Africa's First Elected Woman Leader Sworn In as President of Liberia
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as the president of Liberia on Monday, making her the first democratically elected female head of state in Africa. The presidential term is six years, during which time Johnson-Sirleaf will have to address the manifold difficulties that remain after the disastrous presidency of Charles Taylor, who is in exile, and the preceding political chaos.
Johnson-Sirleaf herself was twice a political prisoner and worked for both the United Nations and the World Bank when she was exiled after arrests. Liberians hold high hopes for their new president, and the election has gained attention worldwide. According to the New York Times, both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and First Lady Laura Bush were present for the inauguration, as was George Weah, Johnson-Sirleaf’s main opponent in the race, who initially refused to concede.
In her inaugural address, Johnson-Sirleaf spoke to concerns specific to Liberian women. She said, “My Administration shall empower Liberian women in all areas of our national life. We will support and increase the writ of laws that restore their dignity and deal drastically with crimes that dehumanize them. We will enforce without fear or favor the law against rape recently passed by the National Transitional Legislature. We shall encourage families to educate all children, particularly the girl child. We will also try to provide economic programs that enable Liberian women – particularly our market women – to assume their proper place in our economic process.”
Media Resources: AllAfrica.com 1/17/06; AP 1/17/06; BBC 1/17/06; NY Times 1/16/06
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. . . .