As the first woman runs for Germany’s highest office on Sept. 18, results from state elections suggest that Angela Merkel, chair of the conservative Christian Democrat party, may become the next chancellor, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Such a victory would signal a change in German voting patterns that traditionally reflect support for a party, not a candidate. Outcomes from recent elections in Germany have demonstrated that female voters are inclined to support female candidates regardless of party affiliation.

Alice Schwartzer, a leading women’s rights advocate in Germany, said women had reason to brush aside political differences to support a female candidate. “For the first time in the history of Germany a woman is campaigning for the office of chancellor. And that is not supposed to play a role for us women?” she said.

Other News to Cheer This Week:

  • The “Open Shutters” program, founded by photographer Eugenie Dolberg and the Syrian human rights group Etana Press, has donated digital cameras to a group of Syrian women to take photographs on the theme of religious diversity for an exhibit at a conference on women at Damascus University in October.
  • Women’s groups urged President Bush to use his second chance at Supreme Court justice nominations to select a moderate female judge to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, according to Ms. Magazine on Tuesday. “Bush now has a second opportunity . . . He can get it right this time,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women.
  • The National Association of Women Business Owners launched a Web site on Friday to help female business owners impacted by the effects of Hurricane Katrina, a press release from the organization said. The site (http://www.womenbizrelief.com) will act as a clearinghouse for donations of housing, equipment and employment to help fill the immediate needs of survivors.

  • Jeers

    United Nations Ambassador John Bolton has proposed to dramatically alter a U.N. summit document, deleting all references to the Millennium Development Goals, according to media reports Tuesday. In April, all 191 U.N. member states agreed to try to achieve the goals, which include the promotion of gender equality and improving maternal health, by the year 2015. The news came as a shock to other officials including China’s U.N. delegate Zhang Yishan, who said of Bolton’s plan, “There are too many recommendations. At the same time it’s very simple because they (the Americans) are deleting everything.”

    In eliminating those references, Bolton came under fire for what critics said was an attempt by the U.S. to withdraw from its previous commitments. Among the hundreds of amendments proposed by Bolton is one to remove reaffirmation of the objectives of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, which advocated cutting world poverty in half, reducing infectious diseases such as HIV-AIDS and working for women’s equality. The U.S. has also called for the elimination of the U.N.’s human rights commission.

    Other News to Jeer This Week:

    • Vatican officials have demanded that Catholic leaders refrain from signing an interfaith document in support of the Millennium Development Goals and reproductive health, according to a Thursday press release from Catholics For a Free Choice. Before the Vatican issued its decree, 194 international religious leaders signed the statement, which will circulate during the U.N. World Summit on Sept. 14.
    • Over half of women surveyed feel personally at risk for developing a gynecological cancer, but even more of them have no idea how to help prevent these cancers, according to a Newswire press release Wednesday. The 800-woman poll, conducted by the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation and Research!America, also found that just under half of the women could not name a single symptom of cervical, uterine or ovarian cancer.
    • An emphasis on abstinence-only HIV-AIDS prevention programs in Africa is siphoning away funding for condoms and causing a shortage that’s been denounced by AIDS prevention advocates, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report.
    • Misperceptions of health insurance coverage are likely to deter women from seeking mammography screenings, according to Telemedicine Law Weekly on Thursday. Over half of women needing a mammography said that the price of the test is an obstacle, yet 40 percent of these women had misunderstandings about the actual coverage of their insurance policies.
    • Financially uninformed low and middle-income women face potential risks when moving from pension funds to self-managed funds run by a male partner, the Australian Associated Press reported Friday. According to an Australian Research Group report, while no evidence suggests women are losing control of their funds, their exposure risks from poor investment choices and deliberate misuse of funds by their partners have increased as popularity of self-managed funds grows.
    • A federal court upheld the constitutionality of a temporarily suspended Ohio law requiring parental consent for abortions performed on minors, The Associated Press reported Friday. The law also mandates a 24-hour wait period following a doctor’s consultation during which a description of the procedure, its risks and alternatives are provided.

    –Karen James contributed to this report.

    Rachel Corbett is a Women’s eNews intern and freelance writer based in New York City. Karen James is a Women’s eNews intern and a master’s candidate at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.