US Draft Resolution on Women's Political Participation Needs Work
Women's rights advocates are calling for concrete measures to increase women's political participation in a US draft resolution that will be considered by the United Nations this month. The resolution is intended to highlight the need for more women in political office, but "for real change to occur, we have to move beyond rhetoric to reality," according to June Zeitlin, executive director of the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).
WEDO proposes including in the resolution concrete, time-bound numerical goals of increasing women's political participation. The group supports proportional representation, in which political parties are awarded legislative seats according to their percentage of the total vote. WEDO points out that the 14 countries with the most women in parliamentary seats use some kind of proportional representation or quota system, as opposed to the US, which ranks 60th globally in the number of women participating in the federal government.
After pressure from women's rights groups, the Bush Administration has included a reference to CEDAW, the international women's treaty, in the draft resolution. The US is the only industrialized nation that has not signed the treaty. "Here is a golden opportunity," said Zeitlin. "With a snap of his fingers, President Bush could muster 67 votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to ratify CEDAW immediately. This would put some instant reality behind his rhetoric in support of women's rights and some credibility behind US pressure on other countries to provide these rights."
Along with WEDO, the Center for Women's Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), and the Communications Consortium Media Center (CCMC), the Feminist Majority released a scorecard grading the Bush Administration on its rhetoric on global women's issues compared to the reality. Bush received an "Incomplete" on CEDAW. "The Bush Administration's often-voiced commitment to women's rights in Afghanistan and globally is undermined by their continued refusal to support CEDAW ratification," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .