when pigs fly … expect the unbelievable

Archive for June 2010

In the spring of 1960 the Food and Drug Administration approved the “pill” for marketing in the US.  Within 2 years over 1.2 million women in the US were on the “pill”.  By 1964, the “pill” was being prescribed by 6.5 million married women and untold millions of unmarried women in the US.

The pill made an incredible difference in the lives of women in the later half of the 20th century.

Elaine Tyler May has just published a book, America and the Pill:  A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation (2010).  May is Regents Professor of American studies and history at the University of Minnesota.  This is her third book.


I was surfing the web and found this wonderful list about why womans issues matter in the United States. With credit to Linda Lowen, who published this list on April 8 of this year at http://womensissues.about.com/od/feminismequalrights/a/Top10FactsAboutWomen.htm (available June 20, 2010):

  1. Women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes
  2. Only 17% of the seats in Congress are held by women.
  3. One out of every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  4. One out of every six women will be sexually assaulted and/or raped in her lifetime.
  5. Although 48% of law school graduates and 45% of law firm associates are female, women make up only 22% of federal-level and 26% of state-level judgeships.
  6. Even in the 10 top paying jobs for women, females earn less than men; only one career — speech pathology — pays the same regardless of gender.
  7. It’s not any better at the top. America’s top female CEOs earn, on average, 33 cents for every dollar earned by a male CEO.
  8. There’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that guarantees women the same rights as a man. Despite attempts to add an Equal Rights Amendment, there is no guarantee of equal rights for women in any legal document or any piece of legislation.
  9. Despite previous attempts to ratify a UN treaty guaranteeing the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, the U.S. refuses to support an international bill of rights for women signed by nearly every other nation on the planet.
  10. The World Economic Forum’s 2009 report on the Global Gender Gap ranked 134 countries for gender parity. The U.S. didn’t even make the top 10 — it came in at number 31.

It looks to me like we have work to do.

A recent study by Calpier, a Princeton management consulting firm, identified characteristics of women leaders.

1.  Women leaders are more persuasive than their male counterparts.

2.  When feeling the sting of rejection, women leaders learn from adversity and carry on with an “I’ll show you” attitude.

3.  Women leaders demonstrate an inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem-solving and decision-making.

4.  Women leaders are more likely to ignore rules and take risks.

Do you have those characteristics?


Posted on: June 11, 2010

CEDAW — don’t you hate acronyms?

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, a United Nations treaty, was adopted by the UN in 1979 and became available for ratification by member nations in 1981. The US has signed the treaty but not ratified it.  Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Oman, and Syria have neither signed nor ratified the treaty. Nor have the governments of the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Palau, Micronesia, Nauru, Kiribati, East Timor or Brunei.  Most of these island nations are slightly northeast of Indonesia.

It is difficult to determine the effectiveness of CEDAW.  The convention has developed a template for shaping policies and laws which will result in the long-term goal of eliminating gender discrimination.  Many of the nations that have ratified the treaty have not demonstrated a significant resolve to comply with the treaty, but perhaps the ratification is a start.  The US hasn’t even gone that far.

When I was in high school, I had a bumper sticker on my car that said “Women belong in the House…and Senate”.  Today, there is a bumper sticker on my car that says “Women make good leaders; you’re following one now”.  Yet as much as we would like to trumpet the equality of opportunity available to women in the United States, in this nation and in all others, there remains a de facto limitation on women — in dress, public appearance, public behavior, public activity in general.

Purdah is prevalent in many nations.  It is the practice of isolating women in seclusion in the home, strictly enforcing the seclusion, and restricting all public movement.  Purdah is widely practiced in Morocco, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.  Often the practice of Purdah is spurred on by religious fundamentalism.

Women in other countries are often fettered in ways that we can’t even imagine.  In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive cars or ride bicycles.  In Syria, a husband can prohibit his wife’s departure from the country.  In Yemen, a wife must obey her husband (it’s a law), live with him in the place stipulated by him, consummate the marriage, and not leave the home without his consent.  In Venezuela, an adult male who is found guilty of raping an adult women with whom he is acquainted can avoid punishment for this deed if, before sentencing, he marries the victim.

Are we kept in our place in the USA?  Well yes, and no.  Sometimes we forget to be grateful for what we’ve got — the right to live a life with opportunity.

Did you know that there is a Gender Development Index?  I didn’t.

This index is a vehicle used by the United Nations to rank countries according to a set of quality of life measures — literacy, income and the like — which are then adjusted to depict gender disparity from country to country.

The top 10 countries — those that are least gender disparate — are Australia, Japan, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands and the United States.

The bottom 10 countries — those that are most gender disparate — are Ethiopia, Mozambique, Chad, Niger, Mali, Central African Republic, Burkina, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Guinea-Bissau.

If you are reading this and wonder where these countries are located on our globe, they are all in Africa.  Of these ten countries, the life expectancy for women is less than 55 years.  In Burundi, it’s as low as 41.

While I am an advocate of correcting problems at home before branching out to other continents and countries, this information is truly disturbing.

Take a look at a map of Africa.  It’s changed since you read your Weekly Reader.

June 2010
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