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  • June 23 marked the 38th anniversary of Title IX, the U.S. law prohibiting institutions that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex. The law has been credited with dramatically changing education throughout the nation.


    More News to Cheer This Week:

    • New legislation designed to aggressively address the sexual-exploitation of children by sex-traffickers was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ). The bill would add $45 million to law enforcement and victim-assistance efforts, reported June 24. "Too many think that sex trafficking is only a problem in foreign countries. But here in the U.S., an estimated 100,000 underage girls–most of them American citizens–are exploited through commercial sex each year," said Rep. Maloney.
    • A group of Palestinian women in the West Bank this month launched Nisaa FM, a rare all-women’s radio stations in the Arab world, reported Voice of America June 24. Founder and manager Maysoun Odeh says the station is to entertain women, but also empower them, providing hope and inspiration for the future. "We broadcast success stories of women regionally, internationally, or locally in which they can take example from, and they know that they can do something and they can achieve something regardless of the situation," says Odeh.
    • The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation announced June 23 that it will award the 2010 Women’s Rights Prize to two organizations that have contributed significantly through litigation, law reform and education to advancing women’s reproductive health and rights in many countries, reported Globe Newswire June 23. The recipients are the Center for Reproductive Rights and Comite de America Latina y El Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer. Earlier this year, Women’s eNews named Patricia Gruber one of its 21 Leaders for the 21st Century 2010.
    • Angela James and Cammi Granato have become the first two women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, reported The New York Times June 22. James was a member of the Canadian national team–which won the gold medal in 1990–and Granato was the captain of the United States team that took home the gold at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. The Hockey Hall of Fame, which limits the number of annual inductees to five, altered its rules this year to include female players. "I look at this as a great day for women’s hockey," said James.
    • More than 100 women’s and reproductive-rights organizations wrote a last-minute letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging him to include abortion funding in his G8 maternal- and child-health initiative, reported Winnipeg Free Press June 22. Though abortion has been legal across Canada since 1988, the Conservative prime minister had said he would not include abortion or family planning and contraception in the maternal- and child-health initiative he was set to introduce at the G8 summit in Ontario.
    • An evangelical feminist movement is offering support to Catholic sisters in the United States under investigation by the Vatican, according to a press statement by the group June 21. Members of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus–Christian Feminism Today are extending their support, solidarity and prayers to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and to the 341 congregations of women currently undergoing apostolic visitation.
    • The United Nations Development Fund for Women and the United Nations Global Compact June 21 announced 39 lead signers of the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, according to a Development Fund press statement. The CEO Statement of Support commits business leaders to use the seven Women’s Empowerment Principles as guide posts for actions that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community, and communicate progress through the use of sex-disaggregated data and other benchmarks.
    • A three-year, $500,000 renovation of the Kabul Women’s Garden in Afghanistan is set to finish July 5, reported The New York Times June 20. The labor force for the renovation is 50 percent female and every 40 days, a new crew of female laborers is brought in to give more women an opportunity to earn money and learn skills. The eight-acre enclosure allows inside only women and male children under 9-years old. Burqas usually come off once women enter the gates, reported the article, and dressing rooms are available for the women to change into normal clothes, makeup and high heels. The garden is considered an oasis of freedom for women, with opportunities for relaxation–including fitness classes, hair salons and a mosque with religious instruction given by a woman–as well as opportunities for employment as chefs, police officers and store owners.


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    Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced heavy credit reductions and froze benefits for thousands of mothers and pregnant women across the United Kingdom, reported The Guardian June 22.

    Among the reductions are the elimination of infant tax credit–which is paid until the youngest child’s first birthday–and the health in pregnancy grant–which is paid to all pregnant women beyond their 25th week of pregnancy. The amount of child benefit will be frozen at its current level for the next three years.

    More News to Jeer This Week:

    • China has dropped significantly in world rank in terms of female representation in parliament, with 62 countries now having more women in parliament than China compared to 15 in the 1990s, reported The New York Times June 24. "It’s not that China has gotten worse," says Zou Xiaoqiao, director general of the international liaison department at the Women’s Federation, "It’s that the rest of the world has gotten better." China has held steady at just more than 20 percent female parliamentary representation while countries like Rwanda, Nepal and Burundi have surged ahead, reported the article.
    • A new study shows that high levels of common flame-retardant chemicals appear to alter thyroid hormone levels in pregnant women, reported The Los Angeles Times June 21. The link is important because the chemicals, in high enough levels, could affect the pregnancy and the health of the fetus, explained Jonathan Chevrier, one of the study’s authors. The chemicals–called PDBEs or polybrominated diphenyl ethers–are found in carpets, textiles, foam furnishings, electronics and plastics.


    • Nearly 1 in 5 American women beyond childbearing years never gave birth, as fewer couples–particularly higher-educated whites–view having children as necessary to a good marriage, according to an analysis of census data by the Pew Research Center released June 25, reported the Associated Press. The figures indicate that among all women ages 40-44, about 18 percent–or 1.9 million–were childless in 2008. That’s up from 10 percent–or nearly 580,000–in 1976, reported the article. Broken down by race, roughly 20 percent of white women are childless, compared with 17 percent of black and of Hispanic and 16 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander women.
    • A new study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that children prenatally exposed to relatively high maternal blood sugar levels have lower insulin sensitivity and greater post-meal insulin secretion–independent of body composition and other confounding factors, reported the University June 25. The study’s findings suggest that the prenatal environment may program fetal carbohydrate metabolism. "Many other studies have shown that children from mothers with high blood sugar during pregnancy are at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes," says study co-author Paula Chandler-Laney. "Now, this study is the first to show that even for children who have not yet become diabetic, there are changes in the way the body secretes and responds to insulin following prenatal exposure to high maternal blood sugar."
    • Women in Islam, Inc., announced this year’s recipients of the Dr. Betty Shabazz Recognition Award to be filmmaker Kathleen Foster and founder and executive director of Turning Point for Women and Children Robina Niaz, according to a press statement by the organization June 25. Since 2002, Women in Islam, Inc., has been celebrating annually the example and legacy of Dr. Betty Shabazz–the widow of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)–by recognizing other women of all backgrounds and faiths who demonstrate an unwavering and courageous dedication to helping others.
    • There is no new evidence to indicate fetuses feel pain in the womb before 24 weeks, according to a recent report by the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, reported BBC June 24. The report explained that nerve connections in the cortex–the area in the brain that processes responses to pain–does not form properly before 24 weeks. Even after 24 weeks, the report concludes, a fetus is naturally sedated and unconscious in the womb. The issue of whether a fetus of 24 weeks or below can feel pain had been raised in the debate over whether the current legal time limit for abortions should be reduced.
    • Julia Gillard was sworn in as Australia’s first female Prime Minister after Kevin Rudd–faced with a revolt from within his own governing party–stepped down from the position June 24, reported The New York Times.
    • A Portland, Ore., massage therapist, 54, gave local police a detailed statement in 2009 alleging that former Vice President Al Gore groped her, kissed her and made unwanted sexual advances in a hotel suite during a late-night massage session in October 2006, reported June 23. The Portland Police Bureau did not consult with the district attorney’s office about the statement and the case is currently closed. "The case was not investigated any further because detectives concluded there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations," a police statement said in response to press inquiries. National Enquirer broke the story on its Website June 23.
    • A five-month investigation by The Nation and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute has found evidence supporting that the three American hikers arrested last July by Iranian forces near the Iraq border were on Iraqi territory when arrested, not in Iran as Iranian officials have asserted, reported The Nation June 23. The investigation revealed further that the Revolutionary Guards officer who likely ordered their detention has since been arrested on charges of smuggling, kidnapping and murder. As of June 23, the hikers, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd, had been detained by Iran for ten months and twenty-three days. Shourd filed a news story to Women’s eNews on Syrian women’s resistance to the imposition of strict Sharia laws shortly before she was seized. Women’s eNews published the piece June 7 with the help of her mother.
    • An Australian study suggests that a woman’s body may be unconsciously selective about sperm, allowing some men’s to progress to pregnancy but kill off the chances of less suitable matches, reported Agence France-Presse June 23. University of Adelaide professor Sarah Robertson said her research suggests that sperm contain "signaling molecules" that activate immunity changes in a woman so her body accepts it, but some apparently-healthy sperm fail to activate these changes, suggesting that the female system can be "choosy" about its biological mate, reported the article.
    • Nikki Haley won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in South Carolina June 22, reported USA Today. If she’s victorious in the general election, Haley will become the state’s first female governor. The Susan B. Anthony List–which supports anti-choice female candidates–hailed Haley’s victory as "an example of the electoral power of authentic, pro-life feminism in this election cycle."
    • A new study reveals that women who have menopause early–before the age of 46 either naturally or with the surgical removal of both ovaries–have more than twice the risk of cardiovascular trouble, heart attack and stroke after the age of 55, reported Agence France-Presse June 21. Though past research has linked early menopause and cardiovascular disease in mostly white and European populations, this new research involved a multiethnic mix of more than 2,500 white, black, Hispanic and Chinese-American women. "Our study is observational; therefore, we cannot conclude that early menopause somehow causes future cardiovascular," said Melissa Wellons, lead author of the study. "However, our findings do support the possible use of age at menopause as a marker of future heart and vascular disease risk."
    • Female condoms with "teeth" meant to protect women against rape are being distributed in South African cities where World Cup games are taking place, reported CNN June 21. Invented by South African Dr. Sonnet Ehlers, Rape-aXe is a tampon-like latex condom lined with jagged rows of teeth-like hooks that will attach onto a man’s penis during penetration. It is painful but doesn’t break the skin, and once it lodges, only a doctor can remove it –a procedure Ehlers hopes will be performed with authorities on standby to make an arrest. Critics accuse Ehlers’ device of being a medieval method of fighting rape. "Yes, my device may be medieval, but it’s for a medieval deed that has been around for decades," says Ehlers. "I believe something’s got to be done . . . and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman."
    • Eight men participated in the June 11 Ladies No-limit Hold ’em Championship–just one of the tournaments in the 57-event World Series of Poker running through mid July–sparking a heated debate on gender segregation in the poker world, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer June 21. Shaun Deeb, who dressed in drag for the event and has since apologized for his costume, says he stands by his point that segregation by sex is wrong in a game of mental acumen. Annie Duke, one of the best-known female players in the world, agrees and advocates discontinuing the ladies championship event.