PAKISTAN – "Pakistan's military-led government has ratified two international conventions promising to ban child labor in dangerous industries and guarantee women get the same wages as men. The ratification of the International Labour Organization conventions "holds great symbolic value" in a country where children as young as five work in brick kilns and hazardous chemical plants. The convention on women calls for equal wages for work of equal value. The convention on children prohibits child labor in hazardous industries and bans all forms of slavery, sale and trafficking of children, and child prostitution and their use in pornography." (London Free Press, July 22, 2001)

USA – "While the Bush administration may be presenting its deep desire to reignite the Cold War and ignore global environmental concerns as main priorities, the backdoor of the White House must be ready to fly off its hinges with the slippery maneuvering in another sphere. In a further attempt to sneak in additional anti-choice legislation while no-one is watching, policy has been drafted which will give states the option of recognizing a fetus as a person. But now, from the office of the president, comes another blow to women's rights. Under this policy, the "unborn child" of an uninsured woman who does not qualify for Medicaid would be eligible for medical coverage under the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP is a federally funded program which gives grants to states to provide health insurance coverage to uninsured children of up to 200 per cent of the federal poverty level. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, headed by anti-choice secretary Tommy Thompson, the purpose of this policy is to increase access to prenatal care for pregnant women. If, or when, these rights are set, the resulting implications will be enormous. Abortion could be categorized as murder of the unborn child, with already fearful physicians and healthcare providers facing court proceedings and possible incarceration. In the same week that Bush gave his support to this initiative, his administration rejected a call to extend contraceptive coverage for new mothers receiving Medicaid. The current provision allows recipients to access birth control for only two months following delivery. Under the new request, this would be extended to two years with considerable health and social benefits. It was not deemed to be appropriate or necessary." (The Scotsman, July 16, 2001)

KENYA – "A Mombasa workshop on legal equality noted that most of the recent international treaties on women and children's rights had not been incorporated into Kenya's Constitution. Titled the "Jurisprudence of Equality Program" and attended by Court of Appeal and High Court judges as well as by magistrates, the workshop was organized by the Kenya Women Judges Association. It aimed at preparing judges to apply to the cases before them some international, regional and national human rights norms, including on gender discrimination and violence. It discussed violence and discrimination against women with a view to adopting a curriculum relevant to Kenya's circumstances." (Africa News, July 19, 2001)

SOUTH AFRICA – "The fourth national conference of the African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL), which was to be held in the Western Cape on August 9, has been postponed to December. They would deal specifically with issues ranging from challenges facing the ANCWL to discussions on women and economic empowerment as well as the status of women's movements. Asked about the possible candidates likely to contest leadership positions at the conference and whether ANCWL president Winnie Madikizela-Mandela would stand for another term, Dlamini said the league was not impressed by media groups "who are only interested in who will be the leaders rather than the content of the conference". At its last conference in Rustenburg four years ago the ANCWL said it would fight to secure at least 50 percent representation of women in the legislatures and other structures of government. It also resolved to fight for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women while ensuring that empowered leaders were afforded the necessary skills to carry out their functions." (Sowetan July 20, 2001)

SOUTH AFRICA – "A five-day gender summit - from August 5 to 9 - is being held to examine the status of women in South Africa. The summit coincides with Women's Day, on August 9, and will be held in Johannesburg. It is spearheaded by Gender Machinery, which comprises the Commission on Gender Equality, Parliamentary Committee on the Quality of Life and Status of Women and Office on the Status of Women in the Office of the President. Progress made so far on gender equality will be assessed. Emerging issues related to gender would also be considered at a summit expected to lead to landmark policy decisions. Members of the public, as well as all businesses sectors, have been called on to make submissions to the summit steering committee in order to ensure a comprehensive and proactive investigation into the issue of gender equality."
(Sowetan, July 16, 2001)

IRAN -- "A woman was appointed Monday as assistant to the governor of Tehran for administrative affairs and financial planning -- Tehran Gov. Mohammed Reza Ayat named Zahraa Najad Bahram, 38, to the post in which she will deal with pollution, high population and traffic in the capital. Bahram, who has a degree in political science, has 10 years of experience in news. She was the head of the information and administration department at the official Iranian News Agency. She also served in various non-governmental organizations for the protection of women and street children." (United Press International, July 16, 2001)

ISLAMABAD – "The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is set to resume limited activities in Pakistan in education sector after it stopped operation in Pakistan in 1995, USAID officials say. A $ 20 million dollar five-year program is likely to begin later this year for the promotion of girls primary education in southwest Balochistan and southern Sindh provinces, according to Mr. Richard Byess, Deputy Director USAID for South Asia." (Business Recorder, July 23, 2001)

INDONESIA – "Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, on Monday followed in her father's footsteps to become the country's fifth president and first woman to hold the office. Megawati was the people's choice for the Indonesian presidency in elections in 1999, but legislators denied her the historic role of becoming Indonesia's first woman president. The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), Indonesia's highest constitutional body, instead elected Wahid, 60, as the country's fourth president. On Oct. 21, 1999, Megawati, chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-Perjuangan), became the country's eighth vice president and the first woman in the post. Her wait for the top post proved to be short. Fears that Wahid did not have the energy to lead a strong government, pull the country's economy out of the doldrums and unify the highly fragmented archipelago were proved correct." (Japan Economic Newswire, July 23, 2001)

KOTA KINABALU – "Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Government recognizes contribution made by women in politics and in promoting progress of the nation. Women have achieved a high-level of maturity in politics and also play a positive role in developing the country, he added. Abdullah also reminded women who will be voting in the Likas by-election not to be influenced by the Opposition's propaganda. Meanwhile, Shahrizat said women in Malaysia were successful compared to those in other countries. She said women had a bright future and would continue to experience success if they allowed the BN to continue
governing the country." ( New Straits Times (Malaysia) July 20, 2001)

KOREA – "South Korea's minister of women's affairs on Friday said her ministry would try to join with North Korea to press Japan to rewrite history textbooks that do not mention the plight of Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese army during World War II. The South Korean government was "deeply disappointed" with Tokyo's refusal to revise history textbooks that critics said whitewash Japanese atrocities allegedly committed during its rule of Korea, Han said. South Korea has asked for the revision of 35 passages in new history textbooks written by nationalist scholars who deny Japan committed historically documented wartime atrocities." (United Press International, July 20, 2001)

JAKARTA – "Women parliamentarians here on Thursday set up a Women Parliamentarian Caucus to unite their vision and mission towards women's condition in the country. Aisyah Hamid Baidlowi said the caucus had a mission of realizing equality between men and women in access to every development process. She said the caucus would for example make an inventory of legislations disadvantaging the women and would seek efforts to revise them." (Antara - The Indonesian National News Agency, July 19, 2001)

KOREA -- "Landmark revisions signify the government's first case of acknowledging the need for maternity leave. It will be expanded to 90 days from the current 60, starting Nov. 1, with the increased costs to be split by the government and the employment insurance funds. Companies will be obligated to pay them for the first 60 days of their leave, as before. In addition, either parent will be given limited paid leave, up to a certain period, after the child is born. The wage levels and the length of the paid leave will be finalized after further consultations. The revisions also include several provisions centered on effectively preventing gender discrimination in the workplace. The Equal Employment Law will be additionally applied to small-sized workplaces with less than 4 people, while punitive measures will be strengthened against employers in violation of the law. The law provides a 10 million won fine against employers found guilty of sexual harassment. It also allows women to work flexibly beyond their regular hours with the individual's consent. So far, female workers were, in principle, restricted from working overtime, night shifts and working on holidays in consideration of their health. Women's groups, while generally welcoming the new law, voiced disappointment that key policies essential to protecting the rights of working mothers were not reflected. They noted that special provisions in case of miscarriages or stillbirths, and regarding regular check-ups during pregnancy, were not included in the final revisions, demands which were raised consistently by women's and labor groups." (Korea Herald, July 22, 2001)


MALAYSIA -- "Wanita Umno vice head Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil today urged Sabah women to vote for empowerment by giving full support to Barisan Nasional (BN) in Saturday's by-election in Likas. She said Malaysian women enjoyed much empowerment under the present government that every issues pertaining to them were being given serious consideration. On consumerism, Shahrizat who is also Women and Family Development Minister said as the country's major consumers, women should make their voice heard when traders indiscriminately raised the price of consumer goods. As consumers, women's spending habits had an effect on the country's economic growth particularly during the economic crisis, said Shahrizat." (Malaysia General News, July 19, 2001)

AUSTRIA -- "A pamphlet issued by Austria's far-right Freedom Party advising women to don more clothes this summer, and not stoke the urges of potential rapists, unleashed a fresh barrage of criticism against the controversial party on Tuesday. Sexual crimes tend to occur "out in the open, and primarily in the warm season when women are often skimpily dressed....One should try to avoid giving the impression of "permissiveness"," the pamphlet read. Weinmeister conceded that women who still wanted to dress permissively could do so but should carry a set of more modest clothes with them to put on when they go outside. The advice from the Freedom Party, known for its rather traditional take on women, has local opposition parties up in arms. "Women are essentially being told that they provoke rape with the kind of clothes they wear. Victims are being transformed into accomplices, it's an unbelievable slap in the face for women who have experienced violence," said the spokeswoman for the local branch of the Green Party, Edith Zitz. "So women are just supposed to accept that some men are allowed to consider a mini-skirt an invitation?" demanded Elke Edlinger." (Agence France Presse, July 17, 2001)

TURKEY -- "Turkey's health minister says high school girls training to be nurses must be virgins. Health Minister Osman Durmus said the virginity tests he is authorizing will protect the country's youth from prostitution and underage sex. The regulations introduced this week by Durmus allow principals in state schools that train health workers to expel girls for having sex. Girls who are suspected of having sex could be subjected to a gynecological test to determine if they are virgins. The tests need a judge's order and only apply to students at medical schools that train nurses and other medical staff, such as midwives. Outraged women's groups and nurses are vowing to fight, and a teachers' union is asking the government to fire the minister. Virginity is highly valued in mainly Muslim Turkey, and Durmus said he was trying to promote moral behavior in the nursing schools." (The Toronto Sun, July 19, 2001)

MALAYSIA -- "Malaysia's religious authorities has rejected a request by transsexuals to be recognized as women, a report said Sunday. The Sunday Star newspaper quoted Hamid Zainal Abidin, minister in the prime minister's department in charge for religious matters said this was to prevent transsexuals from being lured into the flesh trade. "The request cannot be entertained as it is clearly against Islamic beliefs and teachings. However, we will try to address the problem by having counseling classes for them," he said. Early this year, a group of transsexuals asked Women and Family Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil to look into the possibility of declaring them as women instead of a third sex. They said a large number of them could not get jobs because they were identified as men in their identity cards. As a result, many of them ended up as prostitutes. About 50,000 transsexuals had initially expected to be recognized as women following an assurance from Shahrizat that she would come up with a "dignified" outlook for them." (Agence France Presse, July 22, 2001)