Libyan Congress 17% Female; Profits Up, Wages Down

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A woman casts her vote in Libya's July elections.

Credit: Samia Mahgoub/United Nations Development Programme

Cheers:

Thirty-three women have been elected to serve in Libya’s General National Congress in the first free elections since a NATO-backed revolt last year toppled the regime and killed Moammar Gadhafi. The tally gives women 16.5 percent representation in the 200-member transitional authority. The United States, in comparison, has a Congress comprised of 17 percent women.

Libyan women’s next challenge is securing a foothold in the committee of 60 that will draft a constitution. It is unclear whether this group will be appointed or elected. Read the full WeNews story: Libyan Elections Give Women 17% Starting Point

More News to Cheer This Week:

The Aurat Foundation, along with U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter and his wife, Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, launched the Pakistan Gender Coalition on July 15, The Express Tribune reported. In November, the Express Tribune reported Pakistan had slipped in development rankings, which showed the country ranked 115 out of 187 in gender equality.

A federal judge in Nebraska has dismissed a lawsuit filed by seven states against President Obama’s administration over the Affordable Care Act provision that requires most health insurance plans to cover birth control without a co-pay, the Lincoln Journal Star reported July 17.

Planned Parenthood sued the state of Arizona on July 16 in an effort to overturn a law that blocks funding for its health clinics because the organization also performs abortions, reported Reuters.

African leaders on July 16 for the first time elected a woman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to lead the African Union Commission, the administrative branch of the African Union, The New York Times reported.

Technology firm Yahoo! has appointed leading Google executive Marissa Mayer as its next chief executive, BBC reported. Mayer, 37, who majored in computer science in college and is one of the few women in the upper ranks of Silicon Valley, will become the firm’s third CEO in the space of a year. Read more: CEO and Pregnant: Yahoo! . . . But Wait a Minute and Mayers’ Yahoo News Stirs Up the Blogosphere.

Women’s rights campaigners in Lebanon voiced their frustration on July 16 over their government’s inaction over key issues, namely equal citizenship rights and protection from domestic violence, The Daily Star reported.

Jeers:

Most large employers in the U.S. that rely on low-wage employees–such as Wal-Mart, McDonalds and Yum! Brands–have recovered from the recession and are posting healthy profits. But the U.S. minimum wage has not increased in three years and the average weekly paycheck fell 1.7 percent, according to a National Employment Law Project report released July 19. Women are overrepresented among low-wage workers: They comprise 49 percent of the entire work force, but 59 percent of the low-wage work force, according to a 2011 Government Accountability Office report.

“Large corporations employ the biggest share of low-wage workers in the U.S., but while those businesses have emerged from the recession with strong profits, their lowest-paid workers are still struggling to make ends meet,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

More News to Jeer This Week:

Republicans are protesting the Obama administration’s decision to offer states more flexibility in implementing the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, generally known as welfare, reported The New York Times July 17. In contrast, 29 GOP governors – including Mitt Romney, who was governor of Massachusetts — supported similar and even more extreme changes in 2005, reported Talking Points Memo July 20. Ninety percent of federal welfare recipients are women, according to 2006 data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

A trial of three feminist rock musicians began in Moscow on July 20, reported the Associated Press. They face up to seven years in prison for performing a spontaneous “punk prayer” critical of President Vladimir Putin from the pulpit of Russia’s largest cathedral.

A spending bill that passed in a House appropriations subcommittee on July 18 included a provision to render the contraception mandate useless, cut funding for the Affordable Care Act and eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, reported Politico July 19.

A bill that would ban abortion in Washington, D.C., after 20 weeks passed the House Judiciary Committee, reported the Huffington Post July 18. It makes no exceptions for rape, incest or the mother’s health. The bill’s author, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said that a health exception “would allow for easy circumvention by abortionists.”

New York City’s Council Speaker Christine Quinn is resisting pressure to introduce paid sick leave legislation, although the measure appears to have enough support to pass a city council vote, reported the New York Times July 17.

Noted:

Democratic pro-choice organization EMILY’s List responded to claims that the war on women is “phony” and “a complete fabrication,” made by Wendy Long, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. EMILY’s List said, “It seems impossible that Wendy Long could have missed the last year and a half her party spent attempting to roll back the clock on women’s health…the Republican war on women is very real.”

Women’s eNews 21 Leader for the 21st Century 2004 Abigail Disney, a descendant of one of the Disney Company founders, said that she is renouncing her share of the family’s profits in the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava, saying it is engaged in the “exploitation of occupied natural resources,” Haaretz reported July 16.

A year after the criminal case accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting hotel worker Nafissatou Diallo started to crumble, it’s getting renewed scrutiny in her lawsuit over the encounter, reported the Associated Press July 15.

Chick-fil-A released a statement on July 19 to allay public backlash against anti-gay statements that the company’s president made to a Baptist website. A post on Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page read in part, “Chick-fil-A…treat[s] every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender . . . Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.” Chick-fil-A’s president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press that the company supports “the biblical definition of the family unit,” reported the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

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