President Barack Obama’s appointment of Solicitor General Elena Kagan received a warm reception among women’s rights groups.
"This is an outstanding appointment," Lynn Hecht Schafran, senior vice president of Legal Momentum, told Women’s eNews. In addition to Kagan’s "superb credentials," Schafran said "it’s nice to see the U.S. catching up with Canada where there are four women on the nine-member Supreme Court."
Siobhan "Sam" Bennett, president and CEO of the Women’s Campaign Forum, cheered the news but also expressed concern about the possibility of negative media treatment, as did the Women’s Media Center, which ran an article criticizing previous media stories that have focused on Kagan’s questioning her sexual orientation rather than her judicial record.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, however, had a more guarded reaction to the High Court news, saying Kagan’s public record revealed little about her views on Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. In a press statement, Northup called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct a rigorous confirmation process and "thoroughly explore Ms. Kagan’s views on the constitutional protection that should be afforded to women seeking abortions."
More News to Cheer This Week:
- Eight retired former jockeys rode on May 14 in the "Lady Legends for the Cure" race in Pimlico, Md., to benefit breast cancer research, reported the Baltimore Sun.
- The annual New York Women’s Foundation breakfast on May 13 featured hip-hop star Mary J. Blige discussing growing up with domestic violence. Blige said as a child she was awakened in the middle of the night by her mother’s "screams" and as an adult she experienced domestic violence. She also thanked her 4 million fans who "helped her get through" the emotional toll the abuse took on her. During the breakfast, Ana L. Oliveira, president and CEO of the foundation, announced it would increase its giving to women’s nonprofits working in New York City by 20 percent this year. In 2009, the foundation awarded $2.75 million in grants to 65 New York City grantees.
- The W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced May 11 a $75 million effort to tackle structural racism and promote racial healing and the awarding of grants to 119 organizations. Trustee Fred Keller, at a Washington, D.C., press conference, called it the largest private investment in anti-racism efforts. The Battle Creek, Mich., foundation is expected to continue addressing maternal and infant mortality rates and related health issues in African American communities as part the initiative.
- Maria Longhitano, a married teacher and a member of the breakaway Old Catholic Church, will be ordained as the first Italian female priest, reported BBC News May 13. Pope Benedict XVI is against having women as priests and his predecessor excommunicated seven previous ordained women.
- Fifteen-year-old Alexis Thompson will be playing her first professional golf tournament on June 18, reported The Vancouver Sun on May 11. If Thompson wins the Shoprite LGPA Classic she will be the youngest woman to win a professional golf tournament. In 2009 Thompson was named Golfweek’s Women’s Amateur Player of the Year and the Junior Girls’ Player of the Year.
- Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, asked conference attendees at the Clinton Global Initiative’s midyear meeting on May 13 to support a pilot project that would give mobile phones to 4,000 women in Kenya to help achieve gender equality, reported the Associated Press May 14.
- UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow called for Guinea women who were raped last September to be compensated, reported The Associated Press on May 10.
- An Arizona emergency human rights delegation gathered in Washington, D.C., May 9, Mother’s Day. Female immigrants and their children told stories about raids, harassment and detention of family members, Domestic Workers United said in a press statement. The delegation was supported by Arizona’s Puente Movement and several labor unions, reported CODEPINK May 9.
- The Embrey Family Foundation awarded two large grants for the advancement of young women. The American Indian College Fund received a $1 million grant for 20 women’s scholarships, the fund said in an April 30 press statement. The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin announced its $450,000 grant to start a studies program looking at women’s rights as human rights.
- Illinois’ Highland Park High School girls’ basketball team won’t attend a December tournament in Arizona because of state’s new citizenship law, reported Chicago Breaking News Center May 12. The team’s school district said the trip would be a risk to the girls’ safety and the new immigration laws go against the team’s beliefs. This season the team won its first conference championship in 26 years. The school district is looking for another tournament for them to attend.
- A "potty parity" bill was presented to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee May 12, reported the Washington Post May 13. Presented by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), the bill would require future new construction and renovated federal buildings to have equal or greater numbers of toilets in women’s restrooms compared to men’s restrooms. "Being forced to wait in line for restrooms is a form of gender bias," said Kathryn H. Anthony, architecture professor of the University of Illinois, during her testimony.
The May 6 U.K. balloting left women’s ranks in Parliament thinner than ever, the Centre for Women and Democracy said May 7. After the vote, women composed 22 percent of the 649-member Parliament, a drop of 2.5 percent.
Only four women are slated for the 23 positions in the new cabinet, reported The Guardian May 13. Cheryl Gillian, Theresa May, Caroline Spelman, and Lady Warsai will be joining Prime Minister David Cameron’s new cabinet. May will be the new Home Secretary. She is the second woman to hold the position, reported HR Magazine May 12.
- Iran executed Kurdish woman Shirin Alamhouli by hanging May 9 for allegedly bombing government offices, reported the AFP. Alamhouli and four men were executed for their political opposition to the Iranian government, Maryam Namazie from Iran Solidarity told Women’s eNews May 12. The sentences were carried out in secret, without their families or lawyers being informed.
- Despite the support of many female veterans, the Women’s Military Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery is running out of funding, according to a May 11 report from MSNBC. Female veterans from World War II are ill or dying, draining a key donor pool. Foundation President Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, who served in Vietnam, said the only reason the memorial was able to stay open in 2009 was a $1.6 million dollar congressional appropriation and a fundraising drive that raised $250,000 dollars.
- Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton vowed not to abandon Afghan women in any resolution between the Afghan government and Taliban, reported the Associated Press May 13.
- Women have become more financially conservative than men since the economic downturn, a March 2010 survey by Citigroup found, according to The Wall Street Journal on May 11. The survey of 1,010 women and 992 men found that 72 percent of women said they would save any extra money or use it to pay bills, while 65 percent of the men said they would use extra money that way. Women also considered large purchases more closely, with 33 percent thinking now was a good time compared to 40 percent of men.
Rhonda Copelon, a New York lawyer who took on cases of gender-based violence and international human rights, passed away on May 6 at age 65 due to ovarian cancer, reported The New York Times May 8. One of Copelon’s victories resulted in victims of international human rights abuse to use U.S. courts to seek justice, reported the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Lena Horne, the enormously influential African-American jazz singer, actress and civil rights activist, died May 9 at New York Presbyterian Hospital at the age of 92, reported The Associated Press on May 10. The hospital spokesperson did not share any other details aside from her death, reported the AP.