United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced today that former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will be the first head of the new UN agency, UN Women. Bachelet was elected the first woman president of Chile in 2006. As President, she fulfilled a campaign promise to institute a gender-balanced cabinet. She first gained visibility and popularity in Chile as minister of health in 2000, when she revamped Chile's public health system by instituting 24-hour health care to cut waiting times that had previously been as long as three months. In 2002, she was appointed Chile's Defense Minister and was the first woman in a Latin American country to hold the post.
Charlotte Bunch of the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University, told the Canadian Press, Bachelet "has shown an ability to bring women's rights and gender perspectives onto mainstream agendas, which is one of the challenges that we've been working for since the last U.N. women's conference in Beijing in 1995."
The UN voted unanimously in July to create a new office on women to be called the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). Official operations of UN Women will commence in January 2011. UN Women consolidates four formerly separate entities within the UN that work for the advancement of women: the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI), and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The UN has estimated that UN Women will have a minimum budget of $500 million, which is twice the budget of all four former organizations combined.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .