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10/28/1997 - Women's Groups Urge Nike to Put Its Money Where Its Mouth Is: Low Wages for Women Workers in Southeast Asian Sweatshops Deplored

Washington DC -- The Feminist Majority joined the National Organization for Women and other women's organizations in deploring Nike's use of overseas sweatshops which exploit women workers, paying them as little as 20 cents per hour or $1.60 a day in Vietnam - hardly enough to eat on, let alone pay rent, clothing, health care and more. Nike women's empowerment ads aimed at the US market are in sharp contrast to the treatment of women workers in these sweatshops. Eighty to ninety percent of the workers in these sweatshops of Vietnam, Indonesia, and China are women.
Women's groups have applauded the women's empowerment messages of Nike ads. However, young women in Nike subcontracted factories in Southeast Asia also have a right both to self-empowerment and a decent wage.

"The message in Nike's women's empowerment ads are strong," said Feminist Majority President, Eleanor Smeal, "but there's a disconnect between that message and the way Nike pays and treats its workers, especially its women workers. Sweatshops, which all of us thought were a thing of the past, are back again. And just like the feminists at the turn of the century fought sweatshops, it's incumbent on us to do the same."

Just 10% of Nike's annual $978 million a year advertising budget would lift Nike's subcontracted workers' wages to a livable level. "The treatment and pay of women workers in Southeast Asia must be higher on Nike's priority list," said Smeal. "Like the economy is global, the women's movement is global. Women in the United States must leverage our consumer power for these exploited women. We cannot tolerate inhumane wages or sexual harassment in the United States or abroad."

Women's groups are calling for an increase in wages for Nike subcontracted workers and for local independent monitors to ensure compliance with local labor laws and Nike's code of conduct.

The Feminist Majority, a non-profit organization, works toward achieving political, social, and economic equality for all women. The Feminist Majority is in the forefront of creating innovative feminist research, education, and training programs for women's equality and empowerment both in the United States and abroad.

10/27/1997 - Link Found Between Fertility Treatment, Breast Cancer

Coming a month after the death of British journalist Ruth Picardie, who died of breast cancer two years after giving birth to twins conceived by in vitro fertilization, a study has been released that shows a link between fertility treatments and breast cancer.

The report studied 38 women who had received in vitro fertilization (IVF) and developed breast cancer within an average of three years after the treatment. Another unpublished Israeli study supports the British study's conclusions that IVF could trigger the growth of cancer cells, but says that the risk is still minimal.

Researchers suggest that the gonadotrophin hormone given to women to stimulate egg production could also cause existing cancer cells to proliferate. "It is possible that if the cancer already exists, IVF treatment may accelerate its development. I think doctors should examine women before giving them treatment," said head researcher Olivier Jourdain.

The study provoked a nationwide call for cancer screening for women who want IVF treatment, especially women with a family history of breast cancer. Mary Croughan Minihane, a researcher at the University of California who is studying cancer among women treated for infertility between 1965 and now, said "If I was a patient with a history of breast cancer or with a family history of it, I wouldn't take the risk of having infertility treatment; I would go for adoption instead."

Many researchers say that the risk is insignificant, and stress that more long-term studies need to be done. Dr. Nancy Phillips of St. Louis University Hospital said that because women who have their first pregnancies at a later age have slightly increased breast cancer risks anyway, studies of this type "need to use as statistical controls women with a similar infertility history who have not undergone the drug therapy. Cautious concern, not panic, is called for at this time."

10/27/1997 - Special Domestic Violence Court Doubles Convictions

The first court in Connecticut designed to deal specifically with domestic violence cases has resulted in the doubling of domestic violence convictions.

In the past, because domestic violence cases were part of the criminal docket, they were often dropped and pushed aside by robberies and other assaults.

The court's goals are to stop violence, protect victims and demand accountability from abusers, said Judge Lawrence Hauser, one of the founders of the special court. As a result of the specialized court, domestic violence convictions have quadrupled in the region and have more than twice the rate of convictions compared to the state overall.

The court follows cases from beginning to end, with periodic check-ins with Judge Hauser, who evaluates defendants' progress in court-ordered programs. Once a week, the prosecutor, the victim's advocate, probation and family relations officers and bail commissioner meet and discuss the cases. Even if the victim decides not to prosecute, the state uses her testimony anyway. Immediate intervention and criminal protective orders are important, said Hauser. Defendants also must attend mandatory domestic violence programs, which can result in a jail term if not completed successfully.

10/27/1997 - Million Woman March Empowers Black Women

Countless women went home from the Million Woman March in Philadelphia on Saturday with a renewed feeling of sisterhood and a newfound purpose.

"It was a great moment for all women across America. It was a chance to express themselves, and to feel their power," said Sister Gloriastine Muhammed of Macon, Ga. Adriene Breckenridge of Baltimore said "The march is instilling a lot of hope in a lot of women who were losing hope in society."

The crowd at Benjamin Franklin Parkway was estimated at between 300,000 and 1.5 million by police officers, and over 2 million by organizers. The speakers, including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, emphasized emotional strength, the value of motherhood and solidarity.

Marchers hope that the spirit of the march will be carried back to black communities. Yvonne Tillery of Chester, Pa. said "It had to start somewhere. Now it's time to put some heads together and do positive things."

10/27/1997 - U.S. Oil Company Has Largest Stake in Afghan Pipeline

U.S. oil company Unocal reportedly has the largest stake -- 36.5% -- in a consortium of multinational companies just formed to build a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The consortium also includes Saudi Arabia's Delta, Russia's Gazprom, Japan's Itochu Corp and Inpex, Pakistan's Crescent Group, and South Korea's Hyundai. The consortium says it wants to start building the pipeline next year and have it completed by the year 2000. The major roadblock is the continued fighting in northern Afghanistan, through which the pipeline will run. The extremist group the Taliban, which has banned women from working and girls from going to school, is battling for control of northern Afghanistan. In the Taliban-occupied territories, women cannot leave their homes unless they are covered from head to toe and escorted by a close male relative. The Taliban recently restricted women's medical care by prohibiting women from being treated in the same hospitals as men, or by male doctors. Women must now go to a hospital building with no running water, no operating room, and staffed by only a few women who have been permitted to work.

Robert Todor, head of Unocal's transport projects in the ex-Soviet states, has said the pipeline construction will not start until Afghanistan has an internationally-recognized government. The Taliban, which controls 2/3 of the country, is attempting to gain international recognition and a United Nations seat. The Feminist Majority and other women's groups are asking the United States government and the United Nations not to recognize the Taliban as long as it continues its gender apartheid.

So far the Taliban has appeared immune to international pressure regarding its treatment of women, and none of the factions fighting in Afghanistan have shown interest in a diplomatic settlement despite the efforts of the head of the U.N. special mission in Afghanistan, Norbert Holl of Germany.

10/27/1997 - Women May Be Allowed to Climb Omine

After almost 700 years of forbidding women from climbing the sacred mountain Omine in western Japan, the Japanese temple Ominesanji is considering permitting women climbers.

The temple sits on top of the 5,640-foot Omine Mountain, one of only two Japanese shrines that forbid women. Ominesanji is a temple for male followers of the Shugendo sect, a mix of Shintoism, Buddhism and Taoism. Women can neither enter the temple nor climb more than halfway up the mountain, where their trails stop. All other trails read "No Women Allowed."

Until the 19th century, Japan banned women from sacred mountains, saying females were unclean and an insult to mountain goddesses. The ban on Omine is not legal, but is observed by tradition. In response to many requests and the increasing awareness of women's rights in Japan, Ominesanji is considering celebrating its 700th birthday in 2000 by lifting the ban.

10/24/1997 - Houston Citizens to Vote on Affirmative Action Ban

On Nov. 4, Houston voters will decide whether or not to abolish the city's affirmative action plan. California citizens voted to ban state affirmation action programs last year.

An Oct. 2 poll said that only 29% of voters want to ban the program. The 13-year-old program states that 20% of city contracts must go to women and people of color. Last year, only 21% of city contracts went to women- or minority-owned businesses, despite the fact that African-Americans and Hispanics make up 39% of Houston's population. Lenoria Walker, who runs the program, said "Everybody's eyes are on Houston. If Houston is overtaken, then that will be a trend for the rest of the state to do the same thing."

10/24/1997 - Congress Considers Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Congressional hearings began yesterday for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would outlaw work place discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill was narrowly defeated in the Senate last year by a vote of 50-49.

Gays and lesbians who were fired because of their orientation described the hostile work environments and blatant discrimination they faced. An assembly-line worker was called "fag" and "queer" at work for over a decade. A woman who played soccer for the Gay Games on her vacation was fired upon her return. A restaurant worker who had been recommended for a management position at a new restaurant was abruptly fired when a co-worker reveal the man's sexual orientation to their boss. When he sought legal recourse, he was told that there were no laws protecting gays and lesbians from job discrimination in his state.

Executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, Elizabeth Birch, said "Today, it is perfectly legal under federal law to fire a person simply because he or she is gay, lesbian, or bisexual." ENDA seeks to prevent gays and lesbians from unfair job treatment simply because of their orientation.

10/24/1997 - New Yorker Exec Sues for Pregnancy Discrimination

Diane Silberstein, a former publisher and senior vice president for the New Yorker magazine filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that her boss fired her because she was pregnant.

Silberstein says that New Yorker president Thomas Florio actively discouraged her from taking other job offers while she was publisher. When he found out she was pregnant, he cut her salary almost in half, saying that she could either accept it or take a "severance package" instead. Silberstein also claims that Florio told her on many different occasions that she would be unable to handle her work and home duties. Silberstein took the pay cut and Florio again discouraged her from taking other job offers, Silberstein said. Several weeks later, she learned through an advertising industry newsletter that she had been fired.

Florio and the New Yorker deny the charges and claim that the mostly woman-run magazine has no history of discriminating against pregnant women and mothers.

10/24/1997 - Air Traffic Controllers Fight Back Against Sexual Harassment

Female air traffic controllers testified about pervasive sexual harassment in the work place for the House Transportation Committee yesterday.

Several female victims and both male and female witnesses complained that the male-dominated air traffic controller field was hostile to women. They said that women who complained of the constant sexual remarks and fondling were ignored or suffered damage to their careers. One woman said she'd been consistently harassed since 1982. Another woman said she'd received several sexual letters at work from a "secret admirer." A male supervisor witnessed another male supervisor unbutton a female controller's shirt, saying "Let's see what's in there." He told her that her career would be over if she reacted.

The new head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Jane Garvey, reiterated the FAA's commitment to eradicate sexual harassment. Citing FAA inaction and years of broken promises, Michael McNally, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said "To say we do not trust the FAA on this issue is an understatement. Several of the employees are filing a class-action lawsuit against the FAA that claims sexual harassment and discrimination is rampant in FAA facilities."

10/24/1997 - Sex Ed Does Not Encourage Promiscuity, Study Says

In a comprehensive study released Wednesday, the U.N. reaffirmed that sex education does not lead to higher rates of sexual activity among teens, and encourages safer sex practices among those already sexually active.

The study reviewed 68 studies worldwide on the impact of AIDS and sex education on young people. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said "Failing to provide appropriate and timely information to young people for fear of encouraging sexual activity is not a viable option." He praised several countries for their comprehensive sex education starting at a young age. Piot said the study will help destroy the myth perpetuated by religious conservatives that sex education will lead to higher rates of sex and STDs. The study shows that students who receive sex education tend to wait until they are older to have sex and have fewer sexual partners, unplanned pregnancies and STDs.

The U.N. still faces obstacles to making sex education global. For example, in many Catholic countries, the Pope has urged parents to remove their children from any programs that teach about condoms, saying it is "dangerous" and "immoral."

10/24/1997 - Pope Condemns Ordination of Women

The Pope announced yesterday that relations between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church had suffered a setback because of the Protestant church's 1992 decision to ordain women.

The Pope explained his view that Jesus desired only male priests and denies that male-only ordination discriminates against women. The Pope also stated that he wants to improve relations between Protestants and Catholics, but that the existence of female Anglican priests impedes his efforts. He also reiterated his condemnation of abortion and euthanasia, saying that "repentance and conversion are required" as the year 2000 approaches.

10/24/1997 - Military Will Take Guns Away From Abusers

The military announced Wednesday that they will take personal and military arms away from any military employee who has been convicted of domestic violence.

The ruling came a year after the Domestic Violence Gun Ban was passed, which forbids guns to anyone convicted of domestic violence. Conservative politicians such as Newt Gingrich still oppose the bill because it can take arms away from men who use them on the job, such as police and military members. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who sponsored the bill, said "If the Pentagon were as slow in protecting our nation as it is in protecting battered women and children on its own bases, then we are in a hell of a lot of trouble."

The Pentagon said its 1.4 million active-duty troops would receive questionnaires asking if they'd even been convicted of domestic violence. If they lie, they could be convicted of a felony. The Defense Department said that the ruling wouldn't affect troops' ability to use large-scale weapons, warplanes and tanks.

10/24/1997 - L.A. Sweatshop Workers Win $2 Million Settlement

A group of Thai and Latino immigrant sweatshop workers who were freed from slave labor in 1995 by a federal raid, won a lawsuit against the garment industry yesterday.

B.U.M. International, L.F. Sportswear, Mervyn's and Montgomery Ward agreed to pay 150 workers $2 million, and Hub Distributors/Miller's Outpost will pay an undisclosed amount. As part of the agreement, the companies do not have to admit they had any knowledge of the working conditions or the existence of sweatshops. The settlement will be divided between workers according to how much time each spent working in the sweatshop.

"This is a victory not only for these workers but for all workers who suffer in sweatshops. And it sends the garment industry a message," said Julie Su, a lawyer with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, who represented the workers.

The sweatshop workers had been forced to work up to 20 hours a day for less than $1 an hour, and were barricaded inside a compound with high walls and barbed wire. Some workers had been there for several years. The Thai workers have already received $1 million in back pay, most of which was seized from the sweatshop during the raid. The Thais, who were illegal immigrants, were also allowed to get work permits and now work at regular factories.

10/23/1997 - Activist Mother Runs for Argentinian Gov't

Graciela Fernandez Meijide, a 66-year-old mother whose son was kidnapped by death squads in 1976, has announced that she will run for president of Argentina in 1999 if she wins Sunday's congressional elections for the Alliance party.

Meijide has been a member of the Senate since 1995, and says her son's disappearance prompted her to enter politics. She says if she is elected, she will support the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, a group that searches for children who were orphaned by the death squads and given to military parents. She would be running against Buenos Aires' Hilda Duhalde, the governor's wife who is often compared to Eva Peron. Meijide said "Evita tried to build a welfare state and Mrs. Duhalde thinks she can milk that image by giving out eggs and flour to the poor. She should attack the roots of poverty." She said politicians need to address government corruption and improve the justice system.

Argentina's current president, Carlos Menem, says that Meijide is "only fit to be a housewife." Mrs. Duhalde, who said Meijide "acts like a man," only entered the congressional race because her husband forced her to, and claims she'd rather be at home. Meijide has criticized Menem for pardoning officials who were responsible for the disappearance of over 9,000 political leftists and dissidents during a military crackdown. She said that she would investigate corruption in Menem's administration if elected. "I'm not seeking vengeance. I'm translating the pain into a fight for justice and better democracy," Meijide said.

10/23/1997 - Gay NJ Couple Allowed to Adopt

A gay couple was granted joint adoption for their foster child yesterday, a decree believed to be only the second in New Jersey.

Jon Holden and Michael Gallucio have cared for two-year-old Adam since he was three months old. He was born to a cocaine addict who was HIV-positive. Gallucio and Holden have been together for 15 years. Gallucio works outside the home and Holden takes care of Adam, who gets drug therapy to prevent him from developing AIDS. They are also foster parents to a baby girl, but cannot adopt her until parental rights end. Thousands of babies in New Jersey born with problems like Adam's are currently awaiting adoption or foster care.

"This is a pure example of New Jersey recognizing us as families," said New Jersey Lesbian & Gay Coalition president Gina Reiss. The men have also filed a class-action lawsuit to overturn a law that prohibits adoption by unmarried couples. Michael Adams, an attorney for the ACLU, said the law violates the Constitution's equal protection clause, especially since homosexual couples cannot legally get married.

10/23/1997 - Pro-Choice Project Launches Nationwide Ad Campaign

Operation Rescue targeted schools with graphic anti-abortion campaigns in U.S. cities last year. The Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP) is running television ads in 370 cities to counter Operation Rescue's message. The ads will be broadcast on MTV.

The one-year-old organization is comprised of nearly 50 pro-choice groups. PEP seeks to correct the misinformation in "abstinence-only" sex education, which teaches medically unsound "facts" such as that sex outside of marriage will likely cause permanent mental and physical damage. This campaign was signed into law last year, with $50 million going to states to teach abstinence programs in schools. Recent studies have shown that sex education and availability of contraception has no impact on the number of teens having sex. In fact, the more knowledgable a teen is, the more likely s/he is to use protection such as condoms. Abstinence-only education does not include discussions on birth control or STDs, even though the U.S. teen prgnancy rate is eight times higher than in comparable European countries. AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death for 15 to 24- year-olds, who make up half of all new AIDS cases.

The MTV ads, which are expected to reach over 5 million households, will include a 1-800 number for people to call for information, and a Web site address to visit. PEP's campaign goals are to provide health and sex education and create public discourse. They stress "the importance of responsible and informed sex decision making, the urgency of practicing safe sex, the need for universal access to contraception and sex education, and the crucial understanding that prevention is the first choice."

The Feminist Majority Foundation is part of the steering committee for the Pro-Choice Public Education Project.

10/23/1997 - Battered Woman Murdered by Ex-Boyfriend

Two young boys who saw their mother shot to death while she waited with them at a bus stop on Tuesday identified their father as the killer, telling police on Tuesday that "Daddy shot Mommy." The tragedy, which occured during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, highlighted the problem of protecting battered women from their abusers.

The victim, 23-year-old Annie Glenn, had spent the night with her children at House of Hope, a shelter for homeless families, because she feared her ex-boyfriend Richard Kenney. Glenn and two other women had restraining orders against Kenney, who also had several outstanding warrants on drug and theft charges. In 1994, Glenn told police that she was afraid of Kenney because he told her every time she wanted to leave that he was going to kill her. Kenney, who was arrested shortly after the murder, was the father of the youngest two of her three children.

Tuesday night, a candlelight vigil for victims of domestic violence was held and the names of 20 women who have been killed by domestic violence in Massachusetts this year, including Glenn, were read aloud.

10/22/1997 - Combat Jobs Not Being Filled by Women

A study commissioned by the Defense Department says that despite a 1993 Congressional order that opened up thousands of combat-related military jobs, very few women hold these positions.

Although women are now eligible to be assigned to any non-infantry positions for which they are qualified, there are only 814 women in the 47,844 jobs that became available to them a few years ago. While the report said the low numbers of women in the military overall (14%) may have contributed to the small percentage, it also found "a significant reluctance on the part of some commanders to abide by the law and allow women to fill the vacancies." For example, to avert the law, some Army commanders require infantry experience for certain jobs, even though women are legally barred from infantry units.

The study found that "readiness, cohesion and morale" was scarcely affected by the integration of women into combat jobs. In a survey, only two out of 934 service members said that gender influenced a unit's ability to do its job. About 80% of women in the military and more than half of all enlisted men support women working in combat positions on a volunteer basis. The only gender-related problems found by the study was resentment of pregnant women who couldn't pull their weight in a troop or sexual relationships among unit members.

The Navy has done the best job of integrating women; it requires certain numbers of senior women officers on integrated ships. Women leaders were credited with aiding overall discipline, helping with transitional issues, and providing women with a positive behavioral role model.

The Defense Department is also in the middle of a yearlong study on whether or not the military has honestly given women equal opportunities.

10/22/1997 - Army Panel Cites Persistent Gender Problems

A new report by the chairwoman of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services states that sexual harassment, gender discrimination and sexual assaults still plague Army bases.

In August 1997, author Judith Youngman visited the Army's largest training base in Fort Jackson, S.C., where she interviewed 157 women and men. They told her that sexual relationships between male drill instructors and female recruits still occur, that women's abilities are degraded by some male drill instructors, and that female trainers believe they are excluded from opportunities for promotions. Interviewees believed "harassing and discriminating behaviors [were] not addressed in many companies," and said the Army should "get rid of the bad apples." Both men and women said that sexist attitudes were learned during training, especially by male training officers. Many drill sergeants were accused of being "openly prejudicial and discriminatory."

The advisory committee will release a separate study today on military bases in Asia. The report, based on a more comprehensive study by committee members, states that the practice of male commanders denying women leadership positions and assigning them desk duty is "widespread." At some bases, women were "openly demeaned and their roles in the military ridiculed."

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said the report confirms the Army's own reports on sexual harassment. "The question is when is the Army going to act to swiftly and aggressively reverse this trend?" Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Sara E. Lister said "The Army is concerned that there are people who feel this way, but we are working on solving the problems raised."

10/22/1997 - U. Penn Women's Athletics Short-Changed

In a report to the federal government, the University of Pennsylvania revealed that men's athletic programs receive more than twice the funds of women's athletics.

Although this is a violation of Title IX, which states that men's and women's athletic programs must receive virtually equal funding, the university said they were making progress. Title IX requires athletic departments to show that they are making consistent efforts each year to follow the law.

A 1995 law requires universities to publicize information about their athletic programs and file reports with the government and the NCAA. The report said total operating expenses for men's athletic teams was $925,717 in 1996-97, while women's teams received only $433,989 -- 32% of the money spent on athletics overall. Three-quarters of the total recruiting budget last year was used for men's athletics. The school is 51.5% male, but women make up 37% of the university's varsity athletes, even though they have almost as many varsity teams and full-time coaches as men. Men's part-time coaches outnumbered women's, a figure mostly explained by the presence of 16 assistant coaches for the football team.

Next semester, the university will survey female students to determine their "needs and interests" and what changes they want made to Penn's athletic programs.

10/22/1997 - Women Journalists Recognized

The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) honored three women with Courage in Journalism awards last night. The speakers and presenters included noted women journalists such as Katherine Graham, Judy Woodruff, Cynthia Tucker and Cokie Roberts.

The $2,000 awards went to women who have put their lives at risk for news -- Bina Bektiati, a freelance journalist in Indonesia, Corrine Dufka, Reuters chief photographer in East Africas, and Maribel Gutierrez Moreno, founder of a weekly Mexican newspaper.

"I feel fortunate to have been able to take pictures that have made people stop and feel for others, not very different from you or me, who are trying to live their lives and maintain a sense of hope with the devastating context of war," said Dufka. Besides Africa, she has also covered the former Yugoslavia and human rights abuses in El Salvador.

Gutierrez, who has been subjected to government intimidation because of her work on opposition peasant groups, said "This is part of the political violence we live under in our state."

Bektiati, who is the first winner from Indonesia to actually attend the ceremony despite fears of persecution, said "I live in a country that has more than 100 newspapers and magazines, and where the press jargon 'free and responsible' really means 'hardly free.'" She helped organize the country's first independent journalist's union, and fights governmental control of the media.

IWMF also honored the late Nancy Woodhull, one of the founding editors of USA Today. IWMF co-chairwoman Maureen Bunyan said "Nancy was a tireless advocate of quality and equality in journalism. She dedicated herself to helping women and men of all backgrounds realize a career in the media."

10/22/1997 - Lesbian Coach Sues School for Illegal Firing

Wendy Weaver, a coach and teacher at Spanish Fork High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, is suing Nebo School District for firing her because she is a lesbian.

Weaver was fired as coach last summer after she divorced her husband and moved in with another woman. The principal told her that she would also lose her job teaching physical education and psychology if she so much as mentioned her "homosexual orientation or lifestyle." Although she does not want to become a gay rights activist, Weaver says this gag order infringes on her First Amendment rights.

Weaver led the girls' volleyball team to 4 state championships in her 18 years there. Helen Hjorth, a former student and current varsity volleyball player at Brigham Young University, said Weaver was "the best thing that ever happened to Spanish Fork athletics. There was no reason to fire her except for her personal lifestyle."

10/22/1997 - India Skeptical of Plan to Help Girls

The government in India has planned an aid package for over two million girls in the country's poorest families. They say they will give families who make less than $314 a year $14 when a girl is born, and $14-$28 a year for their schooling.

The media suggested that selfish government employees will keep the money from illiterate women, and that more reforms are needed to ensure gender equality. The Indian Express said the financial aid would be helpful only if it was part of a package of "social welfare measures, local education and proper health care." The Express also said that girls, "even if they survive nine months in their mother's wombs, make a shaky entrance into the world, sometimes only to be nudged into oblivion by being denied proper food and medicine."

A recent U.N. report said that around 4,000 women are murdered each year in India because their dowries are not large enough, and that females are often killed at birth. It further stated that women suffer from discriminatory laws and social customs. For example, marital rape is not a crime and the preference for sons in a family is widespread and deep-rooted in Indian culture.

10/22/1997 - HHS Gives $1 Million For Girls' Programs

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala announced last week that $1 million would be awarded to four community-based projects and one national campaign to help young girls. "With these grants, communities can work together to help young girls stay healthy, stay active, and make the most of their lives," she said.

The community programs work to prevent teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and to build self-esteem among girls age 9-14. Girl Power!, a national public health campaign, also educates girls about eating disorders and helps them increase their confidence in athletics, school and other activities.

Studies show that girls are more likely to have problems than boys during adolescence, expressed in higher rates of depression, eating disorders, poor performance in school and sports, and risky behaviors such as drug abuse and unsafe sex.