Spain Goes Pink; Pregnant Women Scammed in Texas

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersSpanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero has invited nine female ministers to join his 17-member cabinet during his second term, forming the first female-majority cabinet in the nation’s history. Currently, more than 36 percent of Spain’s lawmakers are women, and party electoral lists must be 40 percent female.”The most unfair domination is that of one half of humanity over the other,” Zapatero told the Earth Times on April 14. “The more equality women will have, the more civilized and tolerant society will be.”In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi was re-elected prime minister on April 16, and said Zapatero’s government was “too pink,” contending that Italy lacked enough qualified women in government to serve at top levels. He pledged to have four female ministers.In Kenya, women cracked the political glass ceiling, with President Mwai Kibaki appointing seven women to his cabinet, a national record. Kibaki promised to reserve 30 percent of all public appointments and elective positions for women, Nairobi’s The Nation reported April 14.Across the world, women now comprise just under 19 percent of members in national legislative bodies, the Geneva-based International Parliamentary Union said in an April 16 report, up from 11 percent in 1975.

New High for Political Women; Katrina Hardship Lingers

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The number of women in Congress reached a new record with the April 8 election of Jackie Speier, a Democrat from Hillsborough, Calif., to fill a vacancy. Eighty-seven women now serve in Congress: 16 in the Senate and 71 in the House, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Of these, 20–or 23 percent–are women of color.

Inmates’ Rights Protected; Nurses Face Bullying

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersThe United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling protecting female inmates’ constitutional right to leave jail to have an abortion on March 24.In 2005 correction officials in Maricopa County, Ariz., stalled a woman’s request for an abortion because she did not have a court order to obtain it. At the time, the county only provided transportation for “medically necessary procedures.” It took the woman seven weeks to get the order, CNN reported.In the case, Arpaio v. Doe, the woman won a lawsuit requiring the state to provide inmates with access to off-site abortions. The county appealed but the Supreme Court dismissed it. A similar appeal from Missouri is expected to reach the high court this summer.More News to Cheer This Week: The United Arab Emirates appointed its first female judge, Kholoud al-Dahiri, by presidential decree March 26.

Canada, Mexico Push Safety; Teen Stats Shock U.S.

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Canada and Mexico are confronting domestic violence with centralized agencies and stronger databases for perpetrators and survivors.
Canada pledged $1.1 million toward a centralized family violence center that will serve as a support system for over 3,000 people, particularly Aboriginal women and girls, in Edmonton, the Edmonton Journal reported March 8.

Int’l Women’s Day Reports Document Gains, Intense Need

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An abundance of good news appeared during the first week of women’s history month.
Women’s equality is important or very important to 84 percent of men and 86 percent of women among 14,896 respondents polled in the world’s 16 largest nations, according to a poll prepared for the March 8 observation of International Women’s Day, conducted by Washington, D.C.-based World Public Opinion.

African Women Seek Peace; Army Moms Given Only 6 Weeks

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersThe African Network of Women Peace Negotiators–founded by Africa’s first ladies and female heads of state–was formed on Feb. 15 to reduce conflict and restore peace across the continent during a peace mission meeting in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville, U.N. news agency IRIN reported.”Brazzaville will be the starting point of action of women for peace on the continent,” said the first lady of Chad, Hinda Deby Itno. “Unlike men, who are the first to set them off, we have the opportunity and means to extinguish all these hotbeds of tension and crisis in our country.”Current conflict zones include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Chad, and wars have recently affected Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, the Central African Republic and other nations across Africa. The United Nations has spent nearly 65 percent of its current peacekeeping budget in Africa.”Africa is one of the forgotten conflicts, the bloodiest the world has ever known since the Second World War,” said Gisele Mandaila, Belgium’s secretary of state for family. “The figures speak for themselves; civilians, mostly women, pay a heavy price for these conflicts.”More News to Cheer This Week:In Afghanistan, parliamentarian Fatima Nazari created a new women’s political party–National Need–to put women’s rights at the forefront of the national agenda.

U.N. Tackles FGM; Rapes in Japan Fan Flames

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The United Nations has launched a $44 million program to reduce female genital mutilation by 40 percent by 2015, the Inter Press Service reported Feb. 12.
Ghana, Uganda, Morocco and Eritrea have passed laws banning female genital mutilation. In Nigeria, 11 of 36 states have introduced legislation against it. Egypt and Yemen have banned health-care professionals from performing the procedure.

Indigenous Women Rise Up; Rape Rumble in S. Africa

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersIndigenous women from the mountainous Oaxaca region in Southern Mexico are mobilizing for their right to political representation and participation. The Mexican constitution grants equal rights to women and men, but in about one-fourth of indigenous villages, customary laws prevail and women are barred from voting or running for office. Eufrosina Cruz won a mayoral race in her village, Santa Maria Quiegolani, in November but the vote was nullified by elders. She is contesting the results in court, the Associated Press reported Jan. 27.After national elections that put few women in power, Guatemala’s indigenous groups are demanding a seat at the decision-making table, Prensa Libre news agency reported Jan.