Top Five on Friday: January 17

By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA

This week, the news cycle has been incredibly female-focused. From politics to health, from birthdays to marriage. Read on for the latest stories about women this week, and if we missed anything important, let us know in the comments!

1. A look at trends in life expectancy and economic status showed that women in the U.S. are dying sooner than those in other countries, and the reason may be linked to their education and access to healthcare.

Why American Women Aren’t Living as Long as They Should, by Olga Khazan, The Atlantic

“Less-educated women are less likely to have jobs, and therefore they may not only struggle to afford doctors’ visits and healthier lifestyles, but also may lack the strong social networks and sense of purpose that have shown to reduce mortality. At the Metrotrends Urban Institute blog, Aron writes, ‘Our preliminary analyses suggest that increases in mortality are especially pronounced among white women of reproductive age, not a group we generally think of as being disadvantaged.'”

2. The National Women’s Law Center has filed complaints against four of the largest insurance companies, citing the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurance providers do not discriminate based on gender.

Four Insurance Companies Accused of Widespread Sex Discrimination, by Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check

“Normally long-term care policies are priced based on a variety of factors, including the age of the person purchasing the policy and the limits of the policy itself. But, according to the complaints, these companies also considered an applicant’s sex, charging more for policies written for women. That practice, the NWLC claims, violates the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination rule. That rule prevents insurance companies from discriminating in terms of coverage on a number of factors, including a person’s sex, race, age, national origin, and gender identity.”

3. A number of articles today highlighted the growing influence of women in Congress on important recent legislation, such as the 2014 budget deal.

Senate women score legislative wins as influence grows, by Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

“Seniority has produced a series of female chairmen of committees responsible for some of the most important, and often most controversial, legislation before Congress.

After last year’s historically unproductive session, 2014 has been devoted to completing difficult work left over, and there’s a feeling among many people that some corners of Congress are starting to function differently because of the power that women now hold.”

4. This week, the Shriver Report released its latest publication, A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink. In a related piece, the question of economic status and “singlehood” was also raised this week; check out this Atlantic piece for more.

11 Surprising Facts About Women and Poverty From the Shriver Report, by Charlotte Atler, TIME

“‘These are not women trying to “have it all,”‘ Shriver wrote in the introduction to the report, which was co-sponsored by the  Center for American Progress. ‘These are women who are already doing it all — working hard, providing, parenting, and care-giving. They’re doing it all, yet they and their families can’t prosper, and that’s weighing the U.S. economy down.'”

5. Finally, something fun: have you wished the First Lady a happy birthday yet today?

Michelle Obama birthday: 50 memorable moments to celebrate the first lady’s 50th year, by Alexis Garrett Stodghill, The Grio

“Michelle Obama’s birthday is the perfect time to remember how far she has come and how much she has accomplished as the nation’s first African-American first lady.

Her biography is so inspiring, we invite you to explore the slideshow timeline above as the perfect way to celebrate the first lady’s 50th birthday.”

If you have a story that needs to be shared, let us know! Leave a link in the comments or send us a Tweet at @YWCAUSA.

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