Female police officers from India deployed as United Nations peacekeepers in Liberia since January have been awarded Peacekeeping Medals for their work in emergency situations and crime prevention. Alan Doss, a special representative for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, told the women’s force, “Your presence is an encouragement for Liberian women to come forward and help rebuild their country by participating in the forces of law and order.”

Also, at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Aug. 13, the secretary-general inducted 12 women into the U.N.’s first all-female class of recruits for the U.N.’s security force. The U.N. General Assembly has set a goal of building a security staff that is 50 percent female.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Between 77 and 90 percent of girls in Australian secondary schools have received the HPV vaccine Gardasil, the Melbourne Herald reported Aug. 17. The government has funded free vaccines for the next two years for women aged 18 to 26. Gardasil is 100 percent effective in stopping two strains of HPV that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.
  • Half of the 18 judicial appointments made by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Aug. 20 were women, a substantial increase from the eight out of 26 women named to Superior Court judgeships in June, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Aug. 21. Seventy-three percent of California’s judges are men.
  • Aug. 24 marked the first anniversary of over-the-counter availability of Plan B emergency contraception to women 18 and older.
  • India will launch its Department of Women and Child Development Nov. 14 to handle women’s issues and child protection and justice services, the Hindu reported Aug. 21. The new department will control 31 agencies. Meanwhile, the Bharuch state government is recruiting female employees for the first time to patrol dense woods and forests to catch poachers and timber smugglers.
  • Dr. Pauleen Lane, former mayor of Trafford in Manchester, England, won a discrimination case over being banned from breastfeeding her newborn son in the mayoral vehicle during her term in 2005, the BBC reported Aug. 23. Lane had decided to breastfeed her son for a year but was asked to take her own car, despite being on official duty, whenever her baby accompanied her. Lane will donate the $14,000 settlement to charity.
  • Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy, two-time Olympic soccer gold medalists and teammates, will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in New York on Aug. 26, the Associated Press reported. “One of the things we took tremendous pride in when we were playing is that they now had role models, unlike us,” said Foudy, who was part of the inaugural Women’s World Cup team in 1991 with Hamm. This year’s competition will be held from Sept. 10 to 30 in China.

For more information:

“Liberia’s Market Women Test President’s Promise”:

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Aug. 20 Sudan report

War Resisters League, Interview with Grace Paley:

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An Aug. 20 report from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights detailed the rapes of Darfur women by soldiers and government militias and said the government of Sudan failed to investigate the crimes, the News.com.au Web site reported. Women and daughters were raped in front of their family members and were forced to cook and to serve food to their abductors but could only eat leftovers.

The report urges the Sudanese government to protect women and children from gender-based violence, which is rampant in the war-torn region. More than 200,000 people have been killed in the conflict and 2.5 million have been displaced.

In an attack on the village of Deribat in December, for example, militiamen subjected about 50 women to multiple rapes and abducted children; 36 civilians were also killed in their homes, the report found.

The report called for an independent investigative body to look into the crimes.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Twenty percent of 1,114 women in the U.S. Air Force show at least one major symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder after deployment in Iraq, U.S. News and World Report reported Aug. 14. A University of Michigan study linked PTSD to family-work conflict; women who experience higher levels of conflict had more symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Muslim women who cover their heads or faces with the veil face difficulties finding jobs, Reuters reported Aug. 21. In Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia women with the niqab, which reveals only the eyes, rarely find jobs, whereas women who wear only a headscarf fare better. In Turkey, secular laws bar head coverings in the workplace. And in the United States, women with the niqab are generally not welcomed in the workplace, even though laws do not prohibit the veil.
  • A Ugandan government survey found that 70 percent of women and about 60 percent of men believe it is sometimes justified for a man to beat his wife, the New Vision newspaper reported Aug 19. In the same survey, it was found that 60 percent of maternal deaths occur within six weeks of delivery but less than one-quarter of mothers receive postpartum care within the critical first two days. Of deliveries, 42 percent are attended by a skilled provider and 23 percent by a traditional healer.