Saturday, September 19, 2009

Women's eNEWS: Cheers and Jeers of the Week

On September 14, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution aimed at creating a single U.N. body to promote the advancement of women around the world. Also in today's Cheers and Jeers, a report released on September 18 details how the sex industry in the United Kingdom serves as a major threat to women's equality at work.
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Here's today's update:


New U.N. Women's Agency; Sex Enters U.K. Workplace

By Kimberly St. Louis
WeNews correspondent

Cheers and Jeers


thumb pointing up
On September 14, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution aimed at creating a more potent women's agency, a single U.N. body to promote the advancement of women around the world. The decision came after three years of negotiation. Supporters of the new agency say it will serve as a landmark in the struggle for women's equality and rights, reported Reuters.
The move would merge four existing U.N. offices that all deal with women's affairs--the United Nations Development Fund for Women, or UNIFEM; the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women; the Division for the Advancement of Women; and the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.
These groups will be put under a single office, forming a full-fledged new agency perhaps by the middle of next year, reported Inter Press Service. The agency will be headed by an under-secretary-general, the third highest ranking position within the U.N. The under-secretary-general will represent the interests of women in senior policymaking bodies, serving as a watchdog for women. This change should bring both greater coordination and accountability, reported Global Post.
Donor countries will need to pledge approximately one billion dollars to support the agency in order to help it fulfill women-related promises by governments and the U.N., Inter Press Service reported.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Doctors from across India pledged to curb the practices of sex selection and female feticide--the act of destroying a fetus--during a conference that took place on September 12 and 13, the Indio-Asian News Service reported. Approximately 70 leading doctors attended "Doctors for Daughters: Faith in Action Against Sex Selection" in the city of Bangalore. The objective of the conference was to build a network of doctors who can act as change agents in the medical community and pressure colleagues to curb sex selection. The sex ratio in India was 933 females for every 1,000 males as of 2001, a marginal improvement from the 1991 Census, which recorded 927 females for every 1,000 males, the article reported
  • Saint Louis University is launching a clinical trial to test swine flu shots for pregnant women, who are at high risk of severe complications from the virus, reported the St. Louis Business Journal. The study will test the safety and efficacy of a 2009 H1N1 influenza shot. The university is one of six Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units funded by the National Institutes of Health to participate in the study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has designated pregnant women as one of the top priority groups to receive the vaccine. Severe complications from influenza in pregnant women are mostly related to the heart and lung, the article reported.
  • Hundreds of women who have entered the Indian work force can now enjoy a peaceful commute. A 'Ladies Special' train service has been introduced in India's four largest cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta, reported the New York Times. The trains have been created so that women can avoid being subjected to taunting and harassment from male commuters. These eight new Ladies Special trains are an expansion of two similar trains that previously existed in Mumbai. "Now that women have started occupying public spaces, issues will always arise," said Mala Bhandari, director of a women and children organization, in the article. "And the first issue is security."


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A report released on September 18 details how the sex industry in the United Kingdom serves as a major threat to women's equality at work. "Corporate Sexism: The Sex Industry's Infiltration of the Modern Workplace," indicates that this type of conduct violates the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975.
Conducted by the Fawcett Society, the research identified 319 lap dancing clubs in the United Kingdom. It found that 177 of these clubs have active Web sites and 41 percent of them contained marketing targeted towards a corporate audience. It also showed that 86 percent of lap dancing clubs in London provide 'discrete receipts,' which enable employees to claim expenses without it being evident that the money was spent at a club.
"The sex industry is increasingly targeting the corporate market, with lap dancing clubs marketing themselves as ideal venues to host meetings and client entertaining. Yet lap dancing clubs are a form of commercial sexual exploitation and fuel sexist attitudes towards women. Their use in a work context discriminates against female employees and undermines women's status at work," said Kat Banyard, campaigns officer at the Fawcett Society and co-author of the report.
The study also found that 26 percent of trade unions received inquiries from members that have been exposed to the sex industry at work--including pornography. A previous study revealed that 20 percent of men admit to accessing pornography at work, the Fawcett Society reported.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • The island country of Cyprus has failed to accurately report the number of domestic violence victims based on European Union standards, say five nongovernmental organizations, the Cyprus Mail reported. Representatives from the organizations said that Cypriot law doesn't reflect the distinctions made in the EU's legislation for the different forms of violence against women and children. It was found that 80,000 Greek Cypriot women and 75,000 children are directly subjected to domestic violence. "This year, for some reason, [women] are not treated as victims, just witnesses. It suits the state to record them in this way, because this produces low victim statistics," said Eleni Pissaridou of the STIGMA Foundation.


  • The governing body of the World Taekwondo Federation overturned its 2007 decision to ban female competitors wearing a traditional hijab (scarf) under their headgear earlier this year. The federation hopes its decision will help the sport promote gender equality at the upcoming world championships, which will take place next month, reported the Canadian Press. The prior ruling led to the exclusion of many Muslim women from tournaments. "We believe that our respect for others' cultures and beliefs will allow taekwondo to enhance its status as an Olympic sport," Dae Won Moon, chairman of the federation's technical committee, told the Associated Press.
  • A new study suggests that U.S. states whose residents have more conservative religious beliefs tend to have higher rates of teens giving birth. The study, undertaken by researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh, compiled data from a 2007 U.S. Religious Landscapes Survey and statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers don't know why this relationship exists, but say it could be attributed to the fact that such religious communities may 'frown upon' contraception, while at the same time not successfully discouraging teen sex, MSNBC reported. Mississippi topped the list for conservative religious beliefs and teen birth rates, according to the study results
Kimberly St. Louis is an editorial intern at Women's eNews through the New York Arts Program. She is a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University studying journalism and politics and government.
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