BOGOTA (Dow Jones)–More than 250 women in a remote town in southwest Colombia are refusing to have sex with their partners until the central government follows through with a decades-old plan to pave the town’s only access road.

“These women, and all of the rest of us in this town, are fed up with the empty promises from the central government,” Lucelly Del Carmen Viveros, the human rights coordinator in the town of Barbacoas, said in a phone interview Friday.


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The previous decade was a tough one for men in the U.S. labor market. The number of women in the workforce grew by more than two million between 2000 and 2010, according to historical data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile the number of men employed during this period remained largely stagnant, growing by just 54,000 in 10 years.

In some ways, one can trace the trend back to the early 1970s, when women started to flock to universities around the country and pursue full-time careers afterward. But according to several economists and labor experts, several other factors have contributed as well, perhaps most notably the loss of manufacturing jobs that typically employ men. As a result, men have seen their footing slip in dozens of professions, ranging from medicine to education.

We combed through the BLS data to find how the gender makeup has changed for more than a hundred jobs by comparing the percentage of men in each occupation in 2000 to the percentage as of last year. The following are the careers where men have experienced the biggest loss compared with women.

11th-biggest change: Postal service mail carriers
In the future, you might want to think twice before referring to workers in this profession as mailmen. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of men employed as mail carriers dropped by 50,000, while the number of women increased by 13,000. As a result, women, who used to account for just 30% of the profession, now make up nearly 40%, and if this trend continues, women could account for nearly half of all mail carriers by the end of this decade.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 69.8%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 62.3%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 7.5 percentage points

10th-biggest change: Medical scientists
Many professions in the science and health care industries have seen a major change in gender distribution, driven in part by the growing number of women who pursue college education and graduate with advanced degrees. Medical scientists, who usually are required to have a Ph.D., typically work in labs or at pharmaceutical companies, according to the BLS.

During the previous decade, the number of women working in this profession increased by 25,000, far outpacing the 5,000 men added to the industry. This means men are now officially in the minority among medical scientists.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 54%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 46.2%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 7.8 percentage points

Ninth-biggest change: Public relations managers
Women have made up the majority of PR managers for years, but recently their lead has grown even stronger. The number of men employed in the industry remained essentially unchanged between 2000 and 2010 (growing by just 2,000 men), while the number of women shot up by 17,000.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 48.5%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 40%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 8.5 percentage points

Eighth-biggest change: Misc. health technologists and technicians
This profession includes health care practitioners who use cutting-edge technology to design treatments for medical conditions. From 2000 through last year the number of men in this profession grew by a modest 16,000, but the number of women grew by 66,000, far outpacing men and further increasing the dominance of women in this industry.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 38.1%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 29.3%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 8.8 percentage points

Seventh-biggest change (tie): Dispatchers
Dispatchers are responsible for scheduling and keeping logs of deliveries to and from the workplace, and unlike many of the professions on our list, this is one that generally does not require a college degree. Still, the number of women employed in this field increased by a healthy 30,000 last decade, whereas the number of men decreased by 25,000.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 48.6%
Percentage Who Were Men in 2010: 39.2%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 9.4 percentage points

Seventh-biggest change (tie): Pressers, textiles, garment and related materials
Those who work in these apparel occupations are responsible for crafting clothes, fabric and other items by hand or machine, but the profession has been on the decline in recent years, shedding some 45,000 positions between 2000 and last year. Women were not immune to this downsizing, but they lost fewer jobs than men, which is why they make up a greater percentage of the industry than they did in 2000.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 43.3%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 33.9%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 9.4 percentage points

Sixth-biggest change: Supervisors of transportation and material moving workers
The BLS data show that women remain hesitant about entering professions that require a high amount of manual labor (including construction and manufacturing), but it is becoming slightly more common for women to manage those who work in these industries, as their growth in this profession proves. Men once made up nearly 90% of these supervisors, but as of last year they held just more than three-quarters of these positions.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 86.7%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 76.8%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 9.9 percentage points

Fifth-biggest change: Writers and authors
No matter what some snooty male authors (cough, V.S. Naipaul) may say, women can certainly write as well as or better than men, and increasingly, many women have chosen to do just that in recent years. Back in 2000, the gender breakdown of writers was close to 50-50, but as of last year, nearly two-thirds of all employed writers were women. In fact, there were 9,000 fewer men employed in this industry by the end of the decade, whereas the number of women skyrocketed by 34,000.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 46.8%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 36.7%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 10.1 percentage points

Fourth-biggest change: Ushers, lobby attendants and ticket takers
If you’ve noticed more women working in movie theaters and concert halls around the country, you’re probably not alone. These venues have gradually shed their male workers while increasing the number of women they employ. In total, the number of men working in this profession dropped by 7,000 during this period, while the number of women increased by about 5,000.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 67.9%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 56.9%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 11.1 percentage points

Third-biggest change: Other education, training and library workers
The idea that women would be drawn to work in education is nothing new, but their growth in this profession, which includes teacher assistants as well as audio-visual specialists who can help teachers with classroom presentations, is particularly striking. The profession added 9,000 men to its ranks last decade, and a whopping 54,000 women.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 35.3%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 23.7%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 11.6 percentage points

Second-biggest change: Tax preparers
If you ever thought women were worse at managing money than men, the data certainly prove otherwise. Women have come to dominate the tax preparation industry, with more than 70% of all employees in this profession being women last year, compared to just half that a decade earlier. Indeed, the industry lost 15,000 men during this period, but gained some 27,000 women.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 48.9%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 29.2%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 19.7 percentage points

Biggest change: Veterinarians
Men have lost more ground in the veterinarian profession than in any other in the U.S. labor market, according to the BLS data. In 2000, men accounted for nearly 70% of the industry, but that percentage dropped significantly throughout the decade and now men are officially in the minority. In total, the number of men employed in the industry plummeted by 10,000 during this time, while the number of women veterinarians increased by 23,000.
Percentage of male workers in 2000: 69.5%
Percentage of male workers in 2010: 43.8%
Decline in percentage of male workers: 25.7 percentage points

MUSLIM women who file complaints with police while wearing full-face veils may be fingerprinted in future to confirm their identity, New South Wales Police Minister Mike Gallacher says.

The suggestion arose after Sydney woman Carnita Matthews, 47, who had been sentenced in 2010 to six months’ jail for falsely accusing a police officer of trying forcibly to remove her burqa, won an appeal against her conviction.

The mother of seven had made a criminal complaint to police three days after she was pulled over in her car in Woodbine, southwest Sydney, for a random breath test on June 7, 2010.

Judge Clive Jeffreys yesterday overturned Ms Matthews’ conviction at an appeal hearing in the NSW District Court.

He said there was no evidence to confirm that it was Ms Matthews who had filed the complaint because the person who made it was wearing a face veil.

Mr Gallacher today said that in future criminal cases, complainants and witnesses who failed to remove their face veils may be required to have their fingerprints taken to confirm their identity.

“The suggestion that I have made to the attorney-general, that may well be considered … is that there be a provision on the statutory declaration or the statement for a fingerprint to be obtained from the person being interviewed,” he said in Sydney.

He said the fingerprint data could be destroyed at a later date, at the request of the complainant.

On the issue of police officers compelling women to remove face veils at the actual scenes of alleged crimes, Mr Gallagher conceded police powers were currently not clear.

He said he would speak to Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione to find ways to clarify the situation.

Officers currently have the power to compel the removal of face veils while investigating more serious or indictable offences, Mr Gallacher said.

But they do not have such power under the Motor Transport Act when stopping a driver.

“I want to look at the Motor Transport Act … to ensure where there is uncertainty at the scene, police have the ability to take the person back, which they currently do, to the police station and check their identity,” Mr Gallacher said.

Mr Gallacher said it was his understanding there was nothing in Islamic law which currently forbade women from removing face veils to assist police and the courts.

Any change to the law regarding crime scene identification would be done in a measured way, reflecting individual freedom while balancing police powers, he said.

LONDON (AFP) – Plans to raise the state pension age for women have passed their stage on the way to becoming law, despite cross-party calls for a rethink.

Women can currently claim a state pension from the age of 60, while men must wait until they are 65.

But under the government’s Pensions Bill, the entitlement age for women would rise to 65 by 2018, and then to 66 for both sexes by 2020.

Critics from all parties say the changes would be unfair on up to 500,000 women in their late fifties, who have been given as little as five years’ notice that they will have to work longer than planned.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne branded the timetable for the changes as “a proposal to single out a group of 500,000 of our fellow citizens — all of them women — and say to them, ‘You know your plans for the future? Well you can put those in the bin’.”

But MPs voted to give the Pensions Bill a second reading in the House of Commons, by 302 votes to 232.

Opening the debate, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith warned MPs that delaying the move to 66 until 2022 would cost £10 billion.

“Responsible government is not always easy government,” he said, insisting that the plans would go ahead.

“It involves commitment, tough decisions and a willingness to stay the course.

“We will not change from that, we will stay the course. We will secure our children’s future.

“I recognise we need to implement this fairly and manage the transition smoothly.”

He said a “relatively small number of women” would be particularly affected and said he was “willing to work to get this transition right”.

More than 170 MPs, including both Conservative and Liberal Democrat backbenchers, have signed a Commons motion calling for a rethink.

Ros Altmann, the director general of over-50s organisation Saga, has warned that ministers could face a costly legal challenge if they do not moderate the proposals.

“Ministers must listen to reason on this issue,” she said.

“The current plans are unfair and may, indeed, be illegal in public law terms, since they clearly do not give women adequate notice.”

The women who sought to sue Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) for gender bias on behalf of 1.5 million co-workers said they will press their fight against the nation’s largest private employer in smaller lawsuits in lower courts and claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday said the women failed to prove the world’s largest retailer had a nationwide policy that led to gender discrimination. The court deprived them of the leverage a nationwide suit brings, both in pooled legal resources and a potential multibillion-dollar verdict, forcing them to pursue claims on their own.

“When I go back to work tomorrow, I’m going to let them know we are still fighting,” said Christine Kwapnoski, an assistant manager at a Sam’s Club in Concord, California. She had accused a male manager of yelling at female employees and telling her to “doll up” by wearing more makeup and dressing better while working on a loading dock.

Wal-Mart may now face thousands of lawsuits nationwide and claims of discrimination before federal agencies as plaintiffs’ lawyers fan out to courts across the country to file new complaints on behalf of members of the failed group suit.

Kwapnoski and others pressing their suit claimed they were victimized by Wal-Mart’s practice of letting local managers make subjective decisions about pay and promotions. More than 100 employees filed sworn statements saying they were paid less and given fewer opportunities for promotion than male colleagues.

Women seeking advancement were required to commit in writing to overnight shifts for two years, while men were only required to rotate through such positions on a six-month basis, one former worker claimed.

Retail for Housewives

(For a related story on the Supreme Court ruling’s impact on class action litigation, click here. To read a story on how it may affect defenses against employee claims, click here. For a story on how the decision may affect company bias policies, click here.)

When one woman inquired about the higher wages paid to men who had the same or less seniority, she was told that “retail is for housewives who just need to earn extra money,” and “he has a family to support,” according to one declaration by a former Wal-Mart employee in Florida.

Wal-Mart said yesterday that the high court ruling “effectively ends this class-action lawsuit.”

“As the majority made clear, the plaintiffs’ claims were worlds away from showing a companywide pay and promotion policy,” Wal-Mart, led by Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke, said in a statement.

Wal-Mart rose 25 cents to $53.29 in New York Stock Exchange trading.

The workers “provide no convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. All nine justices voted to overturn a lower-court ruling that approved the class action, with four of them saying they would have ordered further proceedings.

Unbalanced Promotions

Betty Dukes, another lead plaintiff who began working at a Pittsburg, California-based Wal-Mart store in 1994, said she noticed early in her career that “it was not balanced” when it came to promotions.

“The men at my store were being promoted more often than the woman for the same positions, and many of those positions were never openly posted,” she said in a telephone interview. Promotion opportunities were disclosed by management, which was predominantly male, she said.

Filed in 2001, the suit aimed to cover every woman who worked at the retailer’s Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club’s stores at any point since December 1998, including those not hired until years after the suit was filed. A federal appeals court had let the suit go forward on behalf of women who were working at Wal-Mart at the time the suit was filed.

Twenty Companies

More than 20 companies supported Wal-Mart at the Supreme Court, including Intel Corp. (INTC), Altria Group Inc. (MO), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and General Electric Co. (GE)

The Supreme Court ruling limits the ability of plaintiffs’ lawyers to win multimillion-dollar damages through a single lawsuit, particularly against employers. Units of Cigna Corp. (CI), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Bayer AG (BAYN), Toshiba Corp. (6502), Publicis Group SA, Deere & Co. (DE) and Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) all face gender discrimination complaints that seek class-action status.

Four justices — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — said they would have returned the case to a lower court and let the workers try to press a class action using a different legal theory.

The lead attorneys for the plaintiffs are Joseph Sellers of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Brad Seligman of the Impact Fund, which describes itself as a foundation that handles public interest litigation.

Aggrieved Workers

They said they would seek a way around the Supreme Court ruling, moving ahead with claims on behalf of aggrieved workers, either as individuals or as part of smaller groups.

“This case is not over,” said Seligman. “Wal-Mart is not off the hook. There are thousands of claims of discrimination that remain to be filed.”

The case was one of the most closely watched Supreme Court business disputes in years, in part because the justices hadn’t looked at the standards for certifying a class-action suit in more than a decade.

Women’s advocates called on Congress to enact new legislation protecting the rights of female workers in light of the high court decision.

“With this decision, the Supreme Court has assisted Wal- Mart in its efforts to systematically dole out promotions and pay raises on the basis of sex,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women.

Washington Protest

At a protest against the ruling today in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, about 100 demonstrators called for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation intended to address pay inequity issues tied to gender.

Allison Grady, a protester with the Feminists Majority Foundation, said the demonstrators “wanted to be able to show that we were standing with the women of Wal-Mart.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney yesterday declined to comment on the case, while saying President Barack Obama supports proposed federal legislation to ensure pay equity for women in the workplace.

“We still are determined to go forward to present our case in court,” said Dukes, the lead named plaintiff in the case. “We believe we will prevail there.”

She and her co-plaintiffs alleged the world’s biggest retailer discriminated against them on the basis of their sex by denying them equal pay or promotions, in violation of 1964 civil rights law. The court didn’t rule the company discriminated.

Stephanie Odle, 39, who initiated the lawsuit after being fired from a Sam’s Club in 1999, said yesterday was a “great day” for big business.

“It shows how the legal system works,” Odle said in a telephone interview. “But I know in my heart that I made a difference. I didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but the minute that we filed the lawsuit, we started getting changes in pay and promotions.”

Trumped-Up Charge

Odle was working as an assistant manager in a Sam’s Club in Lubbock, Texas, when she was fired.

“They trumped up a charge and terminated me to give the job to a man,” she claimed.

Odle now owns her own business in Norman, Oklahoma. She was one of the original six plaintiffs who pursued the class action against Wal-Mart. She was dropped as a named plaintiff after a lower court decided all the class representatives needed to be from California.

Odle said she worked for Sam’s Club for eight years, in stores in several states.

“I’ve seen the discrimination, no matter what state you’re in, no matter what region,” she said. “I gave up my right to sue individually” while the class action was pending, Odle said. “Now I go back and sue them individually.”

‘Range of Options’

“We had prepared for a whole range of options,” attorney Sellers said in an interview. “We began weeks ago preparing thousands of charges to be filed with the EEOC,” referring to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which pursues workplace claims on behalf of employees.

Lawyers for the woman will try to pursue “some more narrowly drawn, tailored classes,” the lawyer said. “The case becomes splintered. You end up with multiple cases where Wal- Mart’s practices are being challenged.”

Federal lawsuits and claims before the EEOC won’t be stopped by the statute of limitations, which places a time limit on lawsuits, he said, because it was delayed while the proposed class action was pending.

Sellers and co-counsel Seligman said they would be pursuing individual actions against the company, and possibly smaller class actions.

They may also go back to the federal court in San Francisco where the claim was originally filed, seeking a narrowly drawn case of California plaintiffs, he said, and bringing lawsuits with different arguments in different jurisdictions.

“This will be a multi-front sort of battle,” he said. “There are a number of options still available — none of them are as efficient” as a nationwide class action.

Contingency Fee

Since class action litigation is prosecuted on a contingency fee basis — lawyers get paid when the client wins – – lawyers for the plaintiffs said they will continue to finance the litigation.

“We’re in it to see this thing to a successful conclusion,” Sellers said, adding that $3 million in expenses have already been paid. “Millions of dollars in attorneys fees have been expended and we haven’t been paid a penny.”

The cost of defending thousands of lawsuits in hundreds of courthouses may be expensive for Wal-Mart as well.

“Wal-Mart may regret the day” it sought a rejection of class certification, Seligman said. “Wal-Mart is not off the hook.”

The case is Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, 10-00277, U.S. Supreme Court (Washington).

Seven women say they were beaten up by a group of men all dressed in black after they went to Beijing from Gansu Province’s Hui County to allege corruption over earthquake relief funds.

The women published an online post yesterday in a microblog on to tell of their humiliating experience on April 27 by the men who beat them, stripped them down to their underwear in public, and sent them back to Hui County in a van overnight without even allowing them to use the toilet during a journey which was many hours long.

One witness, who described himself as a retired soldier in his 80s, wrote on the microblog: “When I saw them beating the women, I scolded them for acting like bandits. It was the most horrible, shameful, and barbarous scene I have ever seen in my life.”

In a telephone interview, 43-year-old Liu Xiuhua, one of the seven women, told Shanghai Daily they had arrived at the Dunhuang Plaza in Beijing at 3pm on April 27 planning to report a number of county officials for corruption involving relief funds released after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which also affected Gansu.

After 30 minutes waiting at the entrance of the Gansu provincial government’s Beijing office in the plaza, more than 20 men arrived in two vans and demanded that they get into the vehicles.

“The office said they were policemen, but we saw some of them with tattoos all over their bodies,” said Liu.

The men dragged an 80-year-old women into the van and stripped the clothing off four others in the plaza, in front of several male security guards and office workers, said Liu.

“They kicked and punched us for over 30 seconds before we were all thrown into the van,” Liu said. “Then the engine started, I was sitting beside a woman who was beaten into a coma and the leader of the men kept punching and scolding us.”

She didn’t know how long it took them to arrive at their hometown in Hui County, but when they arrived, it was already nightfall on April 28.

During the long journey, the van made no stops to allow the women to use the toilet, Liu said.

According to the women’s online post, the van dropped the women off at Hui County’s police bureau.

The policemen there took no action against the men but just watched them leave.

Of the local police and county officials, Liu said: “They told us that ‘you deserve this’ and said the case was closed.”

Another woman, Wang Caihong, supported Liu’s account on the microblog.

One of the victims had a broken leg and others suffered bruising to their bodies.

Officials with the Hui County government could not be reached yesterday.

KAMPALA, Uganda – Ugandan activists are marching to the constitutional court to sue over the deaths of two pregnant women who they say died because they did not pay adequate bribes to government medical workers.

Lawyer Nuur Nakibuuka Musisi said Friday they are also demanding basic services for pregnant women. Government hospitals are supposed to provide free care.

Valente Inziku says nurses refused to treat his wife, who was in labor, even after he gave them the 10,000 shillings (about $4) they asked for. He says in an affidavit that nurses ignored her cries of pain for more than eight hours before she died, late last year. The baby also died.

Friday’s protest follows several opposition-led marches — some of which have turned violent — over government corruption and rising food and fuel costs.