Almost 200 female activists from nearly 70 countries met in Sri Lanka Tuesday to address issues including violence, harassment and intimidation faced by female human rights activists, Amnesty International announced. The London-based human rights organization reported that women who advocate on behalf of human rights face increased challenges including growing fundamentalism and militarism, as well as hostility toward political activists.

At the close of the conference on Friday delegates recommended that nations be held accountable for violations of human rights, including women’s rights, within their jurisdictions. They also called for local and regional networking among female human rights activists and for strengthening protection standards.

"Our advocacy often results in gender-related abuses including rape, psychiatric incarceration and restrictions on access to rights of expression and association," said Sunila Abeysekera, an organizer of the gathering. "Yet these violations are frequently not recognized or validated."

Other News to Cheer This Week:


  • The International Network of Journalists with a Gender Vision addressed gender discrepancies in worldwide news coverage and the lack of women in leadership roles in media organizations at a Nov. 12 conference in Mexico, Inter Press Service reported. The network plans to persuade media owners and managers that information normally found in newspaper crime sections or in women’s magazines is newsworthy to a broad audience and that by missing it, they miss half the news. The network also discouraged sexist language in reporting and plans to open an international news service.


  • In a historic Saudi Arabian election, two women won seats on the board of directors of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday, Arabnews.com reported. Saudi businesswomen Lama Al-Sulaiman and Nashwa Taher were elected from stiff competition that included 15 other women. It was the first time ever that women were elected to the chamber board although initially none of the female candidates were expected to win.


  • In New York, the Museum of Television and Radio announced the names of 50 honorees included in its new collection celebrating the achievements of women in broadcast, including Lucille Ball, Diane Sawyer and Oprah Winfrey. The three-year project, "She Made It: Women Creating Television and Radio," will showcase 2,000 hours of programming created by some of the most influential women in broadcasting.


  • South Africa’s highest court ruled that prohibition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional Thursday and ordered the country’s Parliament to extend the legal definition of marriage accordingly, the Associated Press reported. Parliament must revise the definition within a year or the courts will do so automatically.



For more information:

She Made It: Women Creating Television and Radio:

"Gender Achievements and Prospects in Education: The GAP report (Part One)":

"Arab Women Chalk Up a Few Business Breaks":

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A November UNICEF report has found that of the world’s 115 million children who do not receive primary education, 90 million are girls.

According to the report, "Gender Achievements and Prospects in Education," gender stereotypes, poverty, HIV-AIDS and armed conflict have led to an educational disparity that world leaders pledged to eradicate by 2005. Recommendations to remedy the situation include capping total household education fees, awarding scholarships to disadvantaged students and providing economic incentives for disadvantaged families to send their children to school regularly.

"Education of children, especially girls, is the cornerstone to national progress," the fund’s executive director, Ann Veneman, said in a statement. "It leads to greater economic productivity, reduced infant and maternal mortality, and a greater likelihood that the next generation of children will go to school."

Other News to Jeer This Week:

  • Michigan state legislator, Republican John Stahl, introduced a bill to permanently ban over-the-counter sales of Plan B emergency contraception in that state out of fear that the federal Food and Drug Administration may eventually approve the drug for non-prescription sales in the future, according to a Nov. 16 statement from his office.

    Controversy over FDA approval of Plan B, which was delayed indefinitely by the agency in August citing continued safety concerns, led former Office of Women’s Health director Susan Wood to resign in frustration after agency scientists concluded that Plan B is safe for over-the-counter sales. Wood’s vacancy will be filled by agency veteran Kathleen Uhl, who was most recently a supervisory medical officer in the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, the FDA announced Nov. 21.


  • The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of abortion waiting periods, the Indianapolis Star reports. The court upheld a state law that requires women to wait 18 hours and undergo in-person counseling before having an abortion, a restriction that opponents said would impose an "undue burden" on women’s access to abortion.


  • A recently released study from the Jamaican Bureau of Women’s Affairs has found that Jamaican women are outnumbered in the workforce despite being better educated than their male counterparts, the Jamaica Observer reported on Sunday. Men represented 57.9 percent of the Jamaican workforce in 2004 and, at 7.9 percent, have an unemployment rate that is less than half that of the 16.4 percent rate among women.