Women's News from the Web

The world's poorest women and girls risk being biggest losers in DfID merger

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 07/09/2020 - 19:00

The department is a world leader in programmes based on gender equality. The government must show this will continue

News that the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are to merge raised many questions about the UK’s commitment to supporting the world’s poorest people. A key question for us is how the new department will support women and girls.

For more than 20 years, UK aid has saved and transformed the lives of women and girls in some of the world’s poorest countries. In the past five years, 10 million women and girls have received humanitarian assistance and more than 6 million girls have been able to access quality education. Upwards of £25m has been invested to prevent violence against women and girls through the government’s What Works programme, and a further £67m committed.

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Anna Ford attacks ‘body fascism’ in the media – archive, 10 July 1980

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 07/09/2020 - 18:30

10 July 1980: The ITN newscaster and other members of Women in Media gathered in London to marshal their campaign against media mythology

Sexual stereotyping took a battering yesterday as an array of talented and successful women from television, radio, newspapers, theatre and advertising gathered in London to marshal their campaign against media mythology.

The conference, at the Knightsbridge headquarters of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, was organised by Women in Media – a pressure group which for 10 years has fought “to improve the position of women at work, and make men and women aware of the distorted images presented in the media.”

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An Anniversary in Bosnia, and How Women Found Justice

Women's eNews - Thu, 07/09/2020 - 13:29

On July 11, 1995, the horrors of the only European genocide since World War II reached their nadir with the massacre of an estimated 8,000 men and boys at the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. While UN “protectors” watched passively, Serb forces separated these unarmed husbands, fathers, sons and brothers from their female family members, boarded them on buses and drove them off to mass murder and mass graves.  What had previously been unthinkable, especially on European soil, shocked the world in its cold brutality.

Left behind were thousands of women, overwhelmingly the wives of the farmers who worked the land in this agrarian area, for whom the man of the house was its center: The breadwinner who ran the farm and protected the family, whose role formed the core of an economic and social unit.

What is remarkable in the wake of this world-shaking mass murder is how the women, the vast majority of whom were uneducated, stepped forward, demonstrating the kind of resilience that knits together not just families but communities and nations, if only we would tap it. These women, whose story is largely untold, rose to this extraordinary occasion in three notable ways.

First, they demonstrated courage and resilience in returning to the land that the enemy was attempting to take from them. They filled the shoes of their dead husbands and took charge of the farms, mobilizing remaining family members and relying on neighbors to survive and carry on. In some cases, these women became remarkably successful, forming cooperatives to sell produce well beyond their communities.  Berries grow in abundance close to the Drina River that flows nearby.  Blackberries and raspberries are exported internationally and known for their excellence. The women took advantage of grants facilitated by the deeply flawed Dayton Accords that stopped the war and sent their children to school. They strengthened their families by insisting that their children broaden their horizons. Their daughters and sons are now proud doctors and professors all over the world, contributing to society in new ways because the mothers and wives whose husbands were slaughtered in Srebrenica persevered through unspeakable grief and trauma and rebuilt.  

The women went further, into roles even less likely for wives and mothers who had spent most of their lives gathering and preparing food and tending their families. They demanded justice. Unprepared for the work of advocacy, they nevertheless organized and learned on the job, calling for accountability from the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Their voices were heard as Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, regional leader Radovan Karadzic, and military commander Ratko Mladic were arrested and put on trial for war crimes, including – historic for international jurisprudence – the charges of genocide.  Milosevic died in custody before his trial concluded. Mladic and Karadzic are behind bars. The women who testified against these three men demonstrated great courage and composure. Not only were they managing their grief, but by speaking out in an international spotlight they risked being ostracized back home, where the Serbs, who had waged war on their people (Bosniak, traditionally Muslim) were still in control.  

The women also organized to memorialize their murdered men. They advocated for the exhumation, identification and burial of their loved ones into a sacred place in the killing fields. Today the Srebrenica Memorial Center encompasses a large grave site, listing the names of those killed, and includes an outdoor mosque and a memorial room where photographs graphically portray the atrocities and the tireless exhumation efforts. The Center, dedicated in 2003 by US President Bill Clinton, operates against the backdrop of continued denial that the genocide ever happened. Nonetheless, it has attracted more than one million visitors to date. Many come as delegations, including students from all over the world. As with other such sites, the message of the memorial is clear:  Never again.

A few months after the Srebrenica massacre, women from all over the world converged in Beijing for a conference that would become a milestone in the story of women’s rights. There, influenced in part by the experience of the women of Srebrenica and more broadly throughout Bosnia, for the first time the issue of women and war, beyond victimhood, crystalized as an idea that would eventually become policy.  Women wanted a seat at the table, bringing their resilience and advocacy to preventing war, or stopping or recovering from it. Five years later the UN would pass a resolution calling for women’s full involvement in building peace. In time the field known as Women, Peace and Security would be well established in foreign policy.  

The women of Srebrenica played a significant role in reshaping how we think of war and peace. Their legacy is a lasting tribute not only to their own remarkable rebuilding but to the men and boys whose lives are remembered on this anniversary.

Miki Jacevic, who was a student leader from Sarajevo at the time of the Srebrenica genocide, is Vice-Chair of Inclusive Security, founded in 1999 to integrate women’s leadership into peace processes worldwide.

The pelvic mesh scandal makes it clear: doctors must declare any funding | Margaret McCartney

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 07/09/2020 - 02:56

We need a public register to show if healthcare professionals are in the pay of industry – or more patients will suffer

It was never “just women’s problems”. After decades of having their suffering dismissed, many patients will have been relieved about the publication of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review yesterday. Led by Julia Cumberlege, the review has spent two years investigating three medical interventions: pelvic mesh, used in prolapse surgery, which resulted in chronic, life-changing pain for many women; Primodos, a hormonal pregnancy test, used up until 1978; and sodium valproate, an epilepsy treatment. The latter two have both been linked with birth defects.

Related: Denial of women's concerns contributed to decades of medical scandals, says inquiry

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'I trusted my doctors': the women fighting for justice after medical procedures

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/08/2020 - 06:01

An inquiry into the harmful effects of medical treatments prescribed to female patients in England has highlighted a series of scandals

After the birth of her daughter in 2011 Adèle Yemm, now 46, had mild stress incontinence. She initially planned on pursuing physiotherapy, but was persuaded to undergo pelvic mesh surgery – despite raising concerns that it was inappropriate for women who planned on further pregnancies.

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Supreme court upholds Trump rules letting more employers deny contraceptive coverage

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 07/08/2020 - 04:20

Ruling on expansion of religious exemptions could deny 125,000 women coverage, Sotomayor says

The US supreme court has upheld a broad expansion by the Trump administration of the pool of employers that can use religious objections to deny women insurance coverage for contraception.

The ruling, which struck down a lower court decision, could deprive up to 125,000 women of contraceptive coverage, Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned during oral arguments in the case in May.

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Why I don't have a child: I cherish my freedom

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 07/07/2020 - 22:00

Every day I don’t buy diapers, I’m sticking it to the man. And I have the time to think, to be creative and to cultivate a career

Last autumn, I fell in love for the first time in at least 20 years.

That enormous feeling overwhelmed me like fall in New England or a natural disaster. I knew I was in serious trouble when I found myself patiently, even blissfully, ironing his shirts. Who the hell am I right now, my besotted self thought. In a flash of recognition, I knew: I was a woman taking care of a man.

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It is ‘all men’, to varying degrees: men’s violence against women is a systemic crisis | Brad Chilcott

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 07/07/2020 - 07:30

As White Ribbon’s new executive director, I believe it’s worth mobilising the movement towards meaningful action

“Why?” has been the most consistent response when I’ve told my progressive friends that I’ve taken on the role of executive director of White Ribbon Australia for its next chapter. They didn’t miss the organisation that had first become publicly synonymous with ending family violence and then famous for problematic ambassadors and financial ruin. As a volunteer White Ribbon supporter myself, I agreed with much of the criticism – and yet I continue to believe it’s worth mobilising the tens of thousands of Australians who constitute the White Ribbon movement towards meaningful action.

Gender inequality is structural violence. It creates the space for acts of gendered violence by normalising disrespect as it socialises the idea that one gender is more valuable or capable than another.

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Fast fashion creates misery, and that's a bad look | Bidisha

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 07/07/2020 - 04:12

Cheap, throwaway clothing was past its sell-by date even before the Leicester garment factory reports. Brands like Boohoo need to change their act – and so do consumers

During lockdown, everyone’s id has been allowed to float untethered. Obsessions, manias, strange desires and perverse fantasies have risen to the surface as the conventions of normal life melted into a free-floating miasma of Netflix and pasta bakes.

Judging by the spike in sales of fast fashion, many people across the nation are buying outfits for an alternative fantasy life rather than their homebound realities. In their imagined Sliding Doors timeline they’re having brunch cocktails on a hotel balcony in Ibiza or dancing the night away in “the club”. And so they logged on to cheap clothing sites and bought a polyester playsuit, some bold separates and a nylon dress in a snappy print that will fall apart after three wears.

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Why I don't have a child: I watched my own mother struggle with parenthood

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/06/2020 - 23:00

When there were too many kid-related errands, my mother would break down and cry, calling out to no one in particular: ‘When is it my turn?!’

Any time I try to make sense of my aversion to motherhood and my utter glee over having escaped it, my mind immediately turns to the “mother-daughter day” my mom took me out of school for in the spring of 1975, a year before she and my father split up.

Our midweek adventure came as a complete surprise to me, although I was happy for the day off from fourth grade, as any nine-year-old would be. It was going to be a special day for just us, my mother promised. We were headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, and to lunch at a fancy restaurant.

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Don't know if you want a baby? This is how I found my answer

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/06/2020 - 23:00

Kerry Eustice didn’t know whether she wanted to be a mother, so she consulted people from all walks of life to find her answer

In September last year, a few months before I turned 37, I started a list. It’s called “Reasons I Don’t Want to Have a Baby”:

Goodbye to weekend lie-ins

Might ruin my relationship with my husband. What if it makes us fall out of love with each other?

Bringing a child into a world that is getting too hot, too angry and too divided

Goodbye money: even with health insurance, it can cost $30k to give birth in the US, and that’s if there are no complications. And then, there’s childcare costs

Our families live in a different country

No more impromptu cocktails, yoga, solo trips to the movies or lazy Sundays

When I hear a toddler screeching on the street, I flinch

Fear of parent and baby groups.

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Being childfree: five women on why they chose not to have kids – video

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/06/2020 - 21:41

As part of the Guardian's Childfree series, five women discuss why having children isn't for them – and how others perceive them as a result. 'There's no wrong way to be a woman,' says Sabrina, 25

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Trans rights have been pitted against feminism but we're not enemies | Kim Humphery

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/06/2020 - 16:24

One of the most distressing aspects of the hostile narrative is that it sidelines a reality of alliance

As a trans woman working in academia, one of the questions I regularly get asked is how I get along with feminist colleagues. When I invariably answer “incredibly well”, I’m often met with a quizzical look.

I can understand why. As trans and gender diversity has become a regular topic of public debate and a favoured target of rightwing attacks, feminist critics have joined the fray.

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Women’s eNews Podcast: Women Saving The World

Women's eNews - Mon, 07/06/2020 - 14:13

“Giving is the best investment I’ve ever made.” – Suzanne Lerner

Women’s eNews Executive Director Lori Sokol speaks with her guest Suzanne Lerner, co-founder and president of lifestyle and clothing brand Michael Stars. Suzanne is a business leader, activist, and philanthropist who shares her experience and life lessons, builds networks that connect valued resources, and inspires people to seek their purpose, realize their visions, and give back to our world.

Click Here to Listen on iHeart Radio

A journey to mindful sex: how a new app is helping women find sexual wellbeing

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/06/2020 - 02:04

Ferly uses cognitive behavioural therapy and other techniques to help its users overcome sexual difficulties or to become more aware of their bodies and discover what works for them

When entrepreneurs Billie Quinlan and Anna Hushlak were developing their mindful sex app, Ferly, male investors said the idea was not worth funding: they claimed that women were a “niche market” and recommended the pair focus on porn to get ahead.

“We were told that as two women talking about sex, we’re never going to be taken seriously,” says Quinlan.

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More women like me are choosing to be childfree. Is this the age of opting out?

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 07/06/2020 - 00:00

Ecological collapse is within sight – and yet parenting is still viewed as a moral imperative. But countless women like me are building a new normal: a life without children

Imagine a world in which, one day, you learned you’d eventually be expected to give birth to, then raise, an ostrich. It would be a long-lived ostrich, one residing with you inside your home for at least 18 years. 

This large, growing bird would require a great deal of care – daily, exhausting, heroic care, for which you wouldn’t be paid, nor, in general, well supported. In fact, you’d probably have to take time off from work; if you’re a woman, your ability to earn a post-ostrich livelihood would most likely be curtailed, perhaps severely. Plus, there would be the expense of ostrich daycare, ostrich violin lessons; in the future, god help you, ostrich college. Did you catch the part where you’re physically birthing the ostrich? It would tear open your body as it emerged from either between your legs or a gash sliced across your stomach, this larger-than-usual, speckled ostrich egg.

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Isn't that selfish? Introducing our new series on childfree women

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 07/05/2020 - 23:00

Guardian editors Summer Sewell and Jessica Reed don’t have kids – and probably don’t want them. With the US birth rate at a 35-year low, they figured out their own stances over drinks – this is a transcript from that night at the bar

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The Guardian view on the pandemic's impact on women: sound the alarm | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 07/05/2020 - 07:30

To prevent inequality from increasing, we need a recovery plan with care at its heart

It is several months since the public was alerted to stark differences in the level of threat posed by Covid-19 according to their age, sex and underlying health. As the pandemic progressed, it became clearer that people of colour and those on lower incomes faced a heightened risk. Men in the UK have died from Covid-19 at almost twice the rate of women, with the most pronounced difference in older age groups. Among the working population, male security guards and taxi drivers have had the highest death rates.

The economic and social effects of the pandemic follow a different pattern. The lockdown meant thousands of women and children were trapped in homes where they were vulnerable to abuse, while women were more likely to lose their jobs as well as carrying a disproportionate share of the domestic burden created by the closure of schools and nurseries. They are also overrepresented in the caring jobs where pressure has been most intense: 82% of adult social care jobs are held by women, as are 89% of nursing and health visitor posts.

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Labour mayors back plan to make police record misogyny as hate crime

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 07/05/2020 - 05:43

Stella Creasy believes amendment to domestic abuse bill would make police take misogyny more seriously

Labour’s metro mayors have united behind a parliamentary proposal from Stella Creasy to force the police to start recording misogyny as a hate crime.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool city region, and Dan Jarvis, the mayor of the Sheffield city region, are backing an amendment to the domestic abuse bill tabled by the Labour backbencher Creasy, which she believes will lead to police forces taking domestic abuse more seriously.

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The death of the bra: will the great lingerie liberation of lockdown last?

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 07/05/2020 - 03:00

Working from home has been a chance to do away with uncomfortable, unnecessary underwear. And many women have no intention of returning to underwires and constriction

It was after a shopping trip, the first time for weeks that Louise Kilburn had ventured out during the lockdown, that she realised she wasn’t wearing a bra. “I’d completely forgotten to put it on,” she says. Kilburn, a university lecturer, had been shielding since the last week of March. She was still busy teaching online, although not usually by video, and had created a more comfortable work wardrobe of pyjamas, loungewear “and, more importantly, no bra”. Her bras were somewhere, she says, with a laugh, under a pile of pre-lockdown clothes – lost enough that she had to buy some bralettes, a more unstructured style, to try out. She had, she says, “mislaid my boob cages”.

Lockdown has changed a lot of things about the way we present ourselves to the world, and for many women, ditching their bra has been a particularly popular one. “I just don’t see bras making a comeback after this,” tweeted the Buzzfeed writer Tomi Obaro in May. Her tweet has been “liked” more than half a million times. The feminist satire website Reductress ran a headline last week reading: “Bra furlough extended.”

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