Friday, 20 September 2013

News for Today

Contributed by Norhana Kamid
Pope Criticizes Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion

Pope Francis said that the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics, The New York Times reported, Sept. 19. The Pope also said he wishes to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.
Coca-Cola Boosts Female Entrepreneurs
 Coca-Cola launched a plan to empower 5 million female entrepreneurs by 2020 called 5by20, The Daily Beast reported, Sept. 19. A new report by the Harvard Kennedy Business School called the plan “ambitious,” and showed that since its inception, the Coca-Cola Corporation has reached out to 300 thousand female producers, distributors, retailers, suppliers, recyclers and artisans. In partnership with UN Women, the initiative has set up various startup business programs for women businesses to boost their incomes.
Wendy Davis to Announce Candidacy Plans Oct. 3
Democrat Wendy Davis will announce Oct. 3 her election plans about the growing indications she intends to run for governor, Dallas News reported Sept.18. The Fort Worth senator catapulted to national attention with an 11-hour filibuster over abortion restrictions that frustrated Republican leaders and energized Texas Democrats who haven’t elected a statewide candidate in nearly two decades. Davis sent supporters an email this morning asking that they tell friends she will be making an announcement in two weeks and to sign up for her coming campaign. 
Tony Abbott Takes Responsibility for Women's Policies
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he will take personal responsible for women's policies with assistance from Michaelia Cash, the West Australian senator. While Abbott said he made the move to show the high priority he places on women’s issues, a commentator for Australia's Daily Life  on Sept. 19 said she saw a move to restrict women’s rights.
Australian Seniors Go Into Business
Australian women aged over 65 have been starting their own businesses at a rate higher than any other age group over the last decade, Australia's reported Sept. 19. Over the last year, the number of over-65 female business owners jumped by 15.1 per cent, compared to one per cent growth by men in the same age bracket. Bankwest business banking general manager Sinead Taylor said the figures showed older Australian women were looking for ways to boost their retirement incomes.
Saudi Women Driving Ban Not Part Of Sharia Law

Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving is not mandated by any text in Sharia, the Islamic legal code which forms the basis for most Saudi law, Yahoo reported Sept. 19. Although Saudi Arabia has no written legal code to go with the texts making up sharia, its police and judiciary have long enforced a prohibition on women driving, citing the country's conservative customs.

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of ObamaCare Birth Control Mandate
A U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday Sept. 17 that a for-profit manufacturing corporation must cover birth control in its employee health plan despite the religious beliefs of the company's owners, The Hill reported. The decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals represents a victory for the Obama administration in a series of ongoing fights over the contraception policy, which critics see as a violation of religious freedom.

Gender-Based Disparities in Business Mindset Exposed
An American Express Open Study reveals marked differences between men and women regarding why and how small business owners and entrepreneurs conduct business. Some of the stark contrasts include 34 percent of Generation Y female entrepreneurs starting their business due to passion as compared to 21 percent of men who cite lucrative benefits as the reason for starting their business.
Nationwide Distribution of Non-Invasive Breast Cancer Screening 
McKesson Medical-Surgical agreed to a nationwide distribution of MASCT device, a non-invasive breast cancer detector kit, Genome Web reported Sept. 18. The device enables a collection of breast fluid that can be sent for analysis to the National Reference Laboratory for Breast Health. The MASCT device may reduce the high rates of breast cancer via early detection screening without the risk of invasive procedures, akin to the Pap smear that dramatically cut cervical cancer rates.
Significant Drop in Republic of Congo's Maternal Mortality Rate
After a decade, the maternal mortality rate for Republic of Congo has dropped by 50 percent, with the most significant fall occurring over the last two years, Al Jazeera reported Sept. 18. Doctors suggest that the improvements made in the Republic of Congo are a direct result of a presidential decree in 2011 that made Cesarean procedures, previously costing upwards of $500, free of charge.
Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh Released From Prison
Human Rights lawyer and winner of the Sakharov human rights prize, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was released from an Iranian prison France's Le Mode reported Sept. 18. The announcement of was posted by her husband on Facebook. Sotoudeh was previously arrested and convicted of treason and risking the nation's security in September 2010.
France Mulls Child Beauty Pageant Ban
In an attempt to prevent premature sexualization of young girls, the French senate ruled child beauty pageants for 16-year-olds and younger illegal, The Washington Post reported Sept. 18. The judgement to amend an existing women's rights law, such that the guardians of children entering pageants will be fined and arrested, awaits approval by the Parliament.
Sugar Daddy Scholarships Available For College Girls
More than two million men registered as “sugar daddies” on the dating website, are seeking out cash-strapped college students to pay their tuition fees or pay off their loans in return for sexual favors, The Daily Beast reported Sept. 18. The founder and CEO of the website, Brandon Wade, said these female students account for 44 percent of the site’s so-called sugar babies who receive an average of $3,000 a month from their "sugar daddies".
Teen Named For EU's Sakharov Human Rights Prize
 Malala, the Pakistani teen shot by the Taliban for championing girls' education, has been nominated for the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov human rights prize, Singapore's Straits Times reported Sept. 17. Malala, who has become emblematic of the fight against the most radical forms of Islamism, is backed by the three main political groups in Parliament, making her a favorite for the award.
Woman Shot For Leaving Husband
Relatives have shot dead three women in a lawless tribal area of north-west Pakistan after one of them left her husband, the Straits Times reported Sept. 16. A 22-year-old woman from Karachi who married a Jawaki shopkeeper about two years ago was accused of fleeing her husband's house and marrying another man in the northwestern Swat valley. The local tribal council intervened in the matter and decided on Sunday, Sept 15 that the women should be killed.
Female Afghan Police Sexually Harassed
A United Nations report painted a picture of an Afghan police force in which women were constantly at risk, The New York Times reported Sept. 16. About 90 percent of the policewomen interviewed described sexual harassment and sexual violence as a serious problem, and about 70 percent of the policewomen said that they had personally suffered from sexual harassment or sexual violence themselves, according to people who saw the report or had it described to them.
13-Year-Old Enrolls in Master’s Program
Sushma Verma, 13, hails from a poor family in northern India, has enrolled in a master’s-degree program in microbiology, The Daily Beast reported Sept. 16. Verma graduated high school at age 7, finished college by 13, and is set to begin her master’s studies at Lucknow’s B.R. Ambedkar Central University next week. Her father has sold his land to pay for the tuition; one of the family’s many sacrifices that Verma says made it possible for her to attend school. 
TIME Magazine Inducts First Female Managing Editor
TIME Magazine inducted its first female managing editor, Nancy Gibbs, The New York Times reported Sept. 17. Her tenure began with the Aug. 5 issue. The unprecedented naming of Gibbs to managing editor follows Time Inc. having named Martha Nelson editor in chief of the magazine division in Jan.
Abortion Ban on Albuquerque Ballot in November
New Mexico will make an unprecedented move to have the public vote on a municipal bill banning abortions in Albuquerque in November, Reuters reported Sept. 17. The bill, "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance," was introduced after an anti-choice petition gained enough signatures to have the city council ether pass the bill or put it up for a vote. If passed, abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy would be illegal.

Home Care Workers Granted Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections
The Department of Labor ruled that home care workers, 90 percent of whom are women, are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Sept. 17. The news release announcing the ruling suggested that home care workers' clientele will also benefit from the decision.The ruling will go into effect on Jan. 01, 2015.
Census Data Reveal No Change in Gender-Based Wage Gap
Census data reveals that the gap between men's and women's wages has remained stagnant since 2002, the National Partnership for Women and Families reported Sept. 17. The ratio of pay for women and men who work full-time jobs is 77 cents to $1, resulting in women's annual income loss of $11,500. The ratio worsens when ethnicity is taken into consideration.
Chinese Hospital Charged With Virgin Worship
A Chinese hospital spearheading a study on human papilloma virus (HPV), advertised a need for females between the ages of 18 and 24 and who never engaged in sexual intercourse, the New York Daily News reported Sept. 17. A public outcry ensued. The call for women and not men stirred suspicions of sacrificial virgin worship. The hospital spokeswoman explained hat women who have not had sex are ideal control subjects because they have less of a chance at contracting the virus than do men.
England Inaugurates First Human Egg Bank
The first private human egg bank in England opened its doors, Daily Mail reported Sept. 17. The impetus for the clinic's opening was to deter women from seeking vitro fertilization, or IVF treatment, in countries with traditionally low success rates. Donors are compensated up to $1200 and patients will have to pay four times as much as the maximum paid by a donor just for acquiring the eggs, excluding IVF. The clinic is met with some opposition that cite the ethical issues of commodifying natural reproductive processes.
Socio-Economic Status of Aboriginals Linked to Likelihood of Domestic Abuse
A Canadian study revealed that aboriginal women with a modest educational background are four times more likely to suffer from domestic abuse than non-aboriginal women, Science Daily reported Sept. 16. The likelihood of domestic abuse decreased by 40 percent among Aboriginal women who occupy an economic strata comparable to their non-aboriginal counterparts. The study is believed to be the first that suggests a socio-economic cause for the long-time gender-focused violence within the aboriginal community.
First Female Triathlete to Represent Iran at World Championship
Shirin Gerami was the first Iranian female triathlete to compete at the world championship in London, the Middle East's Y Net News reported Sept. 16. Organizers had set up a makeshift tent for Gerami to change into her running and cycling clothes after swimming. By maintaining Islamic dress code, Gerami was allowed to compete. President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, tweeted his congratulations. 
Afghan Lieutenant Fatally Shot, Adding to Recent Attacks on Female Officers
A 45-year-old Afghan officer, Second Lieutenant Negara, was fatally shot in the neck by unknown assailants on her way home from work, reported Al Jazeera on Sept. 16. Despite increased targeted violence on female officers in Afghanistan over the past two years, integration of females into the police force have hampered incidents of honor killings and domestic abuse. Negara's superior, Third Lieutenant Islam Bibi, was gunned down in July 2013.
Venezuelan Women's Quest for Beauty Ends with Fatal Silicone Injections
Venezuelan women are dying from silicone injections administered in the buttocks, The Atlantic reported Sept. 16. Women who have undergone the banned procedure, attest to wanting to alter their figure to the expectations of men. The silicone injections have a 100 percent complications rate, resulting in irreversible sickness or death. In spite of the injections illegality, the number of deaths continues to rise. 
Muslim Woman Forced to Unveil in Court
Judge Peter Murphy ruled that a 22-year-old woman pleading guilty in a London courthouse must unveil her face if she is to give evidence, BBC reported Sept. 16. Should the defendant not remove her niqab, a fabric covering the face that only reveals one's eyes, she is liable to be charged with contempt of court. Judge Murphy reasoned that bearing witness to the defendant, as she states her evidence, is crucial for the case's assessment.
Saudi Arabia's First Female Filmmaker Tapped for Oscars
"Wajda," directed by Saudi Arabia's first female filmmaker, Haifaa al Mansour, is the Kingdom's Oscar entry, The Guardian reported Sept. 16. Directing from behind the scenes while in a van,  al Mansour said the film was made to empower women in Saudi society. The film is about a young girl in pursuit of a bicycle who enters a Quran reciting competition in hopes of using the monetary award to make the purchase. 

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