COMPILED BY DANIELLE TATE-STRATTON
Two women from Sudbury, Ontario recently launched a company called BAM North Productions. The film company aims to document the unique ways that women experience adventure trips as opposed to their male counterparts or on trips with mixed gender participants. The company will film adventures undertaken by Wild Women Expeditions, which leads female-only trips across Canada.
The United Nations AIDS agency recently launched a new program designed to improve and increase treatment and prevention for women with HIV/AIDS, currently the leading cause of death for women aged 15–49. The program will last for five years and is designed to improve gender equality in relation to the disease by providing information and tools for women to protect themselves.
Forty-four-year-old Constable Annie (her last name is protected for security reasons) from Montreal is the only policewoman working as a police mentor in Afghanistan. She is spending nine months volunteering to teach ten policewomen how to be more effective officers in a country where female cops are targeted by insurgents simply because of their gender, and where life on the job is constantly dangerous.
Draft legislation in France, slated to enter debate in March, would force women who wear the full Islamic veil to pay a fine equivalent to approximately ¥120,000, a matter of security according to politician Jean-François Copé. Husbands who force their wives to wear the veil may face an even larger fine.
A South Carolina state House budget panel recently approved a measure that would end health insurance payments for abortion for women who became pregnant through rape or incest. Meanwhile, in Florida, a bill entitled the Florida for Life Act was introduced. If passed, the Act would ban abortion in nearly every case, including rape or incest.
The US National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health studied 6,000 women and found that taking bisphosphonates typically used for treating osteoporosis (such as Fosamax or Boniva) for over two years could lower the risk of breast cancer by up to 30 percent in women who are not obese. According to researchers, obese women may have higher levels of estrogen, which may reduce the ability of the bisphosphonates to prevent cancer.
The University of Zurich studied 59,000 international travellers and found that women were more likely to come down with gastrointestinal disorders, colds, and urinary tract infections, as well as suffering from adverse reactions to medications, whereas male travellers were found to be more susceptible to fevers, diseases borne by ticks and mosquitoes, frostbite, and sexually transmitted infection. Researcher Dr. Patricia Schlagenhauf suggests that the results of the study allow travellers to more effectively prepare for their journeys by packing medicines for diseases they are more likely to contract.
Twenty-one-year-old skier Marjan Kalhor became the first Iranian woman to compete at a Winter Olympics during the Games in Vancouver. She was the flag-bearer for her delegation and competed with a headscarf under her helmet, telling reporters that as skiing is a sport that requires you to be fully dressed, there are no problems with the Islamic dress code.
Human rights groups in Uzbekistan recently claimed that the government has launched a program to force women to get sterilised. As of mid-February each doctor is to convince two women per month to have a hysterectomy. As well, the country’s 80,000 physicians are to encourage these procedures as effective birth control.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, women were able to fare better during the recent economic downturn than men, largely due to the type of jobs lost—those in the construction and manufacturing industries—which remain male-dominated.
Spain recently amended its abortion laws, allowing girls aged 16 and 17 to obtain an abortion without their parents’ consent and freeing women to have an abortion up to 14 weeks into pregnancy without risking time in jail. The new laws also allow for an abortion up to 22 weeks into pregnancy if two doctors show that the women’s health is at risk, or if the fetus is malformed.
Independent watchdog organisation Freedom House recently released the results of a five-year study in the Middle East and Africa, which showed that in 15 of the 18 countries studied, women have made modest gains in terms of winning rights and gaining freedom, especially in Kuwait, Algeria, and Jordan.
A University of Calgary study has shown that women who don’t receive the clot-busting drug tPA after suffering a stroke may suffer from more serious consequences than men who don’t receive it. However, for men and women who received the drug, the outcome following a stroke was equally positive.