Women's News from the Web

Pro-choice protesters march in Polish cities amid abortion ban anger

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/23/2020 - 10:04

Crowd confronts police outside home of Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of Poland’s ruling party

Pro-choice protesters marched in cities across Poland on Friday amid public anger over a ruling banning almost all abortion in the country.

An angry crowd confronted riot police near the Warsaw house of Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s rightwing ruling party, and waved signs that read, “You Have Blood on Your Hands” and “You are Building Women’s Hell”.

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Listen to women and close the gender pain gap | Letter

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/23/2020 - 05:34

Dismissing the concerns of women in pain adds to their distress, writes Sarah Hyde

The proliferation of support groups for women dealing with conditions such as endometriosis and migraine is testament to the existence of the gender pain gap discussed by Emma Barnett (Endometriosis showed me we need better ways to talk about women’s pain, 22 October). In Giving up the Ghost, Hilary Mantel, who has suffered from both conditions, describes both the excruciating physical pain of illness that is misdiagnosed and mistreated, and the stress and humiliation of being “ignored, invalidated, and humiliated” – not being listened to, and not being believed.

This is not just another complaint directed at overworked NHS staff (though I have not forgiven the neurologist who, instead of treating my migraine, told me: “I don’t know what you’re making a fuss about – it won’t kill you”). Those outside the medical profession can cause pain by their casually dismissive comments too. One of the cries most often heard in migraine groups is “Migraine is not just a headache!” I imagine endometriosis sufferers shout: “This is not just period pain!” Employers, colleagues, friends and families need to think twice and listen again when women tell them they are in pain.
Sarah Hyde

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Rape prosecutions and convictions dropped by half early in UK pandemic

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 10/22/2020 - 06:34

Data for England and Wales reflects lockdown, distancing and rising court backlog

Prosecutions for crimes against women and girls in England and Wales plummeted in the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting a backlog in the court system exacerbated by the UK-wide shutdown and subsequent social distancing measures.

The number of completed rape prosecutions more than halved, falling to 218 in the three months to June this year compared with 480 in the previous quarter, according to violence against women and girls (VAWG) figures from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). There were 174 convictions resulting from those 218 prosecutions, a record rate of 80%, down from 341 ( 71%) in the previous quarter.

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Poland rules abortion due to foetal defects unconstitutional

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 10/22/2020 - 06:31

Constitutional court’s ruling could pave way for governing PiS party to move ahead with legislative ban

Poland’s constitutional tribunal has ruled that abortion due to foetal defects is unconstitutional, rejecting the most common of the few legal grounds for pregnancy termination in the predominantly Catholic country.

The chief justice, Julia Przyłębska, said in a ruling that existing legislation – one of Europe’s most restrictive – that allows for the abortion of malformed foetuses was “incompatible” with the constitution.

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Endometriosis showed me we need better ways to talk about women's pain | Emma Barnett

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 10/21/2020 - 20:00

I struggled for 21 years before diagnosis. A new report by MPs isn’t enough for the one in 10 UK women who suffer too

You know when something isn’t right – in your body, your life, your mind. I certainly did for the 21 years I battled with my periods every month, only to be advised to try strong painkillers and various contraceptive pills, with sympathetic smiles from GPs. I was apparently one of the “unlucky ones”: those women who had been dealt the bad-period hand. The same script was fed to my mum and hers, both of whom dutifully digested the line, passed on from generation to generation like the worst kind of inheritance.

Except it wasn’t true. I was ill. Really ill. And it took two years of trying for a baby without a hint of success, and my periods getting worse, for me finally to push for answers. Even then, my guess-diagnosis came via a mate who happened to be an obstetrician, not from a doctor I had sought out. I say guess-diagnosis as I have a condition that can only be formally diagnosed via keyhole surgery. As I sat slumped to one side during a breakfast out one day – she inquired why I wasn’t sitting upright. I told her I never can on day one of my period, how my bone-deep pain feels like it’s dragging me slowly to the floor. She then gently mentioned a word I am ashamed I couldn’t spell, let alone pronounce: endometriosis.

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Australian women with endometriosis face six-year wait for diagnosis, study finds

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 10/21/2020 - 14:55

Experts call for ‘dedicated women’s pain services’ after survey finds people often undergo surgeries that fail to improve their chronic agony

A study of 620 Australian women living with the painful and often debilitating condition endometriosis found women have to wait an average of 6.4 years before being diagnosed and often undergo surgeries that fail to improve their chronic pain.

The study, published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, found despite medical and surgical intervention, 65.8% of respondents suffered period pain and 82.7% experienced chronic pelvic pain in the three months prior to responding to the survey. Respondents had consulted an average of three different health practitioner specialties in the previous 12  months.

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Disabilities and the Workforce: A Community Too Long Overlooked

Women's eNews - Tue, 10/20/2020 - 10:46

It has been well documented that marginalized communities face wage and employment discrimination. A significant wage gap exists between women and men, and people of color experience unfair employment practices. But did you know that members of the disabilities community also experience a significant amount of discrimination? Since October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, this is a a perfect time to shed light on barriers people with disabilities face when it comes to employment practices and, in particular, accessible employment.

 Twenty five percent of Americans have a disability, and experience twice the unemployment rate than those without disabilities. For disabled women and for disabled women of color, the rates of unemployment are even more staggering. Too often, the stigma associated with disabled employees is that they cannot be as productive as nondisabled employees. Although this may be true for some, this is not true for all. To better understand the challenges the disability community faces, it is therefore important to expose a number of myths.

Yes, being disabled is expensive, especially when no insurance coverage is available. Mobility devices, medical equipment, medication, doctors’ visits, and other costs related to being disabled can mount and quickly put a person, even an employed person, into debt. Disabled people therefore need insurance that works for them and will pay for the care they need in order to live, but Medicaid, one of the few available options, comes with several obstacles. One obstacle is that, depending on the state a person resides, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is required in order to receive Medicaid. SSI validates a person’s disability status, and therefore ensures the need for Medicaid. Yet SSI recipients are subject to many strict and limiting rules. For example, in order to receive SSI, an individual has to prove inability to work, and even if approved, SSI only pays a maximum of $783/month, which is not enough for most individuals to live on. Another caveat is that SSI recipients cannot have more than $2,000 in their bank account or in total assets at one time. In addition, an SSI recipient’s earned income is not allowed to exceed that of the maximum SSI payment.

This creates a huge dilemma for people with disabilities. While healthcare is often too costly without Medicaid assistance, receiving Medicaid prevents disabled people from getting a job because their earnings may be too high to qualify, while they can only possess a small amount of savings. These are major reasons why some disabled people who are able to work full time choose to only work part time; they fear losing their healthcare. Yet, working part time often prevents the employee from receiving employer-paid health benefits, making people more dependent on Medicaid. This also forces many disabled people to live with their families or friends, which in turn can inhibit their ability to become independent.

In addition to healthcare challenges, people with disabilities often encounter barriers to employment in the form of discrimination. Many job descriptions require the ability to lift and carry a minimum amount of weight, even if doing so is not actually a part of the job. This immediately discriminates against many people, especially those who are disabled, who cannot fulfill this requirement. Further, disabled people often wrestle the decision of whether or not to disclose their disability when applying for a job. Although a person is not legally required to disclose a disability on a job application, visibly disabled people are not able to conceal it. Kaycee Marshall, a fashion designer in a wheelchair, says she has faced roadblocks when applying to jobs and internships in her field. “I was so excited to get an internship for a luxury designer in New York. After I had already accepted the job, they noticed my Gmail picture showed me in a wheelchair and informed me that I wouldn’t be able to take the position because ‘[their studio] is up a flight of stairs.’” Kaycee recalls. “I’m not sure how true this is, but I was devastated. I didn’t disclose my disability at the internship and I then removed the picture from my email. I will never know how many rejections I received based on my disability alone.”

Once a disabled person becomes employed, other challenges may arise. Due to waiver 14© under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers like Goodwill and Opportunity Village are legally able to pay disabled employees less than minimum wage. Employers are allowed to “prove” to the Department of Labor that they should be able to pay their employees less than minimum wage and can do so by showing that the employee’s production rate is lower than the average nondisabled worker. This Act lends itself to ableist and capitalistic standards, standards that are not in place for nondisabled people.

Within the workplace, accommodations for disabled employees are often challenging, but they don’t need to be. A study conducted by the Job Accommodation Network found that “60% of workplace accommodations can be made for free, while the remaining cost is only $500 per employee, on average.”. For example, Andreana Franco, a higher education program coordinator with two autoimmune diseases, has to drive an hour to and from work on a daily basis. Her disability makes it difficult for her to concentrate and affects her energy levels, which make the long drives nearly impossible. Andreana also receives infusion treatments once a month, forcing her to take 3-5 days off from work each time. Although she has asked her employer if she could work from home, her request has been denied, claiming that her job is impossible to do from home. That is, until COVID-19 forced her employer to grant her request.

The COVID-19 pandemic has now required many employers to invoke some important accommodations, like working from home, that disabled people have been requesting for decades. It has also, in turn, opened employers’ eyes to the important need to provide accommodations for people with disabilities, particularly as an increasing number are becoming disabled due to the pandemic.

Since disabled people live in a world that wasn’t built for them, they have had to develop skills, such as adapting and problem solving; skills that are incredible assets and are typically sought after in the workplace. Further, hiring disabled people creates a more diverse and inclusive work environment, and inclusive companies have been shown to be “twice as likely to have higher total shareholder returns than their peers, on average” according to recent research conducted by Accenture. In addition, it was found that companies hiring disabled people saw “…28% higher revenue, double the net income and 30% higher economic profit margins over the four-year period we analyzed, on average.” Further, staff turnover rates for more inclusive companies are as much as 30% lower than those that are not.

Yet, still, beyond all of these benefits, perhaps the most important reason of all to hire people with disabilities is the right thing to do. 

Employers looking to increase the number of their employees who are disabled, and disabled people who are looking to work with employers that are already embracing the disability community, can find resources here.

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.

Meg Mathews: ‘I feared my colourful 90s life had caught up with me’

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 10/17/2020 - 22:00

She felt anxious, depressed and overwhelmed, until she realised it was the menopause. Now Meg Mathews is on a mission to get women talking about it without shame

I am sitting in the road, in Primrose Hill, during a global pandemic, when Meg Mathews starts loudly telling me about her vaginal atrophy. All right, we’re at a café table but, due to the aforementioned plague, the tables have been allowed to stretch into the main thoroughfare, which is half closed to traffic, and Mathews is explaining how the menopause closed down her own private thoroughfare. “I first realised when I was wearing my workout leggings and they weren’t new, but they were starting to chafe,” she says, before describing the laser part of her “vaginal rejuvenation” treatment.

At this point, a voice from the pavement calls out “Meg!” and I can’t help but spin around, just in case it’s Kate Moss shouting from 1997, but it is not Kate Moss, it’s a sweet old lady in a raincoat with a tiny dog. “You’re looking well, Meg,” she says, and they chat politely until Meg can get rid of her neighbour and return to the business of her collapsing genitalia. The menopause is Meg’s new subject you see – the former first lady of Britpop, once married to Noel Gallagher, now has a book, a website and products to launch, all branded as Meg’s Menopause. She’s on a mission to rid us of our hormonal embarrassment and shame.

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Women march against Trump and Republicans in major US cities

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 10/17/2020 - 09:57
  • Organizer: presidency will begin and end with women marching
  • March held at Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s college, Cornell

Thousands of mostly young women in masks rallied on Saturday in Washington DC and other US cities, exhorting voters to oppose Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans in the 3 November elections.

Related: Goodbye civil rights: Amy Coney Barrett's America is a terrifying place | Arwa Mahdawi

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A man tried to body shame the gloriously unabashed Billie Eilish. It didn’t go well

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 10/14/2020 - 08:07

The six-time Grammy-winning singer has largely rejected the societal pressure placed on women to be quiet, feminine and pretty

Today a paparazzi photo of Billie Eilish without her usual baggy clothes has been shared on the internet, revealing – shock, horror! – the 18-year-old looks like she has a regular body like you or me.

The photo showed Eilish wearing shorts and a tank top, rather than her signature baggy clothing. And so a butt hurt man (apparently 29 and from the UK) took this opportunity to announce on Twitter: “In 10 months Billie Eilish has developed a mid-30’s wine mom body.” (The backlash was mercifully swift.)

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Corporate feminism gives us vagina candles and empowerment hotels. But all I want is equal rights | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 10/13/2020 - 03:51

A new Washington DC hotel features pink pool tables, an Empowermint cocktail and Ruth Bader Ginsburg depicted in organic tampons. Its timing could not be worse

All women ever wanted was equal rights and bodily autonomy. Instead we got candles that smell like Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina. We got pink “pussy hats” and £580 Christian Dior T-shirts with “We should all be feminists” written on them. We got 15,389 articles about manspreading. We got #Girlbosses. We got Ms Monopoly, a board game in which women make more than men. And now corporate feminism has leaned into the hospitality industry and bequeathed us the empowerment hotel.

Last week, easily missed among the innumerable other horrors coming out of Washington DC, saw the opening of Hotel Zena. Located near the White House, the venue describes itself as “a groundbreaking hotel dedicated to female empowerment”. The whole thing feels like it was conjured up by Ivanka Trump in a fever dream – although the patron saint of fluffy feminism, I should clarify, has nothing to do with this particular endeavour. Hotel highlights include pink pool tables, a $16 cocktail called the Empowermint and 60 pieces of art, that, as the press release boasts, were created by “feminists of both genders”. The pièce de résistance is a mural of late US supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made of 20,000 hand-painted organic tampons.

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Harman calls on Ofcom to publish data on older women in broadcasting

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 10/12/2020 - 19:00

Former deputy Labour leader says female presenters over 50 ‘as rare as hen’s teeth’

Harriet Harman, the longest continuously serving female MP, has called on the media regulator, Ofcom, to publish data on the gender of older broadcasters to highlight the “double discrimination” facing senior female presenters on TV and radio.

In an opinion piece in this week’s Radio Times, Harman complained of a “cull” of women over the age of 50 in broadcasting that she said meant they were now “as rare as hen’s teeth”.

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A piece of Fleet Street history: Katharine Whitehorn's desk for sale

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 10/11/2020 - 00:15

Pioneering columnist’s 60s design classic to be auctioned to aid Alzheimer’s charity

They were inspiring and entertaining words that helped set the tone for more than just one era of social change. Katharine Whitehorn’s 60 years of provocative, useful and funny journalism and books were all typed up at a large wooden desk in a busy family living room.

Now that desk, a piece of classic Danish design as well as vintage Fleet Street history, is to go under Bonhams the auctioneer’s hammer to raise money for a charity that cares for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Cleaning up: the social media stars making housework cool

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 10/10/2020 - 22:15

Donning the Marigolds need not be a chore, according to a new breed of influencers who say cleaning is fun and aspirational

There were fears that this autumn’s bumper crop of books would see some titles overlooked – but one volume definitely didn’t get brushed under the carpet. This Is Me by Sophie Hinchliffe, better known as the Instagram cleaning sensation Mrs Hinch, was the runaway hit of Super Thursday on 1 October, fighting stiff competition from almost 800 other hardbacks published that day to top the UK charts and shift more than 90,000 copies in its first week.

It’s no surprise: Mrs Hinch’s three previous books have been bestsellers, and the 30-year-old comes with a readymade audience thanks to her “Hinch Army” of 3.8 million Instagram followers.

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Enough with militias. Let’s call them what they really are: domestic terrorists | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 10/10/2020 - 03:00

This week the FBI announced charges in a plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer. Much of the coverage referred to them as a militia – and the governor wasn’t having it

Sign up for the Week in Patriarchy, a newsletter​ on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.

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Nimco Ali calls for frank discussion on violence against women in UK

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/09/2020 - 05:54

Campaigner gives first major interview after being appointed as government adviser on issue

The UK needs a frank conversation about the fear of male violence that women live with every day, according to the government’s new adviser on violence against women and girls.

In her first major interview since her role was announced on Friday, the feminist campaigner Nimco Ali – who has been a key figure in the global fight to end female genital mutilation (FGM) – said she wanted to work across political, ethnic and gender lines.

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The trope of ‘her indoors’ is alive and well. Rather that than be silenced | Coco Khan

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/09/2020 - 03:00

What being called a nag really means is to be self-possessed and strong

My friend Pete is very into “cable management”. He spends his evenings artfully hiding the wires of his gaming machines and “soundscaping” devices, before communing with other Sonos bros on Reddit.

“If Pete had his way, there would be no room to move for all the speakers,” his girlfriend will say with a loving eye-roll. I playfully prod him, too. “Pete, why are you making a home cinema when all you watch is Homes Under The Hammer? Is it worth all this effort to hear a gavel in 3D?” (“Only someone who has never heard a gavel in 3D would say that,” he’ll reply.)

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Women bear brunt of Covid-related work stress, UK study finds

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/09/2020 - 02:43

Report comes a day before World Mental Health Day and calls for four-day working week

Women are being disproportionately affected by a rise in mental health problems caused by increasing workloads as people do their jobs from home amid the pandemic.

The length of the working day has increased steadily, resulting in a 49% rise in mental distress reported by employees when compared with 2017-19. Women are bearing the brunt of problems as they juggle work and childcare, according to a report by the 4 Day Week campaign and thinktanks Compass and Autonomy.

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Italian women take legal action over foetus graves marked with mothers' names

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 10/07/2020 - 23:36

More than 100 women launch action as activists say practice is serious violation of human rights and privacy

A group of more than 100 Italian women have asked prosecutors to investigate who is behind the burial for nearly a decade of foetuses in graves marked with the names of their mothers in a cemetery in Rome.

The practice only came to light last week after one of the women, whose curiosity was sparked after reading about the so-called “fields of angels” in local newspapers, discovered a plot with a wooden cross bearing her name and the date on which the foetus was buried at Prima Porta cemetery. She subsequently posted about her experience on Facebook.

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Kamala Harris walked a tightrope, but still wiped the floor with Mike Pence | Jill Filipovic

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 10/07/2020 - 18:06

As a black woman on the national stage, she knew she had to walk a thread-thin line. She did so perfectly

There was no real contest in the vice-presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence. Harris wiped the floor with him. Pence ignored, patronized and talked over the two women in the room. Her strategy was cool competence. His was sexist entitlement.

This debate was less high-pitch without Donald Trump ranting and raving on stage. But it was frustrating in its own way – especially for any woman who has ever been in a room with an interjecting, condescending man. Pence repeatedly interrupted Harris, something she rarely did to him; he repeatedly talked over moderator Susan Page of USA Today when she told him his time was up; he repeatedly flouted the rules he had previously agreed to. The disrespect of women was tangible, and it happened over and over.

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