The United States Agency for International Development announced March 1 that it will be including gender-equity polices (which affect men and women) and female empowerment throughout all its activities. Efforts to improve such things as girls' and women's access to resources and to reduce gender violence, will be considered at the top agency level as well as in particular country strategies and projects.
USAID, which provides economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide, says that "if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent . . . which could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million."
More News to Cheer This Week:
- An amendment that would allow employers to opt out of health coverage that they objected to on religious grounds was defeated last week in the Senate, by a vote of 51-48, reported Politico March 1. TheWashington Post reported that three Democrats voted for the Blunt amendment and a lone Republican, Olympia Snowe, voted against it. The 51 to 48 vote to kill the amendment was largely along party lines. Sen. Snowe (R-Maine) has announced she will not run for re-election because of the ever-increasing pressure she faces as a pro-choice Republican.
- On March 1, a coalition of more than 50 women's organizations under the banner of HERvotes announced what they say is an unprecedented effort to mobilize female voters for the 2012 elections. HERvotes stands for Health and Economic Rights. The group says it's determined to ensure that women have access to quality health care; to protect the gains women have made in education, the workplace, health care and basic individual rights and to continue moving forward an equality agenda.
- An organization in Pakistan comprising men working to end violence against women will hold a national conference on March 8 on gender-sensitive news reporting, anticipating a proper code of ethics and its effective implementation, reported the Pakistan Daily Times March 1. The conference's objective is to engage journalists on gender issues through media-training programs, activism and dialogue.
- Insurers and employers that do not comply with the Obama administration's contraception coverage rule could face federal fines of $100 per day per employee, according to the Congressional Research Service, Politicoreported Feb. 28. Individual beneficiaries may also be able to sue their health plans if they do not fulfill the requirement that all contraceptives be fully covered.
- The wealth of women in the Gulf area is estimated at $385 billion, according to a report issued in Dubai, The Egypt Independent reported Feb. 27. The report, issued by Al Masah Capital Limited, an alternative asset management company, said women have been taking serious steps in work, education and economic and social development.
- The Inclusion Initiative exceeded the 2011 goal of spending $70 million and ultimately spent about $97.7 million in fees to minority and women-owned law firms, the group announced in a press statement Feb. 27. The Inclusion Initiative was launched in 2010 by major companies with a demonstrated commitment to diversity in the legal profession, drawn from a wide cross-section of industries. The Inclusion Initiative set an aggregate goal of spending $118 million with minority and women owned law firms in 2012.
- The American Civil Liberties Union and the Service Women's Action Network will appear in federal court Monday seeking records on military sexual trauma from the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, ACLU announced Feb. 27 in a press statement. Both organizations denounce the unwillingness of the government to provide data on incidents of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment in the military. It is estimated that over 19,000 service members are sexually assaulted each year, nearly double the rate of civilians, according to the press release.
- Hundreds of top female journalists in Germany are demanding the introduction of a quota to ensure at least 30 percent of all executive positions across the German media industry are filled by women, The Guardian reported Feb. 27.
- A group of women formed a new political action committee to recruit and support candidates to defeat elected officials who back the ultrasound and so-called personhood bills, The Washington Post reported Feb. 27. Women's Strike Force, which boasts several former elected officials, formed after Virginia's attempt to require women to undergo mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion.