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The number of female-owned firms in the United States grew 59 percent between 1997 and 2013, one-and-a-half times the national average, according to a 2013 American Express report on the State of Women-Owned Businesses, Forbes reported Aug. 13. About 8.6 million U.S. female-owned businesses are now generating more than $1.3 trillion in revenues and providing jobs for 7.8 million workers. While the number of companies owned by women increased, the smaller-than-average size of these businesses leaves plenty of room for growth.

More News to Cheer This Week:

The Riyadh metro, scheduled for completion in 2019, may provide far greater independence for women, Businessweek reported Aug.15. Women and children will have their own compartments, separate from men, allowing them to travel the city without escorts and controls. Riyadh is the largest city in Saudi Arabia.

Pentagon announced its intention on improving the legal system for victims of sexual assault in the military, The New York Times reported Aug.15. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said his department would extend a pilot program giving victims of sexual assault their own legal representation and would consider allowing them more influence in the sentencing phase of trials. The provisions do not change the power commanders have to decide which cases to try, to select juries and to unilaterally overturn convictions. A day earlier, on August 15, the Defense Department announced that it would begin offering benefits to the same-sex spouses of military personnel and other employees by early September, in response to the Supreme Court decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, The New York Times reported.

First Lady Michelle Obama thinks America is ready for a female president, The Huffington Post reported Aug. 15. "Yes, I think the country is ready for it. It’s just a question of who’s the best person out there," Obama told Parade magazine. She refused to speculate on the political future of Hillary Clinton often named as a potential 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. The First Lady said with certainty that she would never run for president herself.

In Egypt some activists have set up an initiative called "harassing the harassers" aimed at curbing sexual assaults in the country, Al Arabiya reported Aug. 13. The group was set up in response to the alleged killing of a young woman last week, who was run over by her harasser after she refused his advances. The group’s volunteers, who wear a special uniform, combat harassment by detaining alleged perpetrators and writing the words "I am a harasser" on their backs. A movement called "You Witnessed Harassment," has also been launched. People can take photos or videos of the apparent incident of harassment, publish the images online and expose the alleged molesters on a forum. Against this backdrop, another group of Egyptian activists has called on women to replace their slacks and jeans with dresses as a symbolic show of freedom and defiance in the face of the rising cases of sexual harassment, All Africa reported Aug. 13. The activists have launched a campaign under the slogan "We Will Wear Dresses" and created pages to promote it on Facebook and Twitter to confront sexual harassment in the streets and public transportation.

A government study finds the percentage of married couples having trouble conceiving has dropped slightly in recent years, the Associated Press reported Aug. 14. About 6 percent of married women under 45 failed to get pregnant after at least a year of sex without contraception, according to the report. That’s down from 9 percent some three decades ago.

Tunisia celebrated Women’s Day on Aug. 13, which marked the 57th anniversary of the country’s central piece of women’s rights legislation, the Code of Personal Status, Tunisia Live reported Aug. 13. Decreed in 1956, the series of laws is designed to reduce gender inequality by granting women specific rights in cases of adoption, marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. The laws also abolished polygamy and guaranteed women the right to equal pay and education. The law is perceived as one of the most progressive women’s rights laws in the Arab world.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani appointed a woman, Elham Aminzadeh, as his vice-president for legal affairs, citing her scientific competence, judicial qualifications and legislative experience, as well as her "moral merits," according to the Fars News Agency, The Haaretz reported Aug. 12. The cabinet appointment is subject to the approval of Iranian lawmakers.

The U.S. Air Force Academy gained its first female superintendent as Maj. Gen. Michelle Johnson formally took the academy’s top job this week, the Associated Press reported Aug. 12. Johnson is a Rhodes scholar and a command pilot who graduated from the academy in 1981 and later taught there.


A female member of Afghanistan’s parliament was kidnapped by the Taliban in eastern Ghazni province and is being held in exchange for four insurgents detained by the government, the Associated Press reported Aug. 14. Fariba Ahmadi Kakar was kidnapped Aug. 10 while driving from Kabul to the southern province of Kandahar.

More News to Jeer This Week:

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of legislation that would have allowed women to sell their eggs for medical research, The Huffington Post reported Aug.15. The move has infuriated some women’s rights supporters. "Not everything in life is for sale nor should it be," Brown, a Democrat, wrote in his veto message. The author of the bill that would have allowed the sale of human eggs for research, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), called Brown’s statement "regressive" and "very troubling."

More than 4,000 U.S. women were denied abortions in 2008 because they had surpassed the gestational age limit for the legal procedure, according to new research published in the American Journal of Public Health. But those women — who ultimately carried unwanted pregnancies to term — were forced to delay their abortions because they needed to save up money, either to pay for the procedure itself or to fund their travel to a clinic, Think Progress reported Aug. 16.

An Iranian woman has been barred from office – apparently because religious conservatives deemed her "too attractive," The Huffington Post reported Aug. 14. Nina Siahkali Moradi took more than 100,000 votes in Qazvin city’s council elections, finishing 14th out of 163 candidates and winning a seat. Yet it seems the 27-year-old was effectively disqualified because she was regarded too good-looking to take up the post.

Abortion opponents in Ohio plan to reintroduce a proposal to effectively ban the procedure after the first fetal heartbeat is detected, sometimes as early as six weeks into pregnancy, The Columbus Dispatch reported Aug. 15. About 40 of the 99 Ohio House members have signed onto the bill as co-sponsors.

More American workers are asking for flex time than ever before, but according to a new study by researchers from the Yale School of Management, Harvard Business School and the University of Texas-Austin, female employees aren’t getting it, The Huffington Post reported Aug. 13. Their male coworkers, however, are a different story. The study, "The Flexibility Stigma," published in a special issue of the Journal of Social Issues. found that bosses favor men when it comes to granting requests for flex time.

"Fifty Shades of Grey," the best-selling novel that’s promoted as a tale of erotic romance, perpetuates the problem of violence against women, a study finds, The Michigan State University reported Aug. 12. Reporting in the Journal of Women’s Health, Amy Bonomi and co-authors conclude that emotional and sexual abuse is pervasive in the novel, with the main female character, Anastasia, suffering harm as a result. "This book is perpetuating dangerous abuse standards and yet it’s being cast as this romantic, erotic book for women," said Bonomi, lead author of the study. "The erotic content could have been accomplished without the theme of abuse."

A GOP super PAC asked its backers to "slap" Hillary Clinton in an online game, and Democrats are calling on the Republican National Committee to condemn the group’s campaign, ABC News reported Aug. 12. In the game buttons allow visitors to play audio of Clinton speaking, then slap her mid-stream. UltraViolet has launched an online petition to take the game down. The game mimics a "Slap Palin" game launched by a fringe group in 2008 and aimed at then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Eleven U.S. states are now prohibited abortion by telemedicine, according to the Guttmacher Institute, USA TODAY reported Aug .11. That’s a process in which women take pregnancy-ending medication that a doctor remotely administers during a video conference.

Thieves in the Venezuelan coastal city of Maracaibo are assaulting women at an increasing rate to cut off chunks of their hair, Time Magazine reported Aug. 12. The hair is then sold to beauty salons, where natural hair can go for more than $500 to be used in hair extensions. The news was first reported by CNN Aug. 7.

The Bronx, N.Y., announced late last week that it would close North Central Bronx Hospital’s labor and delivery wing — where 1,500 children were born last year, roughly 10 percent of the borough’s total births, the New York Daily News reported Aug.12. Those services will be now provided at Jacobi Medical Center which is located four miles away. Nurses view the decision as "an attack on lower income and underserved neighborhoods." The City claims merger will provide better care.


Donald Trump made his first political visit to Iowa last weekend, speaking to conservative Christians, stoking speculation about his political plans, NBC News reported Aug. 11. He warned that Republicans will have a "really tough" time in the 2016 presidential race if Clinton runs.

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