Tag Archives: Women’s Rights

How many countries have ever had a woman leader?

First, a little Benazir Bhutto story, since we are on the subject of women leaders.

A friend of mine was to be on the podium of Harvard’s graduation the year Benazir Bhutto was to give the keynote, and heard this conversation. John Galbraith, the economists who was also a professor at Harvard, Bhutto’s former undergraduate advisor, and her friend, was also to be on the stage, and all the famous people who were to be on that stage were to walk out in procession. The Secret Service, who were protecting Bhutto who at the time was Head of State, arranged the people so that two or three guys, including Galbraith, were to walk out first, Bhutto in the middle, then a string of people afterwards. The idea was to put the person they were protecting in the middle.

Bhutto was fairly diminutive of stature, so she would have been hard to see and while this would enhance her safety, it would also have lessened the impact of hear appearance at this event, a former undergrad returning as a Prime Minister of a whole country. Galbraith, her friend and mentor, would have nothing of it. He insisted that he be in the front of the line. When the Secret Service agents, tough, numerous, steely eyed and, well, convincing as they tend to be, told him that this would be impossible, and that security concerns trumped appearances and that she would be walking out onto the stage in the middle of the procession, Galbraith, whom you may remember as having been a very tall and imposing figure with deep booming voice, turned to the head of the security detail and simply said, “Sir, I overrule you,” at which time the detail backed off, Bhutto, grinning, walked to the front of the line, and the procession began.

Apropos the question that has come up in recent years as to the meaning of, say, a “black” or a female president of the United States … as to whether we are “ready” or whether such a thing would advance civil rights in the US or whether such a thing would lead to polarizing opposition from racists or misogynous, we can look at what has happened with the presidency of Barack Obama (and see that all of the above are true) and also look at the place in the world of the United States. Many other nations have had women prime ministers, presidents, queens, or whatever. Is the United States in the majority yet, are we one of the few countries (or one of the few “Western” countries, or one of the few “democracies” or whatever) who has not had a female in charge?

Pursuant to this question I made a list (made = copied from the internet) of countries and put a star next to those which I think have had a woman leader. I’m sure I missed some. Have a look. Tell me which countries I should move from one list to another (or if I’ve left out some countries). There are complexities. Continue reading How many countries have ever had a woman leader?

Sebelius: No morning after pill for girls under 17

The FDA will not remove restrictions on access for the Morning After Birth Control Pill.

In a statement today, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said she was convinced that the product, called Plan B One Step, is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected intercourse for women of all ages. Currently the product is available without a prescription only to those age 17 and over. As long ago as 2003, two FDA advisory panels recommended the product be made available over the counter without age restrictions.

Hamburg, however, was overruled by her boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. As a result, the drug makers’ application to remove the age restriction has been denied, and girls under age 17 will still need a prescription.

source

I would like to take this opportunity to request Sebelius resignation.

Margaret Hamburg’s statement is here. The most important part is here:
Continue reading Sebelius: No morning after pill for girls under 17

Saudi Arabia Takes An Important Step Towards the 20th Century

The Medieval Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a relatively progressive King, apparently. He decided that women would be allowed to vote. This is a good thing, but it does remind us of how backwards a nation can be. And makes us wonder if a country like Saudi Arabia should have ever been allowed in the UN to begin with.

From the wp:

Saudi King Abdullah announced Sunday that the nation’s women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015 in a major advancement for the rights of women in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.

In an annual speech before his advisory assembly, or Shura Council, the Saudi monarch said he ordered the step after consulting with the nation’s top religious clerics, whose advice carries great weight in the kingdom.

Abdullah said the changes announced Sunday would also allow women to be appointed to the Shura Council, the advisory body selected by the king that is currently all-male.

Note that only local elections were mentioned. Women in Saudi Arabia still can’t drive, and are liable to be sentenced to death if they are raped, etc. etc. But this is an important step in the right direction.