Impoverished girls in the Middle East are gaining more access to education.

Yemen announced it would rescind primary school fees for girls and the European Union said it would fund 200 new "girl friendly" schools for disadvantaged girls throughout Egypt, the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks reported in two stories published May 7 and May 15.

Yemen’s fees for primary school have been low, but still prohibitive for over 1 million eligible girls.

Egypt’s "girl-friendly" schools serve both sexes, but their curricula and administration are designed to encourage attendance by disadvantaged girls who are often burdened with household responsibilities.

More News to Cheer This Week


  • A House appropriations subcommittee reversed President Bush’s proposed 18 percent funding cuts to overseas family planning programs when it voted on a foreign aid budget for 2007, The New York Times reported May 20. The cuts would have reduced the budget from $436 million to $357 million.


  • Democratic Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill that would have required information about women who have had abortions past 22 weeks and their doctors be submitted to the state, the Kansas City Star reported May 20. Kansas prohibits abortions after the 22nd week of gestation unless a physician concludes a woman’s health is at stake. Anti-abortion lawmakers have expressed the concern that too many physicians use a mental-health exception to authorize abortions.


  • Toymaker Hasbro has canceled plans to create Pussycat Dolls, a line of dolls based on an actual burlesque dance troupe who turned into pop stars, the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood announced May 24. The Kent County, R.I., company planned to market the dolls to girls as young as 6.

For more information:

Global Generations Policy Institute–
Baby Boomer Women: Secure Futures or Not?:

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As baby boomer women age, their prospects for later-in-life security become increasingly dim, reported a study released May 24 by the Harvard Generations Policy Program and the Global Generations Policy Institute, both based in Boston.

The authors emphasized that this cohort of women may end up worse off than their predecessors. Baby boomer women spend more, acquire more debt and are less likely to have traditional pensions, spousal benefits, or retiree health coverage than the previous generation of women, the study found. It also said policy makers have long ignored the needs of women approaching retirement with insufficient resources.

"Baby boomer women are in trouble," writes Paul Hodge, director of the Harvard Generations Policy Program. "Unlike any other time in our nation’s history, unless there are dramatic policy shifts, baby boomer women, most particularly minority women, will find their elder years to be a ‘never ending’ struggle. After selflessly caring for their children and aging parents, a significant number of our country’s 40 million plus boomer women will not be able to afford to retire, will fall below the poverty line and experience financial insecurity and poorer health in their later years with limited aid from traditional safety nets."

More News to Jeer This Week


  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a prominent Somali-born Dutch politician who is controversial for her exposure of violence against women in the Dutch-Muslim community, resigned this week and is leaving the Netherlands after the minister of immigration stripped her of Dutch nationality, The New York Times reported May 24. The move follows the publication of a news story that probed the circumstances of Ali’s immigration. As Ali had shared publicly on numerous previous occasions, she gave Dutch immigration officials a false name and birth date to hide from a man her family had chosen for her to marry. The minister of immigration is a former prison warden who is campaigning with a tough immigration platform to become the country’s first female prime minister.