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US: Maternity for Teens (3/99)

With nearly 500,000 teenagers giving birth nationwide each year, most are unmarried and not ready for the emotional, psychological, and financial challenges of parenting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under federal welfare reform, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the bulk of control over federal assistance for such families has been given to the states, with incentives such as bonuses for reducing teen, out-of-wedlock births, estimated at 76 percent of all teen births in 1994, compared to 15 percent in 1960. read more

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Feminism’s Unfinished Business (Editorial: 3/98)

Twenty years ago, I was coming of age as “second-wave feminism” was hitting its stride. A national Equal Rights Amendment seemed like a do-able accomplishment and helped galvanize activists. The UN had recently declared International Women’s Year, and women were empowered by participating in a movement whose numbers seemed to swell every year.

Feminism was revived. The “first-wave” feminists had achieved passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, granting women the right to vote. But the voting public was still largely middle- and upper-class, and didn’t produce the revolutionary change that socialist suffragists had sought. And since so much effort had been focused on suffrage, once it was obtained, activism dwindled until it was all but non-existent. read more

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Putting Our Mouths Where the Money Is, (3/98)

In a climate of growing private investment and free trade worldwide, combined with shrinking international foreign assistance budgets, women have more reasons than ever to understand and be concerned about macroeconomic development. So says Ritu Sharma, director of the newly organized Women’s EDGE: The Coalition for Women’s Economic Development and Global Equality. A revitalization of the former Coalition for Women in Development, Women’s EDGE was started in Washington, DC, last March to take on global macroeconomics. As Sharma explains, “We felt that it was important as a women’s community to essentially put our mouths where the money is. And the money is in private investment and trade.” read more

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Back to the Margins (3/98)

In the long struggle between Iraq and the US, Iraqi women have been the most harmed of that nation’s beleaguered masses. Like men, of course, they’ve lost opportunities and seen their living standard plummet. But they’ve also been forced into social contracts which they thought ended a century ago.Seven years of sanctions have desiccated more than bombs could. The casualties include not only Iraq’s modern, secular society, with its advanced medical and educational systems, self sufficiency, university research, and child vaccination programs, but also the progressive lives of eight million Iraqi women. Before 1990, Iraq had an exemplary policy of educating women and opening the professions to them. Before the Gulf War, women were found in all sectors of life. But in the years since then, those gains have been reversed. read more

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Standoff in Chiapas (3/98)

Esperanza Aguilar Jimenez is a skinny seven-year-old, all legs and arms in a well-worn, carefully patched, poofy-skirt dress. She sits next to me on a dusty rock at the side of the road leading into Morelia, her village in the southernmost Mexican state of Chiapas. It’s mid-morning, and Esperanza ought to be in school. But all her teachers are gone. Fearing the imminent advance of the Mexican military, they packed themselves tightly into a little pickup and drove as quickly as they could down the deeply rutted road out of town. I know this because I watched them go. read more