This week, government officials, representatives from the United Nations, private sector officials, and rural women will convene at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW56). The focus of this year's session will be on improving the situation of rural women and the elimination of hunger and poverty, as well as current challenges to development.
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet stated, "Rural women and girls comprise one in four people worldwide and they constitute a large share of the agricultural workforce. Listening to and supporting rural women is fundamental to ending poverty and hunger and achieving peace and development that is sustainable...Research shows that empowering women is not just good for women. It is good for all of us - for peace, the growth of our economies, for food security, for human security - in short, for the well-being of current and future generations."
Rural women face significant discrimination in terms of their access to public services, social protections, local and national markets, and employment opportunities. For instance, UN Women reports that women in rural sub-Saharan Africa have access to less than 10 percent of available credit. In addition, women make up the majority of the unpaid labor force.
CSW56 calls on policy makers and national governments to make greater investments in initiatives and community-based schemes to benefit rural women. According to UN Women, "If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise and there would be 100 million to 150 million fewer hungry people."
Currently "925 million people were chronically hungry, of whom 60 percent were women." Moreover, 884 million people in the world lack access to potable drinking water; 2.6 billion people do not have access to sufficient sanitation facilities; and 1 billion people to not have adequate access to roads and transportation systems.
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. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .