A group of ExxonMobil shareholders filed a resolution on April 5 accusing the Houston-based oil company of discrimination against women for its sponsorship of The Masters Golf Tournament held last week at the male-only Augusta National Golf Club, Reuters reported. The resolution asserts that the company’s sponsorship of the tournament–now in its 70th year at the exclusive club in Augusta, Ga.–violates the company’s anti-discrimination policy and calls for management to provide detailed reports of its financial transactions with venues that discriminate against women.

Martha Burk, head of the corporate accountability program for the Washington-based National Council of Women’s Organizations, led the resolution effort, and hopes that ExxonMobil will again withdraw its sponsorship.

After Burk and other women’s leaders led a protest at the 2003 Masters, CBS broadcast the event with no commercial sponsorship in 2003 and 2004. Last year, the tournament welcomed back ExxonMobil, SBC Communications and IBM as sponsors.

“ExxonMobil would not sponsor such an event if it were held at a venue that discriminated against African Americans or other racial minorities,” Burk said in a statement. “It should be no different for women.”

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • In a step toward combating the daunting problem of providing later-in-life financial security for the over 300 million Indians that work as street vendors, rag pickers, tailors and other unregulated occupations, a bank for self-employed women has launched an affordable pension scheme for the southern state of Kerala. The plan, initiated by the Ahmedabad-based Self Employed Women’s Association of India, has attracted as many as 25,000 members, the online Indian newspaper newKerala.com reported April 12.
  • The vice president of the European Commission, the executive governing body of the European Union, demanded that women must account for at least 25 percent of recruitments and appointments to senior management posts and 30 percent of middle management posts this year, ePolitix.com, a British newsmagazine, reported April 12. Last year, the commission was able to exceed its 20 percent target for senior management by almost 13 percent, but its 30 percent target for middle management was not met. Some departments, such as the vice president’s own department of information technology, recruited and hired no women in 2005.
  • On April 11, Janet Napolitano, Arizona’s Democratic governor, vetoed legislation that would have required doctors performing some abortions to tell women that their fetuses might feel pain, the Arizona Daily Star reported. In related news, a University of Birmingham psychologist asserted that fetuses can’t feel pain in the British Medical Journal this week, Bloomberg reported April 14.


Zimbabwe women now have the shortest lifespan in the world, 34 years, according to an annual World Health Organization report released on April 7, reported the United Nations’ Integrated Regional Information Networks News. The average life expectancy for men is only slightly higher at 37 years.

While WHO cited the high prevalence of HIV-AIDS as the main cause of the decrease in life span by nearly two years, nongovernmental organizations cite an economic crisis as the underlying cause of many preventable deaths. The crisis exacerbates drug shortages by rendering drug prices unaffordable for the majority of patients and contributing to an exodus of medical personnel.

“I am not surprised at the low life expectancy,” said Zimbabwean activist Everjoice Win. “The statistics expose the impact of unaccountable governance on Zimbabweans: We have the world’s highest rate of inflation; it is a completely dysfunctional state with a collapsed economy, which has driven health care professionals–doctors and nurses–out of the country; and then you have the scourge of HIV-AIDS.”

More News to Jeer About

  • In the United Kingdom, an increasing number of rape cases are being reported but are resulting in fewer convictions and jail sentences. According to an April 10 Reuters report, only 1 in 20 rape cases results in a conviction today; 1 in 3 cases resulted in conviction 30 years ago. Additionally, the number of cases where admitted rapists receive only a caution–an official warning administered in rare circumstances by a senior police officer–has increased. There were 19 cautions given out in 1994 compared to 40 in 2004.
  • The first national field study of violence against Syrian women has concluded that nearly 1 in 4 married women has been beaten by her husband, The New York Times reported April 10. The study, conducted by a Syrian group under the auspices of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, included nearly 1,900 families from a broad range of income levels. The men and women in each family were questioned separately.
  • Despite a new national rape law, a personal plea from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and some successful post-war reconstruction projects, relief workers say that rape–a common tactic used during Liberia’s 14-year civil war–is on the rise in that country. According to a study released by the Liberian organization International Crisis Group, rape is most common in Liberia’s camps for displaced persons, IRIN reported April 7.


  • The Food and Drug Administration announced on April 10 that Mifiprex was not responsible for one of the two recent deaths of women who had taken the drug. Mifeprex–known generically as mifepristone–induces a medical abortion when taken with misoprostol. Five U.S. deaths have been linked to the drug, although researchers are still investigating the relationship, if any, the Baltimore Sun reported April 11.
  • Texas Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky became the first Texas Democratic woman in history to win the party’s U.S. Senate nomination after prevailing in a runoff primary race on Tuesday. She faces an uphill battle in November against incumbent Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican-dominated state.
  • With 44 percent of the vote, Democrat Francine Busby led the pack in a Tuesday special election to replace former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, a Republican who resigned last year in the wake of a bribery scandal. But Busby fell short of the majority needed for victory, which forces her into a June 6 runoff against former Rep. Brian Bilbray in a Republican-leaning district in San Diego.

Allison Stevens contributed to this story.

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.

Women’s eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at [email protected].

For more information:

National Council of Women’s Organizations:

Self-Employed Women’s Association of India:

The World Health Report 2006: