Women's News from the Web

Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding receiving chemotherapy for cancer

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 08/26/2020 - 04:47

38-year-old singer, who had 21 Top 10 hits with Girls Aloud, says breast cancer ‘has advanced to other parts of my body’

Sarah Harding, former member of pop group Girls Aloud, has announced that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In a series of tweets and an Instagram post, she wrote:

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Men going their own way: the rise of a toxic male separatist movement

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 08/25/2020 - 19:00

The men of the MGTOW movement aim to live their lives with no female contact. The idea began on the fringes of the internet – so how has it made it all the way to the White House?

‘There has been an awakening … changing the world … one man at a time.” These are the dramatic words that appear when you visit mgtow.com. In a video that looks a lot like an action-movie trailer, the words are soon followed by five more that appear to smash through the screen, smouldering fiery red: “Men … going … their … own way.”

If you stumbled across this website and had never heard of “men going their own way” (MGTOW) before, you would probably assume this was a tiny, extreme movement. But you would be only half right.

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'This year has made me feel, at times, that I look like a freak. What should I do for my head?' | Leading questions

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 08/25/2020 - 16:10

It can be traumatic for women to lose their hair, writes advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith, but your hair doesn’t need to be a symbol of fragility

I had breast cancer in 2002. It came back a second time this year. I had a double mastectomy and chemo. I have had reconstructive surgery but expect more. It’s been a rough year. Mostly I am proud of getting through all this. But I am concerned about my daughter’s wedding, which is in six weeks.

I have a wig for Zoom calls, but it doesn’t look great and it is not me. I bought it online; because of Covid I could not go to a wig shop. I have very little hair, a quarter inch, but you can still see my scalp. I don’t know what to do for my head. Do I wear a wig that is hot and not me? Do I go with my own hair and look like a man with a crew cut, but wear it as a symbol of pride for a tough year? Do I wear a scarf that will hide my head but not the fact that I have no hair?

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French minister defends 'precious' right to sunbathe topless

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 08/25/2020 - 10:15

Gendarmes’ request for topless sunbathers to cover up on south coast prompts outcry

France’s interior minister has defended the “precious” right to sunbathe topless on beaches, after police asked a group of women to cover up on the southern coast.

French gendarmes patrolling a beach in Mediterranean seaside town Sainte-Marie-la-Mer last week asked a group of topless sunbathers to cover up in response to a complaint from a family, the local gendarmerie said in a statement on Facebook.

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Cervical cancer: minority ethnic women more likely to miss screenings in pandemic

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 08/25/2020 - 02:47

Study by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust finds almost 40% feel unsafe visiting surgeries

Minority ethnic women are less likely than white women to attend cervical cancer screenings, with four in 10 saying they would feel unsafe attending a doctor’s surgery as a result of the pandemic.

The findings in a study for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has revealed that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women are twice as likely (20%) to be strongly worried about contracting the virus at a cervical cancer screening than white women (9.4%). It also found that BAME women are a third more likely (39.6%) to feel unsafe visiting a doctor’s surgery at the moment than white women (27.2%).

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Cricketers in India pad up to push periods out of the shadows

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 08/24/2020 - 18:00

Niine’s sponsorship of Rajasthan Royals aims to help remove stigma around periods

When the Rajasthan Royals walk on to the pitch this September, it will mark more than a long awaited return of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket.

Emblazoned on the back of their purple jerseys will be the name Niine, making it the first time any Indian sports team has been sponsored by a sanitary towel brand.

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COVID-19: An Opportunistic Attack on Reproductive Health

Women's eNews - Sun, 08/23/2020 - 14:18

Entering her 50th year at Choices Women’s Medical Center, founder Merle Hoffman has witnessed a lot. Imagine launching a reproductive health center providing abortions two years before Roe v. Wade legalized it in 1973.

But it’s the COVID-19 pandemic, she says, that has been “one of the most, most challenging times that we’ve faced, I’ve faced.” 

She points to the challenges of navigating through new safety procedures, reduced volume and employee furloughs, but also to the anti-abortion protestors screaming outside her Queens, NY, medical center. They’ve not only maintained their presence throughout the pandemic, but also doubled in numbers, armed with graphic posters but failing to wear Center for Disease Control-recommended face masks. 

“Their attitude is that we’re vulnerable now and women are vulnerable so let’s harass and abuse them verbally even more,” Hoffman says. 

It’s a tactic witnessed around the country. In the early weeks of the pandemic, the governments of several conservative states saw an opportunity to roll back women’s reproductive rights. Women were already proving to be disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus, with financial insecurity and lack of childcare topping the issues, when 12 states deemed abortion a “non-essential” or “elective” procedure. Some governors and attorneys general argued that it would seize the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed by medical professionals in hospitals. Others insisted that the procedure could be delayed.

Their arguments aren’t supported by medical evidence. A statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and six other prominent medical organizations refuted this claim, stressing that “abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care” and should not be delayed.

“It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible,” the statement read. “The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being. …community-based and hospital-based clinicians should consider collaboration to ensure abortion access is not compromised during this time.”

However, abortion services in Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alaska, Iowa, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas were still for banned for weeks. Arkansas’s ban has yet to be overturned. Unchallenged by her local government, Hoffman never closed Choices. 

“It was immediately decided — I did anyway — that [we are] an essential service,” she says, “and there was no way I was closing down and would be in any way vulnerable to that kind of political playbook.” 

Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, noted that these states have a long history of digging for reasons to ban or limit abortions, calling the non-essential services mandate the latest excuse. 

“It had nothing to do with COVID,” she argues. “I was disgusted at the depth to which they would go to stop women and people who can get pregnant from doing what they know is best for themselves and their families. It’s disgusting to see them use a word like pandemic as an excuse to once again try to restrict abortions.” 

As Americans are urged to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19, and more medical providers are turning to telemedicine appointments to see and treat patients, there is an option for those seeking abortions that meets today’s restrictions and concerns — so long as politics stay out of it. Rather than go to a clinic for a surgical abortion, a woman choosing to end her pregnancy can get a medical abortion by taking two Food and Drug Administration-approved pills to induce a miscarriage at home. The pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, have been available for 20 years, Pearson adds. 

“It’s an option that’s safe, effective, and we do want more people to know about it,” she explains. “We know why people don’t, in part because it’s kind of hard to get. If something’s not widely available, you’re less likely to know about it.” 

The FDA tied Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) — meant for medications that are unsafe in some way — to mifepristone, one that requires it be administered in person by a specially certified provider, despite being approved to be taken at home. Jamila Perritt, a physician, activist and abortion provider in Washington, D.C., says the restrictions, which depending on the state can include additional state-signed forms, an ultrasound and two visits with a waiting period in between, are not grounded in medical or scientific evidence. Without them, she says she could simply, easily and safely write a prescription and call it into a patient’s local pharmacy. 

“The REMS that are tied to the abortion pill are not grounded in safety but in political ideology,” Perritt said. “It’s an attempt to restrict access to this medication in a way that doesn’t happen with any other medication. It’s singled out and treated differently simply because it’s used to provide abortion services.” 

As states placed limits on travel, business and regular outdoor functions — and in some places, as mentioned, surgical abortions — in the early weeks of the pandemic, the National Women’s Health Network saw a need for change. It started the #MailTheAbortionPill campaign in the first week of April to call on the FDA to not only lift its restrictions now, but also in a post-Coronavirus world, allowing medical professionals to mail the pill. Pregnant people then can “get the pill where they take the pill,” the campaign declares. 

“It’s just crazy to tell people, ‘Stay home, don’t get on a plane, don’t go to work, but get in your car and travel hours each way to pick up a pill you can take at home,’” Pearson said. “That’s why we launched it in a hurry.” 

While the campaign has yet to elicit a response from the FDA, it has helped bring about change in court. Last month, a federal judge in Maryland suspended the in-person requirement for the abortion pill during the pandemic, citing it as a “substantial obstacle” and allowing providers to mail it directly to patients, PBS News Hour reported. Pearson doesn’t take credit for the ruling — the National Women’s Health Network wasn’t a plaintiff in the lawsuit — but she believes their efforts, along with activism by the 21 attorneys general who organized a letter to the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services requesting that the Trump Administration have no involvement in the REMS designation, added to the change in climate, affecting the judge’s decision. 

The ruling was a win, albeit a short-term one, as the mail-in option will only be in place as long as there’s a public health emergency. Abigail Aiken, assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, is well-versed in the challenges women in Texas, especially in rural cities, seeking a medical abortion already faced before COVID-19, from how expensive it is (it’s not covered by most health insurance plans or Medicaid), to long travel time (96% of cities don’t have abortion providers), to overnight accommodations, to finding childcare. She was curious about the impact of the pandemic, a time when demand for abortion could be increasing due to financial instability, when one might struggle to get to or not even want to go to a clinic due to infection risk, when there were state bans on abortions (a policy move she called an “opportunistic attack on reproductive health”). 

In a study recently published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Aiken and a team of researchers found that COVID-19 and its barriers led more people to seek medical abortions outside of the formal healthcare setting, such as clinics and hospitals. Tracking data from Aid Access, an online telemedicine service where people can request and have a consultation for the medication abortion pill, which then gets mailed to them, found a 27% increase in the rate of requests across the US from March 20th to April 11th. 

Requests to Aid Access nearly doubled in states with the most COVID cases and those that tried to restrict abortion. New York, which was the hot spot at the time, saw a 60% increase. Texas, which had banned all abortions for about four weeks, saw a 94% increase; however, there are explicit state laws barring medication abortion by telemedicine. 

What’s so important about these findings, Aiken told Women’s eNews, is knowing that a remote medicine abortion model is possible. Just as dermatology has teleconsults, doctors in a clinic can prescribe the abortion pill and call it into a pharmacy. It’s how the United Kingdom responded to the pandemic — the region overhauled its policies and went fully remote, medical abortions included. 

“We see the demand for these remote services, and yet we don’t have the policy environment that allows us to do it,” she says. “I’m looking ahead and wondering what’s going to happen with the REMS decision, how it’s going to change things. I think we might see changes in some places, but those state-level restrictions are going to have to change.” 

The study’s data only comes from requests, however, and couldn’t hone in on how telemedicine abortions could disproportionately impact people of color and those in poverty, who are already marginalized and struggle to access abortion services.

“This cross between COVID and reproductive healthcare and racial inequity is an intersection that many of us have been living at for a long time and are grappling with for sure,” says Perritt. “My practice and the way that I provide care has always operated at these intersections, understanding that folks who are seeking reproductive health care are doing so in a vacuum. Decisions around whether or not to have a baby, to get pregnant, to have an abortion, or to use contraception are always grounded in the context in which people live. This moment in time, for so many of the folks that I care for in my community, is really a reminder that our lives are super complicated, and the things happening in the world, they shape the way we make decisions about our reproductive health, as well.”

All of these mandates, hoops and barriers are more likely to impact people with fewer resources. But COVID-19 is not the entity to blame for the threats to abortion.

“Certainly the COVID pandemic has exacerbated those things, but it’s important to understand that it didn’t create these barriers,” Perritt says. “The bigger threat to abortion access and clinic sustainability are these legislative practices that restrict care.”

About the writer: Alyssa Fisher, who recently earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism at the University of Florida, is a 2020 fellow in the Sy Syms Journalistic Excellence Program* at Women’s eNews, funded by the Sy Syms Foundation. The Sy Syms Journalistic Excellence Program at Women’s eNews fellowship supports editorial and development opportunities for editorial interns in the pursuit of journalistic excellence.

Sy Syms Journalistic Excellence Program:

The Sy Syms Journalistic Excellence program at Women’s eNews was launched in 2014 with support from the Sy Syms Foundation. The fellowship provides support and development opportunities for editorial interns in the pursuit of journalistic excellence.

“For a democracy to flourish all voices must be heard.” says Marcy Syms, a founding Trustee and President of the Sy Syms Foundation. “Through its investigative reporting Women’s eNews gets at the essence of good journalism. The Sy Syms Foundation is proud of this collaboration to support today’s newest women journalists.”

As part of its mission to create social change for women and girls through investigative reporting, Women’s eNews helps foster, train, and support the career development of new journalists with a focus on social justice and women’s rights.

Stephanie Yeboah: ‘How I learned to stop using my body as a punch bag’

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 08/22/2020 - 21:00

As a plus-size black woman, Stephanie Yeboah has faced decades of racism and fat phobia. Here the author of Fattily Ever After reveals how she overcame prejudice to accept herself – and live with confidence

Let me paint the scene. It’s October 2019. I’m on a deserted beach in St Lucia, on a work trip with other influencers. It’s a balmy 38C and I’m wearing a duo-toned glitter bikini underneath a yellow beach skirt. In a moment of sheer spontaneity, I rip off the skirt and run into the sea. To most people, this would be an everyday response to hitting the beach, but for me it was an act of emancipation; a decision, made in the moment, that I would never let the opinions of others hold power over my body and my self-esteem. It was an attempt to stick two fingers up at “bikini body” culture – the idea that in order to wear a bikini, or to feel confident at the beach, you need to present as super slim. Here I was in this fat body – in a bikini nonetheless – having fun, feeling free, unapologetically me. It felt exhilarating.

It had taken many years to get to this point. Until the age of eight or nine, I had been a happy, active child. I was a bit taller and bigger than other kids, sure, but it had mostly been a non-issue for me, until I started to be made aware of my weight by my dad. He would frequently snatch away my plate in the middle of a meal and comment on how much bigger my arms and legs were getting.

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First ladies: voices of reason and compassion, central to US politics today

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 08/22/2020 - 20:22

Michelle Obama’s powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention showed how the roles of leaders’ wives are more important than ever

Michelle Obama may think that Donald Trump “cannot meet this moment”, but she has proved without a doubt that she can.

When Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) last week, she pleaded for Americans to vote for Joe Biden like their “lives depend on it”. She used her recent history as America’s “mom-in-chief” to make her case in what was the most talked-about speech of the convention. And she made clear that first ladies have enormous platforms, if they choose to use them.

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Hello, Harriet: how the pandemic has led me back to an old friend, and my young self | Kate Cole-Adams

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 08/22/2020 - 10:00

In a world without coronavirus, there are conversations that might never have happened. Their nature, too, is different

  • This is part of a series of essays by Australian writers responding to the challenges of 2020

Early on the morning of my 59th birthday I carry a mug across the backyard and into the studio to wait for Harriet. We haven’t been in the same country in nearly a decade, but through the alignment of datelines and digital technology we create a nest of impossible time: me in Melbourne (PJs, Ugg boots, celebratory cup of tea); she at her kitchen table in Devon, England, late evening on the second anniversary of the day her husband took himself to the highest point in the small town where they had loved each other for 20 years, and jumped.

I’ve known Harriet since I was 11. She was friends with Jo whose twin sister was friends with me. We all lived around the corner from each other in Islington, London, where my father was posted for five years as correspondent for Melbourne’s Age newspaper. I’d seen her around and had a vague idea that she might be a bit annoying. Certainly, she was exuberant (the great wide smile; the sense of all of her bounding forward at once). My reserve lasted until we found we were enrolled in the same secondary school, at which point our parents arranged a get-together and we fell in love.

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Uganda court rules government must prioritise maternal health in 'huge shift'

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 01:29

Ruling is result of lawsuit filed over deaths in childbirth of two women due to staff negligence and lack of facilities

Health rights activists in Uganda have welcomed a landmark court ruling that the government should increase its health budget to ensure women receive decent maternal healthcare services.

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed in 2011 over the deaths in childbirth of two women – Jennifer Anguko and Sylvia Nalubowa – in a public health facility.

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Selective abortion in India could lead to 6.8m fewer girls being born by 2030

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 08/20/2020 - 19:30

New study shows preference for a son is highest in north of country with Uttar Pradesh having highest deficit in female births

An estimated 6.8 million fewer female births will be recorded across India by 2030 because of the persistent use of selective abortions, researchers estimate.

Academics from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia projected the sex ratio at birth in 29 Indian states and union territories, covering almost the entire population, taking into account each state’s desired sex ratio at birth and the population’s fertility rates.

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The one thing that has helped me this year: radical self-acceptance | Bidisha

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 08/19/2020 - 03:18

During lockdown I embraced my spinsterhood and turned my back for ever on the pressure to pursue self-improvement and adventure. It has been a genuine relief

During lockdown, opportunities to make new friends have been limited. However, I did encounter one special person who caused me to rethink the way I see everything. Yes: I finally met myself.

2020 has been a wonderful training in mindful self-acceptance, the realistic surrender of hope and total subjugation to one’s circumstances. I celebrated turning 42 in late July by doing nothing, and with no psychological kickback. Three cups of tea, lunch and dinner, 12 hours of internet surfing that left no impression, a workout and bed. Same as every day since mid-March.

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Natasha Stott Despoja urges Coalition to apply 'gender lens' to pandemic recovery

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 08/18/2020 - 21:30

Our Watch chair and former Australian Democrats leader says federal budget must strengthen women’s economic security, which will help reduce the ‘shadow pandemic’ of violence against women

The Morrison government must apply a “gender lens” when it draws up the next federal budget because the pandemic has disproportionately harmed women, Natasha Stott Despoja has said.

Australia’s candidate to the United Nations committee on the elimination of discrimination against women called on the government to look beyond “shovel-ready” stimulus projects and to support female-dominated, low-paid sectors at the frontline of the pandemic response in the budget in October.

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Women's eNews - Tue, 08/18/2020 - 10:45
With Gloria Steinem, Letitia James, The Chicks, Indigo Girls, Vanessa Williams & more!

Millennials are exploring motherhood – in a new generation of books | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 08/16/2020 - 02:00

Subtle, intelligent novels by women including Avni Doshi and Sophie Mackintosh look at giving birth in an unstable world

My mother says that, with feminism, each generation has to reinvent the wheel. I see this as her generous way of saying that, essentially, there are no new struggles, just as they say that there are really only seven kinds of plot in fiction. Finding your feminism can make you temporarily evangelical; it certainly did me, in the aftermath of an assault. The world burned with injustice that I wanted to correct, and though my mother knew these injustices well, just as many women had before her, she gave me the space to draw my own conclusions, to find my own model of social justice. She passed on the baton, but then she let me run with it.

The fourth wave of feminism has been eventful, and as a political ideology it has become mainstream like never before. As would be expected in a world governed by corporate interests, its commodification has caused many of us to feel conflicted. This latest incarnation of feminism, led by young women who use technology to mobilise around the issue of female equality, began when I was a student and I am now in my early 30s. It maybe came too late for many of my peers, who had babies as teenagers or in their very early 20s; perhaps because of the class demographic that tends to have the education and resources to invest its time in doing feminism, this generation is only now really beginning to concern itself with the prospect of motherhood.

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Book of the Week: With or Without You

Women's eNews - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 15:14

by Caroline Leavitt

The night before a big break, an aging troubled rocker argues with his longtime lover, the two of them drinking and taking a pill. In the morning he wakes and she doesn’t, going into coma. When she emerges, her personality is radically different, causing huge changes for herself, for him, and for the young doctor caring for her.

Chapter 1 (Excerpt)

Disaster. Everywhere he looked, when he thought of flying, he saw disaster.

His suitcase lay open on the table, a jumble of dark clothing. Hers was on the floor, everything in tight rolls, more than enough for the week she was taking off from her nursing job at the hospital to go with him. He was staring at her the way he would if he didn’t know her, which he’d been doing more and more lately, something that unnerved her so much that she wanted to shake him, point to herself, and say, I’m right here. All you have to do is look.

She took another sip of wine, just to calm herself, maybe to add some heat to her body, to stop the queasiness rolling through her. Outside, it was another freezing February New York City winter, the snow blazing down in sheets against the windows and layering over the sidewalks. There was a blizzard advisory for an accumulation of twelve inches, complete with school closings and warnings for the elderly and the infirm to stay inside. It was the main reason they were here tonight in the apartment. The airports were closed, and their flight to California wouldn’t be rescheduled until tomorrow night at the earliest. The weather was too snowy for them to drive, plus they didn’t have enough time.

Simon’s band was once successful, but that was twenty years ago, when she had first met him and he was just twenty-two himself and his band was riding high with Simon’s megahit song, “Charlatan Eyes.” Simon didn’t even really sing back then; he was just harmony and played bass guitar to the lead singer Rob’s aching wail. Once, Stella had even heard the song as Muzak in an elevator at Macy’s, and while everyone else in the elevator seemed to ignore it, she flushed with pleasure. Over the years, the band still played for decent-sized audiences and recorded a few more albums. A few more songs got some play, and Simon began to sing more of his own songs, but the band didn’t build, the audiences and the stages their manager booked became smaller, and the awards they were all so desperate for never arrived.

Caroline Leavitt  is a New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You, Is This Tomorrow, and Cruel Beautiful World. With or Without You was also named:
One of Popsugar‘s “Incredible Books of August”
One of Bustle’s Best Books of the Week
One of AARP’s Best Books of August
Publisher’s Weekly Fall Book of Note.

'We’re living like it’s not happening': Michelle Obama opens up about menopause

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 14:16

The former first lady used her podcast to also draw attention to other issues affecting women such as weight, ageing and image

Michelle Obama made a point of breaking taboos about women’s health in the latest episode of her new podcast, talking about going through menopause in the workplace, weight, ageing and image.

In a conversation with Sharon Malone, a longtime friend and Washington DC-based obstetrician and gynecologist, the former first lady shared a story about having a hot flash while on Marine One, the presidential helicopter, before an event with then-president Barack Obama.

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Elif Shafak: ‘We need to tell different stories, to humanise the other’

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 08/12/2020 - 22:00

History has shown that hate doesn’t start with concentration camps or civil war. It always starts with words

• Time to reset: more brilliant ideas to remake the world

The year 2020 hasn’t solely been defined by the pandemic, rising unemployment, deepening economic inequalities and a critical time for the climate emergency. There has also been an alarming increase in hate crimes across the world.

In Poland, LGBTQ communities have become enemy number one. In Hungary, neo-Nazi crowds organise demonstrations to expel the Roma communities. More than half of the hate crimes in New York last year targeted Jewish citizens. In Germany, there has been a dangerous increase in attacks against minorities and refugees. In the UK, Home Office figures indicate a surge in hate crimes, including those against sexual minorities and transgender citizens. In Turkey, Brazil and India, a dangerous form of dogmatism continues to brew. All these seemingly disparate events have one fundamental thing in common: a systematic hatred of and bias against people who are regarded as different; the dehumanisation of the “other”.

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COVID-19’s Impact on Women of Color: August Update

Women's eNews - Wed, 08/12/2020 - 16:42

The COVID-19 pandemic has been claiming countless lives across the United States, regardless of age, race, or social status. Yet people of color have been shown to be disproportionately impacted ever since coronavirus cases and deaths began to surge in mid-March. Now, five months later, not much has changed.


  • 1 in 1,250 Black Americans has died (or 80.4 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 1,500 Indigenous Americans has died (or 66.8 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 1,700 Pacific Islander Americans has died (or 58.7 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 2,200 Latino Americans has died (or 45.8 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 2,800 White Americans has died (or 35.9 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 3,000 Asian Americans has died (or 33.1 deaths per 100,000)

This is particularly problematic for women of color, who often play a crucial role in maintaining the economic stability of their families. According to the Center for American Progress, 67.5% of African American mothers and 41.4% of Latina mothers are the primary breadwinners in their families, compared to only 37% of white mothers. 

“The largest number of single mothers in this country are women of color,” says Mona Sinha, a member of the Board of Directors of Women Moving Millions, a leading non-profit, “They have to make larger investments in their families with much lower income. So, who suffers in this case? It is the mother, the sister, or the daughter in the family who has to make personal sacrifices to make sure everybody else is taken care of.”

To effect future changes and policies, it is important to understand some of the reasons why women of color are being impacted at higher rates by the virus.  

Statistics from the Center for American Progress:

The charts above demonstrate that women of color are primarily employed in fields where they are more apt to be exposed to the Coronavirus. For example, essential and domestic workers like nursing assistants, home health care providers, grocery store cashiers, domestic workers, and childcare providers are primarily women of color. Further, threats to their health are compounded by their challenges in attaining health insurance from their employers due to the fields in which they are primarily employed.

“Around healthcare, the impact of COVID is a health issue that showed that the health disparities that existed before just got worse, made people more vulnerable and more susceptible to COVID, and increased the chances of dying from COVID,” says Ana Olivera, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation. “Healthcare has been a long conversation in this country. The best that we could get was health insurance associated with employment. But health insurance needs to be associated with just being alive. This is the time for policies that provide universal health care access. They have to exist.”

Women of color also face inequities regarding their living and working conditions. For example, according to the National League of Cities, low-income women of color are particularly cost-burdened and face higher rates of eviction. Further, occupational segregation has resulted in Black and Latinx people being overrepresented in low-wage jobs, which often cannot be transitioned to remote work despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You have so many women who are doing nursing care,” says Seher Khawaja, Senior Attorney for Economic Empowerment at Legal Momentum in New York City. “Those women who have been called to the front lines have been exposing themselves and putting their health at risk. They were already making inadequate pay, but now the risks you’re asking women to take on are substantially higher. They’re exposing their whole families by going to work every day,” Seher continues.

The pandemic has also brought to light the issue of unequal pay, benefits, and support within the trans women of color communities. “The loss of income during COVID and the inability to access government help has deeply impacted trans people disproportionately,” says Imara Jones, creator of TransLash and The Last Sip. “I think there’s been a response from mutual aid societies to assist trans communities in helping them figure out how to get cash, how to get food, and how to get rent assistance to those people directly.”

When it comes to the recently enacted COVID-19 laws (i.e. The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security CARES ActThe Families First Coronavirus Response ActThe Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act) , too many essential workers, including healthcare providers, emergency responders, grocery store clerks, undocumented immigrants, etc., were excluded from the relief package.  “While it was great to see quick movement on federal legislation to provide what should have already been there; paid sick time, paid emergency, and paid leave to care for family members due to various different COVID related events,” Khawaja says, “What we saw was that it excluded way too many workers who are most vulnerable.”

“If you look at how women of color and, particularly, the trans women of color community, the pandemic has really shone a bright light on the unequal treatment people receive in this country,” Sinha adds.

About the writer: Simone Soublet, a communications and journalism studies student at Loyola Marymount University, is a 2020 fellow in the Sy Syms Journalistic Excellence Program* at Women’s eNews, funded by the Sy Syms Foundation. The Sy Syms Journalistic Excellence Program at Women’s eNews fellowship supports editorial and development opportunities for editorial interns in the pursuit of journalistic excellence.

Sy Syms Journalistic Excellence Program

The Sy Syms Journalistic Excellence program at Women’s eNews was launched in 2014 with support from the Sy Syms Foundation. The fellowship provides support and development opportunities for editorial interns in the pursuit of journalistic excellence.

“For a democracy to flourish all voices must be heard.” says Marcy Syms, a founding Trustee and President of the Sy Syms Foundation. “Through its investigative reporting Women’s eNews gets at the essence of good journalism. The Sy Syms Foundation is proud of this collaboration to support today’s newest women journalists.”

As part of its mission to create social change for women and girls through investigative reporting, Women’s eNews helps foster, train, and support the career development of new journalists with a focus on social justice and women’s rights.

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