Twenty-eight thousand child-care and day-care workers voted to join New York City’s teachers’ union, the New York Sun reported Oct. 23. The United Federation of Teachers, the New York branch of the national teachers’ union, has been courting the day-care workers, who are predominantly women of color, non-college educated and live in housing projects, for two years.
Union leadership says the victory will professionalize day-care workers by opening the door for higher wages, benefits and extra training. Day-care workers make about $19,000 a year, which is just above the federal poverty level.
Union president Randi Weingarten said that any pensions or health care awarded to these government-employed workers will pay off in the long term. The addition of the day-care workers makes the teachers’ union the largest union in New York City.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- University of Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt will become the first woman to receive the John R. Wooden Award’s ‘Legends of Coaching’ honor. With 947 wins and seven NCAA titles, Summitt is the most-winning coach in both women’s and men’s college basketball history. Every athlete she has coached at the University of Tennessee since 1976 has graduated.
- Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the first lady of Argentina, is poised to replace her husband as president in the Oct. 28 national election, the AP reported. Fernandez received 41 percent in an Oct. 21 poll; second-place candidate Elisa Carrio had 15 percent. “Queen Cristina” must receive 45 percent of the vote on Sunday to avoid a run-off.
- The U.S. House of Representatives gained a female member with the victory of Democrat Niki Tsongas, the widow of Sen. Paul Tsongas, in an Oct. 16 special election in Massachusetts. There are now 71 women serving in the 435-member body.
- Massachusetts legislators are moving forward with a bill to increase the buffer zone around women’s health clinics from 6 feet to 18 feet to prevent protestors from harassing women as they enter, the Boston Globe reported on Oct. 24.
- Silicon Valley was home to its first-ever all-female technology conference, playfully dubbed “She’s Geeky,” the San Jose-Mercury News reported Oct. 22. Female engineers, communications officials and top-level executives discussed the challenges of being women in a male-dominated field.
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As United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon said violence against women and rape had reached “hideous and pandemic proportions in some societies attempting to recover from conflict,” women’s groups at the U.N. said a lack of funds is stalling their crucial antipoverty work.
The U.N. held a two-day series of discussions about funding for development but women’s activists are concerned that not enough focus–and financial backing–is being given to gender equality, Inter Press Service reported Oct. 23. UNIFEM had a $57 million budget last year, compared to $565 million for the U.N. Population Fund.
“There is a lot of rhetoric on development, but no money to address the question of gender inequality,” said June Zeitlin, executive director of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization.
Women suffer disproportionately from poverty because of discrimination in land inheritance, education and employment as well as high maternal mortality rates and other health crises.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- Of 367 campus leadership positions–including presidents, athletic directors and faculty athletics representatives–at NCAA Division I schools, 335 are held by white men. White women hold 57 positions and people of color hold 16.5 percent, according to an Oct. 24 study from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.
- Canada’s veil-and-vote controversy resurfaced in the House of Commons Oct. 23 with a new bill requiring the removal of all face coverings to vote at the federal level. Mohamed Elmasry, head of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said that only about 50 of Canada’s 300,000 Muslim women wear the niqab–which leaves an opening only for the eyes–and that they are willing to unveil for a female election worker, the World Peace Herald Reported on Sept. 28.
- Approximately 50,000 French residents have undergone female genital mutilation, according to a demographic study published Oct. 23. The banned cultural practice affects daughters of immigrant who are typically taken abroad for the procedure.
- Tujan Faisal, the first woman to serve in Jordan’s parliament, has been barred from running for re-election, Agence France Presse reported Oct. 23. In 2002 she was sentenced by a state security court for slander after she accused officials of corruption. A judge said the conviction made her ineligible for office even though she was pardoned. Faisal said that the government wants to keep her out of office.
- At an Oct. 23 campaign appearance in New Hampshire, presidential candidate John Edwards decried poor enforcement of nondiscrimination laws and spoke up for pay equity. “I want to be the president who is the most aggressive about enforcing our laws against discrimination against women,” he said.
- FOX News analyst Dick Morris, a former Clinton White House adviser, warned a room full of Rudy Giuliani supporters that Hillary Clinton would win the 2008 presidential election because get-out-the-vote campaigns will be successful in enrolling millions of single mothers. At a New York gathering of the Republican Majority for Choice, Morris said that single mothers would identify with Clinton because “who knows where her husband is.” He also said Clinton would raise taxes, create a disastrous system of national health insurance and fail to end the war in Iraq.
- A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that more women are choosing to have double mastectomies after they are diagnosed with cancer in one breast, the Associated Press reported Oct. 24. The number of double mastectomies increased 150 percent from 1998 to 2003. While patients say the procedure gives them a sense of relief and closure, doctors say it has little impact on the chance of cancer recurring.
Civil rights lawyer Catherine Gertrude Roraback died at her Connecticut home on Oct. 17, the Hartford Courant reported. Roraback was the only woman in Yale University’s 1948 law school class; early in her career she was told by a male lawyer that secretaries weren’t allowed into the courtroom. “She told him she was a lawyer, and said he just didn’t know how to deal with that,” her friend, Judith Dixon, recalled. “When she was telling me this story, she gave me that wonderful little smile of hers and said, ‘But he learned how.'”
Roraback was co-counsel in the 1965 Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized birth control and established a right to privacy in reproductive decisions, laying the foundation for abortion rights affirmed in Roe v. Wade eight years later.
Sarah Seltzer is Women’s eNews’ editorial intern, Dominique Soguel is Arabic editor and Rita Henley Jensen is editor in chief.
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