Led by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, South African women celebrated Women's Day by commemorating Margaret Gazo, the late leader of an anti-apartheid protest against the pass laws in 1956.
Yesterday, along with Madikizela-Mandela, the African National Congress Women's League paid tribute to Gazo by establishing a monument in her honor. Madikizela-Mandela explained, "You go to any library, and the struggle of women has been ignored when the history of this country was written. We want to rewrite the history of women's roles."
Unfortunately, South African women have many obstacles to overcome. The rate of violence against women in the nation is astronomical. More than 64,000 women and girls are raped each year, with approximately 14,000 of them under the age of 18. South African women are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted than are American women. Many of these young women are raped by HIV-infected men who believe that having sex with a virgin will cure their disease.
However, South Africa has made significant strides towards womenís equality. Gender equality is guaranteed under the post-apartheid constitution, affirmative action laws will be initiated soon, and about one-third of the seats in the Parliament and Cabinet are held by women.
In a speech entitled "Women United: Break the Silence," President Thabo Mbeki emphasized the need for a safer environment for women. He stated that equality among South Africans would not be achieved "unless women of out country live without fear in their houses and walk freely through all the streets and villages of our country."
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. . . .