Undercovered News: Playing Politics with Morning After Pill, Gender Parity in the UN
The United Nations is lagging. The premier world organization is still missing the point that many have grasped in countries such as Germany, Jamaica, Liberia, Chile and New Zealand: that women, too, can serve as leaders at the highest level. In the 60 years since the United Nations was founded, no woman has served as secretary general. And despite the body's stated goal of achieving gender parity within the system by the year 2000, women remain grossly underrepresented. The numbers are embarrassing: Only 16 percent of undersecretaries general are women.
Source: Washington Post
*In a squat, nondescript building on West 41st Street, just down the block from a Lutheran church and a YWCA, sits a small family-planning clinic. The one-story building has no windows facing the street, but closed-circuit TV cameras under the rain gutters scan for intruders. Visitors park in the back and have to show photo ID before being buzzed in through an anteroom enclosed by bulletproof glass. Welcome to South Dakota's only abortion provider, the new ground zero of the national abortion-rights struggle.
Source: Chicago Tribune
*State lawmakers lashed out at Lincoln state Sen. Mike Foley on Thursday during a debate on low-income health care funding. Opponents accuse Foley of being dishonest during a two-day debate related to funding of family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood. Some lawmakers accuse him of lying about his motives to expand funding to family planning clinics when actually, they said, he was trying to cut funds.
*Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager filed a request with a federal judge Wednesday to join a lawsuit demanding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration make the morning-after pill available without a prescription. Wisconsin is the only state that has asked to join the Center for Reproductive Rights' lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York. The case, filed in early 2005, is entering the discovery phase.
*Over the past 10 years, more than a dozen countries have made it easier to get abortions, and women from Mexico to Ireland have mounted court challenges to get access to the procedure. The trend contrasts sharply with the United States, where South Dakota's governor signed legislation last week that would ban most abortions in the state, launching a new battle that activists seem ready to take to the Supreme Court. Abortion is far less divisive in the rest of the world.
*President Bush on Wednesday nominated acting Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach to permanently head the troubled Food and Drug Administration, but a controversy involving science and sexual mores could stall his confirmation by the Senate indefinitely. Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Patty Murray of Washington announced Wednesday that they would block a floor vote on the nomination until the FDA made a firm decision on the controversy -- whether or not to allow Plan B, the "morning after" birth control pill, to be sold without a prescription.
Source: LA Times
*The abortion ban passed recently by the Mississippi House of Representatives is now before the Senate, which voted yesterday to begin negotiating changes to the bill so that it would not invalidate existing abortion provisions. Senate Public Health and Welfare Chairman Alan Nunnelee (R) told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, "This outright ban has been put right in the middle of Mississippi's informed consent statute. There's very high likelihood that the two items would be challenged in court," possibly leading to a court striking down the entire law.
Source: Feminist Daily News Wire
In the Workplace
*Life for women in the American workplace is far from paradise -- they face economic punishment for almost every aspect of their biology.
*Just collecting the cooking fuel essential for survival, millions of refugee and so-called internally displaced women are daily forced to put their lives at risk, says a new report by the New York-based Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children. Uprooted from their homes by armed conflict, persecution and humanitarian disasters, almost 35 million people in the world live as internally displaced persons (IDPs) within the borders of their own countries, or as refugees across international borders. But for women and girls living in IDP and refugee settings, life is particularly grim and surrounding threats are notoriously dangerous, according to the report.
*President Bush used the occasion of International Women's Day to tout his administration's commitment to women. He spoke in glowing terms of how bringing democracy to the Middle East had improved the lives of women in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both the President and Mrs. Bush (this was a day for women after all) talked enthusiastically about girls going to school and women participating in government in both countries. Neither however mentioned the continuing pandemic of sexual violence against women that was highlighted in the State Department's report on Afghanistan's continuing poor record on human rights that was released the following day. Nor was anything said about the continuing low literacy rates for women in Afghanistan (less than 20%) or that 50% of marriages in that country take place before girls reach the age of sixteen.
*A second woman confirmed on Monday that she will run for the country's [Yemen's] highest political office in elections scheduled to be held in September. "The time has come for the intellectuals to occupy the post [of president]," said Rashida al-Qaili, the second woman to declare an intention to run for president after Sumaya Ali Raja, who announced her candidacy in December.