Kuwait appointed its first female cabinet minister. Massouma al-Mubarak, 54, a newspaper columnist, political science teacher and women’s rights activist was appointed minister of planning and minister for administrative development, reported The Associated Press.

Other Things to Cheer About This Week:

  • Pakistan, under U.S. pressure, lifted the travel ban on Mukhtar Mai, a gang-raped victim who is on her way to the United States for a speaking tour on violence against women, reported The Washington Post on Thursday.
  • Six Mary Kay Independent National Sales Directors lobbied at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, driving their trademark Pink Cadillac and wearing purple, the color symbolizing the fight against domestic violence. The Mary Kay delegation joined hundreds of other women in Washington urging the passage of a strong new measure. The effort was organized by the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

    “Renewal of this legislation is critical if our nation is to continue to improve the criminal and civil judicial response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking,” said Anne Crews, vice president of government relations at Mary Kay. “One in three women in the U.S. today will be the victim of violence during her lifetime.”

  • The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood Federation of America challenged Idaho’s third attempt at restricting teens’ access to abortion as unconstitutional, according to a press release Wednesday from the organizations. Lawyers argued that the proposed law compromises the confidentiality of teens who need emergency abortions and cannot provide written consent of parents or a court waiver for the procedure.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America challenged a law Wednesday to ban virtually all abortions in Michigan State. The proposed legislation would prohibit even first-trimester abortions and make it illegal for doctors to provide abortions protecting the patients’ health in cases of diabetes or heart disease.
  • The woman who wins the New York City marathon in November will earn $30,000 more than her male counterpart–$130,000 vs. $100,000–according to Mary Wittenberg, president and chief executive of the New York Road Runners, reported The New York Times on Tuesday. The check will be the biggest in marathon competition history and the first time a female champion’s winnings exceed that of the male champion in the same event, Women’s Sports Foundation’s executive director Donna Lopiano on Bloomberg News.
  • Ted Waitt, founder and former chair of Gateway, Inc., announced Tuesday the creation of The Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, a foundation for reducing family and community violence. Waitt–whose Waitt Family Foundation had already committed $7 million for violence prevention in homes, schools and communities–gave $10 million to the newly established organization. Waitt announced the new institute at a Family Violence Prevention Fund Founding Fathers event in New York City.
  • Legislation that would ensure that survivors of rape have access to and information about emergency contraception and would receive medical care to prevent sexually transmitted diseases was introduced Wednesday by bipartisan group in Congress. The bill comes in response to a set of medical guidelines for the treatment of rape victims issued last year by the Department of Justice that omitted emergency contraception as a potential option for victims of sexual assault.
  • Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester is the first woman to receive the Silver Star since World War II, reported The New York Times on Friday. Her actions–preventing an Iraqi insurgent ambush–challenge the 1994 Pentagon policy limiting women’s role in ground combat, said critics of the policy.
  • The Family Violence Prevention Fund has produced a book to help coaches prevent players’ aggressive behavior in dating relationships, the fund said in press release Tuesday. The step-by-step guide, “Coaching Boys into Men Playbook,” is based on input from coaches and athletes and provides motivational speeches, anti-violence messages and “teachable moments” on how to approach athletes.
  • The first comprehensive study of women who give birth to triplets and more was released Tuesday, according to Mothers of Supertwins, an international nonprofit support network for families with multiple births. Key survey results indicated that the percentage of mothers who breastfeed rose with the number of multiples born. The report assessed data on 1,300 multiple birth mothers, between the ages of 19 and 48 years old, since 1988.

  • Women could “significantly lower” risk of developing premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, by intake of vitamin D and calcium equivalent to four servings per day of skim or low-fat milk, or fortified orange juice, a report by the University of Massachusetts in Amherst published Monday, according to Reuters.
  • Women’s centers run by the Small Business Administration drove entrepreneurship among economically disadvantaged women, according to a study conducted by The Center for Women’s Leadership at Babson College and released Wednesday.
  • A spokesperson for the Japanese government apologized Monday for an official who praised the recent deletion of the term “comfort women” from textbooks. The offending remark by Nariaki Nakayama, minister of Education and Culture, was protested by the governments of China, South Korea and elsewhere in Asia, the Xinhua General News Agency reported. So-called comfort women were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops during World War II and activists have been pushing Japan to officially apologize for the military’s treatment of the women. Japan has not yet provided any official apology or compensation to the “comfort women.”


In Iran, riot police last Sunday dispersed more than 250 female demonstrators outside University of Tehran, who were on the brink of joining about 200 other protestors, according to press reports. The women were protesting the barring of female candidates from elections held June 17, when the country also voted for its next president. The hard-line Guardian Council last month rejected on the basis of their gender 89 female candidates from competing in Friday’s elections.

Other Things to Jeer About This Week:

  • A Senate committee on Wednesday approved Lester Crawford as head of the Food and Drug Administration, according to The Washington Post. Two Democratic senators–Patty Murray of Washington and Hillary Clinton of New York–promised to block the nomination to protest the agency’s inaction on a bid to give emergency contraception over-the-counter status.
  • The National Governors Association presented a proposal to Congress Wednesday that includes recommendations that women’s rights activists say would be detrimental to Medicaid beneficiaries. In a press release, The National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said the plan would make Medicaid coverage less comprehensive and less affordable.
  • On Tuesday the Senate voted in favor of appointing Thomas Griffith to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Griffith has a hostile record on Title IX, the civil rights law guaranteeing equality in sports and education according to Lisa M. Maatz, director of public policy and government relations at the American Association of University Women, in a press release.
  • The proposed acquisition of the CenterCare health plan by Fidelis Care New York, a company operating under religious restrictions, would reduce reproductive health services for women, according to a press release by Family Planning Advocates of New York State on Monday. Approximately 50,000 CenterCare enrollees will be transferred to a plan that does not cover contraception, sterilization or abortion services.
  • Southern women represent 76 percent of new HIV infections, according to data from 32 states released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV diagnoses were four times higher among Hispanic women and 18 times higher among black women than white women, USA Today reported. Women in the South were predisposed to AIDS because of poverty, a lack of awareness of the disease and poor access to medical care, researchers said. Parts of Northeast and the mid-Atlantic were other areas with heavy concentrations of HIV cases.
  • Female inmates in San Mateo County, Calif., had less access to rehabilitative programs than men, limited visiting hours and no childcare services for visiting families in the overcrowded, understaffed women’s prisons, according to a county grand jury report issued Wednesday and reported by the Mercury News.
  • Lifting the ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia could harm the conservative Muslim kingdom, Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz said Sunday, reported Reuters. Women’s rights in the country are the strictest in the Arab World ranging from lack of voting rights to obligatory veiling and the required presence of a male relative in public.
  • An Italian law restricting fertility treatment is still valid after the Vatican’s call to boycott the referendum resulted in low electoral participation, reported the Christian Science Monitor. Only 26 percent of eligible voters participated and over 50 percent was required for the vote to be counted.
  • Abstinence-only sex education programs show “no evidence of having increased youth’s expectations to remain abstinent,” according to a report released Tuesday by the Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., an independent research firm based in Princeton, N.J. One billion dollars in state and federal funds were spent for the programs in an estimated one-third of U.S. middle and high schools since 1996, said James Wagoner, president of the Washington-based Advocates for Youth.
  • House lawmakers tried but failed Thursday to circumvent the administration’s refusal to fund the United Nations Population Fund, New York Democrat, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, said in a press release. The fund is the world’s leading reproductive health organization. Three Democrats, including Maloney, and one Republican offered an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have prevented the State Department from blocking funding to the UN agency. The House defeated the measure by a vote of 233 to 192.

Kamelia Angelova, an intern at Women’s eNews and a freelance reporter based in New York City, studies Journalism and Political Science at Hunter College.