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Updated: 3 hours 57 min ago

Kate Humble on walking – and how to improve it: ‘The rhythm is really good for your brain’

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 00:00

The TV presenter thinks our newfound love of walking will persist after lockdown. She talks about hiking around Britain’s coast, the joy of newborn lambs and the true meaning of liberation

It is a rare day that Kate Humble doesn’t get up and get outside, walking out from her farm in the Monmouthshire countryside. “I want to be outside for the first hour or two of the day: no phone, no distractions. I’m sure we all wake up with a million things going on in our heads, all these disjointed thoughts, worries and anxieties. For me, that part of the day, when all I have to think about is one foot going in front of the other and not falling over, creates a headspace that allows all my thoughts to settle in a way that feels much more manageable.”

Humble is a walker – she wrote a 2018 book on the subject, and is presenting a new TV series on it – but the last year has turned many of us into walkers, too. Whether for exercise, to break the monotony or to snatch the chance to walk and talk with a friend, for those of us lucky enough to be physically able and safe to venture beyond the front door, a stroll has become a highlight of the day. “We’re scrabbling to find positives of this situation, and I think one is that it has turned our focus back on to what’s on our doorsteps, whether it’s the wildlife in our gardens, or the beauty of our urban parks,” says Humble. As an ambassador for Living Streets, the charity that campaigns for a better walking environment in towns and cities, Humble hopes the pandemic may speed up the shift away from car-dominated urban spaces. With fewer cars on the road, “I think people have realised that walking is often quicker, healthier, just generally a nicer way of getting around.”

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Number of FTSE 100 female directors rises by 50% in five years

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 12:30

Women now make up one in three boardroom roles at 350 top UK firms after review achieves target

The number of female directors at FTSE-100 firms has increased by 50% in the last five years, and women now hold more than a third of roles in the boardrooms of Britain’s top 350 companies, according to the final report of a review into female representation at the top of business.

Although men still dominate the top ranks of business, the government-backed Hampton-Alexander review has achieved its target of 33% of board positions at FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 firms being held by women by the end of 2020.

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Pressure to procreate: inside Hungary’s baby drive – video

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 02:22

Hungary has one of the lowest birthrates in Europe, and the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, is spending significant money trying to convince young people to have babies. Leah Green and Ekaterina Ochagavia visit Budapest, where they meet three women of similar age and with very different outlooks on the country’s parenting drive

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Reporting on WTO's first female head 'sexist and racist', say African UN leaders

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 21:15

Coverage of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala criticised by group who say such attitudes ‘discourage women from taking on leadership positions’

Senior African leaders at the UN have criticised the “sexist and racist” language used in coverage of the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new president of the World Trade Organization.

Okonjo-Iweala, a graduate of Harvard University, was confirmed as the new head of the WTO last week, making her the first woman and the first African to lead the organisation.

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Women continue to carry the load when it comes to unpaid work | Greg Jericho

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 06:30

It is good that men have increased their workload since Covid, but the reality remains that women have increased theirs by more

In news that will shock no women around the nation, the latest survey shows women do much more unpaid work than men. At least the survey shows that in the past year more men doing more unpaid work than they were last year. The problem is so too are women.

The past year saw many of us in our homes a lot more than normal. And while that has involved many of working from home, it has also involved more unpaid work at home.

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The way Britney’s life was consumed holds a mirror to our own

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 22:00

Britney Spears may have been hounded for years by the media, but it’s only now that we can evaluate what that really says about us

Looking back today at the pop culture of my youth is like the moment your vision finally adjusts to a Magic Eye picture. One that you’ve walked past unseeingly for years, vaguely aware perhaps, if pushed, that there could be more to the abstract ocean scene hanging in the downstairs loo – once, during a sticky breakup, you thought you noticed an animal, watching you cry. But as time rolled on, the light changed. #MeToo and its subsequent conversations enabled a retelling of stories we thought we knew by heart, now illuminated with a growing understanding of sex, power, mental health and the horrors of the celebrity industrial complex.

There is very little new information in the New York Times documentary about Britney Spears; instead we’re invited to sit quietly with what we have always known. From the international debates around her sluttiness (there is footage of an interviewee asking her if she was a virgin, and Spears, so used to this now, thanking him for his question) to the frenzy of the paparazzi, these crowds of men who waited for her outside toilets, shouting “I’M WORRIED ABOUT YOU” while sticking their flashes into her car. She had two babies, quickly, and public scrutiny swelled to include not just her sexuality but her mothering abilities. The story shifted overnight – she had been too mature to be a girl, but she was too young to be a woman.

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Smuggled diary tells how abducted women survived Boko Haram camp

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 10:45

There was a rescue campaign on Twitter, but the women taken from a Nigerian school were saved by their strength and diplomacy

The resistance began three months after the young women were taken from their school dormitory by Islamist militants and hidden in the depths of a forest. It would end in direct confrontation and disobedience, and an unlikely victory which saved their lives.

But as the extremists of Boko Haram drove them through the bush to camps beyond the reach of any rescue, freedom was years away.

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Care workers and cleaners of Dundee in fight for equal pay

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 07:28

‘She Town’ women have a proud industrial history. But they are facing a new struggle that is driving them into early retirement

Before sunrise on Tuesday last week, amid an amber weather warning and Scotland’s coldest temperatures in 25 years, 62-year-old Sheila Petrie set off on a five-mile walk to work through 15cm of snow. A community-based care worker in Dundee, where public transport was suspended due to the severe weather, Petrie is employed by the city’s council. At 8am sharp, 40 minutes into the journey, an administrator phoned to ask why she hadn’t yet scanned in for her shift.

It’s an example, Petrie says, of being “totally undervalued and completely trodden on by the council,” a relationship that she says has got increasingly worse over her 20-year career and driven her to take early semi-retirement from April. And it is one that stings all the more with the knowledge that her employers have, Petrie believes, been systematically underpaying her throughout that time, because she works in a job dominated by women.

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‘I had no idea about the hidden labour’: has the pandemic changed fatherhood for ever?

Fri, 02/19/2021 - 22:00

For the past year, many men have spent more time with their children than ever before. Could it force a permanent change?

Primary school spelling tests ringed by coffee stains; office printouts splashed with paint from GCSE art projects; laptops running out of puff in the middle of Zoomed-in geography lessons; and everyone in the family, from the mildest of adults to the sweetest of children, arguing with the fury of stockbrokers over their fair share of the wifi bandwidth. By shutting schools, by taking away the familiar avenues of social escape, by crunching together our working lives with our home lives, this marathon Covid pandemic has changed the terms of parenting beyond all recognition. Mothers have absorbed most of the blow: taking on more of the extra childcare; surrendering more of their scarcer work hours; being interrupted by children more; and any one of them would be justified in saying it was ever thus. But in the midst of it all, fathers have been undergoing some quietly radical changes in behaviour, too.

Or so research suggests. Dads are spending more time than ever before with their children, according to a report last year by the Office for National Statistics. Meanwhile, those dads who were already inclined to take on the playful aspects of parenting (what’s known by sociologists as “non-routine care”, and by the rest of us as “the fun shit”) have started doing more of the unpaid, unglamorous work of child-rearing, according to a joint study of lockdown behaviours by the Universities of Birmingham and Kent. Two of its authors, Holly Birkett and Sarah Forbes, believe that this year of intermittent lockdowns and school closures, along with the widespread adoption of home working, has hurried on an evolution in caring roles we might otherwise have waited decades for.

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Control or be controlled: the lessons of Britney Spears's grotesque story | Gaby Hinsliff

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 05:12

After seeing the pop princess chewed up and spat out for profit, it’s no wonder young women are choosing something different

Once upon a time, a beautiful princess rebelled against her father’s wishes and was locked up in a tower. But nowadays, of course, there are laws against that sort of thing. The Victorians may have shut women away in asylums to spare male embarrassment over what we would now regard as understandable rage, frustration or postnatal depression. But these days we supposedly know better. Nor do parents teach little girls any more that life is a fairytale in which a prince will set you free if you just let down your long blond hair. Yet those old patriarchal ghosts fade surprisingly slowly.

The US documentary Framing Britney Spears, investigating whether pop’s own Rapunzel is now being held prisoner by a legal guardianship imposed after her breakdown 13 years ago, hit British screens this week like a flashback to a bad dream. Watching these old clips through 2021 eyes makes you rub them in disbelief. Did the sexagenarian male host of a TV talent show on which she was singing, aged 10, really ask teasingly on air if he could be her boyfriend? But it happened.

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All New Zealand schools to offer free period products as part of poverty drive

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 14:59

Jacinda Ardern says rollout starts in June, and follows concerns thousands skipping school because they can’t afford products

Every school in New Zealand will be stocked with free period products for female students from June, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has confirmed.

Principals and poverty groups have been calling for the move for years, saying period poverty meant some girls ended up skipping school during their periods because they could not afford the sanitary products to manage them hygienically.

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More war hero statues 'wholly retrograde' move, says UK women's group

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 08:18

Tory MPs’ campaign to honour VC and GC medal holders ‘will increase gender imbalance’ of civic statues

Women’s groups have warned the government that a campaign to honour more than 1,700 war heroes with statues will further exacerbate the “astonishing” gender imbalance of the UK’s civic statues.

The Common Sense Group of Conservative MPs has proposed that every recipient of the Victoria Cross and George Cross be immortalised with a statue in their place of birth. Just 11 of the 1,761 holders of these honours are women, according to the Fawcett Society.

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Indian ex-minister loses #MeToo defamation case

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 06:53

Priya Ramani cleared of defamation over sexual assault accusation against Mobashar Jawed Akbar

A court in Delhi has acquitted a journalist of defamation after she accused a former government minister of sexual assault, in a landmark ruling for India’s #MeToo movement.

Indian journalist Priya Ramani had faced up to two years in jail for criminal defamation over an article she had written accusing Mobashar Jawed Akbar, a former foreign minister and newspaper editor, of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room during a job interview.

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Nepal proposes 'ridiculous' ban on women travelling without permission

Tue, 02/16/2021 - 20:30

Activists warn new anti-trafficking law requiring permission from families to travel is evidence of ‘deep-rooted patriarchal mindset’

A proposed law in Nepal that would ban women from travelling abroad without permission from their families and local government officials has been called unconstitutional and “ridiculous”.

The proposals, introduced by the Department of Immigration last week in an attempt to prevent women being trafficked, would require all women under 40 to seek permission before they visit Africa or the Middle East for the first time.

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Female victims are people in their own right – not just some man's wife, mother, sister or daughter | Kate Manne

Tue, 02/16/2021 - 15:40

We should care about rape simply insofar as it harms many and various human beings

Australia is currently being rocked by Brittany Higgins’s allegations that she was raped at Parliament House by a male colleague in March 2019. Higgins, then 24, was a mere four weeks into her “dream job” of working for the then defence industry minister, Linda Reynolds, when a “rising star” in the Liberal party took Higgins back to Parliament House after hours after an evening of drinks. Allegedly, he then raped her on an office couch, while she was unconscious. Higgins says she had passed out, intoxicated, but came to during the alleged attack: “I woke up mid-rape. I told him to stop. I was crying ... I couldn’t get him off and I couldn’t stop it.” She adds: “He wasn’t even looking at me. It felt like I was sort of a body that was there. It didn’t feel like it was anything about me.”

Related: Trauma like mine doesn’t have a gender. But too many men need to imagine a woman they love to feel empathy | Amy Remeikis

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Europe launches recruitment drive for female and disabled astronauts

Tue, 02/16/2021 - 14:16

European Space Agency aims to take on 26 people for missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars

European space chiefs have launched their first recruitment drive for new astronauts in 11 years, with particular emphasis on encouraging women and people with disabilities to join missions to the Moon and, eventually, Mars.

The European Space Agency (ESA) said on Tuesday that it was looking to boost the diversity of its crews as it cavassed for up to 26 permanent and reserve astronauts.

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Trauma like mine doesn’t have a gender. But too many men need to imagine a woman they love to feel empathy | Amy Remeikis

Tue, 02/16/2021 - 06:30

I was saved from an attack by people who wondered ‘What if it were our daughter.’ Did the others who continued driving past me only know men?

There’s a cape that survivors of trauma carry with them, like a shadow whispering against their necks.

You never know when you’ll be forced to wear it.

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Female UK jazz musicians face sexual harassment and discrimination, says report

Mon, 02/15/2021 - 22:23

Trumpeter Yazz Ahmed and singer-songwriter Amahla weigh in on the findings which include scepticism about women’s musical ability and pregnancy prejudice

Women in the UK jazz scene face discrimination and sexual harassment according to a new report, from requests to “sex up” their album covers to tokenism, maternal discrimination and scepticism about their musical capabilities.

Keychanges at Cheltenham jazz festival, compiled by Dr Sarah Raine, presents findings from interviews with 10 anonymised female jazz musicians of a “notable level of success” who performed at the event in 2019.

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Women need male guardian to travel, says Hamas court in Gaza Strip

Mon, 02/15/2021 - 09:44

Rollback in women’s rights could spark backlash as Palestinians plan elections later in the year

A Hamas-run Islamic court in the Gaza Strip has ruled that women require the permission of a male guardian to travel, further restricting movement in and out of the territory that has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt since the militant group seized power.

The rollback in women’s rights could spark a backlash in Gaza at a time when the Palestinians plan to hold elections later this year. It could also solidify Hamas’s support among its conservative base at a time when it faces criticism over living conditions in the territory it has ruled since 2007.

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EHRC urged to investigate ministers for 'equality failures' in Covid response

Sun, 02/14/2021 - 20:00

Exclusive: TUC, Amnesty and others say decisions have worsened impact on women and watchdog should act

The UK’s equality watchdog is facing demands to investigate claims that ministers have sidelined key gender laws in their response to the Covid pandemic.

In the wake of a damning report from MPs that said the UK risked turning back the clock on gender equality, a coalition of organisations including the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Amnesty International, Save the Children and the Fawcett Society have accused the government of taking decisions that are deepening inequalities.

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