Cheers and Jeers



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  • The New York Times Magazine devoted its August 23 issue to “saving the world’s women.” Among the essays championing this subject were Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s “The Women’s Crusade” — an excerpt from their forthcoming book, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” The husband-and-wife reporting team argues that females hold the key to eradicating poverty and extremism. They tell the story of Saima Muhammad, a Pakistani woman who went from battered wife to successful entrepreneur with the help of a microfinance organization. Meanwhile, Dexter Filkins chronicled Afghan girls pursuing an education in “A School Bus for Shamsia.” He cited the gains–from banishment in 2001 to an enrollment of more than 2 million eight years later–as well as the risks they faced in the name of learning. Gerald Marzorati said in his editor’s letter that focusing on this cause was an opportunity to shine a light not just on the obstacles, but on overcoming them.
    • Jaycee Lee Dugard was reunited with her family in Concord, Calif., on August 27–18 years after a registered sex offender abducted her as she walked to a school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Her stepfather, Carl Probyn, told CBS’ “Early Show” on August 28 that her family members met with Dugard, now 29: the two daughters she bore with suspect Phillip Garrido; her mother, Terry Probyn; and her younger sister, Shana. “She sounds like she’s okay,” Probyn said in a separate interview with ABC News. “I hope she’s been well-treated this entire 18 years.” During that time, she endured living in an elaborate backyard compound of sheds, tents, and outbuildings with rudimentary, camp-like bath facilities and power being supplied by electrical cord. Garrido and his wife, Nancy Garrido, of Antioch, Calif., now face kidnapping and rape charges.
    • A prominent priest whose support for women’s ordination has him in trouble with the Catholic Church ratcheted up his confrontation with the hierarchy on August 23, calling the church’s refusal to ordain women a “spiritual assassination.” Rev. Roy Bourgeois of Weston, Mass., told the Boston Globe that he finds solace in knowing that he’s not the only priest who wants women to play a bigger role in practicing the faith. “If they choose to kick me out of the church because I believe that men and women are equal, so be it,” he said. “I will never be at peace being in any organization that would exclude others.” Bourgeois is the first Catholic priest in good standing to participate in an unsanctioned ordination ceremony held by advocates of women’s ordination. As a result, his status remains unclear because he has had no formal communication from his order, the Maryknoll Fathers, or from the Vatican, which last fall told him he would face excommunication if he did not recant his position.
    • The Connecticut General Assembly’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women called upon Congress on August 24 to ratify the United Nations’ treaty to eliminate discrimination against women. Considered an international Women’s Bill of Rights, the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1979; the United States remains one of only eight countries that have yet to endorse the accord. Countries that accept CEDAW agree to incorporate into their legal system the principle than men and women are equal; abolish discriminatory laws; write into law measures to prohibit gender discrimination and ensure equal access for women to political service, representation, education, employment and health. “Failure to ratify is inconsistent with U.S. foreign policy, which recognizes many human rights treaties, including those concerning genocide, racism, torture, and child labor,” the commission’s Executive Director Teresa C. Younger said in a press statement. “Civil societies around the world have reached consensus on CEDAW, and it is high time America did, too.”
    • LATINA Style Magazine unveiled its “LATINA Style 50 Report” for 2009 on August 24, with health care provider Kaiser Permanente named company of the year. Now in its 12th year, this annual evaluation lists the 50 best companies for Latinas to work for in the United States and sets the standard for identifying corporations that provide the best career opportunities. Access to mentoring programs, alternative work policies, dependent and child care support, employee benefits, job retraining, affinity groups and Hispanic relations are among the areas assessed by the magazine. “Latinas’ climb to the upper echelons of the corporate ladder has been severely impaired by the harsh economic conditions in today’s market. Their lack of seniority has put them at a disproportionate disadvantage in the implementation of retention efforts,” LATINA Style President and CEO Robert E. Bard said in a press statement. “We commend the companies that, in spite of the economic and market pressures, have made significant efforts to maintain or even increase Latina representation in their upper ranks.”


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  • The president of Mali announced on August 27 that he would not sign the country’s new family law that gives greater rights to women, instead sending it back to parliament for review. Amadou Toumani Toure, who supports the statute, told BBC News that he’s taking this course of action for the sake of national unity. Muslim groups have been protesting against the law ever since parliament adopted it earlier this month, calling it the work of the devil and against their religion. One provision that was deemed controversial is women no longer being required to obey their husbands; instead, husbands and wives owe each other “loyalty and protection.” Other stipulations included women obtaining greater inheritance rights and raising the minimum age for girls to marry (in most circumstances) to 18 years old.