Pelosi ‘Best Speaker’; Haiti Rapes Up Birth Rate

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Nancy Pelosi was named "the most effective speaker in U.S. History" by Ms. Magazine in a Jan. 5 press release. The magazine cited her role in guiding numerous major legislative measures to the president’s desk, including health care and financial regulation, the economic stimulus package, the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, SCHIP–which extended health coverage to 11 million children–and a minimum wage increase Pelosi, the first female House speaker, officially turned over her title Jan. 5 to Rep. John Boehner of Ohio. Pelosi was elected minority leader of the House with a winning vote of 150-43.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • House representatives and those from national women’s organization joined together outside the Capitol as the Constitution was being read on the House floor to highlight the absence of the Equal Rights Amendment and to push for its passage, reported a House of Representatives press release Jan. 6.

  • U.N. Women, a superagency that brings together four former U.N. agencies to promote gender equality and advance the rights of women, become operational Jan. 1.

  • Federal workers, according to new government personnel rules, who want to breastfeed on the job will be given access and time to do so, reported the Washington Post Jan. 3.

  • Dilma Rousseff was sworn into office Jan. 1 to become Brazil’s first female president, according to various press reports.

  • The U.K. government will funnel money into international development efforts to provide contraception and safe abortion to help save women’s lives in poor countries, reported the Guardian Dec. 31.




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Hundreds of women and girls have been sexually assaulted in Haiti in the chaos following last year’s earthquake, reported the BBC Jan. 6. A report by Amnesty International says armed gangs prowl the makeshift camps set up after the earthquake, preying on vulnerable women. The organization says the camps lack security and that police response is inadequate.

The sexual violence has led to hundreds of victims becoming pregnant by their attacker, reported MSNBC Jan. 6. Fueled by these attacks, the birth rate in Haiti has tripled since the earthquake.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Dozens of women were raped in a coordinated attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo on New Year’s Day, reported CNN Jan. 7.

  • Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab Province and a women’s rights advocate in Pakistan, was shot and killed Jan. 4 in Islamabad, reported Ms. Magazine Jan. 5.

  • State legislators in Iowa and Nebraska have announced their intention to try to ban telemedicine abortions, reported the Washington Post Dec. 31.


  • In an interview with California Lawyer, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that the Constitution itself does not protect women and gay men and women from discrimination.

  • A report indicates that 10 percent of teenagers claiming abstinence are infected with a sexually transmitted disease, reported CNN Jan. 3.

In Memoriam:

  • Geraldine Hoff Doyle, who is believed to be the unwitting model for the "We Can Do It!" poster of a woman flexing her biceps in a factory during World War II–an image that became a symbol for the American feminist movement–died on Jan. 2 in Lansing, Mich, reported the New York Times Dec. 29. She was 86.

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