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Leymah Gbowee was one of two recipients of the $500,000 Gruber Women’s Rights Prize on Oct. 29 in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the home of the founders of the prize, Peter and Patricia Gruber.

Gbowee is a Women’s eNews 21 Leader 2008 and is credited with ending the civil strife in Liberia by uniting Christian and Muslim women in peaceful protests. Her work directly led to the election of Ellen Johnson Surleaf as Liberia’s president–the first female president in Africa.

The Women’s Legal Centre in South Africa also received the $500,000 prize–the largest prize for women’s rights–which they will share with Gbowee.

Alison Tilley and Basetsana Molebatsi accepted the prize on behalf of the legal center. Molebasti emphasized the center’s work in bringing lawsuits that clarify women’s rights under the nation’s new constitution, such as giving all wives in polygamous marriages, as well as their children, the right to inherit marital property.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Girl Scouts of the USA, the nonprofit CARE, Seventeen magazine and The Documentary Group, which produces documentary films, on Oct. 29 announced the launch of a partnership to run "The Power of Girls," a program to connect girls worldwide and help them mobilize on issues such as girls’ education and leadership.
  • A bill in the Philippines seeks to put birth control and other free-or low-cost reproductive health services in the reach of 70 percent of its population, The New York Times reported Oct. 25.
  • The first women-only bank opened in Najaf, Iraq, to cater to the financial needs of Muslim women, Reuters reported Oct. 27.
  • Margot Kaessmann, was elected as the first woman to head a German Protestant Church, Reuters reported Oct. 28. She is the third woman to lead a major Christian church.
  • Two Kuwaiti lawmakers won’t have to wear Islamic head coverings, Kuwait’s top court ruled Oct. 28, Reuters reported. "This is not just a victory for myself and my colleague Rola, but a victory for the constitution," said lawmaker Aseel al-Awadhi.
  • Pregnant women can safely receive swine flu vaccines, according to the World Health Organization, Sky News reported Oct. 30.
  • A domestic abuse hotline was launched in Turkmenistan in mid-September to make it "more convenient and comfortable" for victims to seek advice and support, Silobreaker reported Oct. 20. Although domestic violence in the country is widespread, official statistics of its prevalence are unavailable.




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Six suspects–including three juveniles–have been identified and arrested, and will be tried as adults in connection with the two-and-a-half-hour-long gang rape of a 15-year-old California teen, ABC News.com reported Oct. 30. Police have said there were 20 bystanders, possibly filming or photographing the attack.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Muslim women in West Aceh, Indonesia, will be banned from wearing jeans or tight trousers, in accordance with a pending regulation, Jakarta Globe reported Oct. 27. If seen wearing such attire, "their pants will be cut up on the spot and replaced with a skirt provided free of charge by the government of West Aceh," an official was quoted as saying.
  • Almost 96 percent of pregnant women in the United Kingdom lack any choice in selecting a birthing facility, Mail Online reported in its coverage of a study released Oct. 26 by the National Childbirth Trust. Nearly 90 percent of women live in areas that don’t offer the possibility of at-home birth with a midwife and 40 percent live in areas without adequate access to both a birth center and an obstetric unit in a hospital.
  • Women represent 50 percent of part-time attorneys and have been disproportionately hurt by job cuts tied to the recession, Reuters reported in its coverage of an annual survey released Oct. 26 by the National Association of Women Lawyers.
  • Despite high U.S. spending on maternal health, American women are more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than women in other developed countries, BBC News reported Oct. 26, citing research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Health Organization.
  • The recession has left a disproportionate number of single women–50 percent– without employer-sponsored insurance, an Oct. 27 report by the Center for American Progress finds.
  • There has been a 120 percent increase over the past five years in the number of incidents of violence against women on mainstream U.S. television, a report by the Parents Television Council found, Reuters reported Oct. 28. The report also showed a 400 percent increase in the portrayal of female teens as victims. The council said in the article that "it was concerned that U.S. television was contributing to an atmosphere in which violence directed at women was viewed as normal."
  • More American women–12.4 percent–don’t get enough sleep, compared to 9.9 percent of men, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Press International reported Oct. 29.
  • David Von Haden, accused of taking nearly 60 photos up women’s skirts, was freed on a $500 signature bond, the Associated Press reported Oct. 29. Haden allegedly admitted taking similar pictures for two months on his camera and cell phone. He faces five counts of disorderly conduct in Eau Claire, Wis.
  • There are female executive officers in only 44 of Massachusetts’s 100 largest public companies, according to the Boston Club’s 2009 Census, Reuters reported Oct. 30. This is down from female execs in 53 of the biggest 100 public companies in 2007. The Census also found that 38 percent of the companies’ boards are all-male.


  • New York officials and community members marched to City Hall in the rain on Oct. 28, chanting and juggling umbrellas and signs saying "Save Public Child Care." Demonstrators were protesting cutbacks in day care centers that they said had pushed 3,300 children into already overcrowded public schools and left as many as 1,900 without any place to go.
  • A study of 1,656 obese pregnant women by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, found that 75 percent of the women who gained over 15 pounds during pregnancy, retained 40 percent of the weight a year after delivery, The Boston Globe reported Oct. 26.
  • Women are more likely to survive a heart attack; but middle-aged women are increasingly at risk, according to a survey of over 4,000 men and women, U.S. News reported Oct. 27.
  • Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden took the lead in world gender equality, according to an Oct. 27 ranking by the World Economic Forum, a nonprofit Switzerland-based group, Reuters reported. The U.S. fell four spots from last year and stands at 31st place.
  • Women in England and Wales who conceive in their 30s and 40s have a 70 percent increased risk of having babies with Down syndrome, AFP reported Oct. 27.
  • An in-depth study of 21 Australian moms found that socializing with other mothers and children made them feel guilty and more likely to find ‘flaws’ in their parenting, Reuters reported Oct. 29.
  • Seventy-seven percent of women–a 16-point increase from last year–put more emphasis on retirement concerns and managing everyday expenses, but only 41 percent of women are using long-term strategies, according to a report by AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, Reuters reported Oct. 29. The online survey included 368 women.

Kimberly St. Louis is an editorial intern at Women’s eNews through the New York Arts Program. She is a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University studying journalism and politics and government.