21 Leaders Put Women at Core of Story

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Rita Henley Jensen

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)–The Nobel Peace Prize winner from Kenya will be on the same footing tomorrow night with a Boston teen who created a radio station to play music that did not promote anti-woman violence.

They along with 18 other women and one man will be honored, given awards and applauded by Women’s eNews’ readers and supporters because they get it; they get it and make sure others do too.

They understand deep down–down so deep that they spend their lives committed to changing it–that violence against women comes in all shapes and forms, from hunger and thirst in Wangari Maathai’s Kenya to rape-praising music blaring in Estefania “Stephanie” Alves’ Boston; to untreated fistula in Eritrea to lack of economic opportunity from the Middle East to Mexico.

We named them a 21 Leader on Jan. 1 because they embody the type of news we cover; news with women at the core of the story.

Just a few weeks ago, I had the tremendous privilege of assigning a reporter to cover a Supreme Court hearing in a case that had enormous significance to U.S. women, approaching the importance of Roe v Wade:

At issue was whether police could be sued if they absolutely refuse to enforce a restraining order against a violent spouse. The woman who brought the case is a mother of three murdered children who were killed by her ex-husband during the hours she had made repeated calls to her local police department begging them to intervene.

If you read our D.C. Bureau Chief Allison Stevens’ report on the case in Women’s eNews you know that Justice Antonin Scalia was openly sarcastic and even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was publicly doubtful about the validity of the mother’s arguments.

Deciding What’s Newsworthy

If you relied on other news media, you would have known nothing about what happened that day at the High Court–total silence, not newsworthy–about an issue that profoundly affects whether hundreds of thousands of women and children in the United States will live their lives in jeopardy or peace.

That’s what Women’s eNews does, through the work of hardworking and talented reporters around the world and our fantastic staff: Senior Editor Corinna Barnard; Managing Editor Alexandra Poolos; Director of Web Operations Ariel Jensen-Vargas; Development Associate Sandra Spady; Development Consultant Laura Carroll; Assistant to the President Naomi Abraham.

With such top-notch reporters as reproductive rights specialist Cynthia Cooper and Robin Hindery, now with The Associated Press–who guided the selection of the 21 leaders, interviewed them and wrote their stories that are available on our Web site–we cover and distribute the news that is vital to women’s full participation in civil society. This news is available nowhere else.

The week before the High Court hearing, a Japanese journalist flew here from Tokyo, along with her supportive spouse, to discuss whether she should create a Japanese version of Women’s eNews, much as we have done with our Arabic site.

She had read Women’s eNews online and became determined to create a similar one in her country because “Japanese women need it so badly.” We met, felt a kindred spirit, and quickly asked her to report for us while she is setting up the site in Toyko.

You may have read the results earlier this month: There is a movement in Japan to essentially repeal the equal rights clause for women in that nation’s constitution.

In an example of the classic relationship between independent media and democracy, just last week our staff learned that a story we produced on teens worried about makeup safety spurred a group of teens in California to produce their own safe cosmetics bill of rights, which they presented to their town supervisor in last week.

That’s what we do and are thrilled to do: Provide news about the events and issues and campaigns that impact women’s lives around the world, for our readership around the world, now 3 million strong.

More Committed than Ever

And we are even more committed to doing this in an era when such reporters as Judith Miller of The New York Times and others are being threatened by jail from overzealous prosecutors; in an era when . . .

. . . some journalists have admitted being on the government payroll and still others admit they broadcast government-produced videos without revealing their source;

. . . a record number of 53 journalists have been killed in the line of duty and thousands of others have been physically attacked;

. . . an attorney general, as Women’s eNews has reported, subpoenaed the medical records of hundreds of women treated in five states and seven separate federal jurisdictions in an apparent attempt to intimidate his opponents;

. . . as Women’s eNews has also reported, sex-education programs for teens are actively distributing misinformation, leaving them vulnerable to early pregnancy and disease;

. . . the Labor Department has simply stopped counting the numbers of employed women, also as Women’s eNews has reported.

We cover these stories and so much more.

Our journalists report on the global and unstoppable movement for change–led by women for women–that promises to change everything from religious practices to the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Yes, we will continue to write about these women, and the initiatives they lead, regardless of the political atmosphere. We will keep providing the news women and their allies need, deserve and are entitled to.

Rita Henley Jensen is founder and editor in chief of Women’s eNews.

For more information:

In Japan, Women’s Constitutional Rights in Peril:
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2277/

Agency Flooded with Pleas to Save Data on Women’s Work:
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2273/

States Boosting Funds for Abstinence-Only Sex Ed:
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2252/

High Court to Rule on Power of Protective Orders:
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2228/

Women’s eNews Announces 21 Leaders 2005:
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2128/

Abortion Records Safe From Feds, for Now:
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/1832/


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