Malawi President Joyce Banda (left) and Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a women's rights event.
Malawi President Joyce Banda (left) and Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a women’s rights event.


Credit: Travis Lupick/tlupick on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).



Malawi’s first female president, Joyce Banda, is pushing for family planning efforts in her African nation. In her first speech to the U.N. General Assembly she called for a focus on the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people stating that, “The biggest threats to security and peace are poverty, lack of opportunity and lack of hope,” according to a press release from The Aspen Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health Sept. 26.

Her new Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood will provide better access to reproductive health services for women in Malawi, in the hopes that girls will stay in school longer instead of becoming pregnant. In an interview with CNN Banda said, “When we empower women with education and access to reproductive health services, we can lift an entire nation.”

More News to Cheer This Week:

Members of the Canadian Parliament defeated a controversial motion that would reopen the abortion debate to decide whether and when a fetus should be declared a child before birth, reported The Huffington Post Sept 26. The motion was defeated by a vote of 203-91.

Despite deadly risks, more Afghan girls are enrolled in school than ever before, reported CNN Sept. 26. For many girls in Afghanistan, walking to school can be a life-threatening journey. There were at least 185 documented attacks on schools and hospitals in Afghanistan last year, according to the United Nations. But there are now 3 million girls in school, more than ever before.

Legislators in Uruguay voted to legalize abortion, reported USA Today Sept. 26. The legislation would give women the right to a legal abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and decriminalize later-term abortions when the mother’s life is at risk or when the fetus is so deformed that it wouldn’t survive after birth. In cases of rape, abortions would be legal during the first 14 weeks.

President Obama delivered a speech on human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative calling it “barbaric” and “evil,” reported The Washington Post Sept. 25. Obama’s administration has issued new executive orders in an attempt to strengthen prohibitions against trafficking for government contractors and subcontractors.

A Planned Parenthood program launched at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting aims to train young people in Latin America and Africa to provide birth control counseling and to help their peers locate services.

While women make up about 10 percent of winemakers in California, they comprise 23 percent of California wineries that made it into the acclaimed wine reference directory Opus Vino in 2010, according to a study, reported the Associated Press Sept 25.

A test for cervical cancer that can be administered at home was introduced in El Salvador and has hopes of screening 30,000 over the next two years, reported the New York Times Sept. 24.

Thirteen New York City high schools will now be able to provide Plan B to students, as well as birth control, in order to combat teen pregnancy, reported the New York Post Sept. 24. Of the 2,200 girls in the city in 2011 who became mothers by the time they were 17, about 70 percent dropped out of school.

The only female minister in Morocco, Bassima Hakkaoui, has vowed to push legislation combating violence against women that has been stalled in parliament for close to a decade, reported the Associated Press Sept. 24.

A five-year program funded by USAID and UKAID aims to provide contraception to almost 1.5 million Ugandans, reported AllAfrica Sept. 24. That includes an expected 12 million condoms, 8,000 IUDs, 1.7 million pill cycles and 3 million injectaplan, a birth control shot.

Four genetically distinct types of breast cancer have been identified by researchers, which could lead to new precise treatments, reported the New York Times Sept. 23.

A California judge rejected Wal-Mart’s attempt to have a gender discrimination lawsuit dismissed, although he said he would now review the evidence to see if the case can be filed as a class, reported Reuters Sept. 21.


Four of five women in Yemen said their life has worsened in the past year since the revolution, according to the international organization Oxfam, reported the LA Times Sept. 25. The group also claims that one of every four women in the country is malnourished. Oxfam focused specifically on the problems affecting Yemeni women, who have fallen to the bottom of annual World Economic Forum rankings for the gender gap in access to health, education and economic opportunity.

More News to Jeer This Week:

Female paramedic students in Kashmir, India, staged a sit-in to protest their grades and were beaten by policewomen with batons. The students wanted their exams re-graded after 5,000 of 7,000 students failed. Photos by Reuters were posted on Buzzfeed Sept. 26.

An anti-choice activist who filed as a candidate in Kentucky’s 2nd District so he could run ads targeting abortion rights is planning to air graphic advertisements involving fetuses, reported the Associated Press Sept. 25.

A school board in Springfield, Texas, voted to allow “opposite-gender” paddling, for male teachers to paddle female students and female teachers to paddle male students, as long as parents sign off, reported the LA Times Sept. 25. Same-gender paddling is already allowed. The issue came up after the mothers of two girls came forward and said that their daughters were bruised from the corporal punishment.

About 400 Nigerian women making a pilgrimage to Mecca were held at a Saudi airport because they were traveling without male relatives, reported the Associated Press Sept. 24. They were eventually allowed to continue. A spokesperson for Nigeria’s National Hajj Commission said there was a misunderstanding and that an agreement between the two countries exempts Nigerian women from needing a male escort.

A recent experiment to gauge whether discrimination exists in science departments showed a clear gender bias in the hiring decisions of science faculty, according to Scientific American‘s blog Sept. 23. The study submitted identical resumes to scientists who were supposed to rate how qualified the applicant was for a lab manager position. Resumes with female names were given poorer assessments across the board, including in competence and hire-ability.


President Obama has widened his lead over Romney and is outperforming him on nearly every major campaign issue, especially women’s reproductive health, reported The New York Times Sept. 26. Sixty percent of voters in Florida, 59 percent of voters in Ohio and 58 percent of voters in Pennsylvania feel Obama would do a better job on women’s reproductive health issues.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has released an ad blasting opponent Todd Akin for comments he made that in cases of “legitimate” rape, women’s bodies can prevent pregnancy, reported Slate Sept. 26. The ad was released after the final deadline for Akin to drop out of the race passed.

Would you like to Comment but not sure how? Visit our help page at

Would you like to Send Along a Link of This Story?