Cheers and Jeers



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The New York-based Granny Peace Brigade is campaigning to close all United States military bases around the world. Members of the anti-war group marched and sang in Manhattan Nov. 21, the Women’s International Perspective reported. The demilitarization campaign started after delegates from Japan, Germany, Italy and South Korea, called for bases closures during the Women’s International Democratic Federation Summit held March 6 in Caracas, Venezuela.

Code Pink co-founders Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin and retired army Col. Ann Wright traveled to Iran for a week-long citizen diplomacy trip to foster peaceful ties between the United States and Iran. The anti-war women’s group also launched its “War is SO over” campaign on Nov. 12 to press for an end to the war in Iraq.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Sheikh Fehmi Naji el-Imam, an influential Muslim cleric and the mufti of Australia, has proposed ending gender segregation in mosques, the Age reported Nov. 22. Naji el-Imam’s proposal is a response to Muslim women’s anger at entrenched discrimination in a country where most mosques have barriers between men’s and women’s sections.
  • Ten Taliban militants were arrested for the Nov. 12 acid attacks on 15 schoolgirls in Afghanistan that also burned to death a 23-year-old teacher, the Associated Press reported Nov. 25.
  • Desiree Rogers, 49, a Harvard-educated Chicago businesswomen, friend of Michelle and President-elect Barack Obama, and a fundraiser for the Obama campaign, will be named the first African American White House social secretary.
  • Girls’ arrests dropped over the last decade, according to a Department of Justice report, USA Today reported Nov. 24. The number of girls under 18 arrested for aggravated assault fell 17 percent from 1998 to 2007, down from peak levels in 2004, when girls accounted for 30 percent of juvenile arrests.
  • Civil rights and racial justice should be the Obama administration’s top priorities, according to three-fourths of 18-to-29-year-old women surveyed by the YWCA in a Nov. 24 report, the Associated Press reported. Younger women are more concerned than older women with health care, education, answering the loan crisis, affordable housing and HIV-AIDS. Among all 1,000 women surveyed, 92 percent said they want the financial crisis to be the No. 1 priority in Obama’s first year.


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The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was marked by the United Nations this week to address persistent rates of gender-based violence. Around the world, 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetimes.

“Violence against women is still a huge problem all across the world,” said Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, in a statement. “In many conflict situations it is endemic, and still grossly neglected by almost all key actors.”

The number of cases of violence against women in the Philippines rose 17 percent in 2007, according to a Nov. 26 national police report. A petition with 30,000 signatures in Australia demands that the federal government concentrate on ending gender violence, the Age reported. In Canada, the YWCA is leading an effort to call on the government to develop a national strategy to end violence against women, CanWest News Service reported.

International agencies and organizations also mark the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, recognizing the increasing feminization of the disease. Currently, 33.2 million people live with HIV; 95 percent live in the developing world. In 2007, 2.5 million people became infected. Women now account for half of all infected people worldwide, and nearly 60 percent of infected people in sub-Saharan Africa.

One study from Harvard University estimated that the premature deaths of 365,000 people could have been prevented if South Africa had provided antiretroviral drugs to people, including pregnant women, the New York Times reported Nov. 26.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Out of 425 Malawi female candidates, 225 are withdrawing from races in the primary elections to select candidates for 2009 parliamentary polling. Female candidates have been victims of intimidation tactics such as shoving, insults, derogatory song lyrics and pelting stones, the Inter Press Service reported Nov. 24.
  • The National Assembly of Burundi criminalized homosexuality on Nov. 12, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Those convicted of homosexual acts face fines and prison sentences from three months to two years.
  • Public policy focuses too much on a woman’s marital status, conclude University of Maryland sociologists in a study published in the December issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family. Low-income single mothers spend almost as much time–90 percent–caring for their children as married women do, the researchers found. But the current policy focus on marital status and “time-poor” single mothers overlooks their focus on children despite having fewer resources available to care for them.
  • Lawmakers in Uruguay failed to gather enough signatures to override a presidential veto of an abortion decriminalization bill that would have ended the nation’s 70-year-old abortion ban, the AFP reported Nov. 20.
  • Yevgeny Zubov, the judge in the trial of three men accused of murdering Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya defied calls to step down Nov. 26, the Guardian reported. The petition came after Zubov closed the trial to the public and announced a 10-day adjournment before allowing journalists back in. Politkovskaya’s supporters believe she was murdered for her biting investigations of the Russian government and the Chechen war.


  • Following voters’ rejection of same-sex marriage rights in California, lesbian and gay rights activists are turning their attention to other issues, USA Today reported Nov. 24. The California Supreme Court is considering a lawsuit to overturn the election result, but in the meantime activists will concentrate on passing a federal hate-crimes bill; lobbying for funding to investigate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity; and for a federal ban on job discrimination against lesbian, gay and transgender workers.
  • Martine Aubry, the female mayor of Lille, France, since 2001, and a former minister of labor and social affairs, has been elected to lead France’s opposition Socialist Party, making her a potential presidential candidate in 2012, the BBC reported Nov. 22. Aubrey competed in a tight race with Segolene Royal, who lost a presidential election to Nicolas Sarkozy in May 2007.
  • Iulia Anghelescu is a freelance writer in New York

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