Some good international news

from Women’s eNews:

* Portugal, one of four European nations where most abortions are illegal, will vote next month in a referendum to liberalize its laws. The election occurs amid efforts to challenge Portuguese and Irish anti-choice laws in European court.

* Three hundred men have joined a Burlington, Vermont, U.S., campaign against domestic abuse, the Burlington Press reported Jan. 23. Members of the White Ribbon Campaign, which was formed last December, wear white ribbons to symbolize their commitment to challenging violence against women. Members agree to speak to at least one boy and man to raise awareness.

* A group of Israeli women has petitioned the nation’s high court to prohibit bus companies from telling women to sit in the back in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, Reuters reported Jan. 24. Some members of the Orthodox sects of Judaism follow teachings that ban any public contact between men and women. The Israeli government has recently backed transport companies that run gender-divided buses on 30 public routes.

* The United Nations will deploy its first all-female peacekeeping force to the conflict-torn West African nation of Liberia on Jan. 29, the Associated Press reported. The 103-member team, which has trained since September and is drawn from India, will help conduct local elections and assist with prison security.

* Under pressure from activists and eager for approval to join the European Union, Turkey has launched a major campaign against honor killings, the Los Angeles Times reported Jan 21. Pop stars and soccer celebrities have produced TV spots and billboard ads condemning violence against women, while Turkish imams have declared honor killings a sin.

* More than 500 international manufacturers of cosmetic and body care products have vowed to eliminate toxic ingredients from their products, the San Francisco-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics announced Jan. 25. The pledge’s signatories have agreed to replace ingredients linked with cancer, hormone imbalances and birth anomalies with safer alternatives by 2010.

* Saudi Arabia’s most prominent princess, Lolwah Al-Faisal, said that she would allow women to drive if she were queen for a day during comments made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Times of London reported Jan. 25. Al-Faisal is vice-chair of the board of trustees and general supervisor of Jeddah’s Effat College. Her remark was broadly received as a direct challenge to the nation’s driving ban, imposed by religious order in 1990.

* When Israel holds a high-level meeting on national security starting Jan. 21, Israeli women’s groups will meet on the sidelines to discuss the harmful effects of last summer’s war on Lebanon and recommend ways to defuse nuclear tensions in the region.

* A U.K. labor union plans to bring a barrage of cases that will test the significance for female workers of a recent European Court of Justice decision. Advocates hope it will ease the penalty for taking time out of the paid work force.