In a new report, political parties, organizations and women themselves are being encouraged to get more women elected to state legislatures, according to a Feb. 16 press release from the Center for American Women and Politics, based at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N. J. The organization’s report, called "Poised to Run: Women’s Pathways to the State Legislatures," suggests that more can be done to get women into state legislature offices and examines how women’s pathways to public office have changed over time.
Highlights of the study include:
- Women are more likely than men to run for office because they were recruited rather than deciding to run on their own.
- It is critical that female candidates attract party support, as women who reach the legislature usually do so with the support of their parties.
- Organizations can be more active in candidate recruitment for women.
- The pool of female candidates is larger than is commonly believed.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- Women in Iran are reaching out and asking the Iranian people to sign a letter to protest a bill passed by Iran in January 2009, reported The New York Times Feb. 17. The bill currently allows men to marry multiple wives without the consent of their wives, along with other restrictions such as restraints on a woman’s alimony. Almost 1,200 Iranian women have signed the petition against the bill so far.
- Two new studies of the cervical-cancer vaccine Gardasil show it could help older women and gay men, according to the vaccine’s manufacturer Merck and Co., The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 17. In one study, Gardasil was 89 percent effective in preventing human papillomavirus, or HPV, a virus that causes cervical cancer and other diseases, in women ages 24 through 45. In January, Merck said it had submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration in the hope of expanding Gardasil’s use in this age group. The vaccine is currently only approved for use in girls and women ages 9 to 26 to protect against some forms of HPV; it was recently approved for use in males 9 to 26 for the prevention of genital warts.
Three Malaysian Muslim women were caned for having sex out of wedlock, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 17. The Feb. 9 caning marks the first time women have been caned in the country.
The punishment of these women and their male conspirators was carried out at the time of sentencing, but was not publicly announced until Feb. 17, days after the incidents had taken place.
The caning shocked many legislators and government members in Malaysia, the article reported. Many Malaysians are concerned with the strong Muslim influence on Malaysian politics and believe punishments such as caning are allowing too much of this influence on the government.
The first Malaysian woman who was supposed to be caned, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, is still awaiting punishment. She was sentenced to caning after being found drinking beer in public last year.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, OECD, predicts that only half of the aid promised by the world’s wealthier countries five years ago will reach developing nations, the Financial Times reported Feb 17. The OECD’s "group of eight" nations–Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States–are doing better than average of all nations in meeting their commitments but are also falling short, with $130 billion promised versus $107 billion now expected.
- Ski jumping is the only Olympic sport where women are banned from competing, reported MotherJones.com Feb. 12. The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, says that women may not compete in the sport because of a "technical basis." A 2006 vote by the IOC decided not to add women’s ski jumping, despite the fact that 83 competitors from 14 nations jumped at the top level at this time, the article reported. In response, 15 female ski jumpers sued the Vancouver Organizing Committee, arguing they faced gender discrimination. Their judge this summer agreed, but she ruled that it was up to the IOC, not the Vancouver Organizing Committee, to do something about it, the article reported.
- The abrupt change in the starting point of the women’s luge has frustrated many female competitors, reported the Associated Press Feb. 14. After the tragic death of a Georgian luger during training Feb. 12, Olympics officials became more aware of the dangerous speeds reached during the event. Since competition began on Feb. 13, it gave the lugers little time to prepare for the new start. The women’s luge now starts 800 feet closer to the finish line, reducing a competitor’s speed. Many male lugers have also expressed frustration with the sudden change in start points; they now start 600 feet closer to the end of the track.
- A unit of women is allegedly working undercover with the Muslim Brotherhood, a Muslim political group founded in Egypt in 1928, to disseminate information to its members in Egypt, reported All Headline News on Feb. 18. This activity has reportedly gone undetected by Egyptian security until now. The group’s deputy chairman Mahmoud Ezzat, who was detained Feb. 8 along with 15 other Muslim Brotherhood members, is said to be leading the group.
A Muslim woman is holding a "stand-in" protest at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., on Feb. 20, reported beliefnet.org on Feb. 18. Fatima Thompson, 44, and other D.C.-based Muslim activists, want removal of the partition between men and women and for women to join the main congregation during prayers. Currently, women must pray behind a separation wall.
- Dozens of Egyptian women and human rights activists staged a protest in Cairo against a recent decision that bars women from holding judicial positions, Aljazeera.net reported Feb. 18. The protest held on Feb. 18 was in reaction to the country’s Council of State’s association vote on Feb. 15 against the appointment of women as judges in the council, an influential court which advises Egypt’s government. An overwhelming majority voted against the appointment of females to judicial posts–334 to 42, with four abstentions.
- The House and Senate in Richmond, Va., have passed bills to create an abortion-rights license plate. However, the GOP-controlled House set up roadblocks to sending proceeds to the plate’s sponsor, Planned Parenthood, reported the local radio station wtop.com on Feb. 16. The Senate voted 26-8 to create the "Trust Women/Respect Choice" plates. The House voted 77-22 for the plate, but it diverted the proceeds to an unused fund that supports women with unplanned pregnancies. This action may set up a constitutional challenge because last year Virginia passed a "Choose Life" plate and courts have said states can’t favor one viewpoint over another, the article reported. Because the House and Senate passed different versions, the future of the Virginia plate is uncertain, RH Reality Check reported. Outside of legal actions, Planned Parenthood is currently working to organize demonstrations statewide on Feb. 22.
- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Feb. 15 condemned Iran’s handling of election-related protests, the Financial Times reported. Clinton told students in Qatar that the Revolutionary Guard Corps was close to supplanting the government. On the same day envoys from Britain and France to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council criticized Tehran’s human rights record and pushed for an independent investigation of torture, show trials and arbitrary executions since June’s disputed elections. The Financial Times ran a photo with the story that showed a veiled woman holding a photo of a police officer brandishing a baton over a cringing man, identified as a reformist protester.
- The Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum opened on Feb. 14 in the suffragist’s birthplace of Adams, Mass., amid continued debate. Carol Crossed purchased the property at an auction in 2006 but plans for the museum have been controversial because of Anthony’s stance on abortion, iBerkshires.com reported Feb. 15. A peace activist, Crossed has long been involved with anti-choice groups, including Feminists for Life of New York. Some historians and abortion rights activists say that group and others have been liberally interpreting Anthony’s beliefs on abortion and that the museum won’t express history but anti-abortion ideology.
Lucille Clifton, a distinguished American poet whose work focused on the experience of being African American and female in the 20th century, died on Feb. 13 in Baltimore, The New York Times reported Feb. 17. She was 73 and lived in Columbia, Md. Clifton received many awards for her work including the 2000 National Book Award for "Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000" and the 2007 honoree for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She was the first African American woman to win the poetry prize. Her book "Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980" was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1988. In all, Clifton published 11 poetry collections and more than 20 children’s books, Tulsa World reported Feb. 18.