By WeNews Staff
Saturday, December 30, 2006
The National Organization for Women is pressing forward with a pro-women agenda in preparation for the 110th Congress and a change in party control, the Washington-based advocacy organization announced Dec. 21. Primary goals for the legislative session include reducing the poverty of women, promoting family-friendly work policies and expanding reproductive health services.
Efforts to raise the minimum wage are expected to be revived next year. "Increasing the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour will have a dramatic impact on the quality of life for women and their families," NOW president Kim Gandy said. "Women are the majority of those working at minimum wage, and many are working two and three jobs to make ends meet. We deserve to be paid fairly for the work that we do."
California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi will lead the House during the new Congress and has laid out an ambitious legislative agenda to be introduced during the first 100 hours, including efforts to negotiate lower prices for drugs for seniors, rolling back tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and reducing the costs of student loans. Pelosi has pledged a return to bipartisanship on Capitol Hill and a civil tone among legislators.
While Democrats are hoping to divert oil subsidies into renewable energy sources, California Senator Barbara Boxer is slated to take over the influential Environment and Public Works Committee, where she is likely to use her influence to alter the national direction on environmental policies, Newsday reported Dec. 26. "Nowhere is there a greater threat to future generations than the disastrous effects of global warming," Boxer said.
The 110th Congress convenes on Jan. 4.
National Organization for Women:
"Lawmaker Funnels $750,000 to Abortion Ban Campaign":
The Wage Project:
The number of U.S. women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan has surpassed the number killed in the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf wars, the Washington Times reported Dec. 26. Altogether, 70 female soldiers have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; women account for 14 percent of U.S. forces deployed there. More than half of the 70 women were victims of hostile fire; seven were mothers of children under 18. Eight of the women died in Afghanistan.
In earlier conflicts, female soldiers primarily served on medical teams but have since moved into many other occupations despite being barred from combat positions. Changes in the battlefield itself in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the front lines are murky and sectarian violence permeates, along with the length of the conflicts, are factors in the increased female fatalities.
"Women soldiers are making vital contributions to our efforts to fight and win the war on terrorism," Pentagon spokesperson Paul Boyce said. "Recent operations in the war on terrorism consistently show that any soldier, whether performing combat or support missions, could be exposed to combat hazards."
More than 155,000 women have been deployed to the two nations since 2002, nearly four times the number deployed during the Gulf War, according to Pentagon statistics reported by the Associated Press. On Christmas, the number of troops killed in Iraq passed the death toll of 2,973 during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The women's deaths account for about 2 percent of that total.
Nouhad Moawad is Arabic intern for Women's eNews and Jennifer Thurston is associate editor.
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