March 8th, 2010
04:41 PM ET

Oscars were 'Ladies' Night in a Boys' Town'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/03/08/frisky.oscar.theories/t1larg.jpg caption="Kathryn Bigelow is the first lady to win Best Director at the Academy Awards." width=300 height=169]

John Anderson
Special to CNN

When Alec Baldwin closed out the Academy Awards on Sunday night by slapping director Kathryn Bigelow squarely on the backside, that pretty much said it all.

It was Ladies' Night in a Boys' Town.

Yes, the opening routine by Baldwin and Steve Martin was very funny; there was sincerity and genuine gratitude from many of the winners; despite weird digressions into arcane areas like sound recording, the program moved briskly enough.

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Filed under: Academy Awards • Women's Issues • Women's Rights
March 8th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

Never dismiss power of Afghan women

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/15/afghanistan.women.amanpour/art2.jpg caption="Afghan women have fought to receive an education, despite Taliban rules."]

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Special to CNN

Afghan women won the world's attention nine years ago following the routing of Taliban troops at the hands of U.S. and Afghan forces. Back then, a rush of dignitaries flew to Kabul to denounce the Taliban's brutal treatment of women, although the world had largely forgotten these same women during the previous seven years.

No school, no work, no leaving the house without a man - even a boy would do. These are the laws Afghan women learned to live with, because they had to. Yet they also found a way to work around those rules.

Throughout the Taliban years, Afghan women ran aid organizations, practiced medicine, taught schools and ran businesses. They refused to be victims; instead, they led their communities and helped them survive desolate years of economic collapse and political isolation.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Taliban • Women's Rights
March 5th, 2010
06:38 PM ET

Thank you very much, but we can think for ourselves: African-American women and choice

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/12/13/senate.spending.bill/story.capitol.dome.gi.jpg width=300 height=169]

Tanya M. Acker
AC360° Contributor

In an attempt to exploit racial fears and perhaps assume for themselves the broad legitimacy of a civil rights movement, anti-choice activists are now targeting African-Americans – claiming that the exercise of reproductive freedom by African-American women is effecting a “genocide” in the African-American community. According to proponents of this strategy, family planning clinics are disproportionately located in African-American communities so as to facilitate this “genocide.”

While I do not dispute the sincerity of many in the pro-life movement, this attempt is cynical, misguided, and dangerous.

To argue that abortion rates among African-American women are higher because of a “racial conspiracy” is to ignore the reality of health care options (or the lack thereof) in that community. African-American women are less likely than their white counterparts to have access to affordable care – including affordable birth control options. They are also more likely to die of breast cancer, more likely to contract HIV and more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension. Infant mortality rates, too, are higher in the African-American than in the White community. To focus solely on the issue of higher abortion rates is to ignore the broader reality that the problem of inadequate access to health care is particularly acute in communities of color.


February 19th, 2010
11:16 PM ET

Iran's latest crackdown on women's rights

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/meast/01/10/iran.mourning.mothers/story.protesters.afp.gi.jpg caption="Iranian opposition supporters demonstrate at Tehran University's campus in December." width=300 height=169]

Elham Gheytanchi
Special to AC360°

Despite a February 15th United Nations review of its human-rights practices, Iran’s government has not curbed its censorship and repression of women’s rights activists. The morning after the review was held, Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian feminist lawyer, was detained by the Iranian government. Her alleged crime is “to have spoken with foreign media” about human rights violations in Iran.

During the U.N. session, delegates from most countries—with the exception of Cuba, Venezuela, China, Russia and a few others—condemned the Iranian government’s treatment of dissenters, especially violence against women and religious minorities. Simultaneously, Iran censored portions of women’s rights websites and blogs reporting on the session.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/20/art.vert.iran.elham.youshef.jpg caption="Yousef Rashidi, an Iranian political prisoner on death row, who was arrested on July 9 after holding a poster in one of Ahmadinejad's lectures in Politechnique University in Tehran stating 'Fascist President: Poly Technique is not your place!'." width=292 height=320]

These latest cases of detention, intimidation and censorship come on the heels of a government crackdown on dissidence on February 11th, the 31st anniversary of the Iranian revolution. To thwart a planned demonstration by Iran’s pro-democracy “green movement,” the government shut down the Internet in parts of Tehran and other major cities. Meanwhile, state-backed, pro-government demonstrations were accompanied with utmost security measures enforced by the Basij (paramilitary forces) and Sepah (the Revolutionary Guard). Even so, shouts of “Death to Dictator!” could be heard during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech, although few protesters were visible.


Filed under: Iran • Women's Rights
December 21st, 2009
01:29 PM ET

Cynthia Nixon: Abortion debate's new voice

Cynthia Nixon is speaking out against provisions in the House and Senate health care bills that limit coverage for abortions.

Breeanna Hare

It's been a little more than a week since Cynthia Nixon flew back from filming "Sex and the City 2" in Morocco, and she's already diving headfirst into the debate surrounding abortion and health care reform.

Nixon, a longtime abortion rights activist, says she can't keep quiet about the recent health care bill amendments that would limit insurance coverage for abortions.

"It's a very basic female right that we need to protect," Nixon said. "What's so frightening about this Stupak ban is that he's found a backdoor way to basically not cover abortion for the vast majority of American women."

The Stupak-Pitts amendment, written by Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and Republican Rep. Joseph R. Pitts of Pennsylvania, is a point of contention in the House health care bill. The amendment would limit funds in the health care bill, preventing subsidies from directly paying for abortions and also from paying for any insurance plan that covers abortions.

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Filed under: Health Care • Women's Issues • Women's Rights
December 18th, 2009
11:18 AM ET

Don't allow federal funds for abortion

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/18/abortion.jpg caption="An abortion demonstrator protests a clinic in Nebraska."]

Orrin Hatch
Special to CNN

The Democratic health care proposal being debated in the Senate not only contains large new taxes, enormous government expansion and huge spending, but I'm convinced it also seeks to allow federal funding for abortion - something 61 percent of Americans do not support, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey.

Recently, the House of Representatives passed a health care reform bill containing language that would safeguard the rights of the unborn, and also prevent medical providers from being coerced into performing procedures that violate their conscience.

However, the health care reform bill introduced by Harry Reid, D-Nevada, in the Senate does not contain similar protections. To be clear, the language in the Reid bill on abortion is significantly weaker than that of the bill that passed in the House last month.

I have major concerns about how effective the weak language in the Reid bill will be. The one thing we know is that coverage of elective abortions in the government-operated health plan (or the public option) would be decided by the secretary of Health and Human Services. I am certain that federal subsidies would ultimately pay for insurance coverage used to cover elective abortions.

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Filed under: Democrats • Health Care • Women's Issues • Women's Rights
December 2nd, 2009
11:06 AM ET
November 30th, 2009
01:36 PM ET

Interactive: Timeline of women in the U.S. Military

U.S. Military

Women have served in the United States Military since 1775. They are an invaluable and essential part of the Army. Currently, women serve in 91 percent of all Army occupations and make up about 14 percent of the active Army, where they continue to play a crucial role. Go here to find an historical timeline of women in the U.S. Military.

Filed under: Military • Women's Issues • Women's Rights
November 27th, 2009
11:16 AM ET

Sex trafficking: An American problem too

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/europe/11/19/uk.prostitution.laws/art.uk.prostitution.laws.afp.gi.jpg caption="At least 100,000 and perhaps as many as 300,000 children in America are victims of sex trafficking each year."]

Bridgette Carr
Special to CNN

"We did not have a right to choose where we lived ... freedom of speech, or freedom of actions. The traffickers had keys to our apartment. They controlled all of our movement and travel. They watched us and listened when we called our parents. They didn't let us make friends or tell anyone anything about ourselves. We couldn't keep any of the money we earned. We couldn't ask anyone for help." - Lena

Lena was an athletic student from Eastern Europe yearning to visit the United States through a study-abroad program at her college. She had visions of learning English and returning home to share her experiences with her family.

But the human traffickers who ensnared her had a different vision for Lena, shipping her to America and exploiting her in the sex industry for profit. They met her at the airport with news that her study abroad placement had been changed. She was given new bus tickets and sent off to Detroit, Michigan. Once there they took her passport and her freedom.

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Filed under: Women's Issues • Women's Rights
November 13th, 2009
04:30 PM ET
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