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The U.S. Department of Education is repealing a Bush-era policy related to Title IX, which some critics argue was a way to avoid complying with federal law in providing equal opportunities for female athletes, the Associated Press reported April 20. Title IX is the 1972 federal law mandating that any education program receiving federal funds must provide equal opportunities to both genders.

Under the move, schools and colleges must now provide stronger evidence that they offer equal opportunities for athletic participation under Title IX. It reverses a 2005 policy under former President George W. Bush that allowed schools to use a survey to demonstrate a lack of interest in starting new women’s sports and encouraged schools to consider a non-response to a questionnaire as disinterest. The Education Department has sent letters about the change in policy to more than 15,600 school districts and 5,600 college and university presidents, the article reported.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • In celebration of Earth Day, the micro Web site Working Women in the Green Economy was launched by Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, an April 22 press release from the organization said. The site is tailored specifically for women seeking information and career assistance for sustainable jobs. It will aggregate tools for green training providers, researchers, employers, entrepreneurs and jobseekers and also features a green jobs feed, newly released research, news articles and social media for green topics.
  • Phoebe Wright and Jackie Areson helped The University of Tennessee win the women’s distance medley on April 22, reported the Associated Press. This is the second time Tennessee won the women’s Penn Relays, reported the article.
  • Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball–contrary to widespread assumption among female players and baseball historians–have no ban on women signing contracts, a spokesperson from the Office of the Commissioner for Major League Baseball told Women’s eNews correspondent Regina Varolli.
  • Flozelle Woodmore is one of five Californians who have been awarded Soros Fellowships, A New Way of Life told Women’s eNews on April 23. Woodmore, who was incarcerated for 20 years for killing her violent partner, was released in August 2007 and has dedicated her life to pushing for change in the parole system, reported A New Way of Life, a nonprofit that provides services to formerly incarcerated women and girls to help make over their lives for the better. Susan Burton, a Women’s eNews 21 Leader for the 21st Century 2003, founded A New Way of Life after she left prison.




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Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on health insurer WellPoint to stop dropping coverage for patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer, calling the practice "deplorable," Reuters reported April 23.

Sebelius’ letter to Angela Braly, WellPoint’s chief executive, was in response to a story Reuters ran on April 22 saying that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation by the company as it searched for excuses to drop coverage, according to government regulators and investigators. In his push for health care reform, President Barack Obama said the legislation would end such industry practices, reported Reuters.

WellPoint is the largest U.S. health insurer by enrollment.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, a senior Iranian cleric, told worshippers in Tehran on April 16 that they had to stick to strict codes of modesty to protect themselves from earthquakes, the BBC reported April 20. Sedighi gave a recent sermon stating that women not dressing modestly lead men astray and bring more earthquakes to Iran, reported the article. Seismologists have warned that the Iranian capital Tehran is situated on a large number of tectonic fault lines and could be hit by a devastating quake soon.
  • Former NY1 reporter Adele Sammarco’s claim that she was harassed by co-workers was dismissed by a Brooklyn jury, reported The New York Post on April 23. Sammarco’s suit was brought after she was fired by the company in 2001 for complaints about a doctored photo depicting her with "cartoonishly large" breasts, according to the Post. The jury, which contained only one female, spent a short time deliberating and decided Sammarco had no claim. The Post’s front page featured a photo of Sammarco under large type saying "Booby Prize."
  • The pregnancy of a 10-year-old girl in Mexico has created a maelstrom of controversy over the legalization of abortion within the country, reported CNN on April 20. The girl was allegedly raped by her stepfather and has been pregnant for 17 ½ weeks, past the legal limit for an abortion in her home state of Quintana Roo, reported CNN. Advocates claim Quintana Roo did not properly notify the girl of her abortion rights and are calling on federal officials and the United Nations to investigate the matter further.
  • A study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds there are only four occupations, out of the 108 occupations with enough men and women to estimate earnings for both groups, where women earn more than men. In the 104 others, women’s median earnings are less, according to an April 20 press release from the organization. The occupation where women have the highest earnings compared to men is ‘dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers’ (the female/male earnings ratio is 111.1 percent, based on median weekly earnings in 2009 that were $400 for women, $360 for men). The pay gap is widest for ‘physicians and surgeons;’ the female/male earnings ratio is 64.2 percent, based on median weekly earnings of $1,182 for women, and $1,914 for men.


  • Women and men are comparatively equal when completing higher education, according to Census data, with 29 percent of women age 25 and older possessing at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30 percent of men, the San Francisco Chronicle reported April 21. Women also represented roughly half of those in the United States with a master’s degree or higher. Despite this equality in education, however, women are lacking in pay, only making 80.2 percent of men’s salaries, the article reported.
  • France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke out on April 21 in favor of a complete ban on wearing face-covering Islamic veils, known as a burka, in public, Reuters reported. The French government is set to examine a draft bill next month amid heated debate over women’s rights and religious freedom. Polls have shown that most French voters back the ban, but legal experts have warned that it could violate the constitution, the article reported. Almost 10 percent of France’s 62 million inhabitants are Muslim.
  • Police in India say Nithyananda Swami, a controversial Hindu holy man facing charges of obscenity, has been arrested, the BBC reported April 21. He was detained in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh where police said he had been hiding. The guru stepped down last month as head of a religious organization after a video surfaced, apparently showing him engaging in sexual acts with two women. Swami maintains his innocence and said the video is a fake. He has a huge following in southern India and his mission has branches in several countries, including the United States and Europe.
  • USA Swimming met for an April 18 teleconference to discuss strategies to deal with two of this year’s largest sexual misconduct allegations against coaches, reported The New York Times on April 20. The latest allegation against a coach came on April 19, when a former swimmer filed a civil suit in Missouri, claiming her coach had sexually abused her. Over the past 10 years, the organization has expelled 36 of its 36,402 affiliated coaches for sexual misconduct, the article reported.
  • Nebraska’s groundbreaking law on fetal pain is facing many legal setbacks, but may become the most important case on abortion to reach the U.S. Supreme Court in recent memory, the Associated Press reported April 18.
  • Two female climbing rivals are vying to become the first woman to conquer the world’s 14 highest mountains, BBC News reported April 19.

In Memoriam:

  • Juan Antonio Samaranch, former president of the International Olympic Committee who pushed for gender equality in sports, died on April 21 at age 89 of heart failure, reported The New York Times on April 22. Before Samaranch was elected president, the International Olympic Committee was an all-male club.
  • Dorothy Height, known as a crucial civil rights leader for over 40 years, died at age 98, reported the LA Times on April 21. Height began an agenda to integrate the YWCA in the 1930s and was a strong supporter of women’s education and child care. During her 1957 to 1998 tenure as president of the National Council of Negro Women, Height advised leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She has been called the "godmother of civil rights." Her work earned her a 2004 Congressional Gold Medal.