President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to require companies to give workers up to seven days of paid sick leave a year, USA Today reported Jan. 15. Obama will also take executive action to give at least six weeks of paid leave to federal employees after the birth or adoption of a child, Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett said. In addition, Obama wants Congress to spend $2.2 billion to help states and cities develop paid family leave programs.
"There’s simply no excuse for America to lag behind every other industrialized country by failing to provide paid family and medical leave and earned sick days to its workers," said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, who applauded Obama’s initiative.
The nonprofit campaign MakeitWork said in a press statement that they are "encouraged by the president’s proposals" and call for further steps to be taken. "We must also continue to fight for policies like affordable child care and equal pay for equal work that allow working women and men to make it work."
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Planned Parenthood launched a campaign urging President Obama to correctly interpret the Helms Amendment. In a press statement, the family planning provider calls on Obama to take immediate action to allow foreign assistance to cover abortions for women who have been raped, who are victims of incest or who face a life-endangering pregnancy in countries where those services are legally available. The Helms Amendment prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds "to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning." Women’s and health groups have criticized the language for being vague and confusing and leaving room for misinterpretation by aid recipients and USAID staff.
The last 20 years has seen a surge in the number of women employed in senior and middle management positions, according to a United Nations report published Jan. 12. However, the study, "Women in Business and Management: Gaining Momentum," notes that although all-male company boards are decreasing in number, more must be done to achieve gender parity.
The BBC and other broadcasters have been urged to tackle the lack of women in news and current affairs with measures including child care and more flexible working hours, The Guardian reported Jan. 15. A Lords committee in Britain also added there was evidence to suggest a bias against older women still existed in the broadcasting industry.
The United States received a slightly better grade for reproductive health and rights from the Population Institute in 2014, a "C" rather than a "C-." The slight improvement is mostly due to the drop in teen pregnancy rates and the expanded coverage of contraceptives services. The teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. is reported to have fallen 15 percent between 2008 and 2010 but still remains higher than in other countries. Yet, the institute underscores that although some gains have been made in reproductive health, it could be reversed if social conservatives prevail in Congress and the state legislatures.
The human rights arm of the Organization of American States is urging Canada to develop a national action plan or to hold a nationwide inquiry into the murders and disappearances of indigenous women, The Globe and Mail reported Jan. 12. The commission also recommends the development of data collection systems that will provide better information about murdered and missing indigenous women by ensuring that the race of victims and missing people are consistently recorded. It also demands better policies to ensure there is an appropriate response when an aboriginal woman disappears.
The nominations for the Academy Awards could be summed up in a few words this year: lack of diversity. The 20 lead and supporting actor nominees were all white, which is the second time this has happened in nearly 20 years, ABC News reported. It sparked the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, used mostly to criticize the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Women were also largely overlooked, especially in the category for best director. The category hasn’t seen a single female nominee since 2013, when Kathryn Bigelow won for her film "Zero Dark Thirty."
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Women in Mississippi earn on average $11, 500 less than men, according to the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women. The median income for women in Mississippi is $25,000, compared to $36,500 for men, The Clarion-Ledger reported Jan. 14.
The Steubenville, Ohio, schools superintendent resigned as part of a plea deal to dismiss all charges against him for allegedly deleting evidence and misleading authorities investigating the 2012 rape of a teenage girl by two football players, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Jan. 12.
Nearly 32 percent of male respondents to a study said they would force a woman to have sexual intercourse in a "consequence-free situation" — and many wouldn’t label or recognize their actions as "rape," BuzzFeed reported Jan. 14.
The U.S. House plans to vote on legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks on the same day as the annual March for Life Jan. 22, The Hill reported Jan. 13. It will coincide with the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Planned Parenthood expects the bill to fail.
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspaper in Israel appears to have edited out female world leaders from a photograph of the recent anti-terrorism rally in Paris, The Huffington Post reported Jan. 13.
Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licenses, BBC News reported Jan. 8. Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as "mental disorders" now barring people from driving.
African Americans currently account for nearly half of all new HIV diagnoses, and among females, 64 percent of new HIV diagnoses affect black/African American women. A series of articles reporting on the topic are available on the AIDS Patient Care and STDs website.
As the French abortion law, known as "La Loi Veil," is marking its 40th anniversary, a study released Jan. 15 shows that fewer women have an abortion, however the number of women who have more than one abortion is increasing, French media reported. The number of abortions per woman fell to 0.53 in the early 2010s compared to 0.66 in 1975, according to the National Institute of Demographic Studies. The study, however, found that among women who have undergone an abortion, 10 percent did it twice and 4 percent did it three times. One-in-three French women have voluntarily terminated a pregnancy during their life. The abortion law will turn 40 on Jan. 17.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) has opened its first Ebola treatment center to cure infected pregnant women, BBC News reported Jan. 14. The group says the death rate for expectant mothers is extremely high and health workers treating them, particularly during childbirth or miscarriage, are especially vulnerable to catching the virus. As a consequence, health workers treating women with pregnancy-related problems in Ebola-hit countries have to make life or death decisions for their patients and themselves, Reuters reported Jan. 14.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is backing California Attorney General Kamala Harris in the 2016 race for retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer‘s seat, The Huffington Post reported Jan. 14. Early this week, Harris jumped into the race for Boxer’s Senate seat.
A former journalist who wrote stories about women forced into sex slavery by Japan before and during World War II filed a defamation suit against a publisher and a scholar who accused him of fabricating the issue, The Associated Press reported Jan. 9.
A rising number of pregnant women in Brazil are choosing to give birth via Caesarean section to prevent permanent changes to their sex lives, The Daily Mail reported Jan. 12. The South American country’s Ministry of Health is launching a crackdown on the so-called "C-section epidemic" after new figures revealed 52 percent of births are Caesareans.
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