Last week, a record number of new congresswomen were officially sworn into their positions to begin the 113th Congressional session.
One hundred women will be filling the seats of Congress in the new session. The total number of women holding seats in the House of Representatives is now 80, up from 77 in the last Congressional session. In the Senate, women hold 20 seats in the new Congress, up from 17 in the last session.
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is the first openly gay member of the Senate.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is the first Asian-American woman elected to the US Senate.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is the first woman ever elected to the US Senate from the state of Massachusetts.
Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-8) is an Iraq War veteran who worked in the Obama administration.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) is the first Hindu ever elected to the US House.
While the gains in the number of women in Congress are a major achievement in gender equality, women are still not sufficiently represented in the legislature. Despite being half the population, women only compromise about 20% of Congress.
Media Resources: New York Times 1/3/2013; Reuters 1/3/2013; Feminist Daily Newswire 11/7/2012
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. . . .