Women's News from the Web

'Femtech' startups on the rise as investors scent profits in women's health | Gene Marks

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

Venture capital firms – mostly male-led – are starting to overcome their wariness over women-orientated products

What if a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle could be turned into a diagnostic tool that warned of potential medical problems or even fatal diseases? That’s what one young company is trying to prove. One of a new generation of “femtech” companies that are finally attracting serious attention, and money.

Nextgen Jane, an Oakland, California-based startup, is using its technology to determine whether a woman has endometriosis (a medical condition of the uterus that affects millions of women and causes pelvic pain which could in some cases lead to infertility) as well as cervical cancer and other potential medical problems. The company raised more than $9m this past April to fund the further development and clinical testing of what it calls “smart tampons”. The custom-made product – assuming it can one day get Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval – would be worn for about two hours and then placed inside a test tube that’s part of a home kit sent to a lab for testing.

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Listen to Japan’s women: high heels need kicking out of the workplace | Summer Brennan

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 22:41

The #KuToo campaign against the requirement to wear high heels at work reflects a long history of women’s repression

We’re used to talking about high heels in terms of fashion, fantasy and even feminism. But we’re somewhat less accustomed to speaking about them as business etiquette and workplace obligation – even though, to many women, that’s exactly what they represent.

Related: High heels at work are necessary, says Japan's labour minister

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It's time for men to step up and share responsibility for birth control | Moira Donegan

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 20:00

Why does the onus of birth control always fall on women? With access to contraception and abortion under threat, men must do their part

A woman who doesn’t want to get pregnant can take a pill, or wear a patch or insert a hormone-filled ring into her vagina. She can have hormone-secreting implants inserted into her arm or her uterus, or she can have a copper IUD inserted, which prevents pregnancy without hormones. She can get a shot. She can place a spermicide-soaked sponge next to her cervix prior to sex, or she can have herself fitted for a diaphragm or cervical cap that acts the same way. If all else fails, she can use the morning-after pill, Plan B. If she never, ever wants children, she can undergo major, irreversible surgery to get her tubes tied.

She does all of these herself, booking the doctor’s appointment (none of these birth control methods are available over the counter, with the exception of Plan B), and paying out of pocket for the appointment or using her insurance benefits, if she has them. The site of the birth control is on her body, and she alone will experience the side-effects, which in the case of hormonal methods can be numerous and severe. She can’t get pregnant alone – for that, she needs a male partner – but she prevents pregnancy alone. Birth control is perceived to be her responsibility, not his.

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Makeup millionaires show how women are taking control of the beauty industry

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 07:24

Forbes’ list of the richest ‘self-made women’ in the US has includes 10 in the skincare business, including Rihanna and Kylie Jenner. But is it something to celebrate?

In 2019, if women want to earn big bucks, fashion and beauty is the way to do it. Forbes has released its fifth annual list of the US’s richest so-called “self-made women”. Of the 80 women on it, 10 are from the makeup and skincare industries. Those who have reached millionaire and billionaire status through their own beauty brands and fashion lines include Kylie Jenner, Anastasia Soare of Anastasia Beverly Hills, the Gap co-founder Doris Fisher, Forever 21’s Jin Sook Chang and the creator of Spanx, Sara Blakely.

Rihanna, bolstered by her Fenty Beauty brand, has become the world’s richest musician – despite not having released any music since 2016. Fenty Beauty, which she launched in 2017 with the luxury goods group LVMH, generated an estimated $570 million in revenue last year.

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Madonna’s age isn’t relevant. Her music is | Fiona Sturges

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 05:52

Like many female artists, the singer has to put up with constant references to how old she is. It’s a double standard

When the carping over Madonna’s age began in earnest, the focus wasn’t on her singing, or songwriting, or even her stagecraft. The problem, according to certain sections of the press, lay with her hands. “Why do Madonna’s hands look older than her face?” asked the Daily Mail in 2006. Such was the paper’s concern over the then 47-year-old’s apparently awful paws, a plastic surgeon was drafted in to provide professional analysis. “As a person ages [the] plumpness goes, making the hand look bonier and more veiny … less elastic,” he said sagely. Since then, close-ups of Madonna’s hands have been as much a tabloid staple as Victoria Beckham’s scowl or Amanda Holden’s sideboob.

Music critics tend not to pass comment on a musician’s appearance – to do so would undermine the seriousness of their endeavour. But the assessments of Madonna’s 14th album, Madame X, have nonetheless brought more subtle kind of disparagement. “Perhaps the erstwhile Queen of Pop should be content with the role of Queen Mother of Pop now,” said the Daily Telegraph’s critic, going on to note that a woman who has shifted 350m units and broken every record for a female artist going hasn’t had a Top 10 hit in a decade. Even in the Guardian’s review, which was mostly positive, the theme of her age was never far away.

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High heels at work are necessary, says Japan's labour minister

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 05:23

Ministry responds to #KuToo petition calling for end to women having to wear heels at work

Japan’s health and labour minister has defended workplaces that require women to wear high heels to work, arguing it is “necessary and appropriate” after a petition was filed against the practice.

The remark came when Takumi Nemoto was asked to comment on a petition by a group of women who want the government to ban workplaces from requiring female jobseekers and employees to wear high heels.

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On World Environment Day

Women's eNews - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 05:16

“Girls and Rhinos Have The Same Enemy”

Today, on World Environment Day, we hope you’ll listen to what some girls in East Africa have to say about the link between girl’s rights and conservation.

In May 2019, twelve girls from Kenya and Tanzania came together as part of UNEARTH Kenya, a joint project between GlobalGirl Media, BRAVE,  and Samburu Girl’s Foundation. UNEARTH began with a week-long media and leadership training for girls living on the perimeters of some of East Africa’s most remote and wildest places, teaching them to become digital storytellers, girls’ rights advocates and champions of conservation. 

In the second week, the girls hit the road, traveling to wildlife reserves and staying in lodges that usually only foreign tourists frequent. On this road trip, the first of its kind in Kenya, the girls got behind the camera, writing, directing, filming and editing two short video reports. Female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage are still practiced in the communities the girls are from, with only 19% of girls receiving a secondary school education. But these girls are part of a growing movement to change these harmful cultural practices. In an area where a wild rhino’s rights and protection might seem more important than a girl’s, they asked some tough questions and got some answers.

The short video, Girls’ Rights or Conservation?, (link belowaims to change the narrative for girls living alongside wildlife, and provide opportunities for those working in the field of conservation to embrace these young women as leaders and change makers.

Thank you to these amazing budding journalists and conservation advocates!  


*This video is part of a collaborative project with South Africa’s BRAVE, Kenya’s Samburu Girl’s Foundation and GlobalGirl Media, in Kenya.

‘The models have bellies, hips and thighs that jiggle’: the rise of body-positive swimwear

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 03:44

From larger-cup bikinis to modest beachwear, fashion is finally beginning to cater for a range of women’s bodies

If there’s one thing Sasha Khan loathes, it is shopping for swimwear. Which makes it a strange coincidence that, on the day we speak, Khan has just been bikini shopping. “I buy swimwear about once every 10 years,” she says. The 23-year-old charity worker from London is flying to Ibiza tomorrow. “I always put it off. I hate it. It’s like having to go to the dentist or get your eyes tested.”

The reason Khan hates bikini shopping is because she is a size 10-12, with a 32FF bust, and few retailers design swimwear for women with relatively narrow backs and larger cup sizes. Khan isn’t alone. “I heard at least two or three other people in the changing rooms today saying: ‘Oh God, I can never find anything.’”

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Women born in 1950s take fight against rising pension age to court

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 02:33

BackTo60 group says women were not given time to adjust to new retirement age

Women born in the 1950s whose retirement age was increased from 60 to 65 have gone to court seeking a judicial review of how the government raised the retirement age and to try to force the government to repay their lost pensions.

Nearly 4 million women have been forced to wait up to an extra six years to get their pensions after changes to bring women’s retirement age into line with men’s.

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Miley Cyrus speaks out against man who groped her in public

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 22:35

Pop star says a woman ‘can be wearing what she wants … She can’t be grabbed without her consent’

Miley Cyrus has spoken out after a man grabbed and kissed her following a festival performance in Barcelona last weekend. She posted footage of the incident to her Instagram and Twitter feeds, which shows the man grabbing at her hair, then pulling her towards him by wrapping his arm around her neck, and kissing her head. Clearly rattled, she breaks free and moves quickly away.

Captioning the footage, Cyrus wrote: “She can be wearing what she wants. She can be a virgin. She can be sleeping with 5 different people. She can be with her husband. She can be with her girlfriend. She can be naked. She CAN’T be grabbed without her consent. #DontFuckWithMyFreedom.”

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The Derry Girls are right – a boycott won’t change Northern Ireland abortion law | Anna Cafolla

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 21:00

Concentrating on entertainment industry boycotts only lets politicians off the hook and hurts those who can least afford it

“You can be sure I will fight tooth and nail to move Insatiable to a state that will protect our rights,” Alyssa Milano said recently, referencing her Netflix series that currently films in Georgia. From Orange is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox, to Don Cheadle, Amy Schumer and Alec Baldwin, the threat of Georgia’s “heartbeat bill” – which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks into pregnancy – has galvanised actors, activists and the creative industries to boycott the state.

Related: Abortion law 'harsher in Northern Ireland than in Alabama'

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The taboo around menstruation and menopause doesn't only hurt women | Karen Pickering

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 15:59

We all came from the same place: a uterus. Demeaning and despising the process that gives us life diminishes everyone

Telling people you’re writing a book on menstruation and menopause is a great litmus test for the strength of the menstrual taboo. Most often, people skip a beat and force a weird smile, before saying something non-committal like “good for you”. Or they laugh nervously (especially men) and say, “Oh wow, OK, not something I know too much about ha ha ha.” They rarely say, “I am completely disgusted by this” but you can usually tell if there’s a reluctance to delve deeper, or a squick factor at work.

Conversely, other people (mostly women) practically pin me down and launch into their own TED talk comprised of every thought they have ever had about periods. I love it when this happens, but I also sense a desperation that comes from me giving permission. “I’ve been DYING to talk about this” is a common refrain. And I know what they mean. Outside of close friendships, it can still feel a little risque to bring up menstruation and menopause in “polite” conversation.

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Men built this system. No wonder gender equality remains as far off as ever | Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 00:30

With not a single country on track to achieve gender parity by 2030, it’s clear that radical overhaul is required

I’m not going to lie; it’s annoying to start one’s week with the news that no country in the entire world is set to achieve gender equality by 2030. Given that our world leaders seem to continually miss targets on every measure put forward to improve things, from climate change to poverty, I’m starting to suspect they don’t really care about anything.

In any case, the UN reports that all but 10 countries have men as heads of government, so I’m tempted to paraphrase Greta Thunberg: we’re not here for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. The modern world was created by men, and it shows. The pay gap remains 23%; women are more likely to be in vulnerable work; we have less access to financial institutions; we’re less likely to have workplace protections and benefits; and we spend 2.5 times more of our time on unpaid work – in fact, women do so much unpaid work that if it were paid, it would account for between 10% and 39% of GDP.

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US abortion policy is 'extremist hate' and 'torture', says UN commissioner

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 20:00

Trump administration’s ban on terminations is a crisis directed at women, warns Kate Gilmore

The US policy on abortion is a form of extremist hate that amounts to the torture of women, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights told the Guardian.

The attack on women’s rights was a “crisis”, organised and well-resourced by very extremist groups.

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Lies pave the way for anti-abortion laws. To defeat the laws we must fight the lies | Rebecca Solnit

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 09:07

A wave of new laws banning and restricting abortion could not have been passed without misleading the public about what abortion actually is

Anti-abortion laws are built on anti-abortion lies. Lies about things like who has abortions, how abortions work, how women’s bodies work and how fetuses develop. The lies pave the way for the laws.

There are the old lies, like the ones suggesting that the women having abortions are careless hussies (51% of abortions are to women who were using contraception; 59% are to women who are already mothers; 75% are to poor and low-income women). Lately, there’s a huge new lie making the rounds, that women and doctors are conspiring to kill babies at birth and calling it abortion. This is a lie that encourages conservatives to regard pregnant women and medical caregivers as potential ruthless killers who should be hemmed in with yet more laws targeting them. While a lot of older abortion lies were distortions and exaggerations, this one is a complete and dangerous fabrication.

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Why UK feminists should embrace sex worker rights | Kate Hardy

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 03:47

Sex workers are at the coalface of gender injustice. In Argentina, they are central to the feminist movement

Puta Feminista” (Feminist Whore) reads the banner taped to the wall, as women stream through the door at the Casa Roja. Freshly painted, the bright red casa is in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Constitución, in the heart of the red-light district. After today, it will be the new centre for Ammar – the Argentina’s Women’s Sex Workers’ Union.

On any one day, up to 200 women arrive – morning, noon and night – to find clients on the corners of the neighbourhood. Lilian, 55, has been a sex worker for 20 years. She stopped working, but has been forced to return to the streets of Constitución to make ends meet. “We’re in the midst of a total crisis,” she says. “We used to work four to five hours a day. Now it’s 12, including on Saturdays and Sundays, just to cover the basic necessities.” Dramatic inflation (which reached nearly 50% last year), combined with a reduction in subsidies by the rightwing government under Mauricio Macri and at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have sent the cost of basic foodstuffs, electricity and water spiralling. A third of the population are living in poverty.

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#KuToo: Japanese women submit anti-high heels petition

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 00:27

Campaigners urge government to ban employers from forcing footwear on female staff

A group of Japanese women have submitted a petition to the government to protest against what they say is a de facto requirement for female staff to wear high heels at work.

The KuToo campaign – a play on words from the Japanese kutsu, meaning shoes, and kutsuu, meaning pain – was launched by the actor and freelance writer Yumi Ishikawa and quickly won support online.

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Not one single country set to achieve gender equality by 2030

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 18:00

The first global index measuring efforts to end gender inequality finds countries are not doing enough to improve women’s lives

No country in the world is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030, according to the first index to measure progress against a set of internationally agreed targets.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the index, launched on Monday, “should serve as a wake-up call to the world”.

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Taking Back the Streets with Chalk

Women's eNews - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 14:53

I was 15 years old and walking to the first day of my summer job. I was thinking about making a good impression on my boss. I had painstakingly picked out my outfit: a purple sun dress and white espadrilles. The nervous rush of excitement brought about by my acquaintance with adulthood was quickly interrupted as I got off the number 1 train at 18th street and 7th Avenue in New York City. “Hey, beautiful!” “You’re sexy” “Gorgeous” “Mmmmm.” These are some of the many comments I heard on my walk to work that day. My first thought was to respond ‘thank you.’ After all, these comments sounded like compliments. But in these moments, they felt nothing like compliments. I felt uncomfortable: like my body was under surveillance. Each new block made me more self conscious. I wanted to hide. Quickly, I started to think there must be something about what I was wearing that was provoking this harassment. Was my dress too short or too tight? When I got home that night and told my parents, they suggested I ignore it. My dad even said I should ‘dress down’ to avoid provoking unwanted attention.

Years later, for a freshman year writing assignment, I decided to do something about the harassment I was facing. Frustrated by feeling silenced, I decided to respond to catcalling in a creative way. I started to collect catcalls, both from my experiences and from those of friends, and write them on the streets with chalk where they were being shouted, along with the hashtag #stopstreetharassment. The colorful chalk would mark the spots where someone was harassed. It would catch people’s attention and bring to light something that is normally ignored. Then, I would post their images on Instagram to illustrate the catcalling spectrum, highlighting comments from “hey beautiful” to “I want to f*ck the sh*t out of you.” The combination of public art and Instagram would be a method of raising awareness. It would make people confront this problematic behavior and educate them about how frequent and invasive this behavior is. I could provide victims of harassment a space to share their story and start a dialogue about harassment.  

As a 19 year old student, I never could have predicted the impact that this project would have.  At first, writing in chalk was a way for me to feel empowered when so much of my agency in public space had been taken away.  But this project has become so much bigger than me. In December, 2017, almost two years after I started my project and shortly after the #MeToo movement went viral, @catcallsofnyc got picked up by international press; @catcallsofnyc went from having 800 followers to over 10 thousand in just one week. This growth proved that the account was providing something that many people around the world needed. Much like my younger self; many folks facing harassment felt isolated by these experiences. They were ashamed to tell people because they felt it was somehow their fault.

Being one voice among many makes the fight against street harassment louder and harder to ignore, and this feeling of empowerment is contagious. I began receiving messages from people asking, “Can I bring this initiative to my city?” Accounts started sprouting up around the world. Catcalls of London, Catcalls of Amsterdam and Catcalls of Paris were some of the first to launch. Soon after, Catcalls of Mauritius, Catcalls of Berlin, Catcalls of Mumbai. Catcalls of Iran. Catcalls of Cape Town, South Africa, and Catcalls of Dhaka, Bangladesh began . Now, there are over 100 programs around the world that also collect stories of harassment and document them on the streets. My idea, which I now call “Chalking Back,” has been a springboard for young activists around the world to fight back against harassment, creatively.  

More than half of the women who run these programs are under the age of 18, and 88% of people are under the age of 25. They represent a wide variety of racial and religious groups and, because of them, what was originally a class project has become a global movement. The bravery and commitment of everyone involved in “Chalk Back” has built this movement from the ground up.

Last week, I graduated from New York University (NYU) with a degree in Gender and Sexuality, and after working on this project for three years as a full-time student, I have decided to commit my time to turning “Chalk Back” into an international non-profit to provide additional resources for the movement which will allow it to grow. Our mission is to allow young people to advocate for cultural change within their communities, and ultimately end street harassment through creative means such as chalk events and workshops. It is a community and youth-led project, based on our personal experiences.

We have been harassed. We have been disempowered. We have been objectified. Now, we will amplify our unique experiences to come together as a collective whole.

Sophie Sandberg, a recent graduate of New York University, is an activist, organizer and professional speaker. She founded Catcalls of NYC, a viral Instagram account and initiative which seeks to raise public awareness about street harassment using street art.

The Guardian view on Artemisia Gentileschi on tour: the people’s painting | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 07:49
An innovative scheme by the National Gallery has seen a new and prized possession displayed in public buildings across the country

When the National Gallery in London acquired a portrait by the great 17th-century artist Artemisia Gentileschi in 2018, the institution asked itself how this remarkable work, showing the painter in the guise of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, might help it fulfil its role as a truly national museum. The gallery has a long history of lending to other institutions. But once it was restored and ready to display, was there anything else it could do?

The answer was yes. The painting has been on a tour, unprecedented for a British museum, that has so far taken in a girls’ secondary school in Newcastle, a GP practice in East Yorkshire, a women’s prison in Surrey and the Glasgow Women’s Library. Its last stop, before returning to Trafalgar Square this summer, is a library in the London borough of Waltham Forest. The idea has been to bring the painting to people who would not, or could not, normally encounter it – taking art to the people rather than inviting the people to art.

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