Women's News from the Web

Women with master's degrees paid less than men without them in England

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 04:57

Black graduates also paid significantly less on average than white peers, data shows

Women in England with postgraduate degrees still earn less than men with only bachelor’s degrees, while salaries for graduate men are growing at a faster pace than for their female peers, according to the latest official data on graduate earnings.

The figures from the Department for Education’s graduate labour market statistics show that women with postgraduates degrees, including master’s degrees and doctorates, earn a median pay of £37,000 a year. But men with first degrees earned an average of £38,500 in 2018, while men holding postgraduate degrees were paid £43,000.

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Northern Ireland’s abortion laws are an abomination. Westminster must step in | Polly Toynbee

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 03:23
The government must heed a select committee report – and end the brutal, primitivist treatment of women in the region

They were all there: Northern Ireland’s DUP and Sinn Féin leaders, side by side with the Good Friday agreement’s guarantors, the British and Irish prime ministers. All were gathered at the funeral of the journalist Lyra McKee. “Why in God’s name,” asked Fr Martin Magill, had it taken her death to bring them together? But his exasperated tone implied he didn’t expect a political miracle.

Related: Northern Ireland abortion case hears traumatic experience

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Climate change and sexual harassment top list of girls' concerns

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 13:01

Young women and girls also worry about bullying and gender stereotypes, Girlguiding research finds

Climate change and tackling sexual harassment are the biggest worries for girls and young women, a major research project has found.

The Girlguiding organisation consulted 76,000 of its UK members aged from four to 25. It found that bullying, gender stereotypes and pressures to look a certain way were also among their primary concerns.

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Ministers accused of inaction over Northern Ireland abortion rights

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 13:00

MPs say government must provide clarity on legal situation for women

Ministers must act urgently to address human rights breaches faced by women in Northern Ireland who seek an abortion, according to a damning report from a cross-party committee of MPs.

The women and equalities committee accuses the government of failing to tackle challenges identified by a UN committee on women’s rights last year, which found “systematic violations”.

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Can Women Save The World?

Women's eNews - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:45

Can women save the world? By looking at the life Edna Adan Ismail, Somaliland’s former Foreign Minister and former First Lady, the answer would be a resounding, “YES.” Labeled the ‘Muslim Mother Teresa,’ Edna has taken everything she learned through these prominent positions to save the lives of untold numbers of women and children.

Edna Adan Ismail

As the current director and founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, her mission is to help improve the health of the local inhabitants and, even more urgently, to decrease Somaliland’s extreme levels of maternal and infant mortality, which are among the highest in the world. This non-profit making charity and midwifery teaching hospital, which Edna built from scratch, is also training student nurses and other health professionals. “I am just doing what needs to be done,” Edna says, reflecting on her decision in 1998 to sell her home and car, as well as donate her U.N. pension, to fund the hospital.

Edna Adan Maternity Hospital

Officially opened on March 9, 2002, the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital was built on land donated to her by the regional government at a site formerly used as a garbage dump. The region lacked trained midwives/nurses to staff the hospital – as most had either fled the country or been killed during the Somali Civil War, which destroyed Somaliland’s entire health infrastructure. Edna recruited more than 30 candidates and began training them while the hospital was still under construction. Now completed, it houses two operating rooms, a laboratory, a library, a computer center and a university dedicated to training nurses and midwives as well as other health professionals. As of 2018, the university hospital has grown to 200 staff members and 1500 students. “Due to our training, our country now has the largest number of midwives per capita, and we have been able to reduce infant mortality significantly,” Edna says proudly. The hospital’s historical survival rate is 75% higher than the national average.

This facility is also the address where Edna calls home, having moved into the only room that had a door and a shower/toilet during construction. “I was born into this,” she says, recalling that, as a child, “the problems of the world came to my father’s door.” Edna witnessed her father, a prominent physician, display compassion, generosity and devotion to his patients throughout her childhood. “His patients came before his own needs,” she recalls. “I brought this level of dedication to my diplomatic career, and now to this hospital.”

The first woman Minister of Social Affairs (August 2002 – June 2003), Edna then became Foreign Minister, and found she was able to more powerfully present the case for supporting Somaliland not only as a diplomat, but as a woman. “Being a woman, I am allowed to be forceful and angry and show sorrow for my people. I am allowed to express pain and sorrow and anger. I can be motherly and I can be tenacious. I can also shed a tear or two,” Edna adds. “I can also share emotions I feel by witnessing the pain and Injustice my country has suffered.” Further, as the Foreign Minister of Somaliland, Edna purposely hosts delegations at the hospital. “I do this so that I can prove to everyone that if this site is good enough for my patients, it is also good enough for me to live in, and it is also good enough for those who wish to associate with me.” As the only woman in the delegation, she has also had to remind other dignitaries that she is the head of the delegation. “If I bang on a table or shed a tear, don’t try to appease me, I tell them. When I express anger, don’t tell me to cool down,’ she continues. “Don’t try to impose a different emotion to what I am expressing at that moment. I will know when I want to cool down, and I will tell you what I need. If I wish to show my emotions, it is because I have chosen to do so.”

Yet one of the most memorable stories she tells is of an experience that occurs time and time again, and often just before a woman is about to die. “Since a woman in our society does not have the authority to sign for her own surgery when requiring a Caesarean section, she must have a male (father, husband, brother or son) do it for her. Sometimes, when we tell the husband that we must have his consent immediately (because of a time-sensitive emergency) or his wife will die, he will refuse, or will want to wait to decide. But we cannot afford to wait. So I summon a policeman, and on the back of the form I write, ‘I want my wife to die, ‘ when she is in danger of dying without the  surgical intervention that she needs. I then ask him if he wants to sign that instead. The husband approves the surgery for a C-section every single time. If not,” Edna adds, “I would have taken the risk and signed it myself, which could cause me to go to prison if his wife did not survive the surgery. Fortunately, no one has ever called my bluff.”

Yet it doesn’t stop there. “My battle against female genital mutilation (FGM) has been the biggest battle of my life,” Edna says. A victim of FGM herself, she was the first woman to speak out against it. “These young girls have survived measles, whooping cough, chronic diarrhea and other life-threatening diseases, and when they reach the age of seven or eight, when they are learning to jump and learn and talk…they are subjected to FGM.” “It is not only cutting. It is total mutilation!” she adds. Edna believes that fathers have to be educated about the dangers of FGM as well, so she is working on publishing an animated book about it since so many in her country cannot read.

Based upon so many of Edna’s accomplishments, one would think there wouldn’t be anything she could fail at. But there is. “I want to get my country internationally recognized. That is my unfinished book,” she says. “The world is losing the presence of a democratic country in Somaliland.  We have managed to demobilize our militia with our own resources, we have a functioning, democratically elected government and we generate all taxes from our own country. While the international community is spending billions of dollars to try to bring peace in Somalia, they are ignoring the peace we have already achieved in Somaliland. We gain from peace and stability,” she adds, “They gain from lawlessness.” 

About the author: Lori Sokol, PhD, is Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of Women’s eNews. Her book, #SheIsMe: How Women Can Save The World, will be published in the Spring, 2020.


'It's not a little child': gynecologists join the fight against six-week abortion bans

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 19:00

Doctors argue that the bans, known as ‘fetal heartbeat’ bills, are medically inaccurate and use misleading language

High-profile gynecologists are criticizing the framing of six-week abortion bans, known as “fetal heartbeat” bills, as medically inaccurate.

The bans, now moving through nearly a dozen state legislatures, propose the strictest limitations on the right to abortion as established by the US supreme court case Roe v Wade in 1973.

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Birth, breastfeeding, and women’s choices | Letters

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 07:23

I salute women who wait to have children, writes Roz Treadway. Plus responses from Jan Dubé and Kirtana Chandrasekaran to Zoe Williams’ criticism of breastfeeding campaigners

Zeynep Gurtin (The myths behind late motherhood, Journal, 18 April) omits one reason why there appears to be atrend for women to leave having babies until their late 30s/early 40s: that in their 20s and early 30s they may not have decided whether they want children at all, rather than just delaying having them. They may be enjoying life free of the ties and responsibility of children, working at jobs they love and have studied for and struggled to obtain – jobs they know will be touched by having children in ways that a man’s career won’t.

Women are more than their biological ability to give birth, and I salute those who choose to explore and reach their own potential before deciding if they want to undertake the huge task of producing and raising another human being.
Roz Treadway
Sheringham, Norfolk

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If even Beyoncé had a rough pregnancy, what hope do other black women have? | Derecka Purnell

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 02:13

A USA Today report showed black mothers suffer severe complications twice as often as white women

Last week, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter premiered Homecoming on Netflix. Three homegirls and I were glued on the navy sectional, journeying with Mrs Carter through her love for black colleges, black people and black music. I’d seen the Coachella performance well over 50 times, memorizing the Getting to the Money routine for a dance challenge I never posted online. But this documentary included commentary and showcased her work ethic and diet, including the battle with her body during and after her second pregnancy with twins.

“I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth. I had an extremely difficult pregnancy. I had high blood pressure. I developed toxemia, pre-eclampsia,” Knowles-Carter explained. “… [O]ne of my babies’ hearts paused a few times, so I had to get an emergency C-section.”

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Japanese city gets its first ever female politician

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 21:59

Misuzu Ikeda becomes first assemblywoman in Tarumizu as record numbers of women elected nationwide

Misuzu Ikeda has struck a rare blow for Japanese women in politics by becoming the first female candidate to be elected to the local assembly in the southern city of Tarumizu.

Ikeda hugged supporters on Sunday night when she finished third out of 17 candidates for the 14-seat assembly in Tarumizu, which is officially recognised as a city despite its relatively small population of 15,000.

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The ‘breast is best’ lobby has left women feeling judged and unworthy | Zoe Williams

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 19:00

The strife-torn National Childbirth Trust’s stance on birth and breastfeeding has been rigid and divisive

In a dramatic public letter to all National Childbirth Trust (NCT) stakeholders – it finishes, “please keep on keeping on, if you can” – its president Seána Talbot has resigned. There is clearly a lot of personal chagrin (Talbot talks of coercion, bullying, a toxic culture, mistrust between staff and volunteers) which would be unfair to adjudicate from a distance. She laments the organisation losing members – a drop of 55% since 2016 – although doesn’t mention that since 2015 it has not been obligatory to become a member in order to take the prenatal classes.

However, competitors have sprung up in the prenatal business, organisations parents-to-be prefer because they’re less expensive and less doctrinaire: in many ways, the surprising thing is that the NCT dominance lasted so long, given that for years the trust has been known for its fierce views on the “medicalisation” of childbirth. Women came away with the idea that epidurals were for wimps, caesarean sections meant you had failed, and the Syntocinon injection was only for the kind of weakling who couldn’t eject a placenta with the power of her mind. To be fair, 60 years ago, this started as the “natural” not “national” childbirth trust.

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Sex and the single doll - archive, 23 April 1968

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 18:30

23 April 1968 Prejudice against the boys’ doll has been overcome with dolls shaped like young men, anatomically ‘all there’

Writing about the martial emphasis of the boys’ dolls and their equipment last year I commented that only a large toy firm could swing the emphasis away from modern destruction through a different kind of wardrobe. I did not expect a reaction. But Palitoy, no less, the makers of Action Man were thinking on the same lines though perhaps for a different reason. Their designers produced several historical uniforms, spectacular items such as a knight in armour and a crusader, also some sportsmen’s outfits – both themes which had been suggested to me by mothers. The prototypes were tried out on a large panel of schoolboys. The young consumers showed no interest in the past. They voted only for the modern sports clothes. So at least these will be available in the shops for parents who give in to the purchase of boys’ dolls with the proviso “no military equipment.”

Related: Kenbod: Barbie's boyfriend gets a new look – and a new body – for 2017

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Sexual dysfunction cuts risk 'leaving thousands in UK without help'

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 04/21/2019 - 20:00

Women especially affected, with relationships and ability to conceive impacted, say experts

Cuts to sexual dysfunction services risk leaving thousands of people without help for problems that can affect their wellbeing, relationships and ability to conceive, the Guardian can reveal.

Experts say funding cuts to sexual health clinics and clinical commissioning groups have led to the decommissioning of services that tackle sexual dysfunction. This, they say, is leaving men and women with dwindling support for problems ranging from erectile trouble to pain during sex – a situation that not only impacts people’s quality of life, but could mean they miss their chance to start a family.

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#MeToo in the Garment Industry

Women's eNews - Sun, 04/21/2019 - 13:06

Chances are that the clothes you are wearing as you read this were made by a woman. Chances are that she lives in Asia and migrated from a rural area to a big city to work in a garment factory, a job she considers better than anything she could find in her hometown. Chances are also that at this “good” job she is not making a living wage, is experiencing some form of harassment or violence, and fears being fired. 

Approximately 75 percent of the world’s garment workers are women, making the fashion industry a powerful employer with a powerful economic force. Valued at 2.4 trillion, the fashion industry would be the globe’s seventh largest economy if ranked alongside countries’ GDPs. Despite the industry’s profitability, its workers are among the least protected or compensated. A garment worker in Delhi compared their low and inconsistent pay rates “like we are vegetables; our prices vary.”  Pervasive gender discrimination on top of garment workers’ temporary work status leaves women workers vulnerable economically and physically.

Female garment workers sort through fabric in a factory located outside of of Dhaka, Bangladesh on October 2, 2018. According to Human Rights Watch, sexual harassment in garment factories in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Burma, and Pakistan were rife with abuse, legal protections did not exist or were weakly enforced, and efforts to audit factories or monitor for harassment were ineffective.

Six years ago the world awoke to one of the acute dangers in the fashion industry when Rana Plaza – an eight-story building housing clothing factories – collapsed in Bangladesh, killing over 1,000 people and injuring 2,500 others. It was the deadliest garment factory accident in history.

Since the factory housed a number of US and European brands, the magnitude of the tragedy led to a groundswell of activism. Following global protests and outcry, global brands signed two agreements mandating more robust fire and structural safety standards in factories.

Gender-based violence at work

Still, structural building hazards are far from the most pervasive dangers women face in the garment industry. One of the most insidious threats to women garment workers is gender-based violence. This takes many forms, from outright sexual violence and harassment to physical abuse, inappropriate touching, and verbal abuse. Despite the #MeToo movement, however, we yet to hear their stories, but women’s-rights organizations and activists are working to change that.

Organizations of women garment workers are looking to spark change

At Global Fund for Women, we support some of the organizations working with women garment workers through an initiative funded by C&A Foundation and NoVo Foundation, to eradicate gender-based violence and empower women garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Vietnam. These women-led organizations are creating safe spaces for the women workers to come together to share their experiences, document abuse, and strengthen their leadership to advocate for their rights. Through increasing mobilization and organizing, women are being encouraged to join and lead trade unions; police and labor officials are being sensitized on the issue; and through negotiations with factory managers, mechanisms for safe reporting and response and being created inside the factories.

These organizations, and others are helping to build an understanding and awareness of what sexual abuse and harassment is for both the women workers and factory management. They are gathering documentation of the cases and data on how widespread gender-based workplace violence is for evidence-based advocacy.

Social norms and the pervasiveness of gender-based violence can prohibit it from being recognized as such. Further, the shame and stigma associated with harassment, particularly sexual harassment, and fear of reprisals at work prevent women from making formal complaints despite its high prevalence.Still, we know that in India 60 percent of female factory workers reported experiencing some type of harassment. In Bangladesh, 75 percent of women garment workers experienced verbal abuse, and 20 percent experienced physical abuse, according to Fair Wear Foundation.  

Maheen Sultan of Naripokkho, a women-led organization that began working with female garment workers after the Rana Plaza disaster, explained, “This is such an important area to establish women’s rights, with more women coming into the formal sector and with all the different kinds of rights violations taking place.”  She also emphasized that living free from violence is a predicate for establishing other rights. “Gender-based violence is not isolated to factories, or localized to workplaces; it’s woven throughout the lives of women. They experience it when they travel to work on public transit, in schools, and often at home,” Maheen says.

Change in progress

Change is slow, but there are encouraging signs. From grassroots to policy, the number of women leaders and members of the trade unions are growing; India law has mandated Internal Complaint Committees at the workplace; Cambodia is negotiating an industry-wide collective bargaining agreement; factories in Bangladesh are partnering with women’s rights organizations to allow worker trainings on sexual harassment; and a new and pending International Labor Organization (ILO) convention on ending violence and harassment in the world of work – the first international standard of its kind – is expected to be voted on in June. An international universal definition on harassment and violence in the world of work planned at the ILO convention in June) would set the stage for its ratification and the development of national policies and laws.

Change is possible and will require political will, as shown in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse. It will also demand a human rights commitment from consumers, factories, brands, and governments. Above all, it will require the courage and voices of women garment workers and activists.

Sonia Wazed, of the Society for Labour and Development in India, explained, “Developing women leaders to claim their rights and that of their fellow members is a long drawn journey where women need to start questioning their perceptions of patriarchy, how it impacts them as workers, and why they need to challenge the existing norms that repress and violate their rights.”

About the author: Sangeeta Chowdhry is the Senior Program Director for Economic Justice at Global Fund for Women. She has worked on women’s empowerment and rights over the past decade with a focus on economic and environmental justice issues.

Breaking up is hard to do – divorce reforms would make it easier

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 21:59

The institution of marriage shouldn’t look like a Victorian mental asylum, not built for modern life

I would like to be taught how to fight. Not boxing or karate or anything you need a costume for, just lessons in common basic argument, between people who love each other. New York magazine interviewed a collection of couples, asking what they wish their partner would say in a fight. “What I need him to say is: ‘Yes, [my family] are assholes and they are snobs and I can’t imagine how much it sucks to hang out with them when you’re not biologically obligated to, but please, I need you there with me, and I’ll buy you a huge thank-you present for it.’” I wanted a stream of these truths, hooked straight to a vein. “She said I was disempowering her in front of her children and taking her voice away. I wish she said: ‘Shit, you know what? You’re right. I took it too far. I’ll check myself next time.’” MORE. “I just snapped. I said, ‘If I miscarry, it’s because you didn’t take good care of me.’ He was, like, ‘You are awful. Listen to what you just said…’ I wanted him to say, ‘Jesus Christ, get off your feet right now. You’re not lifting a finger until we know this pregnancy is healthy. I forbid you from taking any risks because I love you and our future baby too much.’” Raw, irrational, so real they sting like menthol shower gel, and reason enough, if more reason was needed, to question why we tie ourselves together, and in knots, and forever.

The current iteration of divorce requires formally trash-talking the person you once loved

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My oldest friend is invading my space – now even at work | Dear Mariella

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 19:00

She’s crossing lines and you need to let her know, says Mariella Frostrup. It’s high time you two talked

The dilemma I have a good friend I have known since before I could walk. We were at school and college together and share many friends. Our parents and older siblings are friends, too. We also lived together for years, although I moved out recently. This woman is charming, charismatic, very clever and funny. She lights up a room. But over the past few years, I have found her increasingly difficult. She dominates every social situation. But because we’re considered a double act and I am more introverted, I feel like the lesser of two halves. I find myself shrinking. She constantly repeats things I’ve told her in confidence. From when I was young, she’s put down friends I make independently of her. Now I have just found out she wants to apply for a job where I work. I’m very upset. It’s a small company and we’d have to work together closely. I know this would be toxic. When we lived together, I poured a lot of energy into work. That space felt untouchable. Now she’s trying to move in on it and I feel very angry.

Mariella replies Me too! Friends are only friends as long as they act like them. There’s no point maintaining an intimate relationship with somebody who doesn’t have your welfare at the forefront of their priorities. There are plenty of acquaintances and strangers who can rustle up a put-down, break your trust, envy your success or relish your failures. A friend does none of these and the minute they do it’s time to re-evaluate your union.

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Why are airlines so keen on the fantasy of the Mile-High Barbie? | Barbara Ellen

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 07:36
Flying might still be an adventure but we can do without the retro presentation

How did it come to this – women required to produce a sick note because they’ve been struck down by… unsexiness? It seems that Norwegian Air requires female flight attendants to wear heels, or have a note from the doctor – other rules cover everything from makeup to false eyelashes.

How mortifying for Norway: in 2018, the country was rated second for equality, after Iceland, in the Global Gender Gap report. Norwegian politician Anette Trettebergstuen said: “1950 rang, and it wants its rulebook back.” Norwegian Air responded that flat shoes are worn in the cabin, there are also dress guidelines for male stewards, and other airlines have similar rules – but it must be aware that last month, Virgin ditched requirements for heels and makeup, with others following suit.

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This much I know | Nadya Tolokonnikova, Pussy Riot

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 03:00

The Pussy Riot co-founder, 29, on talking politics with her daughter, how prison changed her and her capitalist phase

I went through a capitalist phase because of my mother. In the 90s, when our economy collapsed, we lost everything. My mum started to do all of these crazy businesses. She was selling cosmetics and I would attend seminars on how to sell your product even though you know they’re useless.

It sucks to write a song and think, “How many years could I get for this?” Two or three times a week, I have nightmares about being in prison again.

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Nancy Pelosi shows no restraint on disparaging young progressive women | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 02:00

The House speaker refused to comment on Trump while traveling, but has been openly critical of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar

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

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A topless photo ruined this teacher's career. Now she's speaking out

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 19:00

Lauren Miranda says what should have been an innocuous photo spun out of control – and would have a different outcome for a man in her position

Lauren Miranda’s nightmare began as a school day like any other. She was teaching math during first period at Bellport middle school on Long Island, New York, when she received a text from a friend in another building. There was a nude photo going around, and kids were saying it was her.

“I just thought it was impossible,” Miranda told the Guardian. “I was almost offended that she thought it was a picture of me.”

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'The swag is limitless': why Beyoncé's Beychella Homecoming is so radical | Candice Carty-Williams

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 01:08

The singer’s Coachella concert documentary reveals her intimate humanity, celebrates the culture that built her, ousts stereotypes and redefines blackness

‘You can’t be what you can’t see.” A quote from African American children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman flashes on screen halfway through Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé, a two-hour Netflix special that goes behind the scenes of her landmark 2018 Coachella headline set. “It’s hard to believe that after all these years, I was the first African American woman to headline Coachella,” Beyoncé says in voiceover, as the camera dwells on a stuffed ring binder bearing the words “BEYCHELLA 2018”. “It was important to me that everyone who had never seen themselves represented felt like they were on that stage with us.”

In April last year, Beyoncé brought the culture of historically black colleges and universities to the California festival (and thousands of viewers watching the live stream), choreographing 200 performers – including an all-black marching band, dancers of all sizes, her sister Solange – on a giant pyramid the height and breadth of the stage. She referenced the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and sang Lift Every Voice and Sing, a cry for hope and liberation known as the black national anthem. “I wanted us to be proud of not only the show, but the process,” Beyoncé says in Homecoming. “Thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history.” Her performance was exciting, regal and black in celebration: “Beyoncé is bigger than Coachella,” the New York Times declared.

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