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International News Archive
January 07 -  January 13, 2001


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This page contains news for the period January 07, 2001 through January 13, 2001.



<<   January 2001  >>

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Friday, January 12, 2001

Half of single men aren't looking for a life partner

A story published today by Canadian NewsWire reports that a recent survey of single men in North America shows that half of them say they are not looking for a permanent partner. 

The survey was conducted by Harlequin Publishers in anticipation of Valentines Day.  Harlequin is the world's leading publisher of romance fiction.  The North American survey was part of a larger global survey of approximately 5,500 men and women in 21 countries around the world.

The story says that prospects are not looking great for single women searching for commitment from a man. Almost half of the single men (49%) stated they currently were not actively looking for a life partner. Fifty-five per cent agreed with the old adage that most men are afraid of commitment. But some 33% say they would make a commitment if they met the right person.


Thursday, January 11, 2001

Canadian bank broadens its work-family benefits programs to help more unmarried employees

A story published today by Market News Publishing reports that the National Bank of Canada has expanded its family-friendly programs to provide help to more unmarried workers who have family commitments.  The bank's announcement of its programs comes in the wake of a new federal standard on parental leave which went into effect on January 1, 2001.

The essence of National Bank's work/family reconciliation policy is to harmonize work relations in terms of employees' family responsibilities and their responsibilities as employees of the Bank. Consequently, for nearly ten years now, employees on parental leave have had the right to be absent from work, without losing their job, for a period of up to one year. Before January 1, 2001, once the period covered by government programs had been exhausted, employees could,if they wanted, extend their leave, without pay, for an extra year; however, after two years of absence, their position was no longer guaranteed, though they could still keep their job.

It is also worth noting that the scope of this program was, by 1993, extended to family life in the broad sense of the term: even though parents of very young children have priority over others who request family leave, this program also addresses the needs of employees burdened with family responsibilities not necessarily related to their direct offspring. As a result, the concept of family here has a broader meaning that includes unmarried workers with a domestic partner and unmarried workers who are caring for a parent.

"Our work and family responsibilities Program, says Ms. Kathleen Zicat, Vice-President, Human Resources of National Bank, "from day one took into account the profound social changes and new ways of thinking and living in a family, as well as the impacts that was going to have on the organization of work. Since, as in every business, hiring, training and integrating an employee is costly, we thought it quite appropriate to put in place means that would attract competent employees to our organization and would then help us retain them. But, beyond the economic issue is the reality of social change and the new distribution of responsibilities this necessarily implies. We made the right choices 20 years ago, and the new federal regulations have confirmed we did the right thing."


Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Same-sex marriage to be tested in Toronto

A story published today in the Toronto Sun reports that two Toronto couples are less than a week away from walking down the aisle in what could become the first legal same-sex marriages in North America.

On January 14, after Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell exchange vows and Elaine and Anne Vautour do likewise at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, there may be little the province of Ontario can do but recognize their unions.

Ontario law states that after the names of those wishing to be married are read out to a church congregation on three consecutive Sundays, they may be granted a marriage license by the government under a custom of publishing 'banns.'

A church spokesman said that under the Ontario Marriage Act, the province will have little choice but to recognize the marriages as legal.

Of course, the government may not agree.  A court battle would then ensue.


Monday, January 8, 2001

British government won't cave in to church on promotion of marriage

A story published today in the London Telegraph reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will defy church leaders by refusing to emphasize marriage as the best foundation for raising children.

High government sources said yesterday that a forthcoming policy document on the family would refer to the merits of stable relationships, including marriage, without putting one type above another. Blair's decision comes despite pressure from religious leaders for a more forthright statement on the benefits of marriage.

Yesterday the Most Reverend Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said: "All sensible people in this country know that marriage is at the heart of a healthy society."

He urged Blair to appoint a minister for marriage. He said: "Don't be afraid, Prime Minister. Put marriage and family life at the very heart, and then the Government will be supported by the vast majority of people in this country."

The document will be almost identical to a 1998 Green Paper which referred to marriage as the "choice of the majority of people" for raising children but accepted that unmarried people could provide loving stable homes. To emphasize the point, Jack Straw, the Home Secretary - a divorced, remarried man who was brought up in a single-parent household and has had well-publicized difficulties with his son - said at the time: "Judge not that ye be not judged."

A Government official said yesterday: "The document will be virtually the same. We do not want to cause offence to people who are unmarried or divorced but may be very good parents. Stability is the key to raising children. That is what we will be stressing."

The final version follows a bitter Cabinet wrangle. Women ministers, led by Baroness Jay, Margaret Hodge and Tessa Jowell fought back against a more pro-marriage position after they were alarmed by an early draft by Paul Boateng, the Home Office minister. All three women have remarried after divorce.

Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, who had an affair with and then married the wife of Donald Dewar, the late First Minister for Scotland, was also an opponent. He looked around a meeting of ministerial colleagues and realized that only one person present was still with their original spouse.

Study predicts that 25% of Australians will never marry

A story published today in The Age reports that about a quarter of today's young people will never get married, research shows. And those who do will take longer before marching down the aisle.

A paper by Peter McDonald, professor of demography at the Australian National University, shows that 27per cent of men and 23 per cent of women aged 15 to 20 can expect not to have married by the time they are 50.

First marriages after that age were extremely rare, said Professor McDonald, whose paper was published in the Monash University journal People and Place.

"Non-marriage is more a product of delayed marriage," he said. "As you delay it more and more, there are more people who end up not getting married."

McDonald predicted that the trend to delay marriage would affect all age groups for both sexes. For example, in 1999, 18 per cent of women aged 35 were unmarried. By 2015, about a third would be.

He said coupling trends in Australia have changed drastically but had now settled and were expected to stay put. This allowed the ANU to estimate Australia's future marital make-up. "It's extremely unlikely we'll go back to the extremely early marriages that we had in the '50s and '60s, when women were married as teenagers, which is pretty amazing now," he said.

"People just got married, very often, to the first person they went out with. They didn't think about it very much. These days, people often have several partners before they get married."

The professor said that even allowing for de facto relationships, which were not counted as marriage, "coupledom" would be still be rarer than in past decades.

For those who do marry but end up parting ways, a new divorce court is attracting huge numbers.

Nearly two in every five divorce cases are now being heard by the Federal Magistrates Service. The first figures released by the court, which opened last July, show that more than 10,000 applications for divorce were made in its first six months.

Almost 13,000 applications in total, most in family law areas, were heard by the federal magistrates last year, while more than 1000 other cases were transferred from the Family and Federal Courts.

McDonald said the tendency of women since the 1970s to enter university and begin a career was the other engine behind later marriage, but the link between child-bearing and wedlock would stop marriage being delayed further.

According to the paper, "On estimating the percentage of people who will never marry", marital trends in Australia have swung wildly in the past century. In 1921, 17per cent of women never married; in 1981, only 4per cent never married; in 1999, it was about 9 per cent. The corresponding figures for men are slightly higher.


Sunday, January 7, 2001

Iran parliament votes to overturn ban on unmarried women studying abroad

A story published today in the BBC News reports that the Iranian parliament, the Majlis, has passed a bill which will enable unmarried women to apply for scholarships to study overseas.

The state news agency IRNA said the bill was controversial because of the conflicting views of reformist members of parliament and conservatives, who regard the measure as a potential blow to Islam and the dignity of women.

Although the bill has been passed by parliament, it still must be ratified by the 12-member Guardians' Council.

Under the constitution, the council, which is made up of conservative clergy and lawyers, is responsible for ensuring that parliament's decisions do not contradict the laws of Islam.

It has used these powers in the past to thwart attempts by reformist President Mohammad Khatami to liberalize the country.

Iran banned unmarried women from obtaining state scholarships for studying abroad in 1985.

But women in Iran have gained more equality in recent years, although there are still many unresolved issues.

Earlier this year, Islamic religious leaders lifted a ban on women leading prayers, enabling them to lead congregations of women worshippers for the first time.

Women have played a central role in the reform movement which helped bring President Khatami to power in 1997, and whose representatives now dominate the Iranian parliament.


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