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N.Y. Gov. David Paterson signed the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights Aug. 31, said Domestic Workers United, an organization of nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers. The first of its kind, the U.S. law establishes basic labor standards–including paid days off and protection from discrimination–for more than 200,000 domestic workers in the state.

"Caring for children means so much to me and to the future," nanny Barbara Young said in a statement. "Those of us who do this work deserve dignity and respect."

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • ABM Industries Inc. of New York, a national janitorial services company, will pay 21 female workers $5.8 million to settle a sexual assault and harassment lawsuit, the Associated Press reported Sept. 2.
  • A number of people at risk of human trafficking–12 women and three men–were rescued in raids on suspected brothels in Belfast, Ireland, reported the BBC Sept. 3. The raids were part of a U.K.-wide operation called Operation Apsis.
  • A record 140 women have competed in Republican primaries for the House of Representatives and the Senate this year, almost double the number in 2008, the Telegraph reported Aug. 29.
  • Posters calling for the ordination of female priests will be plastered on London buses in September during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain, a group told CNN Aug. 27. Pope John Paul II declared in 1994 that the church has no authority to ordain women, a position confirmed a year later by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI).
  • More patience on the part of pregnant women and their health care providers during delivery may help to lower the rate of Cesareans substantially, the Los Angeles Times reported Aug. 30, citing a new study by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "Our study cannot directly say induction causes C-section, but it does provide some clue that either people may not be patient enough or something is going on that we’re not really sure about," said Dr. Jun Zhang, the lead author.
  • Mothers who breastfeed their children for at least one month appear less likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life than those who have never nursed, The Chicago Sun Times reported Aug. 31. The cited study, in the September issue of the American Journal of Medicine, confirms previous research.
  • Fawcett Society, a women’s rights group, is raising fairness questions over deficit-cutting campaigns by the British government, the Washington Post reported Aug. 31, citing a report published by the House of Commons. One major target of cuts is the public sector, where 65 percent of employees are women.
  • The U.S. launched a new $40 million Gender Equity Grants Program in Pakistan to advance women’s human rights and support the Pakistani government’s policies against gender inequities, Xinhua reported Aug. 30.
  • The earning power of young single women has surpassed that of their male peers in metropolitan areas around the U.S., a shift that is being driven by the growing ranks of women who attend college and move on to high-earning jobs, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 1, citing an analysis of Census Bureau data.




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Blood tests have confirmed that a series of mass sickness at girls’ schools across Afghanistan over the last two years were caused by a powerful poison gas, The New York Times reported Sept. 1. In one of the most recent attacks, students at the Zabihullah Esmati High School in Kabul alerted their deputy principal to a strong, sweet smell in one of the classrooms Aug. 28. The odor soon turned foul and several girls began complaining of headaches and sore throats; within minutes, they started fainting.

"I was worried my family wouldn’t let us come back, but my father said we should," said Waheeda Amiri, one of the 45 students who fell ill. "Whatever they do to us, we are going to keep coming."

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Among the nearly 5 million people in Pakistan without shelter following devastating flooding women and children are most vulnerable right now, said one doctor working there, reported Reuters Sept. 2. Pakistan’s flooding has exposed 500,000 pregnant women to health risks, reported United Press International Sept.1.
  • The official count of women raped by rebel groups in a dozen villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo last month has risen to over 240, Inter Press Service reported Sept. 1. U.N. officials had been warned about the rapes much earlier than officials originally said, The New York Times reported on Sept. 1, citing an internal e-mail and a humanitarian bulletin. "There is a kind of general state of incompetence, which is linked to apathy," Karl Steinacker, a U.N. official who worked in Congo until this year, was quoted as saying.
  • Five hundred indigenous women in Canada have disappeared, human rights activists said on the International Day of the Disappeared, Al Jazeera reported Sept. 1. Most indigenous Canadians who vanish are thought to have been killed by sexual predators or serial killers, but there have been isolated cases of security forces attacking indigenous people. "Something needs to be done," said Nicole Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • John McEnroe said female players aren’t tough enough to compete in as many tournaments as men, the Daily News reported Aug. 28. "They should be required to be in less events. There should be less events for the women," the retired three-time U.S. Open champion said on a CBS Sports conference call.
  • Women are now being threatened with pregnancy by their partners, Time reported Aug. 31. So-called reproductive coercion can take the form of threats by male partners against women for using birth control or seeking abortions and usually occurs within an already abusive relationship.
  • Young women in Kansas are far more likely than men to be murdered by a member of the opposite sex, the Wichita Eagle reported Aug. 29, citing FBI crime statistics. Several recent high-profile cases throughout the state prompted new laws designed to make females safer.
  • A White House spokesperson said former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., will remain on the federal debt commission board he co-chairs, Fox News reported Aug. 27. The head of a women’s advocacy group called on President Obama to fire Simpson for sexually charged language in an e-mail in which he compared Social Security to a "milk cow with 310 million tits."
  • Women have retreated from the financial industry despite a decrease in sexual discrimination charges and a rash of new corporate programs to attract and retain them, FINS reported Aug. 31, citing data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the past 10 years, 141,000 women disappeared from the industry while the ranks of men rose by 389,000.


  • Illinois’ parental notification abortion law approved by state lawmakers in 1995 is still in legal limbo after a divided Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear the legal case pending against the measure, LifeNews.com reported Sept. 1. The anti-choice Thomas More Society had submitted a motion to transfer, hoping the long-delayed, never-enforced law would finally be implemented.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, conceded to challenger Joe Miller in the Republican primary race, the Anchorage Daily News reported Aug. 31. The concession came after a day of counting absentee ballots in which Murkowski gained little ground on Miller, an attorney supported by former Gov. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express.
  • Estrogen receptors help female rats recover from injuries better than male counterparts, The Times of India reported Sept. 1, citing a recent study.
  • Women with certain high-risk genetic mutations–which dramatically increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers–were more likely to survive if they had preventive surgery to remove healthy ovaries and fallopian tubes, USA Today reported on Sept. 1, citing a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.