thumb pointing upThe European Parliament voted in favor of a new proposal to raise required fully paid maternity leave to 20 weeks and paternity leave to two weeks, reported Agence France-Presse Oct. 20. The vote now goes before the European Union states for review and may be met with opposition.

Some governments have warned the new paid leave will add a huge burden to hard-pressed economies, while business leaders say it may work against giving jobs to women in the long term.

Currently, Britain leads in maternity leave with 52 weeks, though it only requires partial salary. Germany offers 14 weeks, France 16 weeks and Belgium 15 weeks for new mothers, according to the article. By contrast, the United States doesn’t require employers to provide any paid maternity leave, but most companies with over 50 employees are required to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, according to the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.


More News to Cheer This Week:


  • Twenty-year-old mother and criminology student Marisol Valles Garcia was appointed police chief for one of Mexico’s most dangerous municipalities in the border state of Chihuahua, reported Ms. Magazine Oct. 21. She was the only person to accept this position in a city where many police officers have been kidnapped or even murdered.
  • The National Economic Council released a report Oct. 21 concerning policies of the Obama administration that have promoted women’s economic security, reported the New York Times Oct. 21. The report cited several examples of supporting economic assistance programs where women are the primary beneficiary.
  • The four candidates for Rhode Island governor will sign a pledge to appoint more women to government positions if elected, reported the Boston Globe Oct. 21. Currently, only 15 percent of the governor-appointed positions in Rhode Island are held by women.
  • The International Sumo Federation is supporting women’s sumo wrestling to encourage its inclusion in the Olympic Games, the New York Times reported Oct. 20. In 1994, the International Olympic Committee declared single sex sports no longer candidates for the games.
  • Lynda Lovejoy may become the first female president of the country’s largest American Indian reservation, reported the Arizona Daily Star on Oct. 18. In the primary, Lovejoy garnered twice as many votes as any of her 11 opponents.
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo’s first lady, Olive Lembe Kabila, led thousands of women on a march against sexual violence, reported the BBC Oct. 17. The demonstration rallied against the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war as well as restoring the dignity of Congolese women.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has convened an Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women, the CDC announced Oct. 15. The committee will be responsible for developing initiatives to increase knowledge of breast health and breast cancer among women.




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Ten years after the landmark U.N. Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security Resolution 1325 was signed, progress for involving women in conflict resolution and peace building remains crippled by inadequate resources and weak political will.


Only 16 percent of peace agreements contain specific provisions on women’s rights and needs and gender equality projects receive less than 6 percent of overall funding budgets in post-conflict countries.


U.N. officials presented these and other findings at U.N. headquarters in New York on Oct. 21, marking the resolution’s 10-year anniversary. They also relayed the concerns and recommendations of more than 1,500 women who engaged in forums during the summer with senior U.N. representatives in 27 conflict-affected countries.

"The idea was to get straight to a new start on a new decade and say, ‘women’s voices count for peace.’ They have to be heard and we will do everything to be sure they are heard all the time," said Anne Marie Goetz, chief advisor of governance, peace and security for the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

Three main goals emerged from the forums, Goetz said.

No. 1: Women want equal participation in peace talks, donor conferences and elections.

No. 2: Women want justice and security-sector reform to improve their legal rights and safety.

No. 3: Women want greater measures to ensure employment, land rights and economic security.

A woman has never served as a chief mediator in peacekeeping negotiations, but the creation of U.N. Women–a superagency of four existing U.N. agencies focused on women –could change that, Goetz told Women’s eNews.

U.N. Women is set to launch in January 2011 under the direction of Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile who was appointed in September.

U. N. Women is partnering with the U.N. Department of Political Affairs, which manages peace talks, reconciliation and conflict resolution, with a joint strategy on gender and mediation.

"We are developing a rich roster of women potential mediators to build gender training for all mediators and most of all to mobilize women on the ground when an opportunity comes up to engage in peace talks," Goetz said.

The U.N. agency has rallied women on the ground for this purpose before, but only on a random basis.


–Amy Lieberman


More News to Jeer This Week:

  • The Fawcett Society, a feminist group in the U.K., has challenged the proposed budget cuts in the Treasury in court for its failure to give "due regard" to the impact on women, reported the Guardian Oct. 22. Many of the cuts disproportionately affect women, such as the cut of 500,000 public sector jobs and severe welfare cuts.
  • A new 50-state survey analyzed prison policy and found a large portion of female prisoners who have children or are pregnant are not receiving adequate care or fair treatment, the Associated Press reported Oct. 21. Many states came up short with only one state, Pennsylvania, receiving an A.
  • A top court in the United Arab Emirates ruled Oct. 19 that under Islamic law a man has the right to beat his wife and children, reported Ms. Magazine Oct. 20. The law permits beating as long as no marks are left and the man has tried other forms of discipline.
  • A federal appeals court in California temporarily restored the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy Oct. 20, reported USA Today Oct. 21. Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a memo Oct. 21 saying that until further notice, only five senior Defense Department officials will have the authority to expel openly gay service members, reported the New York Times Oct. 21.
  • Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company, Paamco, a hedge fund investment firm said to be owned and run by women, is being questioned as to whether it is actually under female control, the New York Times reported Oct. 18. S. Donald Sussman, a hedge fund mogul who has bankrolled some of the biggest (male) names in the business, has quietly stood behind Paamco for years, pocketing much of its profit, the article reported.
  • A new study indicates that the commercial real estate industry is made up of more women in 2010 than in 2005, but issues with salary and promotion levels between men and women remain, stated a PR Newswire release Oct. 19.
  • The social pressures faced by many women in India are double for lesbians in the country, the New York Times reported Oct. 19. A woman who reveals that she is a lesbian risks disinheritance, and in parts of the country where women must have permission from their families to work outside the home, the option of moving out to live one’s own life does not exist.
  • Alzheimer’s disease affects twice as many women as it does men, according to a new report by the Alzheimer’s Association, Kansas City infoZine reported Oct. 19. The report indicated that two-thirds of the people living with Alzheimer’s today are women and 60 percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers are women.



  • A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found birth rates among U.S. teens are highest in southern states and lowest in the Northeast and upper Midwest, reported Reuters Oct. 20. The study indicates that states with abstinence-only education have higher rates of teen pregnancy than states with "comprehensive, evidence-based sex education."
  • The Service Employees International Union is spending $250,000 to air a new ad accusing Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for the Nevada Senate seat, of not supporting women, the Atlantic reported Oct. 21. The ad points to Angle’s stated opposition to abortion in the cases of rape and incest, as the candidate expressed in radio interviews saying "two wrongs don’t make a right."
  • An Iranian lawyer says the trial of three American hikers accused of spying will begin in early November, BBC reported Oct. 20. Two of the hikers are being held in a Tehran prison, while the third, Sarah Shourd, returned to the U.S. after her release on bail in September. Shourd wrote an article for Women’s eNews immediately prior to her arrest.A trial date of Nov. 6 has been set and that the three faced charges of espionage and illegally entering the country.
  • Hormone treatment after menopause, already known to increase the risk of breast cancer, also makes it more likely that the cancer will be advanced and deadly, a study by Women’s Health Initiative finds, the New York Times reported Oct. 20.
  • A Gallup survey released last month about the 2010 election found the top issues on the minds of Americans include the economy, jobs, "dissatisfaction" with government, the federal budget deficit, health care and immigration, The Daily Caller reported Oct. 20.
  • A national anti-choice group blocked from putting up a billboard in Ohio is challenging the Ohio election law standing in its way, the Washington Post reported Oct. 19. The billboard was against an anti-choice Democratic congressman from Ohio, who the group argues actually supports abortions because he voted in favor of Obama’s healthcare reform.
  • Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware questioned whether the Constitution calls for a separation of church and state in the First Amendment in a debate at Widener University Law School today, the Associated Press reported Oct. 19. Her opponent, Democratic nominee Chris Coon, said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn’t belong in our public schools." O’Donnell said that this is imposing Coons’ belief on local schools that should be able to "teach what they feel."
  • Women are President Obama’s most urgent target in the last stretch before the elections, the Washington Post reported Oct. 19. Many women are undecided and there are signs in parts of the country that they are open to switching to the Republicans, potentially defying the long-standing "gender gap" that has skewed heavily toward Democratic candidates.