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Activists protest at ‘sidelining of social justice’ at UN climate talks

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 08:41

Campaigners frustrated at how women and indigenous people have struggled to have voices heard

Youth climate activists have called for a global strike on Friday to protest that human rights and social justice have been sidelined at the UN climate talks in Madrid, where governments look set to wrap up two weeks of negotiations without a breakthrough on the pressing issue of greenhouse gas reduction.

Campaigners have been frustrated not only at the slow progress of the talks but also that groups representing women, indigenous people and poor people have struggled to have their voices heard within the conference halls where the official negotiations are taking place, even while 500,000 people took part in a mass protest in the streets outside last Friday.

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Johnson’s casual misogyny has kept women out of the election campaign | Zoe Williams

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 00:56

The macho imagery has been all diggers and oven-ready Brexits. There’s no room for female Tories to get a look-in

Does Boris Johnson have a problem with women? The Conservative campaign has certainly been very male: Matt Hancock and Michael Gove the most prominent voices besides the prime minister. Liz Truss ranking 65th among media presence of cabinet and shadow cabinet ministers, with a mere 0.2% of appearances.

In the interests of fair-mindedness, it should be pointed out that all female Conservatives who are halfway decent – in the sense of stringing effective sentences together that aren’t composed mainly of lies – have left the party. Amber Rudd, Anna Soubry, Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening, all supposedly the faces of the new, caring Cameroonianism, all gone. You could say that to lose a couple was natural wastage, but to lose them all signals that the party had taken a masculinist turn that its female futures couldn’t support. You could say that if the prime minister had any serious commitment to gender diversity, he would have worked harder to keep them, maybe even to the point of brooking some ideological compromises. What you can’t say is that he has a rich pool of female talent in his cabinet to draw from that he’s ignoring. I cannot call it misogyny to keep Priti “52 extra murders a year under Jeremy Corbyn” Patel out of the dead centre of the limelight. The longer she speaks, the greater the risk of her doing a Jacob Rees-Mogg.

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What can we learn from a vagina museum?

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 00:00

From 12th-century carvings to 90s coy euphemisms, women and their sexual organs have been on a journey, and a new space invites further contemplation. Like: who would wear a pussy pendant?

‘There’s nothing wrong with that word: it’s not a dirty word.” Sarah Creed, curator at the Vagina Museum in Camden Market, north London, is ending a story about a gynaecologist friend whose child at nursery was told it was inappropriate to say “vagina”. Obviously I know there is nothing wrong with it. But would I wear a pussy pendant, by the Dutch artist Denise Rosenboom, which are apparently flying off the shelves? Would I have Sam Dawood’s period sculpture in my house? (I can see that this is quite a philistine criterion for appreciating art). Or a model of the vulva, identifying all the parts?

A lot of myths are busted in the opening exhibition, titled Muff Busters, at this new museum: what we tend to call the vagina is actually the vulva, for example. There is only one word that describes the whole kit and it was appropriated some centuries ago as an expletive. Discharge is not effluent, it is a sign of self-cleaning. The hymen is not like a wall that you punch through. Most moderately competent feminist adults will know all this, plus, you know, Google. Which is not to say that it doesn’t need saying; rather, that there is something deeper going on here than the correction of an information deficit.

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The Women’s Equality party has taken on abuse in Westminster – and won | Mandu Reid

Wed, 12/11/2019 - 22:00
The party I lead has proved that politicians have a mandate to do right by women. It’s up to all of us to hold them to that

As people go to the ballot box today in one of the most important UK elections in recent history, you might expect the leader of a political party to be obsessively checking the polls. I am not doing that. That’s because I am in a unique position – as the leader of the Women’s Equality party, I can proudly say that we have already won.

That’s not to say that we are happy with predictions about the overall outcome of the election, or the toxicity and polarisation that has infected our politics. Nor have we won in terms of seats; although we are still running three amazing candidates and hope they do well, for us this election has never been simply about vote share. We have won because we campaigned with the aim of moving the issue of violence against women and girls up the political agenda – and we have succeeded in making every other party take notice.

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Hannah Dines on going public with her labia surgery: ‘It started a big conversation’

Tue, 12/10/2019 - 20:00

The Paralympic cyclist wrote about the damage the sport had caused her. The article caused an outcry, others with similar experiences contacted her – and manufacturers finally began designing saddles for women

The day after I wrote in the Guardian about how my life as a female cyclist, and Paralympian, led to me having reconstructive surgery of my vulva – all because saddles are not designed for women – a book arrived in the post. It was The Vagina Bible by Dr Jen Gunter. It was a gift from my mum, who had read the searing details about my labial surgery. She has always had a good sense of humour.

The response from other people was overwhelming. That is the thing when you share – people share back. When the first professional cyclist contacted me to tell me she had gone through the same thing, the relief was so profound that I cried. I can now say with certainty that there are other people like me who, due to the wrong kind of pressure, experienced a cycle of chronic inflammation and swelling. These are people for whom cycling is as necessary to life as breathing and they face an impossible dilemma.

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Pro-choice activists launch abortion initiative in Poland

Tue, 12/10/2019 - 04:00

Abortion Without Borders to offer women advice and funds to seek treatment abroad

An international group of pro-choice campaigners will launch an initiative in Poland this week to provide advice and funding for women to travel abroad to have abortions.

Poland has some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws, and proposals backed by the rightwing government to introduce a total ban on abortions in 2016 were scrapped only after large-scale protests.

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The Guardian view on Finland’s new PM: a different type of leadership | Editorial

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 08:23

By becoming the world’s youngest prime minister at the head of a coalition of female-led parties, Sanna Marin reminds us that another politics is possible

The world’s happiest country, according to an international survey two years in a row, is now one of very few to have a female leader. Finland’s Sanna Marin, who is 34, will become the youngest serving prime minister when she is sworn in later this week. In setting this record, the Social Democrat follows in the footsteps of another young, progressive PM – New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, who was 37 when her Labour party won the 2017 election, and the first woman to give birth in office since Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto (the male, 35-year-old prime minister of Ukraine, Oleksiy Honcharuk, was the world’s youngest PM for three months in between).

Finland, which was the first country in Europe to grant women the vote in 1906, is often regarded by those on the left as something akin to utopia – or at least a shining example of what a big-spending, socially liberal government can achieve. Its well-funded universal education system is among the most successful in the world. Between 2017 and 2019 it ran one of the first trials of universal basic income. This summer a new left-leaning government pledged to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035 – a target accurately described by Finnish Greens as “probably the most ambitious in the world”.

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge: I was not hired for Bond because of my gender

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 02:51

Fleabag creator says she was never told 007 script role was to help with female characters

Phoebe Waller-Bridge will be only the second woman ever credited on a Bond movie script but she has insisted gender was not the reason she was hired.

The Fleabag creator said it was “mad” and “exciting” to work on No Time to Die, in which Daniel Craig will play 007 for the final time. But there was never a conversation about her being there to help with the film’s female characters.

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'Now I have to check your hymen': the shocking persistence of virginity tests

Sun, 12/08/2019 - 23:45

In the US, it is still perfectly legal to doctors to perform ‘hymen checks’ as proof of virginity

Michelle Northcote doesn’t remember her paediatrician’s face, but she does remember the ceiling in his office. It was covered with large tiles probably made of foam or cork-board. Each tile was large and rectangular, an off-white color flecked with grey.

From the age of six to 13, Northcote spent a long time staring at it. Once a year, for the longest two minutes in history, she would force herself to concentrate on those tiles right after her doctor repeated the familiar phrase:

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Police files on Queen Victoria's suffragette goddaughter to go on display

Sun, 12/08/2019 - 20:00

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was deemed a danger to the state and heavily surveilled

She loved parties, dogs and, as Queen Victoria’s goddaughter who lived in a grace and favour royal apartment, she was fabulously well connected.

But Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was also a suffragette and therefore marked down as a danger to the state.

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How to look after your vulva

Sun, 12/08/2019 - 06:00

Forget soap, shower gel and douching. And absolutely never steam

When it comes to putting anything near the vulva, as natural as possible is best. This means no soaps, shower gels or feminine washes – essentially any product that foams, because they can dry the skin, get rid of the good bacteria and increase the likelihood of developing bacterial vaginosis (BV) and thrush.

The vagina itself is self-cleaning, so all you need to do is clean the vulva with water or an emollient. You can also apply an emulsifying ointment or olive or coconut oil – not inside – to act as a moisturiser. When we wash, anything we’re using elsewhere on the body such as shower gel and shampoo tends to run down between the legs, so having an oil over the vagina reduces the risk of an allergic reaction or irritation. Just rinse it off at the end. Douching is an absolute no-no as it removes lactobacilli, which are there to prevent infections. And absolutely never steam.

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