Women's News from the Web

UK firms accused of hiring female directors for symbolic value

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 19:01

Many FTSE 100 companies are failing to advance women’s boardroom careers, report says

Some of Britain’s biggest companies appear to be recruiting female directors for their symbolic value and then failing to advance their boardroom careers, a report has claimed.

Women make up 32% of FTSE 100 directors – up from 29% a year ago – putting leading companies on track for the government’s target of 33% by 2020, the report by Cranfield University said. But female directors keep their jobs for a shorter time and are less likely to be promoted than men, the report found. Female directors are also older than their male counterparts and disproportionately white.

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Parliament’s challenge to Northern Ireland’s abortion law is long overdue | Zoe Williams

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 19:00

MPs have finally voted to extend abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland. That it has taken so long is shameful

MPs have passed a cross-party amendment compelling the government to bring forward regulations to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland. It is, as many campaigners – spearheaded by Ann Furedi at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service – have celebrated, a historic moment. But it’s chastening to consider how history will judge us, as neighbours, as feminists, as compatriots: it would be low to rejoice in the end of this situation without acknowledging the shame of how long it has persisted.

You have to observe an injustice in greater depth to see what it really means: I knew, and had always known, that abortion laws were different in Northern Ireland, and in Ireland. The constitutional implications of abortion law in Northern Ireland were profound – it’s hard to comprehend what it means, for women’s rights to be “devolved” in this way, that there would be a pocket of your nation where an entire cohort of people could have circumscribed rights that you would think belonged to another age.

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'It's had its day': ugly scenes as drama descends on Tonga's beauty pageant

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 16:20

Annual event marred by accusations of bullying, backstabbing and racism as women’s leaders call for pageant to be scrapped

The South Pacific nation of Tonga is in uproar after its annual beauty pageant was marred by accusations of bullying, backstabbing and racism, prompting calls by women’s rights leaders for the pageant industry to be abandoned altogether.

The country’s Miss Heilala pageant descended into chaos on Friday when the outgoing winner had her microphone cut in the middle of a speech and another woman was allegedly racially abused while delivering the keynote speech.

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Jilly Cooper tops inaugural Comedy women in print awards

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 09:30

The Rutshire Chronicles author received the lifetime achievement honour, with prizes for rising stars Laura Steven and Kirsty Eyre

Reigning queen of the pun Jilly Cooper has been awarded the inaugural Comedy women in print (CWIP) lifetime achievement award “in recognition of her legacy and inspiration to comic women writers everywhere”.

The bestselling author, who at one point describes her hero Rupert Campbell-Black’s aggressive love-making as “like a power drill … her Campbell-Black-and-Decker”, was named winner on Wednesday night.

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El Salvador: teen rape victim jailed over stillbirth to face retrial for murder

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 08:52

Pro-choice activists say Evelyn Beatríz Hernández’s case will be important in determining the stance of the country’s new leader

A teenage rape victim in El Salvador who was convicted for murdering her child and jailed for nearly three years after a stillbirth will face a retrial next week, her lawyers said on Wednesday.

Evelyn Beatríz Hernández was handed a 30-year prison sentence in 2017 for aggravated murder by a female judge who ruled the teenager had induced an abortion, which is a crime under any circumstance in the Central American nation.

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The tyranny of the schoolgirl skirt still haunts me | Yomi Adegoke

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 07:15

Gender-specific school uniforms are one of the earliest, most tangible ways in which inequality is entrenched

With “gender reveals” – ostentatious events to announce the sex of an unborn baby with a burst of pink or blue – becoming increasingly popular while, at the same time, unisex clothing is on the rise on the high street, it is difficult to tell how far we have got in terms of dismantling the gender binary. This week, it feels as if we may be making gains: by September, new statutory guidance will make school uniforms in Wales gender-neutral, meaning that items such as trousers, for example, will not be described as “for boys”.

Gender-specific school uniforms are one of the earliest, most tangible ways in which gender inequality is entrenched. There is a reason girls are permitted to wear shorts for PE – skirts and summer dresses inhibit young girls in the playground and restrict their freedom to play in the same way as their male peers. It is an unconscious marker of limitation: if you climb the monkey bars in these clothes, you’ll flash your knickers to the class – so don’t climb them.

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My partner, Lyra Mckee, would have been overjoyed about the same-sex marriage bill | Sara Canning

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 06:29

MPs have voted to bring LGBT+ equality to Northern Ireland. I shed tears of happiness at the news, but they were bittersweet

It won’t always be like this. It’s going to get better.” My incredible partner, Lyra McKee, wrote these words years before we crossed paths. I remember reading her “letter to my 14-year-old-self” and being blown away by her bravery. Lyra opened up about the deep hurt so many of us felt as teenagers, and showed that families can be incredibly loving, supportive and accepting; particularly important in a place like Northern Ireland, where religious divides and conservatism still play a huge role.

Lyra was terrified, anxious and, in a weird way, lucky. She knew her mind from a young age, was surrounded by friends from her area, who mostly turned out to be LGBT+ themselves, and had a family for whom her sexuality was not an issue. Some of us (me) take a lot longer to realise their true self. When Lyra wrote her letter in 2014, the idea of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland was almost preposterous.

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How period tracking can give all female athletes an edge

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 06:28

The adviser to the US’ women’s World Cup winners shows them how to train with their menstrual cycle, not against it – and there are lessons for the rest of us

Until relatively recently, sports scientists simply applied the research they had done with male athletes to female ones. In fact, according to research scientist Georgie Bruinvels, it is only since the 1990s that it has been “appreciated that women are different”. There is still a long way to go. In 2014, researchers looked at sports studies published between 2011 and 2013; where performance was concerned, once they removed one study that heavily skewed the result, they found that just 3% of participants were women.

One particular growing area of interest is the impact of menstrual cycle and hormones on female sports performance – and this is where Bruinvels specialises. This week, the Times reported that after, advising the World Cup-winning US women’s football team, she is in talks to work with British female tennis players.

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Too many men think teenage girls are fair game. That gave Jeffrey Epstein cover | Moira Donegan

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 06:02

Epstein is an extreme example of how heterosexual pedophilia is both normalized and often cast as aspirational: the reward for male success

Jeffrey Epstein may well take a lot of powerful men down with him. A new indictment on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against the hedge fund financier threatens to bring consequences to a suspected pedophile who has long avoided them. Epstein, a friend to the likes of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew of Britain and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, was a paradigm of elite impunity and the moral rot of rich men. He exemplified the kind of corruption, self-interest, and disregard for the suffering of others that compels the communities to protect their own, and the systemic injustice allows even the most vile abusers to evade legal consequences when they have shoulder-clapping familiarity with those in power. Following revelatory reporting on Epstein’s case from the Miami Herald in November and amid a new sense of seriousness around sexual abuse generated by the #MeToo movement, it seems that Epstein, long suspected of abusing children in the near-open and facing no repercussions for it, may finally face justice.

At least, that’s what it looks like for now. But Epstein has been here before: he faced federal charges for nearly identical alleged behavior in 2008, when a teenage girl and her parents came forward to local police saying that Epstein had coerced her into giving him naked massages, and then paid her for it.

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Women’s eNews is Going to the Border!

Women's eNews - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 01:47

Dear Faithful Readers,

I’ll make this short. Truth in Journalism has never been more crucial than it is today. Surely, it is the only way to distinguish between facts vs. falsehoods. 

This is why I will personally be traveling to the Texas, Arizona and Mexico borders on July 28th – August 5th to document the conditions that migrants (particularly women and children) are currently facing at US detention centers. 

Through your support, I will serve as your eyes and your ears throughout each of these eight days by posting on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), and you will receive daily updates each morning under our new series, ‘Truth At The Border.’ As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan wrote in Time magazine when it honored journalists as its 2018 Person of the Year, “We need to write now, write well—tell the truth in all its messy complexity. It’s our best shot at helping to preserve a democracy in which facts still exist and all of us can speak freely.”

No donation is too small to help Women’s eNews document the truth and help tell the real stories to continue to change, and save, women’s lives, as we have been doing for close to two decades! 

Please click here to donate. Women’s eNews thanks you, as always, for your heartfelt and continuing support!


In solidarity,

Lori Sokol, PhD
Executive Director
She/Her/Hers

There are ways to reduce domestic violence that have nothing to do with the patriarchy | Gay Alcorn

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 16:28

Jess Hill reaches a gutsy conclusion in See What You Made Me Do – and there is hope

Jess Hill is a brave woman. Her book, See What You Made Me Do, gives us a chance – just a slim one – to shift our thinking on domestic violence past the stalemate we are in.

There is rage in this book, but also rigorous research and, crucially, an open mind. What is domestic violence? What causes it? How can we fix it? These questions are complicated, and Hill shirks from none of them. She keeps digging, bringing to light all the entrenched positions that, however honestly held, may be hampering our progress.

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MPs vote to extend abortion and same-sex marriage rights to Northern Ireland

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 06:18

Westminster government has said it will honour both results despite ministerial doubts

MPs have voted resoundingly to extend same-sex marriage and access to abortion to Northern Ireland, bringing the region into line with the rest of the UK on the two significant social issues.

The two historic votes, arriving within little more than a quarter of an hour of each other, were greeted ecstatically by equalities campaigners. With ministers promising to respect the results, they could have vital repercussions for people in Northern Ireland.

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Poldark star says shirtless scene gave him more empathy for women

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 19:01

Aidan Turner says while he did not feel objectified himself, he sees how it can feel for women

The Poldark actor Aidan Turner has said his famous shirtless scything scene in the BBC One drama made him appreciate how women feel when objectified.

The 36-year-old, who shot to fame in the series based on Winston Graham’s books, became a small-screen heartthrob when the topless scene was broadcast four years ago. Radio Times readers voted it the TV moment of 2015.

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Sexual Harassment in High School: When Saying “No” is Not Enough

Women's eNews - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 16:20

My name is Hannah Downing. I live in San Antonio, Texas. I just completed my senior year of high school. I was a drum major for my high school’s marching band and an editor for the school literary magazine. I was an enthusiastic participant in the classroom. I was a well-established voice in my class and respected among my peers. I was just a regular student, mostly unremarkable.

About a year and a half ago I was the target of sexual harassment.

One of my male peers, someone I had considered a friendly acquaintance, regularly touched, squeezed, and pinched me on my arm and waist and told me overtly sexual things about himself and me. Obviously, I wasn’t okay with this. I’m not a huge fan of being touched at random without my consent, and it was grossly inappropriate of him to discuss the sordid details of his personal, private time with me.

I told him to stop every time he did it, but I said it this way, “Oh my gosh, stopppppp!” with my voice highly pitched and with a playful shove. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by acting too sensitive to the situation.

As time went on, I grew increasingly uncomfortable. I finally confided in my mother, and told her that I didn’t want to take the issue to my school’s administration and cause a fuss. I wanted to deal with him myself.

My mom taught me to say “no” like I meant it. She told me that up to that point I had been protesting in a manner that communicated to him that I wasn’t serious about wanting him to stop. She taught me to say “no” in a calm and firm voice. She coached me to learn how to give a cold stare and strong posture. We practiced a lot, and by the end of my training I felt ready to end the harassment once and for all.

The next time he touched me, I implemented my new method of saying “no.” I tried to emulate every badass female superhero I knew. I looked him in the eye with the utmost seriousness and I said in a strong, clear tone, “Stop touching me. I don’t want to be touched.”

 Still, he continued…

That broke me. In that moment, when I was trying so hard to establish control over a situation that deeply disturbed me, he just ignored me. It was a complete invalidation of my autonomy. He didn’t care about my consent. He didn’t care about my feelings. To him, I wasn’t a person worthy of respect. It made me feel dirty and worthless.

Eventually, I managed to stop the harassment by avoiding him, which was difficult because we shared an extracurricular activity that required us to work together.

Although it was over, I was left with some psychological effects. My self-esteem was gone. I felt like I had no power over my body; that at that point anyone could do anything to me, and there would be nothing I could do. For a very long time I was fearful and paranoid that I would be harassed again or even assaulted. If one guy thought it was perfectly fine to treat me like a plaything, who’s to say no one else would? It took me a very long time to feel normal again.

Two years ago, I never imagined that I would be the target of sexual harassment. In my mind there was a certain type of person who was more likely to be harassed. Someone quiet or timid, or someone who was more overt about her sexuality. I thought I came off as strong and intimidating but, still, it happened to me.

I was curious about who else might have had similar experiences to mine, so I asked some of my friends to share thoughts or anecdotes about sexual harassment and assault. One of my friends recalled the times she exercised in our school’s weight room. “There was this guy that gave me creepy vibes and he would come over and talk to me while I worked out,” she said. “After a few weeks he would start to comment about how he saw my body transform into an ‘attractive woman.’ It got even worse when he had three of his friends say similar things about my legs when I did squats. I never went back into the weight room.”

Her story was shocking to me. My friend held multiple leadership positions in various clubs and organizations at school, and she’s the sweetest, most well-meaning person I’ve ever met. How could anyone frame her in a sexual light in a school environment? What had she done to invite any advances?

There was no way that those boys thought they were engaging in meaningful conversation with my friend or giving her actual compliments. Why do people think it’s okay to ignore consent?

“The American sex education system is lacking, at best,” another friend of mine, a fellow editor of the literary magazine, told me. “Consent is not taught in any capacity in most public schools, and if it is discussed at all, it’s lumped in with suicide and bullying in the student crisis section of the curriculum.” “If we are taught about consent, we are taught in the most basic of terms. ‘If she says yes, go for it. If she says no, don’t.’ Consent isn’t explained in terms of mutual enthusiasm, or desire, or enjoyment.”

I’m inclined to agree with her. Our system is broken. On multiple occasions this friend and I have discussed the effects of rape culture and our society’s indifference to women’s issues. We’ve expressed our concerns over the possibility of being assaulted while at college and becoming just another statistic in America’s ever-increasing problem with sexual assault on college campuses.

We swap articles on the subject, but we never learn about the intricacies of consent and healthy, safe sex in a classroom setting. I get most of my information from the internet, which is vast and often misleading, and I only receive that information because I seek it out. We are all at risk of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse, and we can’t protect ourselves from assault simply by dressing conservatively or practicing abstinence.

What we can do is educate ourselves. We need to openly discuss sexual health and conduct. We need to have comprehensive sex ed in schools and more accessible counseling for survivors of assault.

I invite anyone reading this to start a conversation with friends or family. It’s really difficult to start talking about personal experiences with sexual harassment, assault, or abuse, but it is important to let our loved ones know that it’s okay to be open about their experiences. Survivors of assault often suffer in silence because they feel powerless. Some even feel that they brought the assault upon themselves.

Removing the stigma and shame of sexual assault can happen by engaging in a safe, free dialogue like I did with my friends. It may seem like a small thing, but starting that conversation is a step in the right direction to creating a safer, more just, and more understanding society for us all.

The Jewish Women’s Archive’s  Rising Voices Fellowship was honored as Teen Voices’ ’21 Leader for the 21st Century’ in 2019. It is a 10-month program for female-identified teens in high-school who have a passion for writing, a demonstrated concern for current and historic events, and a strong interest in Judaism, gender and social justice. The Jewish Women’s Archive is a national non-profit devoted to documenting Jewish women’s stories, elevating their voices, and inspiring them to be agents of change. Founded in 1995, JWA is the world’s largest source of material about and voices of Jewish women.

Trump administration to review 'role of human rights in public policy'

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 10:06

Advocates warn the new panel, helmed by an abortion and gay rights opponent, is a threat to progressive reforms

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has unveiled a new panel tasked with reviewing “the role of human rights in American public policy” in a move that some advocates warned could imperil LGBTQ and women’s reproductive freedoms.

Pompeo announced the launch of the “Commission on Unalienable Rights” at the state department in Washington on Monday, telling reporters: “As human rights claims have proliferated, some claims have come into tension with one another provoking questions and clashes about which rights are entitled to gain respect.”

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This girl’s love of the Blues wasn’t unusual | Letters

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 06:33
As a teenage fanatical supporter of Birmingham City in the 1970s, Toni Clark says that on the terraces her gender wasn’t an issue

I remember Julie Welch’s name as I was a football fan from 1969-76 (It was lonely being a female football fanatic. Not any more, Journal, 6 July). However, I never felt lonely. From the age of about 12 to 18, I went to over 300 Birmingham City matches, and don’t have any memories of it being unusual as a young girl: I was just one of up to 30,000 other fans. For the first few years I stood at the Railway End with my mum and a friend of hers. But once they succumbed to the comfort of the seats I stayed on the terraces. Here I was thoroughly wrapped up in the game, analysing every move, often on my own, or with pals from college.

I can only remember one occasion I ever felt in danger, when our supporters’ coach was stoned by Derby fans at an away game. Football dominated many years of my young life, my gender being irrelevant to everyone I knew. I now have absolutely no interest in football but look back fondly on my days of adoring each and every one of the Birmingham City team. Everyone can choose whether to play or watch or analyse, or not. Julie, thanks for memories.
Toni Clark
Kiltarlity, Highland

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This World Cup has reminded us that football is still a beautiful game | Kevin McKenna

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 07/06/2019 - 19:00

If its popularity is sustained, for how long will it remain unsullied by the greed that permeates the men’s game?

The first signals indicating a shift in attitudes occurred during the opening moments of Scotland v England at the Women’s World Cup. Attendance records were expected to be broken and television companies, at long last, were committing serious money and resources to the task of providing meaningful live coverage of the matches.

The exploits of Scotland’s international women’s team, who had qualified against formidable odds, had crept on to the back pages, long the exclusive preserve of male football, or at least the beer and cigarettes version that persists here. A BBC documentary chronicling how the women had won seven out of eight games to qualify first from a tough section was well received.

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In accusing all creeps of gaslighting, we dishonour the real victims | Barbara Ellen

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 07/06/2019 - 07:36

If the word is spread too thinly, it will cease to be such a powerful tool to educate and empower women

All women need the term “gaslighting”. Well, all people really. Rebecca Humphries didn’t even realise that she needed it until she was cheated on by the comedian Seann Walsh in the 2018 Strictly Come Dancing scandal.

She’d had suspicions but, as she wrote at the time, Walsh “aggressively and repeatedly called me psycho/nuts/mental, as he had done countless times… when I’ve questioned his inappropriate and hurtful behaviour”. When her friend mentioned gaslighting, it was a relief to know that there was a term to describe her experience. Humphries, who has just spoken at the House of Commons about coercive control, says that single word gave her the vindication and courage she needed.

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Edinburgh gives female medical students their degrees – 150 years late

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 07/06/2019 - 06:32

Victorian women who were prevented from qualifying as doctors are finally recognised

Seven women who were among the first females to be admitted to a British university have been awarded posthumous degrees 150 years after they started their studies.

The group, known collectively as the Edinburgh Seven, enrolled to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1869. But they faced substantial resistance from their male peers and were ultimately prevented from graduating and qualifying as doctors.

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Avoid playgrounds and eat the last biscuit: how to keep your sense of self as a parent

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 07/05/2019 - 19:00

Remember when life wasn’t all packed lunches and soft play? It’s time to get that person back

I am currently working away from home, abandoning my family to selfishly pursue my own interests – or at least, that’s how I felt the week before I left. During that time, I couldn’t simply look forward to the prospect of some time alone doing the things I love – time being myself. No, instead I was overwhelmed by everything I thought I needed to do, because although I am an author, a Jilly Cooper fan, a collector of vintage china, a nail-biter, a bad applier of fake tan and a country music lover, I am also a parent. And, like so many of us, I sometimes forget all the other parts of who I am and lose sight of me.

So it was that, as I packed, I found myself sobbing hopelessly because the mother part of me tends to take over all the rest, and instead of thinking about the exciting work I would be doing while I was away, what Jilly Coopers to take, if anything could be done about my gnawed nails and bad fake tan, I was focusing on all my failings as a parent. A parent who was abandoning her children to go gallivanting.

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