stand” of male dominance in a society where gender power has been redistributed.
October 28, 2011 11:21 AM
24. Movement to End Female Circumcisions
A movement in the African nation of Senegal is having a major impact in ending female genital cutting. A group called Tostan, which means “breakthrough” in Wolof, Senegal’s dominant language, is building change without the billions of dollars that have poured into other global health issues. The group, which has gotten support from more than 5,000 villages in the country, is creating African-style education programs to warn against the dangers of the practice. Female circumcisions are viewed as a rite of passage but some girls die from hemorrhaging due to botched attempts. The Senegalese Parliament banned it over a decade ago, and the government has been very supportive of Tostan.
October 21, 2011 12:22 PM
Leading By Example
25. German Firms to Increase Female Leadership
Thirty major corporations in Germany set goals on Monday to increase the number of females in leadership positions so as to avoid legally imposed quotas. Despite the fact that Germany's political leader is a woman, only 3.7 percent of managers in the country's top corporate firms are female. Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet is at odds over whether quotas are necessary to raise the number of women in management positions. Merkel and Family Affairs Minister Kristina Shröeder have so far rejected the idea of imposing laws, but Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the targets set by businesses on Monday were "insufficient." Top corporations in Norway, France, and Spain are all required under law to make sure that at least a third of management is female.
October 21, 2011 12:19 PM