The British government plans to offer all caregivers, mostly women, weekly financial credits to equal the payments they would have made into the state pension fund had they been in the labor force, The Guardian reported on March 14. A new proposal would recognize the contributions of female caregivers who leave or never enter the work force, and, as result, are left with a meager cushion of pension funds when they retire.
In Britain today, only 30 percent of women who reach official retirement age are eligible to receive full pension benefits. The average woman receives 70 percent of the pension, which the government says is not enough for the 10 million women that survive on that amount. John Hutton, the United Kingdom's work and pensions secretary, is hoping the new plan will change that.
"As modern life becomes increasingly more diverse--and men and women alike bring up children and caring for family and friends--this could be a win for men as well," Hutton said.
The government estimates that currently 2.2 million women living in the United Kingdom are not accruing the full basic state pension and 600,000 of them fall below the lowest earnings threshold.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- An annual study comparing the academic performance of male and female athletes in the NCAA women's and men's basketball tournament teams revealed that female players do better academically and have higher graduation rates than male athletes, and that the gap between white and African American female players is smaller than the same gap for males. The March 15 report showed that 95 percent of women's teams surveyed graduated at least 50 percent of their players, 31 percent higher than the men's teams. The graduation gap was also affected by race: on women's teams, whites had a 19 percent higher rate than African Americans, while on men's teams, the gap was 33 percent.
- Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager joined the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights in a lawsuit on March 14 to demand that emergency contraception be made available without a prescription. Wisconsin and the center are suing the Food and Drug Administration, claiming that the burden of the FDA's delays in approving over-the-counter sales falls on the shoulders of state medical programs that bear the financial cost of unplanned pregnancies, WBAY-TV in Green Bay reported.
- Beatrice Munah Sieh, a Liberian-born school teacher living in New Jersey, will soon become that country's first female police chief under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female head of state. The announcement came when Alfred Karlay was fired after two weeks in office over a scandal involving Russian rape suspects that fled the country, The Associated Press reported March 15.
- Toughening national laws on domestic violence, Czech lawmakers passed a bill this week that will ban a perpetrator of domestic violence from entering the home that the abuser shares with the victim for 10 days after the incident is reported, the Czech News Agency reported March 14. The bill will take effect in April if the president signs it into law. In the Czech Republic, an estimated 16 percent of the adults are victims of domestic violence; 91 percent of those are women.
For more information:
"Venezuela Will Retry Teen's Accused Torturer":
Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER):
A hospital in East Jerusalem allegedly refused to release a newborn triplet to its Arab mother for two months until she paid her hospital bill, Haaretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, reported on March 16.
The woman gave birth to triplets two months ago and the babies needed extensive hospitalization. But because the baby's father is a resident of the Palestinian Authority, the hospital became concerned that Israel's National Insurance Agency would not cover the cost. The hospital decided to release only two of the babies, keeping the third as a "guarantee."
The baby was released to the mother last week after the Justice Ministry's legal aid department intervened. It was determined that there was no medical need to keep the baby hospitalized. The department is considering whether to begin a legal inquiry.
"We looked into the matter with the hospital," the Justice Ministry's head of legal aid, Eyal Globus, said. "And it turned out things were exactly as the mother said they were; the third baby was being held there." Globus was also told by the hospital director that this was normal procedure to ensure debt payment.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- A high court in Venezuela recently convicted the politically connected assailant of 21-year-old Linda Loaiza Lopez on minimal charges of severe assault and deprivation of liberty, the International Planned Parenthood Federation reported March 14. Luis Carrera Almoina, who is the son of an influential politician, was charged by Loaiza Lopez' lawyers with kidnapping, attempted homicide, rape and torture of the then 18-year-old. The case was deferred by the Venezuelan justice system more than 29 times and gained national attention when Loaiza Lopez went on a 13-day hunger strike on the courthouse steps to prevent her perpetrator from walking free of charges. Loaiza Lopez has had nine operations, including several jaw and abdomen reconstructions, because she was beaten so severely during her four-month-long captivity.
- Women of color are twice as likely as white women to live in poverty in their retirement years, Cindy Hounsell of the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement said in congressional hearings this week. Social Security is the only source of retirement income for 59 percent of single black women and 53 percent of single Hispanic women over age 65. As a result, 39.6 percent of single black women over age 65 live in poverty, and for single Hispanic women the rate is 40.8 percent. Overall, women's average income after the age of 65 is only about half that of men, with the median income for retired women in 2004 standing at $12,080, compared to men's $21,102.
- Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in early 2003, the number of women attacked for choosing not to wear head scarves and veils has more than tripled, the Baghdad-based Women's Rights Association reported March 7. The organization has counted 80 attacks against women and reports of four "honor killings" in 2005. This is compared to 22 attacks and one death between 1999 and March 2003. According to the association, the vast majority of attacks occur in the more modernized capital. In the southern part of the country, which is more traditional, fewer women choose not to wear headscarves or veils.
After reports on March 17 that two more women died after taking abortion pills, New York-based Planned Parenthood announced that it would discontinue administering pill-based abortions vaginally. The cause of these two deaths is unknown, but is thought to have arisen from a secondary infection. The FDA has now received reports that six women in the United States have died after taking RU-486, or Mifeprex.
Elizabeth Dwoskin is a Women's eNews intern and freelance writer and radio producer based in New York.
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