Friday, March 14, 2014

What We've Been Reading...

Happy Friday everyone! Here is what we have been reading this week:
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women convened in New York on Monday to begin a two-week review of the development of women in relationship to the Millennium Development Goals and discuss how women's empowerment can be accelerated after 2015.  The Guardian’s Liz Ford also reported that many have described this year's CSW as crucial to the ongoing post 2015 debate, offering the chance to put calls for women's empowerment and gender equality at the forefront of future discussions of global issues. Click here to read more. For more information about the summit, be sure to follow UN News Centre.
In other news, only a few days after the Senate blocked the Military Justice Improvement Act, it unanimously approved a bill that proposes several different reforms to combat sexual assault in the military. The bipartisan bill was spearheaded by Sen. McCaskill, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE). This bill will eliminate the “good soldier” defense, meaning that accused soldiers cannot use evidence of good military character and performance to question an accusation unless it is directly relevant to the crime. It will also allow victims to challenge their discharge from the military. The bill now moves on to the House. Read our blog post about it here.
Moving a little closer to home, students and women’s advocacy groups are demanding that Dartmouth College strengthen its sexual assault policies, citing the fact that a freshman was assaulted on campus after her name appeared in a “rape guide” published on a student-run website. Nearly 50,000 people have signed onto a petition started by the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet asking the prestigious school to take serious action to prevent something like from happening again in the future.  Student groups have also asked the school to list expulsion as the punishment for rape in the student handbook and to block access to the ‘rape guide’ website on campus. The school has yet to take any of these measures.  Dartmouth is also currently under federal investigation for potential violations of Title IX, the federal gender equity law that requires universities to ensure a safe learning environment for students. Read more about this here.
Our last news story for this week further demonstrates the importance of involving women in politics in Massachusetts.  This week, The Feminist Majority Foundation has endorsed Maura Healey, candidate for Attorney General.  The foundation applauded Healey’s experience in fighting for women's rights, civil rights, human rights, health care access, education, and consumer protection.  Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, called Healey a trailblazer and an impressive advocate for equality.  Feminist Majority also endorsed  Marisa DeFranco for US House of Representatives from Massachusetts’ 6th District. Smeal stated: "She is a tireless worker and leader on a wide range of issues that advance women's equality. Marisa is a leader that we need in Congress to advance women's pay equity, as well as immigration reform, LGBT rights, and social justice issues such as ending sex trafficking."

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!