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Women in the News: Weekly Highlights November 17, 2009
by Julie Norwell

Women’s health an “urgent priority”; Half of breast cancer survivors still have pain; Women to become half of all unionize workers; Entrepreneur becomes a human punching bag for women…Here are weekly highlights of recent women-related news our readers should note:

The World Health Organization calls womenapostrophes health an “urgent priority.apostrophe Despite considerable progress in the past decades, societies continue to fail to meet the health care needs of women at key moments of their lives, particularly in their adolescent years and in older age. These are the key findings of the WHO report Women and Health: Todayapostrophes Evidence Tomorrowapostrophes Agenda. WHO calls for urgent action both within the health sector and beyond to improve the health and lives of girls and women around the world, from birth to older age.
“In richer countries, death rates for children and young women are very low, and most deaths occur after 60 years of age. In poorer countries, the picture is quite different: the population is on average younger, death rates among children are higher, and most female deaths occur among girls, adolescents and younger adult women. The most striking difference between rich and poor countries is in maternal mortality – 99% of the more than half a million maternal deaths every year happen in developing countries,apostrophe claims the report.
The World Health Organization says it is trying to improve health care for women and girls around the world, as well as strengthen health systems everywhere by making women’s health a priority. For more information go to:

Nearly half of breast cancer surgery survivors still have pain or numbness two to three years later. According to a report by The Journal of the American Medical Association released last week 47% reported pain, of whom 13% had severe pain, 39% had moderate pain, and 48% had light pain. Women under 40 and those who received radiation therapy tended to fare worse. The study was conducted by sending a nationwide cross-sectional questionnaire to 3754 women aged 18 to 70 years who received surgery and adjuvant therapy for primary breast cancer in Denmark between January 2005 and December 2006.
For more information go to:

New research claims that women are on track to become a majority of union workers. Over the past 25 years, the face of the labor movement has undergone considerable change, according to “The Changing Face of Labor, 1983-2008,apostrophe a new report released today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The report analyzes trends in the union workforce over the last quarter century. Today, women are a large and growing segment of the union workforce. In 2008, they accounted for 45.2% of all union workers up from 35.4% in 1983. White men now make up 38% of the union work force, down from 51.7% in 1983.
If current trends continue, women will be a majority of the union workforce in the next ten years. Such a phenomenal shift in the gender balance could well see labor unions focus more on issues of concern to women in the future, such as work-family balance, paid-sick days and paid parental leave.

The report also looks at the rising share of racial and ethnic minorities into union. “In the next decade, the rise of women to majority status in the labor movement and the likely continued influx of racial and ethnic minorities into unions are likely to be among the most important developments for organized labor,apostrophe concludes the report. For more information go to:

Bosses generally perceive women workers to have more family-work conflict than men, even though this isnapostrophet the case. This new research, which came out in the November 2009 issue of The Academy of Management Journal, says that this belief, mistaken though it is, leads supervisors to take a negative view of women employeesapostrophe suitability for promotion. According to the authors, the studyapostrophes findings "raise concerns about company-sponsored programs that assist employees with managing family-work conflict...[E]mployees who participate in these programs may signal to their managers that they have family demands and need assistance in balancing home and work domains. Participation in these company-sponsored programs may reduce the likelihood that their managers view them as fitting with the job and organization, consequently reducing their promotion opportunities." For more information go to:

A Chinese entrepreneur starts a business as a punching bag for stressed women. Gym coach, Xiao Lin, from Shenyang in northeast China’s Liaoning province, sees his new part-time gig as a win-win for him and for his clients. “It fits in well with my day job. I needed more sparring partners anyway,apostrophe he says. “By being a punch bag for women, I can make some money and also practice my self-defense skills and work on my fitness at the same time.apostrophe So far, his clients seem to be getting some therapeutic benefit, too. “The first woman was about 25 years old. She paid for half an hour but soon got tired and spent the rest of her time just chatting to me. The second customer also only lasted for a few minutes but they both looked much happier afterwards. It does people good to let off some steam." Lin reportedly charges 100 yuan (about $15) for a 30-minute bash-fest. For more information, go to