A U.S. professional women’s soccer league is in the works for an April 2008 launch, with plans to form teams in Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago and Washington, and is working to find a sixth city to host a team, the Associated Press reported Feb. 27. Two other franchises are planned for 2009.
The league, organized by the Women’s Soccer Initiative, will replace the Women’s United Soccer Association, which folded in 2003 after low ticket sales. Tonya Antonucci, the initiative’s CEO, said the new league was working to reduce costs and each team would operate on annual budgets between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. The season is expected to run from April into the fall and will include an all-star game.
“The cities they talked about are great soccer communities who I think will really embrace these teams,” said Mia Hamm, a co-founder of the Women’s United Soccer Association.
Hamm and Julie Foudy, who are both former members of the U.S. team that won gold medals at the 1996 and 2004 Summer Olympics, were also inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame Feb. 27.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- A statue of abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth will stand in the U.S. Capitol alongside Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the Washington Afro American newspaper reported Feb. 26. The bust will be the first such artwork to honor an African American woman in the rotunda. Born into slavery, Truth has been remembered by generations for her 1851 speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” in which she remarked: “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”
- Ghana’s parliament has approved a domestic violence bill that makes abuse a legal offense, Voice of America reported Feb. 24. Introduced in 2002, the bill annuls a previous law that made domestic abuse “excusable offenses” against marriage partners. A similar effort to make marital rape a crime was deleted from the bill’s final version, but women’s rights activists hailed the bill as a step forward for Ghana, where 1 in 3 women have been victims of intimate partner violence.
- A 24 year-old female employee who was dismissed after being told that her plan to adopt a child would be “no bloody use” to her company has won her a gender discrimination case in Nottingham, England, the Guardian reported Feb. 27. Anna Columbeau, who worked for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, was dismissed because her boss believed she would need additional time off to care for her new child and orchestrated complaints to fire her, the tribunal found. The ruling was the first of its kind in England relating to an adoptive parent.
- The Kurdistan Women’s Union launched the Accelerated Learning School in Chamchamal, Iraq, for women who never had a chance to attend school, the Middle East Times reported Feb. 27. Starting with 25 students, the school’s certificate will be recognized by the Kurdish Ministry of Education, which is providing all textbooks, desks and other materials.
- Fifty Moroccan women became the first in any Muslim country to graduate as “mourishidat,” or female spiritual guides, the BBC reported Feb. 25. The mourishidat will lead religious discussions and advise their congregations, especially female members, but will not be allowed to lead prayers, a duty still reserved for men. The women graduated despite a March 16, 2003, bomb attack on the Morroccan government that killed 41 people in retaliation for allowing the women to study.
- A group of Saudi Arabian women will soon open a women-only hotel in Riyadh, the Russian News Agency reported Feb. 24. Women are currently prohibited from traveling without permission of a male family member or from checking into hotels alone; the new hotel will serve women, but they still must have permission to check in. The Arabian Aircraft Services Company has also hired its first five female employees to work at the company’s public counters in the women’s section at the Jeddah airport, the Asharq AlAwsat reported Feb. 21.
For more information:
Women’s Soccer Initiative:
“Irani Women Protest in Shadow of Nuclear Face-off”:
“GAO Says Plan-B Politics Trumped Science at FDA”:
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The Office of Women’s Health, a branch of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has taken a $1.2 million operating budget cut that portends significant losses in the area of women’s health research, the Washington Post reported Feb. 27.
“We fear this is the first step toward eliminating the Office of Women’s Health,” said Martha R. Nolan of the Society for Women’s Health Research. “We must not allow this office to be eliminated or reduced to an empty shell that has no program funding.”
The Office of Women’s Health funds research on biological differences between men and women to determine appropriate drug doses and treatments. Congress had budgeted $4 million for the office in 2007, but the Post reported the agency’s intention to withhold $1.2 million of those funds. Because the remaining $2.8 million has already been allocated for salaries, the withholding would effectively halt operations for the rest of the fiscal year.
In 2005 and 2006, the office was embroiled in controversy over its long-delayed approval of nonprescription sales of emergency contraception. Former office chief Dr. Susan Wood resigned her position in protest in September 2005 and alleged that political influence was interfering in the scientific review process.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- More than 1 in 4 U.S. women have HPV, the human papillomavirus that can cause cervical cancer, Medical News Today reported Feb. 28. Health researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say that only 3.4 percent of women have the two types of HPV that cause 70 percent of cancer cases. The remaining cases involve contagious but relatively harmless symptoms, such as genital warts, but the number of women who have HPV is greater than researchers initially estimated.
- On March 4, five Iranian women will face the judiciary system for “acting against national security by participating in an illegal gathering,” New York-based Human Rights Watch said Feb. 27. The women were arrested in Tehran for protesting on June 12 against Iran’s discriminatory laws against women. The security forces prevented hundreds of peaceful demonstrators from gathering and dozens were arrested.
- A report from the Chicago-based American Bar Association found that nearly half of minority female attorneys believe they are left out of networking opportunities, the Boston Herald reported March 1. Thirty percent believe they are overlooked for desirable assignments and 35 percent believe they have missed out on “client development and client relationship opportunities.” Less than 5 percent of white men reported similar experiences.
- In spite of the hundreds of Asian women who have come forward as victims of sex slavery by the Japanese military during World War II, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said this week that there is “no evidence” the women were coerced, CBS News reported March 1. Abe’s remark sparked outrage from “comfort women” activists and followed the testimony of victims in the U.S. Congress two weeks ago. Nationalist politicians in Japan are lobbying the government to alter the 1993 Kono Statement, in which the government first acknowledged that women had been coerced into brothels.
Toyin Adeyemi is an independent journalist based in New York City. Nouhad Moawad oversees Women’s eNews’ Arabic site.
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