Koike Runs in Japan; Black Women Carry HIV Burden

(WOMENSENEWS)–Cheers Yuriko Koike is the first woman in Japan to seek national leadership after announcing the she will run for prime minister within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the Sept. 22 elections, Agence France-Presse reported. Koike is the nation’s first female defense minister and said she would run following the Sept. 8 resignation of Yasuo Fukuda as prime minister.”I would like to put into practice policies from the viewpoint of women, so that female power can be put to better use and women can be a part of society while being free from anxiety to give birth and raise children,” Koike said at a news conference, Japan Times reported.Koike, with 16 years of political experience under her belt, also pledged to focus on the economy and the environment.Facing at least four male contenders for party leadership–a requisite to become Japan’s prime minister–her candidacy remains a long shot. Japan ranked 91 out of 128 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2007 Global Gender Gap Report.More News to Cheer This Week: More than 1.4 million economic stimulus checks disbursed to “deadbeat” parents this year by the federal government have been seized and directed to their custodial parents, most of whom are women, the Associated Press reported Sept.

New Promise in HIV Fight; Bush Budget Axes Aid

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersAIDS researchers have reported a breakthrough in developing microbicide gels to combat HIV, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Feb. 5. Microbicide gels have been eagerly anticipated by anti-AIDS activists because they can be applied without a male sex partner’s consent and may be more acceptable to some partners than using condoms for protection.Researchers at a Boston conference announced they had found a low-cost way of reproducing a specific anti-HIV molecule that scientists previously thought would be too cost-prohibitive, making distribution of microbicides more difficult to women in the developing world, which has the highest HIV infection rates.They also found that a drug already being used to prevent HIV transmission during childbirth with a single dose can also cut transmission when continued during breastfeeding. A regimen of the drug nevirapine reduced the rate of HIV transmission from mother to child by half in six-week-old infants and by a third among infants after six months, Science Daily reported Feb. 5The World Health Organization estimated that 150,000 infants become HIV-positive through breastfeeding each year.More News to Cheer This Week:Over 16 women’s rights advocacy groups are fighting to put an end to female genital mutilation in Sierra Leone, Agence France Presse reported Feb 6.

Rwanda’s AIDS Effort Offers Zambia a Lesson

Zambia is receiving hefty U.S. funding for its anti-AIDS effort but is showing much less for it than nearby Rwanda. A comparison of the countries suggests two key ingredients of success: strong condom promotion and support of women’s rights.