News roundup for October 2003

Women are beating men in education worldwide

BBC News report

Or so claims the BBC, in a very enthusiastic report on figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Furthermore, it claims that “girls are now more confident of getting better-paid, professional jobs than their flagging male counterparts”.

Pay gap survey



Meanwhile, the Guardian looks at a result of a survey from across the EU on gender-based pay-gaps. We all know that women still earn less than men, but this survey highlights that the difference is much larger than the EU average, and larger than the average in the UK. The report quotes Julie Mellor, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission; ‘Although women are gaining more educational qualifications than ever,they are still concentrated in low-paid, part-time jobs such as cleaning, caring and catering, because these are the only jobs that fit around the limited childcare available.’ So it seems that the optimism in the previous report might be slightly premature.

Disabled women encounter discrimination



Disabled women encounter discrimination both from health professionals and the wider world, according to a survey in Northern Ireland. The survey found that they were less likely to have a job, or to have reached the same level of education, as diasbled men.

Women lose embryo battle


The High Court has ruled that two women may not use embryos creaded with their former partners to have children. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act – which they were challenging – states that both partners’ consent needs to be in place for the embryos to be stored and used. Both women claim that the stored embryos are their only chance of having children. The case gives rise to an interesting debate on the ethics of IVF treatment, the nature of fatherhood, and gives another view of reproductive freedom:

Guardian comment, news roundup.

Surveillance pictures of suffragettes unveiled


The suffragette movement sparked the use of surveillance cameras, and to celebrate the centenary of the movement the pictures obtained are on display at a special exhibition. Some details of the exhibition are available here.

Vatican accused of claiming that condoms can help spread AIDS



The Vatican is at the centre of a row after it was claimed that “cardinals, bishops, priests and nuns in four continents are saying HIV can pass through tiny holes in condoms”. The Vaticans’ stance against condoms – or any form of contraception is well known, but this mis-information will further the spread of HIV and AIDS in developing countries already severely infected.

US anti-abortion policy threatens condom distribution in developing countries


The Bush administration’s stance on abortion counselling and provision is affecting the ability of family planning and health clinics to provide services. Funds from USAid – which has $430m available for family planning services in developing countries – is only available to organisations which sign an anti-abortion pledge. Many family planning clinics have been forced to close because they are run by organisations which will not agree to taking an anti-abortion stance.

Russia attempts to curb high abortion rate


Russia has cut down on the number of abortions that will be available after the 12th week of pregnancy, in a bid to reduce the high abortion rate in the country. The Guardian reports that “Previously, women who were not married, too poor, unemployed, had too small a flat, or three children already, could get an abortion. Now the option is there only if women have been raped, are in jail, or have a disabled husband. The option also exists if either partner is judged unfit to be a parent.” Although the rate of abortion in Russia is very high – 13 abortions to 10 births – critics say that good contraceptive education would be a lot more effective.

More news this month in brief…

News compiled by Marna Gilligan,