Nordic Countries Lead in Promoting Gender Equality
In its recently released Global Gender Index Study, the World Economic Forum ranked Nordic countries -Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden - the highest for gender equality. The index evaluates the countries based on such factors as women's access to education, the presence of women in politics, equal employment opportunities and salaries, and health, reported Bloomberg.
Of the 134 countries studied, 59 percent narrowed the equality gap between men and women, according to Bloomberg. The US's rank has improved considerably over the past year, mostly due to the greater presence of women in the Obama administration and the reduction of wage differences, the New York Times reports.
The head of the Forum's Women Leaders and Gender Parity program, Saadia Zahidi told CNN, "it's very encouraging that more countries are becoming aware of why it's important to reduce the gender gap and are starting to explore policies that may be needed." She also noted that gender equality fosters national economic growth and prosperity.
Gender inequality is greatest in Yemen, Chad, and Pakistan, according to the New York Times. The study also found that France faced a decrease in gender equality, due to the decline in the numbers of women holding government leadership positions.
Media Resources: Bloomberg 10/12/2010; New York Times 10/12/2010
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .