African Women Seek Peace; Army Moms Given Only 6 Weeks



The African Network of Women Peace Negotiators-founded by Africa's first ladies and female heads of state-was formed on Feb. 15 to reduce conflict and restore peace across the continent during a peace mission meeting in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville, U.N. news agency IRIN reported.

“Brazzaville will be the starting point of action of women for peace on the continent,” said the first lady of Chad, Hinda Deby Itno. “Unlike men, who are the first to set them off, we have the opportunity and means to extinguish all these hotbeds of tension and crisis in our country.”

Current conflict zones include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Chad, and wars have recently affected Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, the Central African Republic and other nations across Africa. The United Nations has spent nearly 65 percent of its current peacekeeping budget in Africa.

“Africa is one of the forgotten conflicts, the bloodiest the world has ever known since the Second World War,” said Gisele Mandaila, Belgium's secretary of state for family. “The figures speak for themselves; civilians, mostly women, pay a heavy price for these conflicts.”

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • In Afghanistan, parliamentarian Fatima Nazari created a new women's political party-National Need-to put women's rights at the forefront of the national agenda. The party's goal is to run candidates in the next election in 2011, Radio Free Europe reported Feb. 20.
  • A new Web portal for Latinas in computing has been launched by MentorNet, the E-Mentoring Network for Diversity in Engineering and Science with a grant from Texas Instruments. The portal allows Latinas who study or work in engineering and computer science to network together and work one-to-one with mentors in their field. One goal of the project is to identify where the glass ceiling is located for Latinas in computing; women remain under-represented in tech fields overall.
  • Female ministers doubled from two to four in the United Arab Emirates after President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan's Feb. 17 cabinet shuffle. Khalifa Bakheet Al Falasi and former diplomat Reem al-Hashimi join the 24-person cabinet as ministers of state.
  • Leila Fadel, McClatchy's Baghdad bureau chief, won the George R. Polk Award for outstanding foreign reporting. She is the only Western reporter permanently stationed in Baghdad and has spent many nights sleeping at the bureau because the security situation was too tenuous for reporters to travel to their homes. “Sometimes it feels like it us against everything so we have to make sure to trust each other because we can't trust anything. Everything has a risk. Everything could be our last story. People are so afraid to talk,” she told Women's eNews in November 2007.
  • Bringing babies to work could help improve morale and boost work ethic among employees, Carla Moquin of Moms Rising wrote on the advocacy group's Web site Feb 19. Babies-at-work programs, which allow infants and toddlers to join parents in the work place, have benefited both parents and their co-workers, according to the Parenting in the Workplace Institute. Businesses are increasingly searching for ways to retain employees and reduce their stress, and allowing infants at work also reduces child-care costs, the institute reported.
  • Elaine Joyce is suing two golf clubs on Massachusetts' Cape Cod for sex discrimination, the Boston Herald reported Feb 18. Joyce signed up to pair off with her father in a men's tournament but was not assigned a tee time. Joyce claims that when she asked why she was told that a women's tournament would be held later.


Short maternity leaves are making motherhood increasingly difficult for the 25,000 women serving in U.S. Army, the Washington Post reported Feb. 18.

New mothers are permitted six weeks off before returning to the U.S. Army, while those in the Marine Corps and Navy are given six months. After four months, women in the Army could face deployment into a war zone.

“With the operations tempo that we have right now, it makes it hard to work in family planning and being able to deploy with your units,” Army Capt. Stephanie Cediel. She served in Iraq while her son was a toddler and delayed having a second child because of the stress of deployments, told the Washington Post.

Women's willingness to serve dropped from a high of 10 percent in 2003 to 4 percent in 2007, according to periodic Army surveys conducted among 16- to 21-year-olds.

Women make up about 15 percent of military personnel. Of these, nearly 40 percent have children and 10 percent become pregnant each year. Members of the military are parents of approximately 75,000 children under 12 months old, according to the Government Accountability Office.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Only 8 percent of registered female voters turned out in Peshawar during Pakistan's Feb. 18 national election after religious militants closed over 30 polling places set up for women, the New York Times reported Feb 19. Female turnout was also low in northwestern villages where pro-Taliban forces are gaining influence, the Associated Press reported. Nationwide, the Pakistan Peoples Party of Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League-N won enough seats in the election to form a new government. Sixty spots are reserved for women in the 342-seat National Assembly.
  • An advanced clinical trial in Africa showed that microbicide gels do not significantly reduce HIV infection rates for women, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Feb. 19. In the study for the Carraguard gel, 134 women reported new HIV infections while the placebo group reported 151. The results were the latest disappointment for researchers who hoped to develop an effective microbicide for women who are unable or unwilling to rely on their partners to prevent HIV transmission.
  • A second U.S. serviceman has been charged with rape in Okinawa, Japan, within a 10-day period, the BBC reported Feb. 21. The man was detained and accused of raping a Filipino woman in a hotel. The incident follows public protests over a marine who is accused of raping a 14-year-old female student. U.S. military authorities have imposed a 24-hour curfew over troops and civilian personnel posted in Okinawa.
  • Gons G. Nachman, 42, a U.S. diplomat previously stationed in Congo and Brazil is facing federal charges related to accusations that he used his status to coerce female visa applicants into having sex with him, the Associated Press reported Feb. 15.


The board of education in Greene Country, Georgia, unanimously approved the implementation of single-sex high school education for all students, ABC News reported Feb 18. Supporters say single-sex schools will reduce teen pregnancy and help boost low test scores; sports and band programs will still be co-ed. Leonard Sax of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education told ABC he believed the school board's decision was not legal because public schools can only make single-sex education a choice but not a requirement.

Shanelle Matthews is an intern and a recent graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communications. Dominique Soguel is Arabic editor for Women's eNews.

Women's eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at [email protected].

For more information:

MentorNet, Latinas in Computing:

Moms Rising:

“Iraqi Reporters Run Risks to Cover Women's Angle”:

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