Credit: Mark Dayton on Flickr, under Creative Commons
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton gave his final approval to a package of bills aimed at improving conditions for women in the workplace in the state, The Star Tribune reported May 11. The Women’s Economic Security Act requires about 1,000 state contractors to certify that they pay men and women equally for similar jobs, extends parental leave from 6 to 12 weeks and requires employers to make new accommodations for expectant and new mothers.
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The French region of Nantes invited male students for the second year in a row to come to school in skirts on May 16 to fight sexism and promote gender equality, French media reported May 14. Yet, the campaign, “Ce que souleve la jupe” or “What raises the skirt,” was attacked by some who say the schools are coercing male students to disguise in the opposite gender. Meetings and discussions around gender equality were organized in 27 high schools in Nantes on May 16.
The New York Police Department will no longer confiscate unused condoms from suspected sex workers to be used as evidence of prostitution, The Associated Press reported May 12. Under the new policy, officers may continue to seize condoms as evidence in sex trafficking and promotion of prostitution cases, but they will not use them in support of charging prostitutes.
A bill that would ban the use of restraints on pregnant inmates in labor for incarcerated women is about become law in Massachusetts. The text also requires more pre- and post-natal medical care for incarcerated women. The bill is now awaiting the governor’s signature.
American Express, General Mills, KPMG, Procter and Gamble and State Farm topped the 2014 Working Mother list as the best companies for women of color, Working Mother reported May 13.
Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe appointed five new members to the state Board of Health to review the potential damage done to women’s health access after the state ushered in a range of harsh restrictions on abortion clinics in 2011, MNSBC reported May 12. “This is not just a health issue; it’s an economic issue,” McAuliffe said. “In order to grow and diversify our economy, Virginia needs to be open and welcoming to all, and we need to ensure that all Virginia women have access to the health care resources they need.”
Maj. Gen. Kristin Lund, of Norway, has become the first woman to serve as force commander in a United Nations peacekeeping operation, U.N. News Center reported May 12. The force marks its 50th anniversary this year. Lund will lead the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
A 24-year-old American survivor of female genital mutilation is calling the U.S. government to help bring an end to FGM in the United States by gathering vital information about the practice in an effort to protect girls across the nation, The Guardian reported May 12. Jaha Dukureh is urging President Barack Obama to order the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out a new study on FGM in the U.S. that would establish how many American women and girls are at risk.
Lower-income women who signed up for a private policy in the new insurance exchanges will have access to additional coverage from their state’s Medicaid program if they become pregnant, The Associated Press reported May 12. Medicaid already pays for nearly half of U.S. births, but this would create a way for the safety-net program to supplement private insurance for many expectant mothers.
Six national and international groups have sent a letter to Spain‘s Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón calling on him to protect women’s access to safe and legal abortion by scrapping draft legislation that would ban abortion with only severely limited exceptions, Human Rights Watch said May 12. According to media reports, the government plans to introduce the bill in June.
Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in Asia are encountering abuse and discrimination without any protection of the state, a report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission found. Released May 13, it is the result of a two-year study in five countries: Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka. In addition to being criminalized through penal code provisions and religious laws due to their sexuality and gender non-conformity, LBT women are also targeted by political leaders. Government-controlled media contribute also to perpetuate cultural messaging that preaches intolerance against LBT women, according to the report.
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A top U.S. official told a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Africa subcommittee that Nigeria has been too slow to respond to the threat of Boko Haram. Al Jazeera reported May 15. “In general Nigeria has failed to mount an effective campaign against Boko Haram,” said Alice Friend, the Pentagon’s principal director for African affairs. Criticism has also been building within the country. The Nigerian Bar Association called on President Goodluck Jonathan to reconsider his position that the federal government would not negotiate with terrorists for the release of the over 200 girls abducted a month ago at Chibok, Borno State, This Day Live reported May 15. On May 15, Reuters ran a story about the difficulties of the high-profile rescue effort, including pessimistic estimates of the girls’ rescue chances.
A large number of women, most likely minorities and low-income, face significant barriers to health care and many are unaware of the benefits already in effect, according to a survey, The Washington Post reported May 15. Four-in-10 low-income women were uninsured at the end of 2013, compared to 5 percent of higher-income women. Twenty-two percent of black women and 36 percent of Hispanic women were uninsured. In terms of preventive care, 60 percent of women did not know that insurers must cover at least one preventive visit a year.
A Sudanese court has sentenced a pregnant woman to hang for apostasy after she left Islam and married a Christian man, BBC reported May 15. Local media reported the sentence would not be carried out for two years after she had given birth.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tried to bypass the Senate committee process and force a vote on his 20-week abortion ban, claiming he has friends who were born that early into a pregnancy, The Huffington Post reported May 13. Graham’s bill, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation based on the theory that fetuses can feel pain at that point. It contains exceptions for rape and incest victims and situations in which the woman would die without an abortion, but has no exceptions for severe fetal or maternal health problems discovered later in the pregnancy.
Women are almost twice as likely as men to live below the poverty line during retirement, with single and minority women struggling the most, CNN Money reported May 13. The inequality is the result of women earning and saving less over their lifetimes than men. Another factor is that women tend to live longer so that savings must last longer.
The Missouri Senate passed a bill that forces a woman who has already met with her health care professional and decided to have an abortion to delay getting the medical care she needs for at least three days, the ACLU said in a May 13 press statement. Women have been gathering in front of the Capitol since May 12 for an ongoing filibuster in protest of the bill.
A Delhi court ruled that sex between a husband and wife, “even if forcible, is not rape,” The New York Times reported May 12. The judge’s decision, which was made public May 10, upheld section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which does not recognize “sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age” as rape.
A study is arguing that cervical cancer rates in the United States are much higher than previously believed, Fox News reported May 12. When the researchers redid the calculations but excluded women with hysterectomies, who are no longer at risk, they found the rates increased from 11.7 to 18.6 per 100,000.
Nearly a quarter of women suffer from constant anxiety, according to new figures on the state of the United Kingdom‘s mental health. Twenty-two percent of women feel anxious a lot or all of the time, compared to 15 percent of men, The Independent reported May 12.
North Dakota appealed a federal judge’s ruling that overturned a state law banning abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, The Associated Press reported May 14. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ruled last month that the law is “invalid and unconstitutional” and that it “cannot withstand a constitutional challenge.
The firing of The New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to have the job, set off an intense controversy on whether she earned less than her predecessors. In a memo to staff, the publisher of The New York Times said, “It is simply not true that Jill’s compensation was significantly less than her predecessors,” New York Magazine reported May 15. On May 14 the company announced that Abramson, 60, was being replaced as executive editor. The New Yorker reported on May 16 that Abramson had received lower compensation than the men who she replaced throughout her career at The New York Times.
Nathalie Nougayrede, the first female editor in chief of the French newspaper Le Monde has quit, The Guardian reported. Nougayrede stepped down after a power struggle with top staff who staged a protest last week over her plans to revamp the newspaper.
Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Natalie Tennant both won their respective primaries on May 13 to become senator in West Virginia, MSNBC reported May 14. The battle, which will take place in November, will see the election of the first female senator in West Virginia history.
Pinterest has a nearly $4 billion valuation and the large majority (80 percent) of its users are women, Marketing Land reported May 12. According to RJMetrics’ analysis, more than 90 percent of all pins are created or shared by women.
More women should give birth with only midwives present, including at home, because that is better for them and their babies than labor wards where doctors are in charge, the United Kingdom government’s health advisers suggested, The Guardian reported May 12.
Increasing numbers of women in their late 30s and 40s are having abortions because they had wrongly assumed they were too old to become pregnant, according to experts, the Daily Mail reported May 12.
Women across Iran are posting photos of themselves without the hijab to a dedicated Facebook page called “My Stealthy Freedom,” BBC News reported May 12. The Facebook page was set up just over a week ago and already has 130,000 “likes.” In Iran, it is illegal for a woman to leave the house without wearing a headscarf. The punishment ranges from a fine to imprisonment.
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