Nicaraguan Activists Press Abortion Legal Case

A case that tests an abortion ban in Nicaragua is being reviewed by the nation’s Supreme Court this spring. Activists say the law imperils the lives of women and it looms large as a symbol of the economic and health inequalities they routinely face.

U.N. Impugns Impunity; Saudi Raped Teen Faces Lash

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersThe United Nations marked International Women’s Day, designated in many countries as a national holiday, with a resolution to prevent perpetrators of violence against girls and women from escaping with impunity, a U.N. press release reported March 8.”Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said and called on diplomats, international advocates and private sector organizations to work for gender equity at all levels of society.From Feb. 26 to March 9, the U. N. Commission on the Status of Women held meetings on ending discrimination and violence against girls. In a forum moderated by CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, girls described problems they personally faced in their regions. The speakers included former child soldiers, factory workers, sex workers and rape victims who had escaped exploitation by joining groups and appealing to local leaders for change.”What is unachievable if given an opportunity?” asked Sunita Tamang, a 16-year-old matchstick factory worker from Nepal who has found time to attend school on top of her job.

Women’s Soccer in the Works; FDA Cuts Health Funds

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersA U.S. professional women’s soccer league is in the works for an April 2008 launch, with plans to form teams in Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago and Washington, and is working to find a sixth city to host a team, the Associated Press reported Feb. 27. Two other franchises are planned for 2009.The league, organized by the Women’s Soccer Initiative, will replace the Women’s United Soccer Association, which folded in 2003 after low ticket sales. Tonya Antonucci, the initiative’s CEO, said the new league was working to reduce costs and each team would operate on annual budgets between $1.5 million and $2.5 million.

Millions More for Birth Control; Docs Keep Mum

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersCongressional Democrats on Feb. 5. introduced a package of bills designed to increase access to contraception and reduce unplanned pregnancies in the United States.The Reid-Slaughter Prevention First Act proposes an increase in funding for family planning programs to $699 million from $283 million. The higher amount reflects where the budget for the national family planning program–or Title X–would be if it had kept up with inflation since 1980.”If we want to reduce the number of abortions in this country, the methodology is clear: empower women to prevent unintended pregnancies through education and access to contraception,” Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, a co-sponsor, said in a statement.The New York-based Guttmacher Institute reports that nearly half of pregnancies of U.S. women are unintended, and 4 in 10 of those pregnancies end in abortion.Slaughter also introduced a bill to encourage greater female participation in sports in high schools, her office announced Feb. 7.

New Era for Female Pols; Chemo Rations Shorted

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersThe influence of women in U.S. electoral politics bodes well for the entry of New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton into the presidential race, the Washington Post reported Jan. 21.In the last presidential election, 9 million more women than men voted. Although Clinton has had “rocky moments with female voters” in the past, a Jan. 19 Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that she has a 59 percent favorable rating among U.S. women nationwide. Among women over 55, Clinton’s approval rating has improved by 10 percentage points in the past year.

Bias Suit Settled; California Urges Sterilization

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersThe Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Akron, Ohio, has settled a pay discrimination case filed by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2005. The company has agreed to pay $925,000 to over 800 women who were denied jobs at its plant in Danville, Va., in the 1990s and up to 60 of the women who were seeking jobs, the Associated Press reported Jan. 16.Because Goodyear is a federal contractor, it is prohibited from discriminatory employment practices. Announcing the settlement, the Labor Department’s Charles E. James Sr. said the agreement “puts federal contractors on notice that the Labor Department is serious about eliminating systemic discrimination.”Goodyear said they did not believe their practices were discriminatory, but settling the case was in the company’s best interests.The Supreme Court is currently reviewing a separate pay discrimination case involving Goodyear, in which Lilly Ledbetter, an employee at an Alabama tire plant, alleged that she received lower wages than her male colleagues for 19 years. Ledbetter filed suit after she discovered the discrepancies.

House Hikes Minimum Wage; Aussies Ban Plan B

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersUnder the new leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House of Representatives voted 315 to 116 this week to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 proposes to raise the minimum wage in three increments over the next two years.”Today women and minority workers are overrepresented among minimum wage workers,” said Rep. Hilda L. Solis, D-Calif., in a press release. “Too many women struggle to make ends meet throughout their working life and retirement. The Fair Minimum Wage Act will give 1.4 million working mothers a pay raise.”The Fair Minimum Wage Act also includes workers from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory that has historically been exempt from U.S. labor laws but one that has a garment industry that relies heavily on the cheap labor of women. The act proposes to raise the Mariana minimum wage from the current $3.05 per hour to meet the U.S. minimum wage in half-dollar increments every six months.The White House issued a Jan.