More News to Cheer This Week:
- Amanda Simpson made history this week when she became the first-ever presidential appointee who is transgender, Air America reported Jan. 4. Simpson will serve as a senior technical adviser at the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.
- A former test pilot and one-time congressional candidate, Simpson’s most recent job was as the deputy director in advanced technology development at Raytheon Missile Systems in Arizona. Simpson underwent her transition while employed at Raytheon.
- The U.N. Refugee Agency in Chad is identifying pregnant women in refugee camps who have undergone female genital mutilation and cutting, in order to better prepare for potential complications, according to the agency and its medical partners, the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network reported Jan. 6. The agency is tackling the issue in the camps to address the health implications of female genital mutilation and cutting, as well as to prevent new cutting.
- Since September 2009, heath clinic workers at the Djabal camp in eastern Chad started recording how many prenatal patients had been cut. Aid workers are not only seeing the long-term health impact of female genital mutilation and cutting, but also observing that girls are still being cut in the camps. Health nongovernmental organizations recorded nearly 60 incidences of cutting in refugee camps in 2009.
- The revised European Union’s Directive on Parental Leave will give each working parent the right to at least four months leave after the birth or adoption of a child (up from three months now), according the EU’s web site.
After the political agreement by the EU council this week, the new directive will be formally adopted in the coming months. Member states will then have two years to transpose the new rights into national law.
At least one of the four months cannot be transferred to the other parent–meaning it will be lost if not taken–offering incentives to fathers to take the leave. The new directive also provides for better protection against discrimination and a smoother return to work. It puts into effect an agreement between European employers and trade union organizations.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- More Afghan women are choosing suicide to escape the violence and brutality of their daily lives, says a new human rights report prepared by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department, reported New Brunswick’s The Daily Gleaner on Jan. 8.
The 2008 annual assessment shows a grim reality for Afghan women, as rape, domestic violence and so-called “honor” killings are part of the violence women and girls commonly face. Despite rising public awareness among Afghans and international condemnation the violence continues, spurring more women to turn to suicide. For example, the director of a burn unit at a hospital in the province of Herat reported that in 2008 more than 80 women tried to kill themselves by setting themselves on fire, many of them in the early 20s. Many of those women died, the report said.
- Health officials in Israel are subjecting many female Ethiopian immigrants to the long-term contraceptive Depo Provera in what Israeli women’s groups say is a racist policy to reduce the number of black babies, Abu Dhabi’s The National reported Jan. 5.
- Depo Provera, which is given by injection every three months, is often considered a last resort birth control method because of problems treating its side effects. However, a report published last week shows that use of the drug by Israeli doctors has increased threefold over the past few years. Figures show that 57 per cent of Depo Provera users in Israel are Ethiopian, even though the community accounts for less than 2 percent of the total population.
- Ellen Malcolm, the founder of the political advocacy organization Emily’s List, is stepping aside as its president and will be replaced by Stephanie Schriock, the Washington Post reported Jan. 7. The Washington, D.C.-based organization is dedicated to electing pro-choice female Democrats to office.
Malcolm, 62, will continue to be involved as chairwoman of the board of Emily’s List but will hand over day-to-day management of the organization’s network of political donors and activists and its political operations to Schriock, 36, currently chief of staff to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
In its 25 years Emily’s List, which stands for "Early Money Is Like Yeast," has helped more than 100 female candidates win election to federal and state offices.
- As Congress takes up the prickly task of reconciling the House and Senate versions of health care reform, Medical News Today offered Jan. 6 a compilation of blogs on health insurance coverage of abortions.