Billie Jean King, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Rosie O’Donnell are just a few of the celebrity women-turned-venture capitalists that have invested over $3.1 million in an effort to syndicate talk shows for women on FM radio, the Washington Business Journal reported on March 19. The recipient is a Washington, D.C.-based company called Greenstone Media.
Founded last year by former Federal Communications Commission member Susan Ness, Greenstone Media’s goal is to create radio programming aimed at and hosted by women between ages 25 and 54. This group forms 33 percent of radio listeners, but very few programs are dedicated to women’s issues. Ness has lined comediennes and actresses to host shows about faith, business, families and relationships, skirting the belligerent style of AM talk radio.
"A group of us were lamenting that there is virtually no programming that really targets women on the radio dial. The more we looked into it, the more we realized there was this huge hole to fill," says Ness, the company’s chief executive.
More News to Cheer this Week
- The South Dakota Coalition for Healthy Families, a recently-formed group of abortion rights supporters, launched a referendum drive on Friday to overturn a South Dakota abortion ban. The ban, passed last month, makes it a felony for doctors to perform any abortion, except to save the life of a pregnant woman. Advocated on both side of the issue believe the law is destined to challenge the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision decriminalizing abortions nationwide, reported Reuters on March 24. At least nine other states are also considering similar strict abortion limits.
- Rashida al-Qaili became the second woman after Sumaya Ali Raja to announce her candidacy for the Yemeni presidency, the United Nations’ Integrated Regional Information Networks News reported March 15. Al-Qaili, a satirical columnist for the local independent newspaper Al-Wasat, will stand as an independent. "I haven’t a tribe or a party to support me, but I have my pen and my love for my country," said al-Qaili. In another gain for Yemeni women, on March 21, IRIN reported that for the first time the government accepted four women in the incoming class of the Supreme Judiciary Institute, the body that selects judges in Yemen.
- Hawaii, which was the first state to legalize abortion in 1970, is taking steps to strengthen its abortion law in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned. As it stands now, Hawaii’s law has two sections that the state has been ignoring since they were superseded by Roe v. Wade: a 90-day residency requirement and a provision requiring abortions to be performed in hospitals, according to a March 21 report in the Star Bulletin, a Honolulu paper. The proposed amendment would repeal those provisions.
- Sixteen Boston women are bringing a class-action lawsuit against the makers of the Baby Gender Mentor, makers of a $275 genetic testing kit that promises to predict a baby’s gender with 99.9 percent accuracy just five weeks after conception by testing three drops of blood. Of 4,500 women that bought the kit, over 100 reported that it was inaccurate.
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With 2004 setting a record high for the number of U.S. babies delivered by Caesarian section–29.1 percent–recent research suggests that women are highly uninformed about the reasons for and the risks of the surgery, reported the New York-based nonprofit Childbirth Connection on March 20.
Preliminary results of a Harris Interactive survey of over 1,600 women who gave birth in 2005 found that approximately 70 percent of the women could not answer basic questions about complications or answered them incorrectly. However, the vast majority–over 80 percent–of women believe it is necessary to know about every complication resulting from a C-section delivery.
About 10 percent of respondents said they felt pressure from a health professional to have a C-section, and 42 percent felt that the current health care system influences maternity care providers to perform unnecessary C-sections to avoid being sued. While Childbirth Connection claims that a vaginal birth is generally a reasonable choice for women who have had a prior Caesarian, over half of such women that were interested in giving birth vaginally were denied this option by their caregiver.
"Many women’s choices about how to give birth after they have had a Caesarian are not being honored," said Carol Sakala of Childbirth Connection. "Denying women the option of vaginal birth after Caesarian is a major factor in our escalating Caesarian rate."
More News to Jeer This Week
- Women comprise about 15 percent of total U.S. military forces, but represent nearly 30 percent of all "don’t ask, don’t tell" discharges since 1993, PlanetOut Network, a San Francisco-based media company, reported on March 20. Women are twice as likely to be targeted by the military’s ban on homosexuals. Most likely to be targeted include women who could generate unfavorable reviews of male subordinates, who turn down sexual advances from men, or who serve in nontraditional job roles in the armed forces.
- A leading Chinese scientist has plans to develop technology to select the gender of a child before conception by sorting sperm cells, the Shanghai Daily reported on March 21. As president of the Guangxi Animal Breeding Research Institute, Lu Kehuan has already successfully applied the technique to buffalo. He claims that by the second half of this year it will be simple to perform gender selection on humans in order to prevent genetic diseases. While China is currently revising its law to criminalize gender-selective abortions and punish health workers who reveal babies’ genders before birth, the technique is excluded from the new law.
- The Dutch Labor Party, one of the major political parties in the Netherlands, has proposed that the government impose fines on highly-educated women that choose to leave the labor force in order to care for family members, Expatica, a news Web site, reported on March 22. According to its sponsors, the proposal is an attempt to recover the cost of education to the state because "you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished," a party spokesperson said.
Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth eked out a victory over rival Christine Cegelis, a technology consultant, in a Democratic primary contest on Tuesday in Illinois. With 44 percent of the vote, Duckworth narrowly defeated Cegelis, who ran a failed bid for the same seat in 2004. Duckworth hopes to succeed veteran Republican Rep. Henry Hyde, who is stepping down after more than three decades in office. Also of note, another Illinois candidate–moderate Republican Judy Baar Topinka–won her party’s nomination to run for governor on Tuesday. She will face Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich this fall.
— Allison Stevens contributed to this report.
Elizabeth Dwoskin is an editorial intern with Women’s eNews. She is a freelance writer and radio producer based in New York. Allison Stevens is Washington bureau chief.
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