U.S. Census Bureau statistics released Jan. 25 indicate that women started businesses at double the national rate between 1997 and 2002. The number of female-owned companies increased by 20 percent during this five-year period. By 2002, 6.5 million, or 30 percent, of all non-farm businesses in the U.S. were owned by women.

The majority of these businesses were single-person enterprises but the number of mid-size and large companies owned by women also rose. Female-owned companies with more than $1 million in revenue went up by 18 percent and those with more than 100 employees went up by 10 percent during the same period.

“What running your own business can give you is more flexibility and more control over your time,” Jonathan Leonard, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, told the San Francisco Chronicle, citing one possible factor behind this increase.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • U.S. Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., heeded the call of many women’s rights groups in opposing Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Kerry and fellow Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy made a last-ditch effort to block Alito’s confirmation by launching a filibuster, CBS News reported Jan. 27, and broke ranks with their party’s leadership, which opposed the controversial move. The senators failed to garner enough votes to mount a filibuster and Alito is expected to be handily confirmed on Tuesday.

  • The United Nations Development Fund for Women pledged $500,000 to support Liberia’s Ministry of Gender and Development and other women’s organizations within the country on Jan. 16. The grant was announced to coincide with the inauguration of Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson as president of the war-torn nation. The agency is assisting these organizations in their efforts to promote gender equality and peace in the war-ravaged country.

  • Lourdes Flores Nano, a prominent Peruvian lawyer and politician, continues to lead in the polls for the country’s upcoming presidential elections in April. She is ahead at 30 percent, with a five-point lead over her closest competitor, according to a poll conducted by Peruana de Opinion Publica.

  • The American military announced Jan. 26 that it had released 5 of the 10 female Iraqi detainees in its custody, the New York Times reported. The women were among more than 400 Iraqis scheduled to be released after the military found no reason for continuing to hold them. Officials insisted that the release had nothing to do with demands from the captors of U.S. journalist Jill Carroll, who have threatened to kill her unless the U.S. releases all Iraqi women it is currently detaining in jail.


Women in the United States still have a high risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer even if they have no genetic predisposition for the disease, stated a report released Jan. 24 by the Breast Cancer Fund and Breast Cancer Action, two San Francisco-based advocacy groups. The report said that as many as 50 percent of breast cancer cases remain unexplained by either genetics or lifestyle factors such as how old a woman is at her first full-term pregnancy or her rate of alcohol consumption.

The two groups analyzed more than 350 scientific studies linking environmental factors to breast cancer to come up with their findings. In 2005, breast cancer was expected to kill more than 40,000 women in the U.S. The risk of an American woman being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime has nearly tripled in the last 40 years, rising to a 1 in 7 chance.

“This report adds to the compelling evidence that the chemicals we’re exposed to in our daily lives are making us sick,” said Lisa Wanzor, acting executive director of Breast Cancer Action. “Women living with and at risk for breast cancer need public policies that will put our health first and protect us from exposures to toxic chemicals.”