Women's News from the Web

Have sperm will travel. But what would an all-female planet look like? | Stephanie Merritt

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 04:59
The discovery that frozen sperm can survive space flight opens up tantalising possibilities. But there’s no guarantee of utopia

If you’re a woman who has despaired over the past week, as you’ve observed the questionable conduct of jowly white men in positions of power and subsequently seen it defended by both men and women – take heart. The good news is that when our species eventually abandons this burned-out, used-up planet for a brave new world elsewhere in the universe, we can leave the men behind too. According to new research by scientists in Barcelona, frozen sperm can survive zero gravity conditions without deterioration, meaning that it will be far more economical to transport only women and sperm banks to populate our new intergalactic home, just as soon as we find a viable alternative planet.

Related: Political violence against women tracked for first time as attacks soar

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After the horror of the 'wolf pack' case, Spanish women have reason to be hopeful | Eloise Barry

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 22:00

The overturning of the original verdict in a notorious rape trial is a sign that attitudes towards sexual violence are changing

Justice was a long time coming for the young Spanish woman gang-raped during the Pamplona bull runs in 2016. On Friday, the supreme court in Madrid overturned a lower court’s verdict and found the five men who attacked her guilty of rape rather than sexual abuse, and raised their sentences from nine to 15 years in prison.

The men called themselves la manada (the wolf pack) and their case revealed gaping holes in the Spanish legal system’s approach to sexual violence. According to Amnesty International, three-quarters of EU member states, including Spain, legally recognise an assault as rape only when physical violence, threats or coercion are involved. A victim must have demonstrated resistance, but, in this case, the terrified woman appears frozen in a video clip of the 30-minute attack. The defence argued she was consenting and so the lesser charge was applied.

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Good, affordable nursery care benefits us all – but it’s nowhere to be found | Suzanne Moore

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 20:00

Private nurseries are a boon for entrepreneurs, but – for all the sanctification of motherhood – women who are exhausting themselves to work are the people we actually care about least

My daughter has been looking at nurseries. I must admit it is a long time since I had to think about that kind of thing. What I have learned is that babies are more expensive than ever. Turns out you can no longer just put them in a drawer, and they have to be wheeled around in contraptions that cost more than an old banger. But childcare – well, childcare is impossible. The old feminist demand for free creches went the way of the habit some women used to have of demanding men pee sitting down.

Private nurseries have sprung up everywhere. The babies will be fed gourmet mush and entertained non-stop while their parents work every hour they can to pay for this.

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Appeal court overturns forced abortion ruling

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 08:16

Termination had been said to be in best interests of woman with learning disabilities

A court ruling that a woman with learning disabilities must have an abortion against her wishes has been overturned on appeal.

The decision came after the woman’s mother, a former midwife, challenged a court order issued on Friday.

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The Guardian view on female voice assistants: not OK, Google | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 07:55
When computer assistants reply in female voices, are they saying that women lack power in their world?

Within two years there will be more voice assistants on the internet than there are people on the planet. Another, possibly more helpful, way of looking at these statistics is to say that there will still be only half a dozen assistants that matter: Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa in the west, along with their Chinese equivalents, but these will have billions of microphones at their disposal, listening patiently for sounds they can use. Voice is going to become the chief way that we make our wants known to computers – and when they respond, they will do so with female voices.

This detail may seem trivial, but it goes to the heart of the way in which the spread of digital technologies can amplify and extend social prejudice. The companies that program these assistants want them to be used, of course, and this requires making them appear helpful. That’s especially necessary when their helpfulness is limited in the real world: although they are getting better at answering queries outside narrow and canned parameters, they could not easily ever be mistaken for a human being on the basis of their words alone.

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Induced lactation: why a woman doesn't need to bear a child in order to breastfeed it

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 06:44

A viral photograph of a couple breastfeeding their twin babies has highlighted the process that allows a woman to nurse a child she has not carried. So how does it work?

A photograph of Jaclyn and Kelly Pfeiffer breastfeeding their twin babies has gone viral, highlighting the fact that it is possible to nurse a baby you haven’t given birth to. Jaclyn didn’t carry the babies but has been able to breastfeed them thanks to a process known as induced lactation. It tends to be used by same-sex couples, as well as adoptive parents and women whose babies were carried by a surrogate.

The outcome can be variable, depending on the situation and what the goal is, says Helen Gray, from Lactation Consultants of Great Britain, an organisation that describes itself as the professional voice of breastfeeding. “They might want to try to bring in a full breast-milk supply and provide all of the baby’s milk, or, if they are co-parenting in a same sex relationship, they may be hoping that each mother will provide enough so they can share the breastfeeding.” Or they may want to provide a small amount to top up bottle feeds.

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The new feminist armpit hair revolution: half-statement, half-ornament

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/23/2019 - 19:00

Female body hair is becoming more visible in popular culture and, while the issue has been around for decades, the new enthusiasm for hirsuteness has a 21st-century twist

I am usually late to catch on to shifts in the zeitgeist; this one came to my attention just recently. While watching the HBO show High Maintenance, I noticed that Lee, the protagonist’s hip and beautiful love interest, was sporting hairy armpits.

“Look!” I cried to my husband, as though I’d unexpectedly spotted a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of my favorite obscure band. For the past couple of decades, I have seldom shaved my armpits. Now, all of a sudden, I was on-trend.

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Nasreen Sheikh: From an Unremarkable Birth, to a Remarkable Life

Women's eNews - Sun, 06/23/2019 - 16:49

“From the moment of my birth in a southern Nepal border village, I was taught that my existence was unremarkable. Growing up I witnessed so many atrocities against women that, by age 9 or 10, my life seemed destined for the same oppressive path. I worked 15 hours per day in a Nepali sweatshop as a child laborer, receiving less than $2 per grueling shift, and only if I completed the hundreds of garments demanded of me. I ate, slept and toiled in my prison-cell sized sweatshop workstation, too afraid to even look out the window. By about age 21, my family had arranged a forced marriage for me. But through the help of a kind stranger who taught me to read and seize my destiny, I escaped the sweatshop and forced marriage.” -Nasreen Sheikh

Nasreen Sheikh does not know her birthday or her exact age. That is because in her native southern Nepal border village, girls’ births are not recorded in any official record. “From the moment of her birth, society tells the rural girl child that her existence is unremarkable,” Nasreen says. “If one’s own birth does not matter, then the conditions in which she lives, works, strives, suffers and dies also do not matter.” These words served as the opening to Nasreen’s presentation at the Women Deliver Global Conference earlier this month, where over 8,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists flocked to Vancouver to hear about the risks, challenges and triumphs of numerous women and girls, all working to create a gender equal world.

For Nasreen, who was determined to empower disadvantaged women, she did so by launching the Local Women’s Handicrafts, a fair trade sewing collective based in Kathmandu, Nepal. LWH is a social enterprise that empowers and educates disadvantaged women by providing a paid training program in design, sewing, weaving, embroidery, knitting, jewelry making and pattern work. To date, LWH has trained hundreds of Nepali women – many of whom escaped forced and abusive marriages, and all of whom are determined to escape poverty.

Nasreen’s seamstresses and artisans sew beautiful handicrafts each day and, in the process, sew the pieces of themselves back together as well. She has also launched a powerful public health and education initiative by making and giving away hundreds of biodegradable antibacterial sanitary pads to rural women and girls who cannot afford basic hygienic supplies. She also leads body image and women’s health workshops in cramped rural schools and villages for those who often suffer in silence and stigma.

Nasreen shatters everything anyone believes about the limitations of women, child laborers, fair trade, or even your environmentally irresponsible plastic water bottle. Although only 10 years ago, Nasreen could barely read or write, she is now giving talks around the world about her work and the plight of child laborers and survivors of forced marriage for such international conferences as the Foreign Trade Association (Brussels), Google (America), women’s conferences, dozen of universities and recently gave a TEDx talk.

“I envision a world where women are leaders in their communities, they are in control of their own lives, their own rights, and their own decisions.” – Nasreen

Girls will see a path for themselves if we show how engineering makes a difference

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/23/2019 - 13:01

When people ask what it’s like to be a woman in this sector, I long for the time we stop boxing people into stereotypes

If there was a single key to levelling the gender imbalance in engineering and technology careers, we’d have cracked it by now. Plenty of evidence shows programming of prejudice starts with babies, and girls begin to be put off engineering between the ages of five and nine.

We need a shift in thinking so people are treated as individuals from birth rather than pigeonholed. There are many good initiatives targeting teenagers – we just need to reach younger children.

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Parenting guides teach us everything – except how to be parents | Eva Wiseman

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/22/2019 - 21:59

From breast feeding to sleep training, there is a manual to help new parents. But how useful are they really? And don’t they just make us feel even more stressed?

Visiting a maternity ward last week I saw the oddest thing. A series of posters designed to promote breastfeeding, each one a disembodied white woman’s torso. The first featured her tits being groped by a variety of hands. “Bond with your baby,” said a slogan over the tit pictured stage left, a child’s hand covering the nipple. And above the second tit, this one enclosed by a pink male hand, the words, “Bond with your man.” OK. The next poster showed the tits in a leopard-print bra, a baby sucking on one nipple, and the slogan, “Designer mum. Designer milk.” An involuntary shudder. Not just at the suggestion that the reason so many women bottle-feed their babies is to protect their “designer” bosom, but at the memory of drowning in similarly delirious mothering advice, in finding myself bleeding on a battleground, its lines drawn in crayon.

Parenting advice is big business, despite appearing to consist of just two contrasting ideas: the first, control the kid; the second, control yourself. The many millions of books written, about feeding, sleeping, carrying, playing, inevitably extend into a variety of things to buy, whether tech-driven sleep aids or parenting coaches, or “mumpreneur” networking events. And yet, despite so many parents’ shaky investments (at a time when their earnings must be impacted) much of the advice is offered without much, if any, serious explanation why.

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There are better answers than jail for women who have offended | Yvonne Roberts

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/22/2019 - 19:00

We can both deliver justice and give women a real chance of rebuilding their lives after punishment

Chris Tchaikovsky – queen of charisma, 6ft tall, witty, clever, the only one of six middle-class sisters to serve time in prison – was, for a period, head of the Happy Firm, a team dealing in stolen travellers’ cheques. Then she went straight, co-founding the charity Women in Prison. She died, aged 57, in 2002, but on Wednesday, her spirit will be at Westminster as women come to lobby their MPs to invest in a different kind of justice – one that works.

A year ago this week, the government published its female offender strategy. It contained much of what Tchaikovsky campaigned for over decades. The strategy says that if justice is to be delivered and reoffending reduced, prison for women, the majority of whom (85%) commit non-violent offences, should be replaced. In its stead should come sentences in the community and intensive support to address the issues common to chaotic lives – addiction, trauma, debt, homelessness. By and large, it’s not posh people who do porridge.

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Don't hate the Instagram engagement stunt – 'branded' love began long ago | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 06/22/2019 - 02:00

Viral videos posted by social media influencers has drawn a lot of ie, but many ‘traditional’ rites of romance are based on ad campaigns

Dearly beloved, we are assembled here today to witness a heartwarming story of modern #love. I hope you’ve got tissues at the ready because it’s guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye.

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Busy Philipps on abortion: ‘Women have held on to a lot of this shame’

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 06/21/2019 - 19:00

The actor and author who recently testified before Congress on why she got an abortion discusses the power in being vocal about uncomfortable experiences

Busy Philipps’ big dreams for the stage never included testifying before Congress about why she got an abortion at age 15. But with more and more US states passing extreme anti-abortion measures, she saw it as a responsibility.

“There is power to being vocal about your experiences as a person because whether we like it or not, people lack empathy, they lack the ability to understand someone else’s situation until they’re really faced with it – until it’s really shown to them,” she tells me over the phone, cutting out to field texts from her husband and make arrangements for her daughter’s hair appointment. “There’s a great deal of value in sharing all of our stories and experiences in order to elicit change.”

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No luxury: book containing tampons is runaway hit

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 06/21/2019 - 04:04

Protest against Germany’s 19% tax on sanitary products sells out first print run in one day

Open up a book and you can find a whole world. But the first book from the German startup the Female Company offers something more straightforward: within its covers are 15 tampons. And it is flying off the shelves.

The Tampon Book is a protest against Germany’s 19% tax on tampons as “luxury goods” – and a way of getting round it. Books are taxed at 7% in Germany, and so the founders of the Female Company, which sells organic sanitary products, decided to publish one and include tampons inside it. Released earlier this spring, the first print-run sold out in a day and the second in a week, said the publisher, with around 10,000 copies sold to date. Only the English-language edition is currently available.

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Senior Islamic cleric issues fatwa against child marriage

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 06/20/2019 - 20:00

Deputy grand imam of al-Azhar calls for marriage based on mutual consent with minimum age set at 18

One of the world’s most prestigious centres of Islamic learning has issued a fatwa against child marriage, saying marriage should be based on the consent of both parties and “particularly the young woman”.

The deputy grand imam of al-Azhar, considered by some Muslims to be the highest authority of Islamic jurisprudence, hammered out the document with his team and young activists at the first African summit on child marriage and female genital mutilation, which took place in Senegal this week.

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Lloyds Pharmacy apologises to woman refused emergency contraception

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 06/20/2019 - 04:19

Pharmacy says sorry after staff member refused to dispense product for ‘personal reasons’

A pharmacy chain has apologised after a woman was refused emergency contraception because the pharmacist said it went against her personal beliefs.

Siani, 41, who did not want to give her surname, pre-ordered and paid for contraception online through the Lloyds Pharmacy website.

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Pakistan to create 1,000 courts to tackle violence against women

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/19/2019 - 14:39

Chief justice says in televised speech that abuse survivors will be able to ‘speak their heart without any fear’

Pakistan is to set up more than 1,000 courts dedicated to tackling violence against women, the country’s top judge has announced, seeking to tackle a problem activists say the criminal justice system has long neglected.

Chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa said the special courts would allow victims to speak out without fear of retaliation in the conservative Muslim country, where domestic violence is often seen as taboo.

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Society is obsessed with women’s genitals. So why are ads for sex toys still taboo? | Yomi Adegoke

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/19/2019 - 07:05

Dame Products is suing the company that runs New York’s subway for rejecting its tasteful advertisements for female sex toys. Strangely, there were no objections to similarly suggestive ads aimed at men

Given society’s obsession with women’s sexual organs – how they should look, how they should smell – it is ironic that they are so intentionally concealed. The latest attempt to obscure any mention of women’s nether regions comes from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the company that runs the New York subway, which has rejected adverts by women’s sexual health startup Dame Products showing sex toys. Dame is now suing the MTA over its decision.

Although the MTA maintains that the promotion of “sexually oriented business” has long been prohibited, the definition appears to be slippery (much to its disgust, no doubt). Several sexually suggestive, tongue-in-cheek-and-God-knows-where-else ads have been allowed, including ones for condoms and erectile dysfunction medication.

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Women outperform men after Japan medical school stops rigging exam scores

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 18:16

Juntendo University says abolishing unfair treatment of women is behind rise in entrance exam scores

Women have outperformed their male counterparts in entrance examinations for a medical school in Japan that last year admitted rigging admission procedures to give men an unfair advantage.

Juntendo University in Tokyo said that of the 1,679 women who took its medical school entrance exam earlier this year, 139, or 8.28%, had passed. The pass rate among 2,202 male candidates was 7.72%.

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In Case You Missed It: The Ninth Annual Elly Awards

Women's eNews - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 15:25

On Monday, June 17th, The Women’s Forum of New York hosted the 9th Annual Elly Awards Luncheon benefiting The Education Fund of the Women’s Forum. The awards, named for the Women’s Forum founder Elinor Guggenheimer, honor outstanding women leaders, and this year marked the 32nd anniversary of the Education Fund of the Women’s Forum, which has helped over 260 women, age 35 and over, whose lives have been disrupted by extreme adversity, complete their college degrees.

The 2018 Women’s Forum of New York Education Awards Fellows

“The Education Fund of the Women’s Forum has transformed lives, influenced families, and improved communities,” says Barbara Marcus, President, The Education Fund of the Women’s Forum. “Launched thirty-two years ago to help other women realize their dream of a college education, The Education Fund has awarded over $1.8 million in financial awards to over 260 women to help them return to school, earn their degree, and take their place in the professional work world. Many of these women have overcome very difficult circumstances to realize their dream of a college education.  We are proud to support their efforts.”

The Women’s Forum of New York is an invitation-only organization of more than 500 women representing the highest levels of achievement across all professional sectors and spheres of influence in our city. Founded in 1974, when women were first entering the executive ranks, today’s Women Forum members are recognized among New York’s thought leaders, influencers, trailblazers, policymakers, change agents, power brokers, innovators, icons, creators, and business builders.

The Education Fund is the educational and charitable arm of The Women’s Forum of New York, established under a separate corporate governance as a 501(c)(3) tax deductible organization. Since 1987, the Fund has provided financial awards to women 35 and over who have demonstrated high potential and faced extreme adversity which has disrupted their education and derailed their futures. These women fall outside the scope of most traditional scholarship programs and these awards help them complete their education and get their careers and lives back on track.

This year’s awards recipients included Katie Couric, award winning journalist, producer, New York Times bestselling author, cancer advocate, podcast host, documentary filmmaker, and former co-anchor of the Today Show on NBC; Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, representative for the District of Columbia and former Professor of Law at Georgetown University, and Muriel Fox, Board Chair of Veteran Feminists of America and former Executive Vice-President of Carl Byoir & Associates.

“The Women’s Forum of New York is comprised of the most accomplished and successful women in the city from every professional sector,” says Linda A. Willett, President of the Women’s Forum of New York. “We know from our own success how critical education is, so our Education Fund is one way we ‘give back’ – helping women age 35 and over whose lives have been disrupted by extreme adversity complete their education and get their lives back on track. We hope we inspire them, because their dreams, drive, and determination certainly inspire us.”

The 2020 application will be available on or before September 1, 2019. To learn more, please click here.

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