Sonia Sotomayor
Justice Sonia Sotomayor delayed key requirements of the Affordable Care Act impacting religious-affiliated groups this week.

Credit: Official White House photo by Pete Souza



The first female law firm has opened its doors in Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights in the kingdom, reported . Its founder along with three other female lawyers were granted licenses to practice law in the country two months ago. Now Saudi women can seek help, advice and legal aid from Bayan Mahmoud Al Zahran, the first Saudi female lawyer who launched the female law firm in Jeddah.

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A disabled 10-year-old girl is petitioning American Girl to create a doll with a disability, reported . With the help of her older sister, Melissa Shang created an online petition asking American Girl to release a “Girl of the Year for 2015 who is in a wheelchair so that all girls can learn about the difficulty of being born with a disability.”

Two women may make history in Texas in 2014, winning as an all-female ticket for governor and lieutenant governor, the reported . Democrat Wendy Davis is aiming to become the governor of a fiercely Republican state, while Sen. Leticia Van de Putte is running for lieutenant governor. If Davis and Van de Putte prevail in their March primaries as expected, they’ll form what political experts say is only the fifth time in at least the past 20 years that a party has nominated women for both governor and lieutenant governor.

Female advisors have larger client accounts and price more consistently, a Canadian study found. They also tend to serve more female investors in their books of business, reported . “These factors suggest women advisors are better positioned than men for future success,” according to PriceMetrix. Yet, women make up only 12 percent of the advisor workforce in the United States and Canada, PriceMetrix estimates.

The Rose Parade honored female pioneers in aviation during World War II with a float in the 2014 New Year’s Day parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif., reported. The float featured eight original members of the Women Air Force Service Pilots – or WASP – a group of female fliers who helped fill the void at home when male pilots were called to combat overseas.

The Israeli Defense Force appointed its first female battalion commander, Maj. Oshrat Bachar, reported .

For the first time since organized firefighting began in New York more than 350 years ago, a woman might be put in charge of the city’s firefighters, reported . Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s list of top candidates to run the city’s fire department includes three women. One of the three, retired fire Capt. Brenda Berkman, 62, also would be the first openly gay fire commissioner if she is selected. Another of the female candidates, attorney Mylan Denerstein, 46, would be the first African American female commissioner.

Israel will pay for abortions for women ages 20 to 33 regardless of circumstance starting next year, health officials said Dec. 30, adding that they hope to make eligibility for state funding universal in the future, reported. Until now, subsidized abortions for women of all ages were available in medical emergencies or in cases of rape and sexual abuse.

The national Sharia court in Pakistan appointed Dec. 30 a female judge for the first time in its 33-year history, reported. The court hears cases under the country’s Islamic legislation. Ashraf Jehan, 56, who was serving as an additional judge at the Sindh High Court, made history as she took the oath in Karachi.

A new law, which took effect Jan. 1, is now allowing domestic violence victims in California to give their landlords a simple form as proof that they have been abused to break their lease, reported . The law will make abuse survivors safer because they’ll more easily be able to move away.

Eight young Chinese women, most of them university students facing a tight job market, have “named and shamed” dozens of Chinese companies they say are illegally specifying that only men can apply for certain positions, reported . The women, who call themselves “volunteers” and aim to highlight gender discrimination in China, provided photographs of themselves with dozens of letters of complaint they say they mailed to local government offices on Dec. 26.


The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily delayed key requirements of the Affordable Care Act impacting religious-affiliated groups, reported . In a surprising twist just hours before the start of the New Year, when most major rules of Obamacare were set to take effect, Justice Sonia Sotomayor exempted two Catholic Church-affiliated nonprofits from having to provide contraceptive coverage to employees; the nonprofits were facing fines for non-compliance. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a charity congregation of Roman Catholics in Denver, and the Illinois-based Christian Brothers Services objected on moral and religious grounds and were excused from having to comply until Jan. 3 at least.

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Tens of thousands of Roman Catholics joined in an open-air mass in central Madrid to celebrate the Holy Family, just days after the Spanish government agreed to tighten the abortion law, reported . Many of them urged the government to go even further and implement an outright abortion ban without exceptions. Since 2010, women have been allowed to opt freely for abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The new law would allow abortion only in cases of rape or a threat to the physical or psychological health of the mother.

More than half of female employees in the United Kingdom have experienced some form of discrimination at work, according to the interim survey conducted into the experiences of Britain’s female workforce, reported . Almost a fifth of the women surveyed say that their careers have stalled because managers failed to promote them or offer training opportunities. Just over 1-in-10 experienced sexual harassment.

Mothers with young children are more likely to skip recommended radiation treatments after breast cancer surgery because of worries about the time involved, researchers found, reported .


Women who had unprotected sex with bisexual partners accounted for most of the new female HIV cases in New York in 2012, according to a new Health Department study, reported . Of the 647 women diagnosed with HIV in 2012, around three-quarters — 480 — had sex with infected men, the study said.

A law allowing abortion in some circumstances when a woman’s life is considered to be in danger has come into force in Ireland, reported . The law came into effect despite the fact that clinical guidelines for doctors to follow are not in place yet.

The Marine Corps has delayed the requirement for female Marines to do three pullups because most women have so far been unable to pass the test, reported . Starting Jan. 1, female recruits would have been required to perform three pullups to prove their upper body strength for combat, such as is required for male recruits. But 55 percent of female recruits could not complete all three pullups, compared to just 1 percent of male recruits who could not, so the requirement was delayed. Currently, female Marines only have to hold their chin above a pullup bar for 15 seconds.

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