By Matthews and Soguel
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero has invited nine female ministers to join his 17-member cabinet during his second term, forming the first female-majority cabinet in the nation's history. Currently, more than 36 percent of Spain's lawmakers are women, and party electoral lists must be 40 percent female.
"The most unfair domination is that of one half of humanity over the other," Zapatero told the Earth Times on April 14. "The more equality women will have, the more civilized and tolerant society will be."
In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi was re-elected prime minister on April 16, and said Zapatero's government was "too pink," contending that Italy lacked enough qualified women in government to serve at top levels. He pledged to have four female ministers.
In Kenya, women cracked the political glass ceiling, with President Mwai Kibaki appointing seven women to his cabinet, a national record. Kibaki promised to reserve 30 percent of all public appointments and elective positions for women, Nairobi's The Nation reported April 14.
Across the world, women now comprise just under 19 percent of members in national legislative bodies, the Geneva-based International Parliamentary Union said in an April 16 report, up from 11 percent in 1975. Thirty percent is considered the benchmark for women to influence governments. Rwanda topped the global report card with women making up almost half its lower parliament.
|Rwandan Women's Leadership Spreads to Villages|
|Maloney Calls for Truth in Clinic Advertising|
|NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, report on crisis pregnancy centers
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Affordable HealthCare Options, based in Austin, Texas, is being sued by the state's attorney general for selling fraudulent discount health care cards to uninsured pregnant women, the Austin American-Statesman reported April 16.
The suit alleges that the card--sold for $199 to enroll and a $99 monthly fee to cover up to 60 percent of prenatial care, sonograms and delivery costs--were advertised by Google. Women were charged a $250 cancellation fee after the card was not accepted by the health care company's providers.
Texas state legislators cut $5 million from family-planning programs in 2005 and diverted the money to crisis pregnancy centers, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas announced on April 16 in a report analyzing how tax funds were used during two fiscal years and impacted women's health.
Crisis pregnancy centers are designed to dissuade women from seeking abortion services. At least eight states have diverted funding to them despite affiliations with religious groups. Critics have also accused the centers of using misleading advertising tactics to divert women from actual clinics.
"It's unconscionable," said state lawmaker Sally Lieber, who proposed a bill to improve dental services. "We have women who are getting 16 and 18 out of 34 teeth pulled, and that really destroys their future job prospects."
Shanelle Matthews is a Women's eNews intern and a recent graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. Dominique Soguel is Women's eNews' Arabic editor.
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