Gates Aids Farmers; Raped Teens Denied Abortions

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The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will prioritize female farmers in Africa and Asia through its agricultural program in an effort to reduce poverty and boost agriculture, the Associated Press reported June 24. The foundation’s program gives $800 million in grants yearly on global health. In Africa 80 percent of food production is controlled by women; in South Asia 60 percent of food production is.

The announcement came a day before Bill Gates stepped away from his 33-year tenure as the founder of Microsoft. Once the wealthiest man in the world, Gates will now focus on the foundation’s charitable work, particularly the fight against poverty and malaria, the Economist reported June 26.

More News to Cheer This Week:


  • On June 23, President George W. Bush nominated Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody to take over the Army Materiel Command as a four-star general, which will make her the first U.S. women to reach the high military ranking. The command is responsible for equipping and arming all Army soldiers. Currently there are 57 active-duty female generals in the armed forces, five of whom are lieutenant generals.


  • Nepal’s 601-seat parliament met for the first time at the end of May with 191 female members, the Inter Press Service reported June 24. The parliament recently dissolved the monarchy following elections in December that implemented a 33 percent quota for women. Thirty women won seats, and 161 women were allocated seats, increasing their ranks significantly from just 12 female members in 1999.


  • The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution June 19 calling rape a war crime and component of genocide, the Associated Press reported. Sexual violence has been widespread in conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, while in some cases U.N. peacekeepers have faced charges as well.


  • The number of states participating in the Bush’s administration push for abstinence education is down 40 percent over the past two years, as skeptical states are rejecting millions of federal dollars, the Associated Press reported June 24. Around $50 million has been budgeted for 2008, and currently 28 states are in the program. Iowa and Arizona are the latest states to refuse their share of federal grants beginning with the next fiscal year. A congressional study last year concluded the programs were ineffective.


  • Sixty percent of U.S. Reform Jewish rabbinical students and 84 percent of those studying to become cantors are female, reported the Boston Globe June 22. Girls are also outnumbering boys 2-to-1 in youth group programs and summer camps.


  • On June 23, Dallas archeologist Kathleen Gilmore became the first woman to receive the Texas Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, the state’s highest honor for historical work, the Dallas Morning News reported June 26. Gilmore, 93, had first been a geologist for 25 years and now is known for discovering the historic site where French explorer La Salle built Fort St. Louis.


  • Women’s eNews Tokyo correspondent Catherine Makino will become president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan July 1. The club defends freedom of the press and promotes friendly relations between Japan and other countries. Makino is the second woman in the club’s 63-year history to be president.




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Two separate rape cases that left an 11-year-old Romanian and 14-year-old Polish teen pregnant have raised controversies in their countries, the Irish Times reported June 18.

The Romanian girl was initially denied an abortion in her home country because her pregnancy was not confirmed until after the 14th week, the time limit for the procedure in Romania unless the fetus is deformed or the mother’s life is in danger. The girl was initially afraid to report her teen uncle, who allegedly raped and threatened her, but a medical panel would not allow an abortion because the crime was not proven. Now 21 weeks pregnant, her family decided to take her to Britain, where abortion is legal until the 24th week, even though the Romanian government relented in the end, the AP reported June 27.

In Poland, the 14-year-old teen was raped by an older school acquaintance. Poland allows abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy only in cases where the woman’s life is in danger, the fetus is deformed, or pregnancy is the result of a crime. She is now in her 11th week but anti-choice groups are pressuring clinics to not provide an abortion, saying she has been coerced into the decision by her mother and pro-choice activists.

More News to Jeer This Week:


  • A June 25 Supreme Court ruling in a domestic violence case will make it more difficult to convict abusers who murder their intimate partners. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the testimony of a woman provided shortly before she was murdered by her boyfriend had to be excluded from consideration because the man did not have the ability to confront his accuser in court, the AP reported.


  • On June 26, the Bush administration announced it will withhold $39.7 million authorized by Congress for the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, for the seventh year in a row. Since 2002, the U.S. administration has withheld a total of $325 million, charging that the U.N. agency supports coercive abortions in China as part of that nation’s one-child policy, according to the American Friends for UNFPA, a nonpartisan group that supports the agency.


  • In 2008 among Associated Press member papers, 94 percent of sports editors, 90 percent of assistant sports editors, 94 percent of sports columnists, 91 percent of reporters and 94 percent of copy editors and designers were male. The lack of female sports journalists resulted in an F-grade for gender on the latest report card from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. The newspapers’ sports departments, which are dominated by whites, received an overall C grade for diversity.


  • The number of baby girls born and surviving in India are at a historic low as female fetuses are aborted or baby girls left to die, the BBC reported June 21. A report by the British charity ActionAid, found that under "normal" circumstances there should be about 950 girls for every 1,000 boys. But there were fewer than 800 girls for 1,000 boys in three of five states where data were collected.


  • New York women’s economic state is declining and they are more likely to be poor now than in 1989, according to a June 26 report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The report examined how women in the state fare in employment, earnings, and social and economic autonomy and placed the state 40th in the country, dropping 10 places since 1989.


  • Hana Adbi, 22, an Iranian activist who was involved in a campaign to gather a million signatures for greater women’s rights in the country, has been sentenced to five years in prison, Reuters reported June 21. She was accused of "illegal gathering with the intention of committing a crime against the nation’s security."


  • Blue Shield, a California-based health insurance company, will charge women in the state higher rates for health insurance starting July 1, the Los Angeles Times reported June 22. The company says women are more prone to accidents.


The Supreme Court struck down Louisiana’s death penalty for child rape June 24 in a 5-4 decision, the AP reported June 26. The case weighed whether capital punishment could be imposed in a rape case without the victim’s death.

Besa Luci, a native of Kosovo, is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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