Nearly 1 Million Women Elected to Indian Village Councils
As a result of a 1993 constitutional amendment that set aside 1/3 of all panchayat seats and village chiefs' positions for women, almost 1 million women have now been elected to village governing boards. Some of these women come from the country's lowest castes, causing an uproar among the country's upper-caste Brahmins.
A government-funded study conducted by the Center for Women's Development Studies in New Delhi purports that fully two-thirds of the newly-empowered women leaders are actively learning about governing and exercising their powers by allocating resources for schools, distributing government aid for housing, and making decision about village infrastructure and development. The remaining third act as mere "public faces" while their husbands make the decisions.
Women leaders, and especially those from poorer classes, face great opposition. Alam Singh, a Brahmin farmer who headed his village before a lower-case woman was set to replace him, described his successor as "stupid" and "illiterate," explaining "The government has turned power upside down."
Government officials have stated that women panchayats are having enjoying the greatest success in areas where there is greater wealth and literacy, and where women have already raised their status. Karnataka, a southern state that in the 1980s initiated a quota system to give village women a voice in government, is one such example. Kerala, where 9 of 10 women are literature, is another example of success.
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .