Undercovered Stories: Family Incomes Decline, Soup Kitchen Lines Grow
A little more than a year since Harvard University President Lawrence Summers ignited a furor by suggesting women may lack the aptitude for science and math, the first names coming up as his possible successor are mostly women. Harvard German professor Judith Ryan, one of the leaders of the anti-Summers faction, said it would be "delightful" if Harvard had its first woman president.
An Indiana Senate committee gutted two emotionally charged bills that could have shut down abortion clinics and required doctors to tell women that life begins at conception. The most significant provision now is a new requirement that doctors tell women seeking an abortion that there are families waiting and willing to adopt. Already, doctors must inform women about alternatives to abortion, including adoption, the risks of the procedure and that an ultrasound of their fetus is available.
Source: The Indianapolis Star
The FDA is about to begin a new review of the abortion pill RU-486, which some have blamed for the sudden deaths of four American women. A scientific review of the cases fails to definitively link the drug to the fatalities.
Source: Women's eNews
Economic Justice/In the Workplace
Women and minorities are still sharply underrepresented in America's corporate board rooms, according to a survey released by recruiting firm Spencer Stuart on Tuesday. A study of 2,357 directors of the top 200 Standard & Poor's 500 companies found that 16 percent of the directors are women and 15 percent are minorities.
Economist and author Sylvia Ann Hewlett said women are still being shortchanged in the work force and companies need to look for an alternative to the "white male model."
The average income of American families, after adjusting for inflation, declined by 2.3 percent in 2004 compared to 2001 while their net worth rose but at a slower pace. The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that the drop in inflation-adjusted incomes left the average family income at $70,700 in 2004. The median, or point where half the families earned more and half less, did rise slightly in 2004 after adjusting for inflation to $43,200, up 1.6 percent from the 2001 level.
As the economy has steadily grown over the past four years, so too has the number of Americans going hungry. America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest charitable food distribution network, is now providing help to more than 25 million people, an 8 percent increase over 2001, the last time the organization did a major survey of its more than 200 food banks in all 50 states.
Source: Christian Science Monitor
An Iraqi television reporter famed for the courage of her work on the frontline was among the victims of the country's latest paroxysm of violence. Atwar Bahjat, 30, was sent yesterday to the city of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, to cover the bombing of a revered Shia shrine. She took with her a three-strong crew, but no bodyguards, despite the fact that dozens of foreign and Iraqi journalists have been killed during the war.
Source: Times Online
Since the summer of 2002, septuagenarian Fazel Hadi Shinwari has run Afghanistan's Supreme Court like the respected Islamic scholar he is. He has banned the Afghan feminist Sima Samar from holding a cabinet position, after she reportedly said she didn't believe in Islamic sharia law. He has banned an Afghan TV station for showing what he called "half-naked singers and obscene scenes from movies." He has also spoken against coeducation; has supported the employment of women (if they wear head scarves); and ordered the arrest of an Afghan journalist who suggested that, in some cases, the Koran was open to interpretation.
Source: Christian Science Monitor
As the Ugandan president and his challengers prepare for a showdown at the polls tomorrow, the country's first lady is also running for election after a campaign which has seen women politicians making remarkable progress. Janet Museveni, 57, is making her first foray into politics by running as a parliamentary candidate in rural Ruhama in western Uganda. On a continent where men have dominated post-independence politics, the past year has seen the beginnings of a gender shift.
The French parliament adopted a law aimed at guaranteeing equal pay rights for women, who earn on average one fifth less than their male counterparts. A national review, to be carried out in three years' time, will decide whether to introduce financial penalties for offending employers.
A three-month long rights campaign in Jordan has revealed that women are unable to seek access to justice due to financial burdens and social norms. "Either because of limited financial resources or social stigma, some women abandon their rights," said Jordanian rights advocate Najah Enab from Mizan, a local NGO which organised the campaign. "It's not easy to have access to justice when you're poor. You need a lawyer, and not everyone can afford this."