According to a multi-year Department of Labor study released this morning, unemployment insurance has had a positive impact on economic activity during this latest recession. One key finding: For every dollar spent on unemployment insurance, economic activitity increased by two dollars. You can read the news release here or the full report here.
Reuters: Chechen women continue to be targeted for not wearing headscarves. Some women have been punched, or terrorized by men wielding automatic rifles.
"Many women in Russia's volatile Chechnya region said on Friday they had been harassed and some physically harmed by bands of men for not wearing headscarves during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Against the backdrop of a spreading Islamist insurgency, many fear that growing interest in radical Islam could fuel separatism in the volatile North Caucasus, where the Kremlin watches uneasily as sharia law eclipses Russian.
Residents and witnesses told Reuters that bearded men in traditional Islamic dress have been roaming the streets both on foot and in cars since Ramadan started on Aug. 11, demanding bare-headed women wear a headscarf.
The men's action follows a radical order earlier this week from Chechnya's spiritual leader to shut all cafes during the month of Ramadan as well as paintball attacks on bareheaded women in June."
New York Times: Over 600 women were raped in September and October along the Congo/Angola border. United Nations officials mistakenly gave an earlier count of 30 women. The women were raped during an expulsion of immigrants from Angola. It is not clear at this time on what side of the border the women were raped, but officials are worried that rape is becoming commonplace and endemic.
"More than 600 women and girls were recently raped along the Congo-Angola border during a mass expulsion of illegal immigrants, according to the United Nations. Many of the victims said they were locked in dungeon-like conditions for several weeks while they were raped repeatedly by security forces.
Maurizio Giuliano, a United Nations spokesman in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Friday that it was unclear on which side of the Congo-Angola border the women had been attacked, and that the United Nations was calling on both countries to investigate promptly.
'What worries us is that rape seems to be becoming endemic in several parts of Congo,” Mr. Giuliano said, also referring to recent rapes in the eastern Kivu provinces. “We fear it’s becoming part of the routine.'
United Nations officials call Congo the worst place in the world for sexual violence, and even the longstanding presence of internationalpeacekeepers has not been able to stop it. According to United Nations officials, the women along the border were raped in September and October at several locations during an expulsion of more than 6,000 illegal Congolese and other immigrants from Angola."
Daily Beast: Women starting businesses in Afghanistan face many risks in addition to the usual pitfalls of running your own operation--graduates of Goldman Sach's 10,000 Women program shared their experiences at an event in New York City.
"'It's hard enough to launch a new business anywhere—but try doing it in a place where, thanks to decades of war, pretty much everything is imported, where women are constrained by their culture—frequently not allowed to work outside the home, or travel without a male escort,'
Doing business in Afghanistan as a woman is complicated not only by security and logistics but also by traditional gender roles. Many women find they have to take on a male business partner as the meet-and-greet required by marketing products carry stigma for a woman—and possible danger. "I get treated as a second-rate person," said Fatima, later adding that she had not been threatened directly but had received several anonymous emails warning her that it wasn't right for a woman to do what she was doing."
CNN: Researchers at Harvard Medical School studied 17,000 women over the course of ten years, and found that women who worked in demanding, high stress jobs but had little control or say over their day to day schedule were 88% more likely to have a heart attack than peers in jobs with less stress.
"Women with very demanding jobs are nearly twice as likely to have a heart attack as their peers in more easygoing occupations, a new study suggests.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School analyzed 10 years of survey and medical data on more than 17,000 women in the health profession. The women, who were enrolled in a long-running study on heart disease, were all in their 50s or early 60s when the study began.
The women who said their job requires them to work "very hard" or "very fast" but who have little say over their day-to-day tasks -- a combination known as "job strain" -- were 88 percent more likely than those in less-stressful jobs to have a heart attack."
Guardian: Each year, over 5 million women in Africa engage in unsafe abortions in order to terminate a pregnancy. Women's health advocates believe that legalizing abortion, as well as focussing on family planning and contraception will improve women's health and increase access to and information about delaying or avoiding pregnancy.
"More than 250 health professionals, advocates and parliamentarians from countries throughout Africa and other regions have gathered in Accra to address the issue of unsafe abortion, one of the continent's biggest threats to women's health. While abortion is very safe in countries where it is legal and provided by trained medical professionals, clandestine abortion – the norm in most of Africa – can lead to death and serious injury. Approximately 26,000 African women die as a result of unsafe abortion every year. Another 1.7 million are hospitalised, and many others also suffer serious health complications, but never seek treatment.
Over 90% of African women of childbearing age live in countries with limited or no access to safe abortion procedures. According to the most recent data available, of the 5.6m abortions carried out in the region every year, only 100,000 are performed under safe conditions.
The terrible toll of unsafe abortion goes well beyond the individual woman. Losing their mother and care-giver devastates the lives of children and families, and losing a healthy woman's many contributions to society weakens her community. Unsafe abortion is also a serious drain on very limited public health resources. African governments spend, on average, $114 per case to provide care for illness and disability associated with unsafe abortion, yet per-capita spending on healthcare averages just $48.
While some African nations have loosened abortion restrictions, 14 countries still prohibit it under all circumstances – even to save the pregnant woman's life. This flies in the face of considerable evidence that legalising abortion saves lives and reduces persistently high maternal mortality rates. One good example is South Africa, where – just six years after the country liberalized its abortion laws – the number of women dying from unsafe abortion dropped by 50%, and the number of women suffering serious complications fell dramatically as well."
UN: A United Nations investigation is taking place, following up on reports of countless numbers of rapes when people were expelled from Angola and forced to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"A senior United Nations official has urged the national authorities in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to investigate reports that women were raped when large numbers of people were expelled from Angola and forced to return to the DRC recently.
'I call upon the authorities of both countries to investigate these allegations and to proceed in compliance with relevant legislation,' said Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, in a statement issued yesterday. 'I expect the authorities of Angola and the DRC to respect human rights and to do everything in their power to prevent abuses of all kinds during any further expulsions,' she said.
She said that although it was not clear where the alleged rapes took place and who the perpetrators were, it is of utmost importance that the allegations of abuse be followed up immediately and those found responsible brought to justice by the national authorities of the countries concerned."
LA Times: The National Women's Law Center has filled complaints against 12 school districts for violating Title IX, the federal law that states that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..." The complaint specifically cited failure to offer equal opportunities to female athletes.
"The National Women's Law Center filed complaints against 12 school districts Wednesday alleging they failed to offer equal opportunities for female athletes. The center said data from 2006 indicated the districts violated Title IX, the federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in federally funded education programs. The schools can satisfy Title IX in one of three ways: if the percentage of athletes who are girls is about the same as the student body; if the school has continually expanded athletic opportunities for girls; or if the school meets its female students' interest in participating in sports.
In the 12 districts, the percentage of girls playing sports was lower than that of the student body. The gaps ranged from 8 percentage points in New York to 33 in Chicago. The center found the gap increased in most of the districts from 2004 to '06, indicating that opportunities had not been expanding. It also said the districts didn't field teams in all girls sports sanctioned by their state, suggesting that interest was not being met.
The complaints will be investigated by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The center selected one school in each of the 12 OCR regions based on the 2006 data."
CNN: From 1996-2001, girls were not allowed to attend school in Afghanistan. Although many girls schools have reopened, female educational institutions have come under attack, with buildings being burned and schoolgirls being poisoned.
"Armed men burned down a girls' primary school in eastern Afghanistan Monday night, an act that also destroyed hundreds of Qurans, a government official said Tuesday. Ministry of Education spokesman Asif Nang tells CNN that the Sangar girls' primary school, located in the Alengar district of Laghman province, was destroyed.
Taliban militants have attacked girls' schools in the past, but Seddiqui said that the fire was apparently set by "addicts and thieves" in a failed robbery attempt. The provincial governor's spokesman, Gul Rahman Hamdard, confirmed the burning of the school and the Qurans. He told CNN an investigation is ongoing. Women were oppressed during the Taliban's rule, from 1996-2001, and many Afghan girls were not allowed to attend school during that time.
Girls' schools began reopening after the Islamist regime was toppled. The United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, estimates this year that 2 million Afghan girls are attending school."
The Senate is set to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act on Wednesday, November 17th. This Act would make it harder for employers to hide pay discrimination. To learn more, check out Equal Pay New York, AAUW, and the NWLC. While you're at it, watch this great video featuring our gal Batgirl: