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Clitoris is not a dirty word – but society's fear of it has disastrous consequences

Sat, 09/28/2019 - 03:00

People still tiptoe around the word as if the mere mention of something that exists purely for female pleasure is obscene

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French MPs approve IVF draft law for single women and lesbians

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 03:45

Bill is Emmanuel Macron’s biggest social reform since he was elected in 2017

France has taken a step towards allowing lesbian and single women to conceive children with medical help, setting the stage for a clash with the country’s religious conservatives.

To loud applause, France’s lower house of parliament approved a draft bioethics law in a move that has already sparked outrage from opponents, including some in President Emmanuel Macron’s own centrist party.

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'We have made history': Mexico's Oaxaca state decriminalises abortion

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 10:52

Lawmakers voted to scrap restrictions on abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in a win for reproductive rights advocates

Women’s rights activists in Mexico are celebrating after the southern state of Oaxaca decriminalised abortion in a move that they hope signals broader reforms to ensure reproductive rights in what is still a conservative and deeply Catholic country.

Lawmakers voted 24-10 on Wednesday to scrap restrictions on abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, despite vocal opposition from the Catholic church. Opponents – including priests and the religious – screamed “killers!” at the lawmakers as the vote occurred, while women in the green handkerchiefs of the pro-choice movement chanted, “Yes we can!”

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Female-owned businesses: the US economy's quiet success story | Gene Marks

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 00:00

A new report has found that 42% of all firms are female-owned and women started 1,817 businesses a day in the past year

It’s a sad fact that women still earn less than men, a fact confirmed in at least two recent studies. The good news is that the environment is changing, more companies are committed to closing that pay gap and more women are starting to earn the same as their male counterparts. The better news, at least to me, is that women are doing other things to make more money: like start businesses. And they’re wildly succeeding.

Related: Restaurateurs are leading the way in loan approvals – but they need a side of caution | Gene Marks

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Britain claims it protects girls from FGM. So why are we deporting them? | Charlotte Proudman

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 03:02
A 10-year-old at risk of FGM has been refused asylum. Clearly, immigration targets matter more than vulnerable girls

Today the family division of the high court ruled that it has no power to stop the home secretary from deporting a vulnerable girl at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) to Bahrain or Sudan.

Related: NHS to open specialist FGM support clinics across England

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When sexual assault survivors speak out, they help change the culture that enables it | Kristine Ziwica

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 17:27

In waiving her anonymity, Stanford assault survivor Chanel Miller is upending victim-blaming narratives that heap sympathy on the perpetrator

Chanel Miller (previously known as “Emily Doe”), the convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner’s victim, has waived her anonymity and given her first television interview to the US program 60 Minutes. Timed to coincide with the publication of Miller’s memoir, Know My Name, it is a powerful riposte to the rape culture that enabled Miller’s assault – and led many to blame her, the victim.

As is now seared into the memory of many, BuzzFeed took the unprecedented decision in 2016 – a full year before #MeToo prompted a tsunami of women to bear witness to their experiences of sexual abuse – to publish Miller’s victim impact statement in full, which she had read in court the day Turner was sentenced.

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‘There’s no end and no escape. You feel so, so exposed’: life as a victim of revenge porn

Sun, 09/22/2019 - 03:00

This ever-evolving crime rages almost unchecked. Three women talk about the devastating effect it had – and still has – on them

Ruth King (not her real name) can still remember the call coming through on her mobile. She thinks of that moment as “the start of hell”. “It was four years ago, but I remember it clear as day,” she says. “It was my friend warning that there were videos of me everywhere. Her husband worked at a local factory and pornographic videos of me were being shared between all the workers.”

King’s instant response was to vomit. “I was working with my dad – he’s an old-fashioned type of guy, so what could I say? I told him I wasn’t well and went home.” Almost as soon as she got there, another friend, a builder, called to tell her the same videos were being passed around his building site. “He said: ‘I didn’t believe they were of you, Ruth, but I looked and they are.’”

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From the archive: the women miners of Virginia

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 19:00

It’s 1980, and American female miners are facing all the hardships of life down the pits, plus sexual harassment, too

In 1980, Anthea Disney went to Virginia for the Observer Magazine to talk to female miners about their experiences of the brutal working conditions and the sexual harassment and discrimination (27 July, ‘Where a woman’s place is down the mine’).

When Brenda Salyers, 29, first applied for a job at a Consol coalmine, she was told no woman would ever work there. But in 1974, a sex-discrimination lawsuit opened the pit gates to women and she reapplied. ‘A few years later they were forced to give me a job,’ she said, ‘and a cheque for backpay and seniority as well. It was my turn to laugh in their faces.’

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Our relationship is perfect – except we don’t have sex | Dear Mariella

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 18:59

Don’t compromise on such a vital element of a committed relationship, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year and it’s been near perfect, if not for the fact we don’t have sex. It dwindled after three months and I attempted to initiate it – even though it’s not really my character – to no avail. Now it’s not only barely existent but unenjoyable for me as he feels obliged to do it. I’ve always had a high sex drive and at the moment it’s all I think about. I really care about him and feel this is the man I could marry and have children with – he’s voiced several times that this is what he wants, too. I’ve brought the issue up no less than five times now and each time he either changes the subject or blames stress at work. The problem is, he wants me to move in with him, so this has well and truly come to a head. I need to make him see that this is a huge issue for me. I would have considered moving in and seeing how it went, but we don’t live close so this will be a big upheaval. How do I tactfully broach the subject?

Mariella replies Is there a tactful way to say, “Over my dead body?” You have to ask yourself an important question: why would an intelligent, functional, rational, human being expect you to opt for a sexless future with a person who can’t even communicate why they’re unable to engage with you physically?

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The Mean Girls have had their day. Welcome to the new Machiavellians | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 07:12
Young women deserve better than to be classed in an outdated, demeaning category

Fifteen years after the release of Tina Fey’s cult film Mean Girls, where Lindsay Lohan’s central character battled her peers, the all-powerful Plastics, is it time to move on from the Mean Girls caricature?

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University found that, far from being ostracised, Mean Girl types are the most popular social group. FAU followed more than 560 pupils aged around 13 for two years, placing popular adolescents into three categories: “prosocial (outgoing) popular”, “aggressive popular” and the “bistrategic popular”, or “Machiavellian”, with this latter group noted for being feared and loved. All very intriguing and it’s good to see the Machiavellian label covering both sexes, perhaps finally putting the Mean Girl where she belongs – on a dusty shelf with other oversold pop-culture relics.

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Labour will make firms offer menopause-friendly measures

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 11:30

Dawn Butler, shadow women and equalities secretary, will launch policy at conference

Larger companies will be obliged to introduce policies for women experiencing the menopause, such as flexible working hours and better awareness for managers, under a Labour policy to be announced at the party’s annual conference.

The plan, to be outlined by Dawn Butler, the shadow women and equalities secretary, in a speech to the conference in Brighton, will apply to all firms with more than 250 staff, and is intended to help tackle stigma attached to the menopause.

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Pakistani women's rights activist flees to US

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 00:26

Gulalai Ismail escapes after months in hiding and seeks political asylum

A prominent Pakistani activist, whose campaigns to empower girls have won her international awards and recognition, has defied a travel ban and fled to the US.

Gulalai Ismail said she feared for her life after speaking out against sexual violence and disappearances allegedly carried out by the army in north-western Pakistan.

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Alison Rose to become first female RBS chief executive

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 21:31

Deputy head of retail banking arm will also be first woman to lead one of UK’s big four banks

Alison Rose will be the first woman to lead one of Britain’s biggest banks after Royal Bank of Scotland named her as its new chief executive.

RBS ended months of speculation when it confirmed Rose, the favourite for the job, will take over from Ross McEwan on 1 November.

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It’s no surprise that a woman was the first to swim the Channel four times | Alexandra Heminsley

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 19:01
Sarah Thomas’s incredible feat points to a uniquely female resilience – and the healing capacity of wild swimming

On Tuesday morning, 37-year-old Sarah Thomas from Colorado, US, became the first person to swim the Channel four times without stopping. In just over 54 hours of swimming, and 130 miles, she redefined what an endurance athlete could be for a generation: until this week, only four swimmers had ever managed to make the journey three times without stopping.At an age when most of us are thinking about how little exercise we can get away with, and only a year after going into remission from breast cancer, she completed the feat with minimal fuss, emerging to a treat of champagne and M&M’s, with the comment, “I’m pretty tired right now.” Rather more tartly, her mother called her “a freak of nature”.

But those of us who follow outdoor swimming will understand that it isn’t actually that surprising that it was a woman who accomplished something so dramatic. Because women have been quietly dominating outdoor endurance swimming for some time now. A combination of obvious and not-so obvious factors currently means that across average times of male and female Channel crossings, the average female time is faster than men’s.

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Only 2% of global art auction spending is on work by women, study finds

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 05:56

A new report finds women’s work still underrepresented in the art world, with only 11% of art purchased by institutions female-made

A new study has found that despite perceived signs of progress, the art world remains overwhelmingly male-dominated.

According to a report assembled by In Other Words & artnet News, the last 10 years has found a lack of growth for female representation in art with just 2% of global art auction spending on work by women. This figure is also unevenly distributed, with five artists making up 40.7% of this figure and Yayoi Kusama in particular accounting for 25% alone.

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Girls should be taught at school how to ask for pay rise, says female CEO

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 05:38

Females ‘lack confidence’ to demand wage parity, says one of UK’s best-paid charity bosses

Girls should be equipped at school with the skills to ask for a pay rise in the workplace and accept nothing less than salary equality, according to one of the UK’s highest paid charity bosses.

Cheryl Giovannoni, who is paid more than £270,000 for her role as the chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), told a conference of headteachers that girls and young women must learn to be “financially independent and clear about their own worth”.

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Number of women dying in childbirth way off track to meet worldwide targets

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 04:48

UN figures show slow decrease in maternal mortality rate, with rates on the rise in countries including the US

The number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth has fallen by more than a third since 2000, according to new UN figures, but the rate of decline remains way off track to meet global targets to cut maternal deaths.

In the US maternal death rates have increased by over 50% and progress in reducing deaths in the 10 countries with the highest rates has slowed since 2000.

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Lloyd’s of London boss vows to stamp out sexual harassment

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 23:26

Results of survey into culture at insurance market will be published next week

The Lloyd’s of London boss has said he was “devastated” by a report on sexual harassment against women working in the insurance market as he pledged decisive action to put an end to behaviour ranging from inappropriate comments to physical assault.

The world’s biggest insurance market commissioned a major survey into its culture after an investigation by Bloomberg in March detailed widespread harassment. The results of the survey will be released in a report on 24 September.

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'I’m tired and desperate' – a disabled victim of domestic violence on her struggle to survive

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 23:00

Disabled women are at higher risk of domestic violence than others, so why are there so few accessible refuges? As Sarah’s story shows, they are faced with an impossible system

To survive in the refuge, Sarah (not her real name) stores fruit and cereal bars to eat in her room. When we first talk in March, she has been there for a month after leaving her abusive husband. She had been sofa surfing with friends and family for a week while waiting for a place.

This is standard nowadays – research by Women’s Aid in 2017 found that 60% of referrals to refuges were declined, meaning that women escape abusive homes only to be turned away due to lack of space. But because Sarah is a disabled abuse victim, with several physical illnesses that leave her struggling to walk, as well as mental health problems, she at least got high priority.

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The war on (unwanted) dick pics has begun

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 19:00

A web developer asked men to send her pictures of their genitals in order to build a filter that ‘recognises’ a penis and blurs it. Which raises the question: why haven’t tech companies taken this on yet?

Earlier this month, after waking up to find an unwelcome dick pic in her Twitter account’s DMs, web developer Kelsey Bressler, 28, co-created an AI filter she claims is capable of preventing over 95% of sexually explicit images from reaching her inbox.

To test the filter, Bressler solicited pictures of male genitalia en masse, receiving hundreds to the trial account @ShowYoDiq, “for science”.

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