Finland now has the most female-dominated government in the world, with 60 percent of the nation's Cabinet positions occupied by women, the Independent reported April 19. Following national elections in March women now have 84 of the 200 seats in Parliament, which is a Finnish record.
President Tarja Halonen, the country's first female head of state, was elected in 2000. Halonen formally appointed her Cabinet April 19, and now women hold 12 of the 20 advisory posts.
"Some governments have been 50-50, but a 60-percent majority of women is internationally very high," said Jaana Kuusipalo, a University of Tampere political scientist.
Men still hold the top ministerial posts of finance, defense and foreign affairs, the Associated Press reported April 17. Tuija Brax was the only women chosen for a top Cabinet post as head of the Justice Ministry. In 1906, Finland became the first European nation to grant female suffrage.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- Segolene Royal is attempting to connect with female voters in her campaign to become the first woman elected president of France, the International Herald Tribune reported April 18. A Socialist, Royal specifically appealed to women this week in a northern working-class neighborhood by asking them to write a "new page in the history of France" and commenting that "the female wage-earner is today's proletariat." The tactic was criticized by some as contradicting France's traditional emphasis on gender, race, ethnic and religious equality. The first round of the election is April 22 and Royal has 25 percent of the vote, just trailing center-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy with 29 percent.
- A new national program to train women to protect themselves will be unveiled at a conference in New Orleans on April 23 that brings together shelter workers, police, prosecutors and hotline operators. Called Safety Net, the program will teach domestic abuse victims to use technology without leaving "electronic footprints" that can be exploited by stalkers. The event is funded by the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation; according to its research, abusers kill as many as 1,500 women each year in the United States.
- Pakistan is taking steps to educate its population about reproductive health and family welfare. The government trained 11,000 clerics to build public support for reducing population growth in the country, Pakistan's Daily Times reported April 19. Pakistan had 34 live births per 1,000 people in 2005.
- A domestic abuse victim from Maryland, Yvette Cade, testified April 17 before the U.S. Senate that her estranged husband set her on fire and tried to kill her while she was at work, the Associated Press reported April 18. Cade said she was worried about losing her job if she didn't go to work, but urged more protections for victims of violence. The hearings were called by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, who introduced a bill to assist domestic violence victims, including a measure to make them eligible unemployment insurance.
- India removed questions from government employment forms requiring female workers to record their last menstrual cycles and maternity leaves, Medical News Today reported April 17. The "sensitivity of the issue" prompted the removal, said a government official.
For more information:
"Court's Abortion Ruling Undercuts Roe":
"Abortion Ban Spurs 'Free Choice' Move in Congress":
"Hi-Tech Stalking Devices Extend Abusers' Reach":
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A new government-funded study shows that abstinence-only sex education in schools does not significantly dissuade teens from having sex nor does it increase their likelihood of using a condom.
The study, authorized by Congress in 1997 and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, followed 2,000 students from urban and rural areas through middle and high school, the Washington Post reported April 14. The study split the students into two groups, with 59 percent receiving abstinence education, while the remainder did not.
At the end of the research period, when the average subject was 17, about half of both study groups remained abstinent. The average age for the first sexual encounter was 15. Although teens in both groups demonstrated knowledge about the risks of having sex without a condom, only 23 percent of teens who were sexually active actually used condoms.
"The most effective programs are those that say abstinence is the best choice but birth control and protection are also worth knowing about," said Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- A bomb exploded near Jerusalem April 20 alongside leaflets calling for the cancellation of a gay pride march planned for June. One person suffered minor injuries in the blast, an April 20 press release from the charity organization Jerusalem Open House announced. Security forces are investigating the leaflets, which condemned the World Pride march held in Jerusalem last year and discourage future marches in Jerusalem.
- Baghdad women are forced to have more Caesarean deliveries as a result of nightly 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfews that prohibit women in labor from reaching hospitals after dark, USA Today reported April 12. Women must schedule a C-section at a local hospital, depend on midwives, or hope to find a police escort in the middle of the night.
- Women are weighed down by health care costs, according to an April 19 report from the researchers at the National Women's Law Center. Even women with health insurance are more likely than men to go without needed care because of costs, the study found. Additionally, 38 percent of women have problems paying medical bills compared to 28 percent of men. The report says that women have great health care needs and lower wages than men.
- An increasing number of doctors are opting out of providing abortions could impact women in England, the BBC reported April 16. A government abortion services official said the Abortion Act is in place because "women were prepared to do anything rather than have unplanned pregnancies." She warned that if the decrease of abortion doctors continued, women will turn to unsafe alternatives for abortion.
Women spend more time on housework, and men spend more time on work outside the house, Slate.com reported April 16. Research conducted by the University of Brussels indicates that women spend an average of 4.5 hours a day on "home work," including housework and child care, with 3.4 hours per day on "market work," work outside the house for pay. Men spend an average of 5.2 hours on "market work" each day with 2.7 of "home work." Together, both genders spend roughly equal amounts of time working, according to the study.
Alison Bowen is a New York-based reporter with Women's eNews.
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