Women's News from the Web

Science finally admits that it’s a myth that we fall off a fertility cliff at 35 | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 04/09/2021 - 18:00

A new study has extended women’s reproductive life spans to 37.1 but the earlier figure was always arbitrary and unscientific

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In a difficult year, my female friends have made everything a little better | Emma Withers

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 04/09/2021 - 10:00

The talking and sharing of the things we love feels like something unmissable. It makes me sit up a little straighter

I have a lot of female friends. It was not always like this, but somewhere between having very few female friends in my early 20s and my now late 30s, I started to furiously seek out the company of other women. That I came late to it is only indicative of my own insecurities; women it seemed to me were reflective surfaces mirroring my own failings – all their talents and glories diminishing my own, but now that I more or less like myself I am able to embrace all the excellent women I know. Sometimes I catch myself in the amazement that I should have the good luck to be surrounded by so many excellent women.

Related: My old diaries are a capsule of myself, and I am protective over that girl | Emma Withers

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NYC: A Dream or a Nightmare for People with Disabilities?

Women's eNews - Fri, 04/09/2021 - 09:56

New York City is a difficult city to navigate and reside in for many, but it can be even more challenging for people with disabilities. I moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Manhattan in the fall of 2019 to attend graduate school at New York University. My mom worried about me, a wheelchair user, leaving the highly accessible city of Las Vegas to move across the country to NYC, but I had found the city to be fairly accessible during my previous visits here. I quickly realized that my prior visits to the city were filled with tourist activities, all of which were built for a wide variety of people and therefore, offered better accessibility. Once I moved to NYC on my own, I soon became frustrated that I couldn’t experience many of the trendy restaurants and bars in my area because they only provided steps, and often no elevators. Further, many sidewalks were uneven, curb cuts (the ramps on street corners) were inconsistent, and the front wheels of my wheelchair would often get caught in the cobblestone streets. Public transportation was hard to navigate and inaccessible and when it snowed it made it more difficult for me to leave my apartment. I was dealing with a new world of challenges I had never before experienced as a life-long wheelchair user.

I am not the only one. Jacqueline Wentworth, an occupational therapist with cerebral palsy who has lived in New York City off and on for many years, has not only struggled herself, but has also witnessed similar struggles amongst her patients who live in New York City. “What’s so hard about NYC, is that it’s created to be a walking city,”  she says. Wentworth, though ambulatory, has trouble with excessive walking. “The winter is especially difficult because cold affects spasticity, which makes it more difficult to walk, and the snow slush on the corners of all the blocks…it was an actual nightmare for me.” According to a recent New York Times analysis, 550,000 New Yorkers living in the City have difficulty walking, and two-thirds of them live far from an accessible subway station. Further, only 25% of NYC subway stations are accessible, the lowest percentage of any major transit system in the world, and even accessible stations with elevators have been found to break down at an average of 53 times a year. Public buses are more accessible but require much longer travel time than subways, and other options like rideshare services and taxis, which can be accessible, are more costly.

Yet people with mobility issues are not the only ones facing challenges in New York City. For the hearing-impaired population, captions and subtitles are not always available in NYC. Emily Aronica, who was born deaf, enjoys going to live shows and seeing movies in the theatres, but she says, “There used to be captions—but it’s not as common nowadays and even when they are provided through a device, it often doesn’t work.”  Transportation has also proven to be difficult for her, particularly when there are “—unexpected announcements, but there are no auto or manual subtitles made for me to understand.” Further, due to the pandemic, Aronica can’t read people’s lips with their masks on. 

Housing is another major concern for people with disabilities living in New York City. NYC is known to have high rent apartments with limited space. According to a recent report by RENT Café, Manhattan boasts the highest average rent in the United States ($4,210/month), three times that of the national average ($1,463/month). In Manhattan, the typicalstudio apartment measures 550 square feet, while the average one-bedroom apartment measures 750 square feet. Limited living space often translates to smaller apartment doorways and bathrooms not sized to fit wheelchairs and walkers. This means that residents requiring these types of aids must be able to afford additionally needed space (i.e. more expensive) apartments. Further, people with disabilities must also consider a housing’s proximity to public transportation, while keeping in mind that few subway stations are accessible. 

Unfortunately, businesses in New York City are not fairing much better when it comes to providing accessibility accommodations despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was put into law over three decades ago. This is because the law allows for flexibility, with Title II of the ADA stating that buildings do not have to “take any action that would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the service, program, or activity in question or that would result in undue financial and administrative burdens.” Although not explicitly stated in the ADA, many businesses and city governments interpret Title II as the “grandfathering clause” claiming their business is “grandfathered in” when a building is built before a certain year to avoid making costly alterations and to preserve the history of the building. 

Yet some other large cities, including Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, are making headway to accommodate people with disabilities. Andy Arias, a wheelchair user who works in federal policy as a government advisor in Washington D.C. and previously worked in ADA compliance for California, says that L.A.’s accessibility is far more advanced than what he’s experienced on the east coast. “I have never had to call places in L.A. to see if they’re accessible, but in New York or D.C.? Daily!” Arias recalls. “The subways [in L.A.] are completely accessible. We work with advocates, groups, and cities to make sure the subways are flat and anywhere the subway goes, there’s an elevator. Even the gates, they open for us. If you’re in a wheelchair, you wave and the doors open for you. It’s fully accessible,” he continues. “In San Francisco, they have the big buttons on the floor so you can even push it with your wheelchair. It’s very different. If New York was like that, I would probably be living in New York right now.”

Other major cities, like Philadelphia, can also serve as models for improvement. This city provides a grant available to businesses to cover up to 50% of the costs for accessibility renovations. “If an owner doesn’t have the money to become fully accessible, you have to apply for the money of course, but Philadelphia will subsidize the accessibility costs and help you become accessible.” Arias says. “If somebody can’t afford it, then they’ll chip in. People get taxed for it, but I think that’s fair because you’re making it accessible for the city, not just for an individual. I don’t understand why all cities don’t have a program like this.” These are solutions that address the willingness of business owners to be considerate of the 26% of the population that could help expand their businesses and add revenue. “I think disability needs to be looked at as part of our culture…in reality everyone’s going to be where we are in 10, 15, 20 years,” Arias continues. “—People are afraid to look at the reality that disability will happen to all of us.” Arias also recommends instituting tiers of accommodations and a listing of where businesses land in terms of providing accommodations. “If you had a website that was like the Zagat guide of accessibility, where it showed ‘this place is accessible tier 1 or tier 2 or fully accessible,’ I would even settle for that because that would even show that we’re making steps to move forward.”

Clearly, ADA laws are not enough to require businesses to make big changes overnight, but there are smaller changes that can be made in major cities like New York to accommodate disabled people, as demonstrated by San Francisco, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and others. Arias believes equity for the disability community is imperative to cities prioritizing accessibility. “People need to look at us as equal before it’s really going to change.” Arias says. “Think about it, if your housing is accessible, but you can’t get anywhere with public transit, what good is that? And if public transit is accessible, but you have to live in a $3,000 place then what good is where you’re living? It’s not good. Your community is not whole.”

About the Author: Cheyenne Leonard is a fellow with The Loreen Arbus Accessibility is Fundamental Program, an inaugural fellowship created to train women with disabilities as professional journalists so that they may write, research and report on the most crucial issues impacting the disabilities community.

Stomachs in? Return of low-rise jeans leads to social media flare-up

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/08/2021 - 02:47

UK online searches up 73% since last year but some users are railing against the ‘bad taste’ trend

One of the most polarising fashions from the 2000s is making a return: the low-rise, stomach revealing jeans. Models Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid have been seen in the style and, according to Digitalloft.co.uk, online searches have increased by 73% in the past 12 months.

The trend has been lighting up social media but not for the right reasons. Like the divisive skinny jeans, the return of the 20-year-old staple made famous by Paris Hilton, Destiny’s Child and Britney Spears has given Twitter commentators cause for concern.

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Hidden human rights crises threaten post-Covid global security – Amnesty

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/07/2021 - 19:00

‘Crises will multiply’ if escalating repression by governments under pretext of pandemic ignored, says secretary general

Neglected human rights crises around the world have the potential to undermine already precarious global security as governments continue to use Covid as a cover to push authoritarian agendas, Amnesty International has warned.

The organisation said ignoring escalating hotspots for human rights violations and allowing states to perpetrate abuses with impunity could jeopardise efforts to rebuild after the pandemic.

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Drama about Flint water crisis takes major theatre award

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/07/2021 - 10:00

US activist and dramatist Erika Dickerson-Despenza wins Susan Smith Blackburn prize with the play cullud wattah

A “bold and urgent” play about the Flint water crisis, seen through the eyes of an all-female Michigan family, has won this year’s Susan Smith Blackburn prize for female, transgender and non-binary playwrights. The award went to Erika Dickerson-Despenza for cullud wattah, part of a tetralogy about water which the playwright hopes will “raise consciousness and radicalise” audiences.

“I’m a black woman who has grown up in a family of primarily black women,” said Dickerson-Despenza. “I wanted to write about women living under siege – environmental racism, classism and gender dynamics, and what this does to women and girls in the black midwest. Because I’m a grassroots organiser and activist, I think of all my work as a vehicle. My goal is to radicalise people … I will explore an issue in a creative way to raise collective consciousness.”

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Poland accused of abandoning domestic violence victims

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/07/2021 - 03:25

Government criticised over bill that will in effect withdraw country from key international convention

Women’s rights activists and opposition MPs have accused the Polish government of abandoning victims of domestic violence as a bill that would in effect take the country out of a key international convention on violence against women moved through parliament.

A vote last week on its first reading prompted demonstrations around Warsaw, including at the parliament, constitutional court and education ministry. Activists fear that victims of domestic violence will be left with no support or protection.

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Women reach 40 and hit their stride … only to be cruelly shoved aside at work | Rachel Shabi

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/06/2021 - 21:00

It’s no coincidence that women are sidelined once they become confident enough to stop conforming to sexist standards

Perhaps you have heard about the mysterious case of the disappearing older woman, who almost overnight seems to vanish from the workplace, the media landscape and society’s line of vision. As others have chronicled, women over 40 face a sucker punch of ageism wrapped in sexism: as our youth recedes, our currency crashes.

This hits hard at work, where we already know that multiple barriers stymie careers for those women who decide to have children. The unequal burden of unpaid labour only adds an extra blockade. Throw in some everyday workplace sexism: role-stereotyping, devaluing, appearance-judging and harassment dressed up as banter. Put it all together and it turns out that these endless obstacles do in fact obstruct, leaving fewer older women in senior jobs, or even in work at all. But the absolute kicker to this trajectory is that the sidelining takes place precisely at the time when many women find their confidence and hit their stride.

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Lena Dunham announces plus-size fashion range: ‘There’s so much judgment’

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/05/2021 - 08:04

Girls creator aims to fight idea that bigger women are ‘stupid’ and remove ‘huge barrier to entry’ into the fashion world

Announcing her own plus-size fashion range on Monday, the writer and actor Lena Dunham said her aim was to stop the perception that plus-size women are “stupid”.

The five-piece collaboration with 11 Honoré follows the Girls creator’s catwalk debut last year, for 16Arlington at London Fashion Week.

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It’s Time to Prioritize Women’s Rights in Senegal

Women's eNews - Mon, 04/05/2021 - 04:59

Senegal, long admired for its history of political stability, should have been celebrating its “exceptional” democracy along with 61 years of independence on April 4. Instead, last month’s deadly riots further imperiled the West African country’s status, already downgraded last year by Freedom House to “Partly Free.” The hope that Senegal’s year-old law criminalizing rape brought has recently collapsed due to nationwide protests sparked by a 20-year-old masseuse’s charge that she’d been raped by presidential candidate Ousmane Sonko. The woman, Adji Sarr, has received death threats and was disparaged on social media. 

The landmark rape law was a victory long in the making. In May 2019, the rape and murder of two young Senegalese women, Bineta Camara and Coumba Yade, led to a national and international campaign to address gender-based violence in Senegal and ensure that rape was treated as a serious crime.

The Sarr-Sonko case is a very public test of the new law’s implementation. While on his way to a court appearance to address the rape accusations after his parliamentary immunity was revoked, Sonko was arrested on March 3 on charges of disrupting public order following clashes between police and demonstrators.

The 46-year-old politician, who finished third in the 2019 presidential elections, is an anti-establishment 2024 presidential hopeful. His opposition party PASTEF (Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity) is popular among youth discouraged by President Macky Sall’s broken campaign promises. Sonko has denied the rape allegation, saying it is fabricated as a political ploy by Sall to eliminate opposition. 

First elected in 2012, Sall is serving what should be his final term amid speculation that he may seek a third term by changing Senegal’s constitution. Sall has previously imprisoned other political rivals, including opposition leader Karim Wade, the former president’s son convicted of corruption in 2015, and former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall (no relation) for embezzlement in 2018. Protesters therefore viewed Sonko’s arrest as emblematic of government corruption and continued (mis)use of courts to squash dissent.

At least 10 people died when Senegalese security forces aggressively tried to quell the protests, led by Sonko’s supporters – predominantly young men. Sonko was indicted for rape and death threats and released from police custody on bail under judicial supervision on March 8, after which street demonstrations subsided, but tensions in Senegal remain high. Sarr gave a March 18 interview to Senegalese media, coming out of hiding and saying she had become pregnant from the rape.

In Senegal, women face especially difficult challenges on multiple fronts. The nationwide riots shut down the country during the first half of March, the rape charges having given way to finger-pointing by powerful male politicians. Sarr has been called a liar and women supporting her were harassed and silenced. Calls to #FreeSenegal must not ignore women’s rights. 

Senegal is in the midst of an economic crisis in addition to a political one. The economy has performed extremely well under Sall, who addressed energy shortages and built new infrastructure. With annual economic growth rates above 5%(prior to its 2020 fall), global investment – notably from China and the Arab Gulf – has benefited Senegal’s elite. 

However, youth unemployment and poverty remain widespread and the pandemic has widened wealth disparities. The informal sector, where many women make their livings and which comprises more than 80% of Senegal’s economy, was hit particularly hard by “dusk-to-dawn” curfews

Covid-19 also increased gender disparities globally, including a rise in sexual violence in Africa. Senegalese women had already accused Sall of not taking gender parity seriously.

The #MeToo movement has struggled to gain traction in Senegal, where victims of sexual abuse are stigmatized and women remain underrepresented in politics. Senegalese women have learned to use sex and submission as tools of negotiation. The OECD’sSocial Institutions and Gender Index scored Senegal “medium” on its gender discrimination scale. Senegalese girls face high primary-school drop-out rates and early marriages and motherhood.

Women’s rights must rank higher in the Senegalese outcry. To be sure, the increasing authoritarianism of Senegal’s leaders is also cause for concern. Violence by government-deployed security forces against mostly peaceful young (male) protestors and their arbitrary arrests has raised alarm among human rights groups. The government shutdown of social media platforms and private television stations – in a country that has embraced freedom of press – is troubling. The justice system is in disarray

Demonstrations and strikes have long been effective at keeping the abuse of power in check and defending Senegalese democracy. Disenfranchised youth have found a way to make their voices heard, but their preferred candidate Sonko’s future is now threatened by the rape allegation. This has created a problematic position for Senegalese women, forced to choose between showing support for victims of sexual abuse or male-dominated democratic institutions. 

These two matters cannot be in conflict. Women’s voices are crucial to the restoration of democracy in Senegal and women’s rights must be prioritized in national reconciliation. Senegal’s reputation as West Africa’s democracy is at stake.

Mara A. Leichtman is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Muslim Studies at Michigan State University and is a 2020-2021 Luce/ACLS Fellow in Religion, Journalism and International Affairs.

People with eating disorders in England denied help as 'BMI not low enough'

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/05/2021 - 01:14

Experts warn of surge in condition in pandemic, and say patients being put in ‘life-threatening position’ to lose more weight

Growing numbers of women and men in England with eating disorders are being denied support because they are not considered to be thin enough to warrant it, a leading psychiatrist and other experts have warned in a briefing shared with ministers.

Against the backdrop of a fourfold rise in people admitted to hospital with eating disorders during the Covid pandemic, doctors said body mass index (BMI) was too often used as a blunt measure to decide whether someone should get treatment.

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My rock’n’roll friendship with Lindy Morrison

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 04/04/2021 - 01:00

She was in the Go-Betweens, Tracey Thorn was in the Marine Girls, their 30-year friendship enhanced both their lives

On 31 March 1983, she burst into my dressing room, asking at the top of her voice, “Has anyone here got a lipstick I can borrow?” I looked up to see a tall woman in a Lurex dress, with a mass of blonde hair. Our two bands, Marine Girls and the Go-Betweens, were on the same bill at the Lyceum in London. I was 20, and she was 31. I was a tentative singer, she was a loud, outspoken drummer. I was from suburbia, she was from Brisbane, Australia. And I was still a student, while she had already been a social worker, then joined a feminist punk band called Xero. She’d hitchhiked across Europe with a girlfriend, she’d seen every art film, read every avant-garde book. She’d slept at Shakespeare and Co in Paris, she’d swum with Roger Moore, she could recite Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics. But I didn’t know any of this. I just knew that she looked like self-belief in a minidress, and that she had arrived in my life. “Who was that?” I asked when she had gone. “That,” came the reply, “was Lindy Morrison.”

It took a couple of years for us to become friends. We were opposites in many ways, and at different stages of life, but there were similarities: we both lived with the boyfriend we were in a band with; we had strong opinions about everything – feminism, love and art; we liked Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Patti Smith, Simone de Beauvoir, and we had no time for a lot of the men who surrounded us in the music business. I’d watch her on stage, fierce and sweating behind the drum kit, long hair flying in her face, all energy, all concentration, and I was proud to be her friend.

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Lockdown ‘glow-up’? We’ve done enough already | Eva Wiseman

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/03/2021 - 21:00

Our bodies do so much for us, when we will we appreciate and celebrate them, rather than focus on flaws

A time-lapse video of my body over lockdown would have seen the kinds of bloom and decay of a felled forest or demolished building. Not that I’m comparing it to any structure of architectural interest – let me be clear, my body is very much not “the Shard”, more “the second chicken shop you come to if you turn right out of the Shard and start walking towards Whitechapel”.

I began lockdown pregnant and thoughtful, easing myself gently into cushioned chairs, my moisturised face turned to the sun. Over the following months my body softened and ruined; my makeup-less skin confused by light, mottled, then wattled; my hair choosing its own adventure every morning. Sedentary and unsatisfied, I have aged eight years in the past three months alone. I look in the mirror and see a bag for life.

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Mere confession won’t cut it – men must do the hard work of repentance and change | Brad Chilcott

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/03/2021 - 10:00

We must believe women, learn from the women in our lives and reflect on what is broken to eradicate ancient evils

The last thing we need right now is a bloke showing up to announce themselves as the saviour of the world. It would be fair to say we’ve tried that. For millennia.

The facts speak for themselves. Ninety-five per cent of all violence – against women, children and other men – is perpetrated by men. It will take at least 26 more years to bridge the gender pay gap. Women who are raped lose their careers and are told to be more careful.

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Women’s anger at ‘abuse of power’ during Bristol police raids

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/03/2021 - 08:41

Two protesters claimed they were subject to terrifying ordeals at the hands of male officers pretending to be postal workers

The police have been accused of an abuse of power by using anti-terror style tactics against protesters after two young women claimed they endured terrifying ordeals at the hands of male officers pretending to be postal workers.

The women were caught up in a series of undercover raids by Avon and Somerset Police as part of the force’s high-profile investigation into a fortnight of the “kill the bill” protests in Bristol. So far 50 people have been arrested in connection with clashes during protests against the government’s police and crime bill, which will give the police wide-ranging powers over demonstrations.

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Why Silicon Valley's most astute critics are all women | John Naughton

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/03/2021 - 05:00

Tailors and dressmakers long ago worked out that men and women are different shapes and sizes. The news has yet to reach Palo Alto

In November 2019, which now seems like an aeon ago, I wrote about an interesting correlation I had stumbled across. It was that the authors of the most insightful critiques of digital technology as deployed by the tech companies were women. I listed 20 of them and added that I made no claims for the statistical representativeness of my sample. It might simply have been the result of confirmation bias – I read more tech commentary than is good for anyone and it could be that the stuff that sticks in my memory happens to resonate with my views.

Sixteen months later, I find that my list of formidable female tech critics has extended. It now includes (in alphabetical order): Janet Abbate, Lilian Edwards, Maria Farrell, Timnit Gebru, Wendy Hall, Mar Hicks, Kashmir Hill, Lina Khan, Pratyusha Kalluri, Rebecca Mackinnon, Margaret Mitchell, Safiya Noble, Kavita Philip, Mitali Thakor, Corinna Schlombs, Dina Srinivasan and Carissa Véliz. If any of these are unknown to you then any good search engine will point you to them and to their work. Again, the usual caveats apply. I’m not claiming statistical representativeness, just that as someone whose various day jobs involve reading a lot of tech critiques, these are the thinkers who stand out.

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The Pinnacle Club: rock-climbing for women – archive, 2 April 1921

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/01/2021 - 18:30

2 April 1921 A letter to the Manchester Guardian announces the formation of a new club

A club which was certain to come has come at last. A letter which we print elsewhere tells us that the Pinnacle Club, for women rock-climbers, was formed on March 26. Of course climbing on rock, snow, and ice has long been successfully practised by women. A Manchester woman was a member of one of the earliest parties to climb the Napes Needle; one of the most pleasant Alpine stories is that of the early traverse of the Sesiajoch, on Monte Rosa, by two resolute English spinsters, conducting a terrified “guide,” and rumour says that one of the most famous of Alpine pioneers used to divide peaks into three classes, in an ascending order of difficulty: (I) those which he climbed with other male amateurs, (2) those which he climbed by himself, and (3) those which he climbed with his aunt.

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French woman overturns conviction for accusing man of sexual harassment

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 03/31/2021 - 06:01

Sandra Muller, who founded French version of #MeToo, wins appeal against defamation ruling

A French appeals court has overturned the defamation conviction of the woman behind France’s answer to the #MeToo movement, who was sued by the man she accused of sexual harassment.

Sandra Muller, a French journalist, coined the viral hashtag #BalanceTonPorc (“expose your pig”) to describe the TV executive Éric Brion.

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Swiss army to begin issuing female recruits with women's underwear

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 03/30/2021 - 16:25

Female recruits to stop being given male underwear in a bid to up recruitment

The Swiss armed forces is taking a big step to recruit more women – by no longer making female recruits wear men’s underwear.

At present, all recruits are issued with “loose-fitting men’s underwear, often in larger sizes”, the BBC reported. In a trial set to begin in April, the Swiss army said women would be issued with two sets of female underwear – one for warmer months and one for colder months.

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Grace Tame expresses incredulity at PM's choice of Amanda Stoker as assistant minister for women

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 03/30/2021 - 13:23

Scott Morrison either ignorant of issues or making calculated moves, Australian of the Year says

The Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, has criticised Scott Morrison for elevating Amanda Stoker as the new assistant minister for women, declaring that the Queensland senator had supported a “fake rape crisis tour” that inflicted great suffering on survivors.

Tame said Morrison had exhibited either very poor judgment, or cultural calculation, when he elevated the Liberal National party conservative who had conducted public advocacy “aimed at falsifying all counts of sexual abuse on campuses across the nation”.

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