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The Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to provide $10 million for competitive grants to help states pay for paid leave programs–including maternity leave–said Debra L. Ness, the president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, in a press statement released July 30. Although President Obama recommended $50 million for the Paid Leave Fund in his FY 2011 budget proposal, Ness said this is a good start.

"The Paid Leave Fund this appropriation will support can begin driving innovations that bring us closer to the day when no worker has to make a painful choice between caring for family and earning a paycheck," Ness said.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • A group of Palestinian women are breaking new ground in the Gaza Strip by working as ditch-diggers to support their families, reported Reuters July 29. Some 300 women have signed up to dig reservoirs on Gaza farms in a project organized by the internationally-funded Union of Agriculture Work Committees. Although Gaza women have traditionally worked on family farms, picking fruit and vegetables, this is the first time they have hoisted shovels for a job usually reserved for men in the conservative enclave, where unemployment is 60 percent.
  • Obama administration officials unveiled the U.S. government’s strategy for advancing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals on July 30, with an emphasis on innovative and sustainable approaches to the world’s most urgent poverty-related challenges, according to a press release by the U.N. Foundation. Obama has pledged that the Millennium Development Goals, also known as the MDGs, are ‘America’s Goals,’ and in September he will appear before a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations to deliver the United States’ plan to help achieve the goals. “It is significant that the administration is making the MDGs a priority, both leading up to the September MDG Summit and beyond,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the U.N. Foundation, in the press release.
  • Coming in first in the world’s longevity list, Japanese women’s life expectancy rose even higher to an average life span of 86.44 years in 2009, reported China’s Global Times July 28. The ministry attributed the rise to the improved treatment of the three major causes of death among the Japanese population–cancer, cardiac disorders and strokes–as well as pneumonia. Japanese women have held the record for greatest longevity for 25 years.
  • The U.S. financial reform bill, signed on July 28, also targets products produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, often cited as the “rape capital of the world,” reported the Washington Post July 21. The primary purpose of the bill is to address the various problems facing Wall Street, but this section of the reform bill will require thousands of U.S. companies to disclose what steps they are taking to ensure that their products– including laptops, cell phones and medical devices–don’t contain "conflict minerals" from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Connecticut employers must provide a new entitlement of unpaid leave for employees who are victims of domestic violence, reported Connecticut Law Tribune July 26. The Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Speaker of the House of Representatives’ Task Force on Domestic Violence mandates employers to allow victims of family violence to take up to 12 days of leave, which can be paid or unpaid. The time can be used to seek medical care or counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability, to obtain services from a victim services organization, to relocate due to the family violence, or to participate in any civil or criminal proceeding related to or resulting from family violence.
  • The United Kingdom government has abandoned plans to grant pre-charge anonymity to men accused of rape after an outcry from Labor leaders and female Tory Members of Parliament, reported The Guardian July 25. The decision marks a change of heart by the coalition, which had pledged to act on the issue. Labor leader Harriet Harman criticized the original plan saying the anonymity would have reduced the number of convictions for rape by sending out a signal that women are not to be believed.
  • Four New Jersey lawmakers are pushing legislation to provide more protections for domestic violence victims and their children, citing the case of a man accused of gunning down his former girlfriend in front of their young daughter at a Montclair, N.J, YMCA, reported the Morristown Daily Record July 25. The measure, known as "Monica’s Law," would create a pilot program in Essex and Passaic counties. It would provide for risk assessments that would examine the likelihood that the person against whom the final restraining order is issued will commit violence against the victim or their child. But the assessments would only be ordered in certain cases, such as those in which the accused has a history of violence, threatened to kill the victim or their child or allegedly used or threatened to use a weapon against them. The legislation was introduced this month and has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which has not yet scheduled a hearing.




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The Hamas Islamic group that controls the Gaza Strip has banned shops from displaying women’s underwear in their windows, reported the Jerusalem Post July 29. The prohibition is intended to “restore public morals in Palestinian society,” according to an e-mailed statement sent July 29 by Hamas police spokesperson Ayman Batniji, the article reported. “The police will also launch investigations into the conduct of the store owners to avoid any suspicious behavior with female customers,” the statement said.

The lingerie order also mandates the removal of scantily clad mannequins from store windows, as well as keeping shop doors open when women are inside. Violators of the new regulations will face fines, reported the article.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Video footage has emerged of French police forcibly evicting African immigrants from a Parisian suburb, showing women with children and babies dragged down the street, CNN reported July 30. The group of about 60 mostly women and children had been living in the street since being evicted from their government-supported homes on July 8 to make way for a new housing project, said Michael Hajdenberg, a journalist with the French media organization Mediapart. Journalists were told to leave the site prior to the eviction, but a member of DAL, a French rights group, managed to film the scenes on July 21. Although the immigrants had initially refused authorities’ offer of temporary hotel stay, saying they wanted more of a long-term guarantee of places to live, they have now agreed as a result of the traumatic experience, the article reported.


  • The U.K.’s health watchdog issued new guidelines encouraging women not to eat for two once they conceive, reported the BBC July 29. Obesity in pregnant women is reaching epidemic levels and expectant mothers should continue their normal eating habits to not jeopardize the health of the fetus, reported to the article.
  • A new report provides an in-depth analysis of female Internet users and finds that social networking sites reach significantly more women than men, reported the PRNewswire July 28. Called "Women on the Web: How Women are Shaping the Internet," the report shows that although women account for 47.9 percent of total unique visitors to the social networking category, they consume 57 percent of pages and account for nearly 57 percent of total minutes spent on these sites, contributing to more social networking sites in terms of time and content than men, reported the article.
  • A Saudi cleric Sheikh Aedh al-Garni issued a fatwa, a religious ruling, allowing women who live in countries that ban the full Islamic face veil to wear the head veil instead, reported USA Today July 26. The fatwa comes two weeks after French lawmakers voted to ban the niqab and the burka. His statement has generated some criticism from people who do not want to give up the practice. One other cleric has said it is better for Muslim women to avoid traveling to these countries unless absolutely necessary.
  • A study shows that over 95 percent of women are involved in financial decisions, with one-fourth acting as primary decision-makers, reported Reuters July 27. Despite that, the study also showed women’s financial confidence has failed to improve and was further weakened by the U.S. recession. One-third of the women surveyed said they "need a lot of help" planning their financial future. As a result of the recession, 56 percent now plan to work longer and 20 percent wonder if they will be able to retire on time.
  • A new study found that African ancestry is linked to triple-negative breast cancer, a more aggressive and deadlier type of cancer, reported Los Angeles Times July 25. Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor found that among women with breast cancer, 82 percent of African women, 26 percent of African Americans and 16 percent of white Americans had triple negative. Triple-negative breast cancer is negative for three markers used to determine treatment. Recent advances in breast cancer treatments target each of the receptors, but targeting when all three are absent is a major problem, the article reported.

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