4 Women Chiefs Off to G20; Iran Holds onto Hikers

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(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

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Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president-elect, brings the number of female heads of state at the G20 summit to a record-breaking four, reported The Guardian Nov. 12. At the summit in Seoul, South Korea, Rousseff will be joined by Argentinean President Cristina Fernadez de Kirchner, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Activists hope the addition of female leaders will lead to discussion of gender equity and women’s role in economic development. "Women are the most powerful drivers of economic growth," said Shin Nakyun, a Korean Member of Parliament.

There hasn’t been a prominent female leader of a major country on the global stage since former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, according to the International Business Times Nov. 10 article. Other high-profile female political leaders are in attendance, most notably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "We know that when women are accorded equal rights and afforded equal opportunities, they drive social and economic progress," Clinton said in a speech earlier in the week.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Pro-democracy leader in Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, may be released soon from house arrest, reported the New York Times Nov. 12. She intends to continue her political activism against the military junta government who will most likely restrict her newfound freedom.
  • Nebraska Dr. LeRoy Carhart, one of the few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortions, said he wants to ensure more women have access to the procedure by expanding to states where it remains legal, reported Bloomberg Nov. 11.
  • Kenya will launch a campaign to accelerate some of its successful efforts to lower maternal mortality rates, Human Rights Watch said in a press statement Nov. 9.
  • The 2nd international "One Day One Struggle" Campaign to promote sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies took place in 12 countries across Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia Nov. 9, according to a Women’s United Nations Report Network press release Nov. 9.
  • More than 300,000 signatures have been collected to demand an apology and compensation from the Japanese government for "comfort women" forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers during World War II, reported The Korea Times Nov. 8.
  • Hollaback, a group targeting street harassment of women, is releasing an iPhone application that allows users to report harassment in seconds, reported the New York Times Nov. 7. The data is used by Hollaback to send a follow-up e-mail asking for more detail on what happened.
  • Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is one of two people who have been chosen to receive the annual $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, according to a Nation Institute press release Nov. 9.

 


 

Jeers

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Iran was highlighted this week for holding several prisoners attracting international attention, especially from human rights groups.

Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh resumed her dry hunger strike (no food and no water) to protest to conditions of her imprisonment and the mishandling of her case, reported Ms. Magazine Nov. 9. Sotoudeh has been deprived of such legal rights telephone calls and visits from her family members, including her two young children.

Sakineh Ashtiani, an Iranian sentence to death by stoning after an adultery conviction, remains in danger, reported Ms. Magazine Nov. 9. Her execution, downgraded to death by hanging, was postponed last week after massive international protest. Her file is "under review," but the regime has been known to execute people whose files were under review.

The hearing of Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, two Americans held in Iran and accused of espionage, were set to stand trial Nov. 6, but the trial has been delayed once again, reported the Los Angeles Times Nov. 7. The spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said the trial most likely won’t happen until Sarah Shourd, freed on bail in September, returns to stand trial as well.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Saudi Arabia took a seat on the board of the new U.N. agency to promote equality for women this week, Bloomberg News reported Nov. 9. Shirin Ebadi, the women’s rights and pro-democracy Nobel laureate, described the situation for women there worse than in Iran, which lost its bid for a board seat after strong statements of opposition from the United States and human rights groups to Tehran’s treatment of women.
  • The chairmen of President Obama‘s bipartisan debt-reduction commission outlined a package of $4 trillion spending cuts and tax increases that included raising the retirement age for qualifying for Social Security and reducing its benefits, the New York Times reported Nov. 11. Social Security accounts for two-thirds of all income for women aged 65 and over, according to an Oct. 28 report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.
  • Recommendation letters for women seeking a job or promotion often hinder their chances by describing them in social or emotive terms, reported the Washington Post Nov. 10, citing a Rice University study. Letters for men more often portrayed them as active or assertive.
  • A North Carolina pastor who stalked a doctor who performs abortions was found guilty of violating a state law against residential picketing, CBS News reported Nov. 9.
  • More Afghan wives are resorting to suicide by burning themselves to escape poverty, forced marriages, abuse and despondency, reported the New York Times Nov. 7. At a hospital in Herat dedicated to treating burn victims, 75 women arrived with burns from January through early October, mostly self-inflicted, up nearly 30 percent from last year.
  • Administrative complaints against 12 school districts across the country for failing to provide high school girls with equal opportunities to play sports were filed Wednesday by The National Women’s Law Center, according to a NWLC press release Nov. 10.

Noted:

  • Proponents of a controversial bill which seeks to legalize the use of artificial contraception in the Philippines have demanded that President Benigno Aquino act swiftly on the issue to combat the highest population growth rate in Southeast Asia, Gulf News reported Nov. 10.
  • The Irish Human Rights Commission has appealed to the government to investigate the abuse of women and girls in prison-style Catholic laundries, a long-unresolved issue of Irish abuse scandals in church-run institutions, the Associated Press reported Nov. 9.
  • A Baltimore woman who is losing her home started a hunger strike Nov. 8 morning to draw attention to the national foreclosure crisis and the difficulty borrowers face when they try to modify their mortgages, Huffington Post reported Nov. 9.
  • Eleven women from the U.S.-Mexico border launched a hunger strike at noon Nov. 8 to call to action to support development of the nation’s poorest region, the Ciudad Juarez/El Paso border region, reported Allvoices, an online news aggregate, Nov. 8.
  • Edith "Edie" Windsor filed a lawsuit against the federal government challenging the constitutionality of the "Defense of Marriage Act" Nov. 9 for refusing to recognize her marriage to late spouse Thea Spyer, according to a press release from ACLU Media Nov. 8.

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  • Katha Pollitt

    Tiny point: “artificial contraception” is the language of the Catholic church and others opposed to contraception. To call birth-control pills, IUDs, diaphragms and so on “artificial” is to privilege the rhythm method (aka “natural family planning”), the only bc method approved of by the church, because in today’s mindset “natural” is good and “artificial” is bad. But this is just propaganda. You wouldn’t call other medications artificial, would you?