Milwaukee Voters Support Workers; Women Lose Jobs

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thumb pointing upVoters in Milwaukee overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum Tuesday that requires paid sick leave for workers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Nov. 4. Sixty-nine percent of voters said yes to the measure, which was spearheaded by 9to5, the National Association of Working Women.

Milwaukee is the third city in the nation–after San Francisco and Washington, D.C.–to approve a paid leave measure even though it was strongly opposed by the mayor and business leaders, who said it would stifle job creation. The new law requires employers to provide nine paid sick days, but permits businesses with less than 10 employees provide only five. Sick leave can also be used to handle medical or legal issues stemming from domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

"We knew this was an issue that resonated with people in the city who understand it’s so important for families to have the ability to work and care for their families," said Amy Stear, director of 9to5.

More News to Cheer This Week:


  • Two prominent women have been mentioned as possible nominees to head the Treasury Department when President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January, according to news reports. One is Sheila Bair, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures bank deposits up to $250,000. The other is Laura D’Andrea Tyson, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton.


    Tyson appeared in an Obama press conference Friday with the rest of his economic transition team. Other women on the team are Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan; Ann Mulcahy, the chairman and CEO of Xerox andPenny Pritzker, CEO of Classic Residence by Hyatt.

    Among men mentioned for the post is Larry Summers, the former president of Harvard University who resigned after suggesting that women were not as successful in math and science because of innate differences between the sexes.


  • On Nov. 5 Tzvia Greenfield became the first ultra-Orthodox woman in the Israeli Knesset as a member of the Meretz Party, the online Web site Ynetnews reported. "I see myself as a pioneer to be followed by many other people, especially women who want to break through the rules of separation in Israeli society," she said.


  • Pakistan approved the first legislative bill to protect women against workplace harassment and plan to offer victims a special federal official to listen to their complaints, Associated France-Presse reported Nov. 6. The bill also proposed to increase sentences of offenders.


  • Eight Indian tribes in Humboldt County, California, are joining forces with state and local law enforcement agencies to address domestic violence and sexual abuse in their communities, the Eureka Times-Standard reported Nov. 2. Native American women suffer disproportionately high rates of violence and rape, and human rights groups have condemned jurisdictional discrepancies among police agencies and lack of enforcement as causes.


  • The Yemeni government is reviewing child marriage laws after three young girls complained to courts for being forced into marriage and sought divorces, the BBC reported Nov. 6. Arwa, who was sold by her father at age 9, was granted a divorce by the court.


  • Somali women are holding business meetings in support groups in lawless Mogadishu despite grave safety risks, the Inter Press Service reported Nov. 1. The 780 women come largely from the Banadir neighboring region and can travel because they are not affiliated with clans. "Without the participation of women, Mogadishu’s war economy could not have survived the ongoing conflict," said Shamso Abdulle, who heads the Banadir Businesswomen’s Association.


  • Female and male athletes will receive equal prize money at the Winter X Games to be held in Aspen, Colo., in January, the Aspen Times reported Oct. 29. The ESPN television network, which considers itself a leader in promoting women’s sports, made the announcement after meeting with women’s groups. The prize amounts have not been set yet.


  • Tennis legend Billie Jean King has been named a global mentor for gender equality by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. To mark the occasion, King traveled to a tournament in Doha, Qatar, the AFP reported Nov. 6, saying that she believes that women playing tennis in conservative Muslim societies will bring about gradual improvements for women’s rights.


  • Ben Barry, founder of a modeling agency, received a Canada Governor General’s award for advancing the cause of women and redefining beauty in a healthier body image, the Ottawa Citizen reported Nov. 6. Mair Verthuy, a retired Montreal French literature professor who established the first North American women’s studies program, also won the award, the Canadian Gazette reported Nov. 6.


thumb pointing downJob losses in the wake of the recent economic collapse were concentrated among women, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C. At the end of October, the number of unemployed adult females rose from 3.3 million to 3.6 million, a 9 percent increase, according to the Nov. 7 report. The number of unemployed men jumped from 4.8 million to 5 million, a 4 percent rise.

In other words, 315,000 women lost their jobs over the past month, and 197,000 men did, according to Vicky Lovell, a director of employment and work-life programs at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C. Lovell suspects one reason for the disproportionate effect on women is because of poor sales in the retail sector of the economy, where women comprise a bulk of the low-wage work force. "Women are really being hurt there," she said.

More News to Jeer This Week:


  • Anti-choice activists who promoted the abortion ban ballot initiative in South Dakota and the amendment to define fertilized eggs as people in Colorado–both soundly rejected by voters on Tuesday–have vowed to try again, Bloomberg reported Nov. 7. And proponents of a parental notification measure in California–also defeated by voters–will try again too, the Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 6. Internal divisions among anti-choice groups contributed to the three measures’ defeats, the Gannett News Service reported Nov. 7. Some groups opposed the South Dakota measure because it included exceptions to the ban; other groups quibbled over timing and strategy.


  • The Somali stoned to death for adultery on Oct. 20 was not a 23-year old woman as was widely reported at the time, according to the United Nations, Reuters reported Nov. 4. UNICEF officials said that she was 13 and had been raped by three men who attacked her while she was walking to visit her grandmother in Mogadishu. She was then charged with adultery and sentenced to death.


  • Iraqi refugess who have been raped continue to face dire circumstances in Jordan, according to a Nov. 4 field report from the Women’s Commission of the International Rescue Committee, a New York human rights group. Abused children and women do not talk for fear of death, according to interviewed refugees. "Rape is a death sentence," said one.


  • A Brazilian line of lingerie equipped with a GPS tracking system has been described as a "modern chastity belt for insecure men" by outraged women’s rights activists, the London Daily Mail reported Nov. 3.


  • Onerous paperwork and high costs may be contributing to declines in the number of parents who are paying the "nanny tax" to cover the employment of domestic workers, the Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 5. Even though household employment has risen, tax filings fell 10 percent between 2002 and 2006.

Iulia Anghelescu, Allison Stevens, Dominique Soguel and Jennifer Thurston contributed to this report.

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