cheers and jeers



thumb pointing up

For the first time, the Republican Party has named a woman to its national ticket after Sen. John McCain selected Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate Friday morning.

Palin, 44, was elected governor of the nation’s largest state in 2006, becoming the first woman to hold the office. A mother of five and former beauty queen, Palin finished second in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant. She will accept the nomination during the party’s national convention on Wednesday in St. Paul, Minn.

Palin referred to Democrats Geraldine Ferraro, the 1984 vice presidential nominee, and Sen. Hillary Clinton, during a press conference Friday. “It turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all,” she said.

A staunch social conservative, Palin is expected to help McCain shore up support among anti-choice Republicans because of her stand against abortion rights. Her selection also represents an effort to appeal to female voters both within the Republican Party and among disaffected Democrats disappointed by Clinton’s failed presidential bid.

While Palin’s selection was met with cheers among Republican advocacy groups she will not be warmly welcomed to the national stage by women’s rights advocates within the Democratic or independent folds. Ellen Malcolm, president of the pro-choice Democratic political action committee EMILY’s List, quickly issued a statement: “McCain clearly sees the power of women voters in this election but has just as clearly failed to support any of the issues that they care about. His choice for vice president only reinforces that failure.”

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • A coalition of 30 women from around the country led by former Wall Street executive Amy Siskind formed on Aug. 16 a nonpartisan political group to support female candidates called The New Agenda. “Our long-term goal is to cultivate and groom women to run for public office at all levels of government, including the presidency,” Siskind said in a press release. The New Agenda supports abortion rights but will not use the issue to determine support for a candidate, leaving abortion out of its platform. Other issues in the group’s platform include paid maternity leave, the Fair Pay Act, reducing domestic violence, affordable and available contraception and health care, and increasing financial support for female candidates.
  • Mexico’s highest court has upheld the right to legal abortion in Mexico City, which passed a municipal law in April 2007 to legalize the procedure if performed during the first 12 weeks, the Guardian reported Aug. 28. Elsewhere in the country, abortions are legal in cases of rape, risk to the woman’s life or severe malformation of the fetus but women are rarely able to receive an abortion even if they qualify. About 12,000 women have received legal abortions since the law was passed.
  • Sports4Peace, a nonprofit that helps children find athletic opportunities, has reached out to Iraqi girls, the Associated Press reported Aug. 26. In July six U.S. women, all former collegiate athletes, conducted a basketball training camp in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, for 60 girls who normally find it difficult to play because of travel dangers, hot weather and social customs. University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who has more wins than any other female coach in history, was also on hand to give pointers.
  • A Lebanese nongovernmental organization has re-launched a nationality campaign to reform citizenship laws in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Syria, the Daily Star reported Aug. 29. The goal is to reform the law so that women may pass their nationality and citizenship rights on to their family members.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel topped Forbes magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women list for the third year in a row. Sheila C. Bair, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, is second. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is No. 7, Argentina President Cristina Fernandez is No. 13, Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is No. 17 and Hillary Clinton is No. 28.


thumb pointing down

A powerful backlash against women’s equal rights and increasing social advancement is unfolding in India, the Washington Post reported Aug. 25. Over the past decade, women have increasingly found their place in the workplace, the commercial and technology sectors and in social settings.

Gender violence has become the fastest-growing crime in the world’s second most populous nation. India now ranks fifth in the world for the number of rapes, according to a United Nations study. (The United States is No. 1.) But fewer than 2 percent of Indian women report the crime because of heavy stigma.

Street harassment and molestation–known as “eve-teasing”–are rampant. Dowry violence still occurs, despite a national law banning the dowry custom. Every 43 minutes a woman is kidnapped.

“The latest statistics are terrifying. And it clearly points to male rage,” Shobhaa De, a novelist and social commentator told the Post. “Underneath our incredible social change, the Indian male is experiencing nothing short of a psychological frenzy.”

More News to Jeer This Week:

The Ladies Professional Golf Association in the United States issued a new language policy forcing athletes to learn English in order to compete in 2009. Of the 200 players participating in this year’s tournament, there are 121 international players from 26 countries, the London Free Press reported Aug. 28. The deputy commissioner of the tour, Libba Galloway, said that it was necessary for athletes to “communicate effectively with sponsors and fans” in order to succeed.


  • There are unconfirmed reports that Myanmar’s opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, is on hunger strike, the Guardian reported Aug. 26. Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, is protesting the nation’s military junta, which violently cracked down against monks and other pro-democracy protesters in demonstrations last year. Bags of food delivered to her house were not picked up; her supporters have not been allowed to meet with her. Two other people who live with her are also believed to be refusing food.
  • A man suspected of kidnapping reporter Jill Carroll and holding her hostage for three months in Iraq was arrested along with another Al Qaeda suspect on Aug. 24, the Christian Science Monitor reported. Carroll left the paper earlier this year to train as a firefighter. The suspect, Salim Abdallah Ashur al-Shujayri, is also believed to have been involved in the murder of British aid worker Margaret Hassan in 2004.

In Memoriam:

Dorothy “Del” Martin, a pioneer for lesbian rights and a founder of the domestic violence movement in the United States, died Wednesday in San Francisco at age 87, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Martin married her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, in June, shortly after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in a landmark suit in which the couple were plaintiffs. In 1955 Martin founded the lesbian rights group, Daughters of Bilitis, and became the first open lesbian to serve on the board of the National Organization for Women. Later she served on the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women and battled against psychiatrists who believed homosexuality was a mental illness. In 1976, Martin published the ground-breaking book “Battered Wives.”

“We would never have marriage equality in California if it weren’t for Del and Phyllis,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “They fought and triumphed in many battles, beginning when they first bought a home together in San Francisco in 1955.”

Jennifer Thurston is associate editor and Dominique Soguel is Arabic editor of Women’s eNews.

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