The U.N.’s safe cities initiative integrates women’s safety into development projects globally
  • The cross-sector “Safe Cities Global Initiative” aims to stem sexual violence and harassment of women in urban spaces through infrastructure and program development.
  • In Delhi, mobile app Safetipin crowdsources safety reviews of public spaces and integrates GPS for personal tracking and security.
  • Projects have sprung up in other cities as well, including Cairo, Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, and Kigali in Rwanda.

“Unsafe public spaces limit women’s and girl’s life choices. This daily reality limits their freedom to participate in education, work, recreation, and in political life.”

More on this story at the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

U.S. healthcare plans’ failure to ensure full coverage of maternity care leaves many women and families bearing full brunt of hospitalization costs
  • While the Affordable Care Act declares maternity and newborn care essential health benefits, employer plans continue to sidestep labor and newborn costs, which accounts for over 80% of pregnancy and childbirth costs.
  • Because the ACA allows for children to remain on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, the government has clarified that dependent children can have their prenatal care covered; labor and delivery, however, remain vulnerable.
  • There is an ongoing suit filed through the Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights alleging sex discrimination in employer healthcare coverage.

“Pregnancy discrimination is per se sex discrimination.”

More on this story at NPR.

(Image Credit: iStockphoto, via NPR)

Advocates and sports federation officials express unease at Iran’s equivocation on easing of restrictions on women’s attendance at sports matches
  • With Tehran set to host a world league volleyball match, the FIVB, the sport’s international federation, says it is committed to ensuring open, inclusive participation globally, though it has indicated no countermeasures should the Iranian government refuse.
  • Last week, Iran’s VP for women and family affairs indicated that women’s attendance would be limited to family members of athletes in a select set of sports, considered by many to be capitulation to the country’s vocal conservatives.
  • British-Iranian Ghoncheh Ghavami was jailed for nearly five months for trying to attend a volleyball match, leading the FIVB to state that Iran would not be eligible to hold international championships until the ban was lifted.

“The situation has got worse in recent years and hardliners have become more extreme on this matter but on the positive side, more people are aware of our cause now than ever before.”

More on this story at The Guardian.

(Image Credit: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters, via The Guardian)

Bahrain court sentences leader of Shiite opposition party to four years in prison
  • Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Al Wefaq, was arrested in December on charges of “publicly inciting hatred” and “insulting public institutions” in the Sunni-led country.
  • The sentencing is the latest in a crackdown on the country’s Shiite-led pro-democracy movement, which has included citizenship revocation and banishment for the political opposition.

“Al Wefaq, the opposition group, said that the verdict was part of a ‘security campaign against every person demanding legitimate rights,’ and that the court ‘ruled against the majority of the people of Bahrain that adopt Salman’s path in demanding democratic transition, justice and dignity.'”

More on this story at The New York Times.