Bayer Schering Pharma announced the launch of the world’s first “natural” birth control pill, Qlaira, in the U.K. The pill uses natural plant resources instead of synthetic hormones, various news agencies reported Monday. Bayer says benefits include shorter periods and less pain and cramps. Dr. Anni Evans, a women’s health specialist at Bristol Sexual Health Centre, expressed hope the new product would allay safety concerns associated with conventional birth control. “I am concerned about the number of women who do not use effective contraception because of fears of risks or side-effects,” she said.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- Anna Julia Cooper, African-American rights activist best known her collection of essays “A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South” is immortalized on a postage stamp, beginning June 11. Cooper, whose life spanned the slavery era to the civil rights era, was a feminist, educator, scholar and activist.
- A month-long STD-prevention campaign targeting truck drivers is starting in Chandigarh, an Indian city north of New Delhi, Asian News International reported on June 8. The “condom campaign,” which features free condom distribution, relies on magic shows, interactive one-to-one sessions, street plays, condom fairs, poster exhibitions and films screenings. The campaign is being organized by Yuysatta, a non-profit organization in the city of Chandigarh, and the government’s AIDS Control Society. Truck drivers are being targeted because of their high illiteracy rates, which hinder them from understanding many conventional awareness campaigns.
- Zimbabwe joined a regional anti-HIV campaign on Wednesday that emphasizes the potential harm of multiple and concurrent sexual partnerships, Africa News reported on June 6. Cultural and social norms do not disapprove of these partnerships; in Zimbabwe it is even often acceptable and even expected for men to have more than one sex partner. However, this practice is introducing more people to the rapidly spreading HIV infection. The OneLove campaign aims to reduce the amount of multiple and concurrent sexual partnerships in hopes of reducing the amount of new HIV cases.
- On Tuesday Zambia launched guidelines designed to standardize the provision of abortion services. A major reason, according to the country’s health ministry: to improve the safety of abortions for low-income women.
Fighting in northwest Pakistan has displaced numerous pregnant women and new mothers, Pakistan Newswire reported June 8. Inadequate health care and nutrition and the stress of the conflict and housing displacement are subjecting new mothers, babies, and pregnant women to serious health risks, Islamic Relief medical teams warn. Approximately 69,000 pregnant women are in need of healthcare among the displaced population of 2.5 million.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- Two female U.S. journalists were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in one of North Korea’s prison camps on June 8 after being arrested in March. Euna Lee and Laura Ling were convicted for illegally passing into North Korea while they were working on a refugee story along the China-North Korea border. Obama has said the U.S. is doing everything they can to secure the women’s safety, BBC reported.
- Women of color in every state continue to fare worse than white women on a variety of measures of health, health care access and other social determinants of health, a June 10 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds. The study looks at 25 indicators of health disparity, including diabetes, heart disease, AIDS and cancer, as well as insurance coverage and health screenings. The study found that American Indian and Alaska Native women had some of the worst outcomes on many health indicators, often twice as high as white women.
- Domestic violence in New Mexico is increasing, and many blame the economy. Fourteen percent more felony domestic violence cases were referred to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same time last year, reported the Albuquerque Journal on June 8. “It seems likely that people feeling the economic pinch are buying alcohol and drinking at home instead of paying more for drinks at bars,” Pat Davis, the district attorney, told the Albuquerque Journal. “Then after drinking at home, they are venting their financial troubles on family members.”
- In Asia, many of the poor women who left rural areas for urban manufacturing jobs are being hurt by the global economic downturn, ABC News radio Australia reported June 10. Weak export demand has caused producers of garments, vehicles, electronics and other goods to lay off these workers, 80 percent of whom are female.
- Seventy-nine percent of low-income workers–the majority of them women–do not have a single paid sick day, a new study from the Human Impact Partner, an advocacy organization, found. Staying home sick or to care for ill family members means losing income and risking job loss, the organization asserted.
- Operation Rescue, a pro-life group based in Kansas, announced its interest in buying the health clinic run by the slain abortion provider, Dr. George R. Tiller. Troy Newman, the leader of the pro-life group expressed interest in turning it into a memorial or museum for the lives ended by abortion, the New York Times reported. A lawyer for the Tiller family characterized the proposal as an irreverent publicity stunt.
Kayla Hutzler, a journalism major at Manhattan College, is an editorial intern with Women’s eNews.
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