Women's News from the Web

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It is a tragedy that women are being turned away from motherhood | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 05/23/2020 - 06:30

Intensifying economic pressures have led to plummeting birth rates in Britain and America


Financial insecurity is one of the best, most sensible reasons not to have a baby. It’s also one of the saddest and creepiest.

The US birthrate is at its lowest for 35 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The sharpest fall was teenagers, but rates dropped in almost every age and race group. There are indications that people are delaying having children until they’re older or don’t feel they should enlarge their families. There are similar drops elsewhere, including the UK in 2018, with the Office for National Statistics reporting a fall of 3.2% from 2017, down nearly 10% from 2012. In particular, millennial Britons appeared to be indefinitely deferring children because of practical considerations such as insecure work, low wages and unaffordable housing. Like I say, sensible, but sickening.

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On coronavirus, men are calling all the shots. We're seeing why it matters | Gaby Hinsliff

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 04:59

Women are naturally more cautious: would the government have made so many missteps over the lockdown if it was more inclusive?

Don’t go out alone in the dark. Don’t get carried away in the heat of the moment. Work twice as hard in order to be taken half as seriously, but don’t work so hard that you somehow forget to have a baby. Be nice, be good, but above all be careful.

To grow up as a girl is so often to grow up being told that the world is a perilous place full of chances to get it horribly wrong, where if something bad happens it will probably be your fault somehow.

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Gloria Steinem says TV drama of 1970s feminist history ‘ridiculous'

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 04:15

In interview for Hay festival feminist writer says Mrs America misrepresents equal rights movement

It stars Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne in a glossy, big-budget TV account of 1970s feminist history but one key player who was there, Gloria Steinem, is withering: it is ridiculous, undermining and just not very good, she said on Friday.

Steinem, arguably the world’s most famous feminist, has revealed she is not a fan of the new Hulu TV show Mrs America, which premiered in the US last month and is coming to BBC2 in the UK later in the year.

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'Where are the women?' Outcry over all-male government meeting in Afghanistan

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 03:13

Tweet showed 12 male political leaders after Ghani promised women would be involved in high-level decision-making

People in Afghanistan protested on social media that no women were present at a high-level government meeting, despite assurances from the president that they would be involved in important decision-making roles.

The outcry followed a tweeted photo of a meeting of 12 political leaders at the presidential palace – all of them men.

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This pandemic threatens to undo what generations of feminists have fought for | Moira Donegan

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 00:06

With schools and daycares closed, and employers embracing permanent work-from-home arrangements, women will be forced to pick up the slack

During this pandemic, a contracting economy, public health fears, and steadily reduced public services have shifted massive amounts of work and caregiving responsibilities to the home – and it is women who are picking up the slack. Even as lockdowns lift and the virus recedes, many of these needs that were previously met outside the home will still be left to families to try to meet within it, and women will be disproportionately affected. The result is a potentially long-term constricting of women’s lives to the domestic sphere. This threatens to undo a century’s worth of progress that women have made in claiming access to public life.

Some women are home because they’ve lost work. The economic recession that has been prompted by the pandemic has disproportionately hurt woman-dominated service industries, meaning that this time, unlike the 2008 recession, women make up the majority of the newly unemployed. In April, the unemployment rate climbed to 15.5% for women, with black women and Latinas facing even higher average unemployment rates.

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Jane Roe’s deathbed confession exposes the immorality of the Christian right | Arwa Mahdawi

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 04:06

The plaintiff in the landmark supreme court case revealed she was paid to change her mind about abortion. Have anti-abortion activists no shame?

What would you do for almost half a million dollars? Would you very publicly denounce your past life and pretend to be an anti-abortion, born-again, ex-gay Christian?

Related: Roe v Wade plaintiff admits abortion rights reversal ‘was all an act’ in new film

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UK women bear emotional brunt of Covid-19 turmoil – poll

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 20:00

Results show women disproportionately affected by employment and risk concerns amid pandemic

Women in the UK are bearing the emotional brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, experiencing greater anxiety about its impact than men, polling has found. Although men are more likely to die from Covid-19, research by Ipsos Mori and the Fawcett Society found women were disproportionately affected in other ways.

Six out of 10 women said they were finding it hard to stay positive day-to-day, compared with just under half of men. Half of women were very concerned about the risk the virus posed to the country, compared with a third of men. Women were also more likely to have their employment impacted, with a third saying their workplaces had been closed, compared with a quarter of men.

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From Mrs America to Rodham, America's in love with feminist paper dolls | Jessa Crispin

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 00:21

Pop culture has embraced good-girl versions of complex figures in stories that undermine real feminist ideology

In the Hulu show Mrs America, there’s a scene where a fictionalized Gloria Steinem is dancing around her apartment, relishing her solitude and independence, remembering the time her back-alley abortionist made her promise him that after the procedure was over, “You will do whatever you want to do with your life.”

That scene took up about 90 seconds, so I guess it’s understandable that they didn’t have time to cover all those years she worked for the CIA, which gave her the money to start Ms Magazine in the first place.

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Huge FGM rise recorded in Somalia during coronavirus lockdown

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 09:53

Female genital mutilation being inflicted on girls stuck at home as circumcisers go door to door

Somalia’s coronavirus lockdown has led to a huge increase in female genital mutilation (FGM), with circumcisers going door to door offering to cut girls stuck at home during the pandemic, according to Plan International.

The crisis is undermining efforts to eradicate the practice in Somalia, which has the world’s highest FGM rate, with about 98% of women having been cut, the charity warned.

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Florence Pugh and Simon Armitage record lockdown poem together

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 18:00

Collaboration is a recording of the poet laureate’s Lockdown set to music, with proceeds donated to the domestic abuse charity Refuge

Simon Armitage, the poet laureate, has joined forces with the actor Florence Pugh for a charity release of his poem about coronavirus crisis. Lockdown, first published in March, has been set to music and will be sold to help raise money for the domestic abuse charity Refuge.

It features Armitage and Pugh reading the lines to music that starts ominously, and becomes more hypnotic and euphoric. Armitage has been making tracks of his poems with collaborators Richard Walters and Patrick J Pearson, collectively known as LYR, for a couple of years. The involvement of Pugh – nominated at the Oscars and Baftas for her role in Little Women this year – was wonderful, he said. “She brings such intelligence and crackle.”

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Portrait of studious woman revealed to be of Millicent Fawcett

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 03:29

Painting of suffragist working at her desk was misidentified as Royal Holloway ex-principal

A Victorian painting of a studious young woman working at her desk has emerged as a lost portrait of one of the most important figures in the British women’s rights movement history, the suffragist Millicent Fawcett.

The artwork in the collection of Royal Holloway, University of London, has long been identified as a depiction of another pioneer, but far less well-known figure, Dame Emily Penrose. There is even a plaque on its frame saying it is Penrose.

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Women are on the Covid-19 frontline – we must give them the support they need | Mark Lowcock and Natalia Kanem

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 02:15

An effective response to the pandemic means tackling the violence and inequality faced by women

After a week in which people in some parts of the world have been given cause for optimism that they may have passed the peak of the pandemic, we have seen how extraordinary actions of individuals can change the trajectory for a whole nation.

Retired doctors putting themselves back on the frontline, nurses making their own face masks, parents voluntarily separated from their children so they can care for the sick.

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Working with women makes the world a better place | Torsten Bell

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 19:30

Research finds that both male and female judges are more likely to employ female clerks if they have worked with women

Discrimination over jobs is bad. Bad for those discriminated against, and bad for society, as talent is wasted and divisions sown.

Women reaching senior leadership positions in organisations is generally a sign of success for gender equality – but it can also lead to increased equality elsewhere. That is the important finding from new research on the (not famously diverse) world of judges. The study looks at the hiring of law clerks by senior judges in the US.

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Pass judgment on Adele's talent, not on how much she weighs | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 06:30

It’s depressing that the singer’s new skinny look matters more to some than her extraordinary voice

It seems that Adele’s weight is fast becoming a feminist issue, although not in the way people usually mean. Last year, images of the singer’s extreme weight loss rocked the world. When she released a photo to mark her 32nd birthday last week, the internet exploded all over again. Some people thought her new look was great; others considered it a (whisper it) betrayal. Some accused her of having a gastric band; others bitched that she would soon pile it all back on again. “She looks good.” “She looks bad.” “She looks weird.” And on it goes.

Adele isn’t new to this: her weight was also discussed (admiringly, critically, endlessly) before she lost it. In the modern musical landscape, where female artists specifically are viciously pressured to be perma-slim, the message seemed to be that she was one of those rare talents who were “allowed” to be bigger. At other times, the focus on her weight verged on patronising and reductive, as though her BMI-based “relatability” was the main draw and her talent a poor second.

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Naming of Pinochet's great-niece as Chile women's minister sparks outrage

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 23:00

Macarena Santelices has praised the ‘good side’ of the 1973-90 dictatorship in which over 300 women were raped under torture

Chile’s rightwing president, Sebastián Piñera, has prompted a firestorm of criticism after naming an open supporter of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship as the country’s new minister for women’s rights and gender equality.

Controversy over the appointment of Macarena Santelices – who is also the dictators’s great-niece – has focused on a 2016 interview in which she praised the “good side” of the 1973-90 dictatorship in which more than 3,000 people were murdered or disappeared by security forces and many thousands more imprisoned and tortured.

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My four miscarriages: why is losing a pregnancy so shrouded in mystery?

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 19:00

After losing four pregnancies, Jennie Agg set out to unravel the science of miscarriage. Then, a few months in, she found out she was pregnant again – just as the coronavirus pandemic hit

I stepped out of Oxford Circus tube into mid-morning crowds and cold, bright sunshine. The consultant’s words were still ringing in my ears. “Nothing.” How could the answer be nothing? This was January 2018, six months since my third miscarriage, a symptomless, rather businesslike affair, diagnosed at an early scan. The previous November, I’d undergone a series of investigations into possible reasons why I’d lost this baby and the two before it.

That morning, we had gone to discuss the results at the specialist NHS clinic we’d been referred to after officially joining the one in 100 couples who lose three or more pregnancies. I had barely removed my coat before the doctor started rattling off the things I had tested negative for: antiphospholipid antibodies, lupus anticoagulant, Factor V Leiden, prothrombin gene mutation.

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Specialist support centre for female offenders to open in Wales

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 13:01

MoJ to work with Welsh government with the aim of opening site by end of 2021

A specialist centre providing accommodation and support to female offenders is to open in Wales as part of the government’s strategy to send fewer women to prison, the Ministry of Justice has said.

The first residential women’s centre will help women who otherwise would have been sent to jail by providing services that deal with underlying causes of offending, such as substance misuse and mental health problems.

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Coronavirus is giving us a glimpse of the future of work – and it's a nightmare | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 05:52

Women working at home are doing more childcare and housework, while virtual work has no knocking-off time. Will this end along with the lockdown? Don’t bet on it

Wasn’t it charming when, in 2017, Prof Robert Kelly was giving an interview to the BBC on the shifting relationship between North and South Korea, and his marvellous daughter stomped in followed by his baby in a walker, and then his stressed-out wife dragged the kids out of the way? We loved the way he tried to keep his composure in the storm of domestic chaos. That glimpse of home life: the serious man with his geopolitical analysis and the swagger of his little girl who couldn’t care less … who didn’t relate to that?

In work mode, children don’t figure. And now that so many work from home, children must be somehow removed. Women report that, when making Zoom calls, the sight of a child will make them look unprofessional, whereas men fear this less because it makes them look rounded and human. At a certain level of corporate success, this may be so, but for most people the reality of work from home is fraught and muddled.

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Women launch legal action to stop military courts trying UK rape cases

Sun, 05/03/2020 - 05:28

Exclusive: Two women from army and one from navy point to much lower conviction rate at courts martial

Three women serving in the armed forces have begun legal action aimed at preventing the military courts from trying UK rape cases, complaining that the conviction rate is five to six times lower than in civilian courts.

They are seeking a judicial review after the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said in February he was ignoring a recommendation that rape and other serious cases involving the military in the UK should routinely be handled by the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

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Russian author defends gulag-era story as TV series provokes backlash

Sat, 05/02/2020 - 21:30

Literary star Guzel Yakhina shocked by emotional ‘cabin fever’ response to dramatisation

The Russian novelist Guzel Yakhina had learned to live with the persistent buzz of controversy surrounding her bestselling debut novel, Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes.

Her coming-of-age story of a young woman deported to Siberia during the Stalin-era purges of wealthier peasants, or kulaks, had been picked over for its portrayals of Soviet repressions and national identity in the largely Muslim region of Tatarstan ever since it was published in 2015.

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