The Mexican government announced on Tuesday that it will create a $2.2 million fund to compensate families of more than 300 women who have been murdered in the last decade in the city of Ciudad Juarez.

Since 1993, a wave of brutal killings has swept over the city, which borders Texas. The victims–mostly young women aged 15 to 25–have often been found in the desert, strangled, battered and stabbed to death.

Few of the killings have been solved, though in 2003 Mexican President Vicente Fox assigned a team of federal and state authorities to investigate the murders.

Prosecutor Maria Lopez Urbina, who President Fox appointed in January as part of the investigation, said on Tuesday that the government money would form the base of the family fund. She encouraged private individuals and authorities from the Chihuahua state–where Ciudad Juarez is located–to build on that, according to press reports.

As Women’s eNews reported, many of the murdered women worked in “maquiladoras,” or foreign-owned assembly plants, and a large number of them left behind children and dependents. The new fund will provide welcome financial relief to those individuals, human rights groups said, but efforts must still be made to solve the old cases and prevent new crimes.

The fund announcement coincided with the completion of the first phase of a federal probe that found no evidence of similar characteristics or common behavioral patterns in the first 50 killings studied.

For more information:

Women’s eNews–
“Juarez Murder Report Leaves Critics Unsatisfied”:

Women’s eNews–
“U.S. Reps in Mexico Pressing Murder Investigation”:

United States Government Accountability Office–
GENDER ISSUES:Women’s Participation in the Sciences Has Increased, but Agencies Need to Do More to Ensure Compliance with Title IX
(Adobe PDF format):


A report released this week by the Government Accountability Office found that, although women have made substantial gains as professionals in the sciences over the past three decades, they still fall short of equal participation with men, especially in math and engineering.

One of the report’s main conclusions was that federal agencies should take the lead and need to do more to ensure compliance with Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination within any organization that receives federal funds.

This investigation into Title IX compliance was requested by two Democratic senators: Barbara Boxer, California, and Ron Wyden, Oregon. Advocacy groups hope the report brings much-needed government attention to the issue of discrimination in the sciences.

One section of the report looked at four government agencies–NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the Department of Education–and found that they were largely neglecting Title IX’s mandated compliance reviews, intended to ensure that discrimination is not taking place within federally funded science programs.

In response to the report, Marcia D. Greenberger, the co-president of the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., said Thursday: “Discouraging young women from entering these high-paying, high-tech fields not only robs female students and teachers of the full range of employment opportunities, but robs the country of their talents.”

The report’s findings echo what the center and other organizations have documented: that women are still not achieving parity in areas such as math, computer science and engineering. The National Science Foundation has reported, for example, that the number of women who received undergraduate degrees in computer and information sciences fell to 28 percent in 1999 from a high of 37 percent in 1984. And in 2000, women made up only 20 percent of those receiving degrees in engineering.

At the beginning of the report, a letter from the investigators to senators Boxer and Wyden notes that the public tends to associate Title IX with women’s and girls’ participation in sports, and there seems to be little awareness that the law applies to academics.

The report also notes that within the academic community there is often a failure to report alleged abuses of Title IX. Many women admitted to a reluctance to file Title IX complaints for fear it would take time away from their research and impact their ability to get tenure.

— Robin Hindery.

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