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.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- Considering overall market performance, 2006 was the best year for female CEOs since 2003, USA Today reported Dec. 27. After Archer Daniels Midland hired Patricia Woertz as CEO and PepsiCo promoted Indra Nooyi to CEO, there are now nine women who head Fortune 500 companies. EBay, led by Meg Whitman, grew large enough in 2006 to join the 500 ranks. Investments in companies run by women mirrored the performance of male-led companies. Despite the incremental changes, 48 percent of the 1,000 largest U.S. corporations still lack a woman in their top management.
- South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long told Sioux Falls TV station KELO Dec. 12 there is a "good chance" he will ask a circuit judge to determine whether state legislator Roger Hunt broke election laws in the November campaign. Hunt refused to disclose the identity of a donor of $750,000 to fund a ballot measure to implement an abortion ban that was rejected by South Dakota voters.
- The Progressive Democratic Party, Tunisia's main opposition party, has elected May Eljeribi as its leader, Middle East Online reported Dec. 27. Eljeribi is the first woman to head a political party in Tunisia and the second in North Africa. She said upon her win: "This will enable us to work better, especially on women's issues," said Eljeribi, the manager of a private research company.
For more information:
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.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- A Nevada prosecutor has dropped assault charges against Governor-elect Jim Gibbons, saying there was insufficient evidence to prove the Oct. 13 allegations of a waitress at a restaurant where Gibbons had been drinking, the AP reported Dec. 28. Chrissy Mazzeo accused Gibbons of pushing her against a wall in a parking garage and propositioning her three weeks ahead of the election in which Gibbons defeated Democratic candidate Dina Titus.
- Women and minorities continue to be squeezed in Wall Street's promotion pipeline, Reuters reported Dec. 27. A report from the Government Accountability Office found that women held 41 percent of senior management positions in the insurance sector and 27 percent at securities firms, but comprised over 40 percent of the industry's work force.
- Efforts to close the gender wage gap have stalled and the gap has actually widened slightly for college-educated women, the New York Times reported Dec. 24. Labor statistics showed that last year, women aged 36-45 with a four-year college degree earned 74.7 cents for each dollar earned by a man, down one cent over the previous decade. Economists attributed the decline to women's opting out of the workforce for family reasons, to discrimination and to the ebb of government efforts to address gender bias through legislation and enforcement.
- According to two Swedish studies, thousands of pregnant women are beaten by their husbands or their boyfriends in Sweden every year, reported the Local newspaper Dec. 27. The studies show that between 1,300 and 9,500 pregnant women are assaulted each year. Of 100,000 births a year, 10 percent of the mothers suffer from violence, said the Swedish Association for Obstetrics and Gynecology.
- The number of older U.S. women who are childless by choice is increasing, according to a new study in the Journal of Marriage and the Family. Among childless women between the ages of 35 and 44, 42 percent were childless by choice, higher than the number of women who either cannot have children or plan to in the future. Study author Joyce Abma of the National Center for Health Statistics said public perceptions that older women are anxious to beat the biological clock and are eager to start a family "stand to be refined."
- Christine Boskoff, considered by many to be the world's top female high altitude mountaineer, is believed to have perished on Genie Mountain in a remote area of western China after rescuers discovered a body buried in the snow at an altitude over 17,000 feet on Dec. 27, EverestNews.com reported. Boskoff and climbing partner Charlie Fowler were reported missing after they failed to return to the United States on a Dec. 4 flight. Boskoff was the only living U.S woman to have reached the summit of at least six of the world's highest 14 peaks, including Mount Everest twice.
Nouhad Moawad is Arabic intern for Women's eNews and Jennifer Thurston is associate editor.
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