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Blood, sweat and faeces: why doulas aren’t just for wealthy women like Meghan

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 07:04
The Duchess of Sussex is right to hire a doula. I liked mine so much that I retrained to become one

Eyebrows have been raised at news that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have hired a doula. I’m no princess but I made the same decision 10 years ago. The practical and emotional support I received made my start to motherhood so positive that I retrained as a doula myself.

Doulas are experienced lay people, taking on a non-medical role and often getting to know a family over many months. The work is intense and rewarding: from helping a woman plan her second birth after previous trauma, to answering a tearful and exhausted parent’s call at 3am.

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The future of maternity leave? Back straight away, but choose your own hours

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 07:00

The ‘choices’ new mothers have to make as they return to work are not choices at all. But new ideas for what is needed are out there

Maternity leave, as all mothers know, is not leave from anything except life as you once knew it. The job of looking after a baby full-time for up to a year, for those women who can afford it, can be joyous, lonely, stressful, inane, refreshingly mundane, brainless, hilarious, body-and-soul-destroying, the best thing you have ever done and crushingly boring. Often at the same time.

Every mother’s response to this bewildering, byzantine system will be different. For some, the 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay – which can be divided into shared parental leave, but mostly isn’t because it’s a completely unworkable policy that even the minister promoting it couldn’t take up – is too long and the desperation to return to work increases exponentially with each spirit-breaking viewing of Bing on CBeebies. For others the end of maternity leave looms like a Beckettian nightmare in which your baby is wrenched from your arms and you are expected to act like the whole life-changing thing never happened while quietly spending all your earnings on childcare.

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Saudi female activists face jail conditions akin to torture, say UK MPs

Sun, 02/03/2019 - 23:35

Panel finds detained activists subject to sleep deprivation, assault and threats to life

Saudi Arabia is detaining female activists in cruel and inhumane conditions that meet the threshold of torture under both international and Saudi law, a cross-party panel of three British MPs has found.

The conclusions indicate growing unease among western allies over alleged rights abuses under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, who is already facing opprobrium over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

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How dare they tell us women not to jog alone

Sat, 02/02/2019 - 04:00

A police campaign is advising women to run in groups to avoid being harassed. That’s just putting the onus on the victims…

I discovered running about five years ago, during a stressful and sad period of my life. Years of anxiety had left me unable to do much on my own, but running broke that pattern.

I started small, only venturing on to local roads, but soon I was able to run far from my designated safety zones. Running gave me back my independence and allowed me to recognise my own strength. I recently wrote a book, Jog On: How Running Saved My Life, about my experience, and have been overwhelmed by responses from people who feel the same. Mostly they are women, who value the freedom and space that running gives them.

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'We took inspiration from Mumsnet': the footballers’ wives' support network

Sat, 02/02/2019 - 02:00

Partners of high-profile players including Wes Brown and Fabio Borini talk about how they cope with loneliness, addiction and life-changing injuries

“Welcome to Cheshire,” says the taxi driver, pulling out of Wilmslow station, “home of millionaire housewives and footballers.” As we drive, we pass designer boutiques, mock Tudor houses and shiny sports cars. In Cheshire’s golden triangle it is easy to buy in to the stereotype of the footballer’s wife.

And on the surface, at least, the image rings true. Leanne Brown, formerly of the reality TV show The Real Housewives Of Cheshire and wife of former Manchester United defender Wes Brown, lives in an 11,000 sq ft mansion, complete with swimming pool, grand piano and the heady scent of Jo Malone candles.

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How uplifting to hear David Bowie’s ‘girl with the mousy hair’ tell her story | Stuart Jeffries

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 06:01

Artists’ muses rarely get a chance to speak out. If only it happened more often

How lovely to hear from Hermione Farthingale, the girl with the mousy hair and muse of David Bowie for his 1971 song Life on Mars. Finally we’ll be able to get closure on those questions that have baffled us for the best part of half a century. Why was her mother yelling no? Why did her father tell her to go? And why didn’t she consider some sort of colouring product to brighten up her hair?

In fact, none of these questions is satisfactorily answered in the interview Farthingale gives for the forthcoming BBC film David Bowie: Finding Fame. We learn, though, that after they fell in love in 1968 (“He looked ridiculously young, he looked about eight”) they formed a band called Feathers. The following year the dancer and actor ditched him to make a film called Song of Norway.

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Man fined £2,000 for upskirting at London tube station

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 04:59

Hiroshi Yuasa seen taking photo up skirt of woman with his mobile phone

A 38-year-old man who upskirted a woman at a London Underground station has been fined £2,000.

Hiroshi Yuasa was spotted crouching behind the woman at Victoria tube station in April 2018, and taking a photograph up her skirt with his mobile phone.

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Major western brands pay Indian garment workers 11p an hour

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 20:01

Study reveals ‘unchecked’ exploitation of women and girls from marginalised communities

Most consumers don’t think twice about the buttons on their shirt, or the sparkles on their dress. But these finishing touches are sewn by some of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls.

A week on from revelations that women in a Bangladesh factory were paid the equivalent of 35p an hour to make Spice Girls T-Shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief, a new report highlights the exploitative conditions facing millions of home-based garment workers in India.

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Online women's magazine The Pool enters administration

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 10:31

Journalists face redundancy after rescue talks fail, in further blow to online news outlets

Online women’s magazine The Pool has gone bust, leaving 24 journalists facing redundancy and many freelancers facing a battle to get paid, in another blow for the online news business.

Staff have been told that the publisher, founded by broadcaster Lauren Laverne and former Cosmopolitan editor Sam Baker in 2015, is now insolvent, and administrators are set to be appointed on Friday after rescue talks failed.

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Why are the police suggesting women jog in packs? | Zoe Williams

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 21:00

Telling women to stay together is no answer to unsafe streets

After a jogger was sexually assaulted in Shepton Mallet last year, the local running club advised women to travel in packs. Extroverts hate running with other people; we don’t like company without chat, and talking while running is a literal waste of breath. Introverts hate running with other people, because they are other people. Avon and Somerset police, meanwhile, have recommended that runners don’t listen to music and vary their routes. (Everybody hates running without music and most hate changing their routes.) It’s fine, ladies, the police seem to say. We have got your back. You can still do that thing you enjoy, you just have to make yourself safer by enjoying it less.

In the 90s, the What Women Want survey drew on the largest sample since the Hite report on sexuality in the 70s. It had the same methodological problems – it wasn’t a probability sample and women were self-selecting, simply choosing to fill in a postcard or not. And it wasn’t as sexy as the Hite report; women, given infinite choice to talk about utopia, talked a lot about the sunlit uplands of being able to go places without being attacked. When the survey was conducted again a couple of years ago, nothing had changed: young women who you would expect to demand better youth services were instead asking for street lighting; professionals whom might, in another world, be worrying about boardrooms were talking about safety as a tax, cabs because it’s late, gyms because the park was too dicey.

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Women in Zimbabwe demand action over alleged army rapes

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 21:00

Activists don black clothes in protest after widespread reports of sexual violence by security forces


Women in Zimbabwe donned black clothes and shunned makeup to protest against sexual violence by the country’s security forces during the government crackdown on protesters and opposition activists.

Trending under hashtags including #OurBodiesNotWarZones, #SheSpeaksOut, #InjureOneInjureAll and #ShutDownAtrocities, “Black Wednesday” campaigners called on the Zimbabwean authorities to take action against military personnel accused of rape and sexual assault.

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Female artists are finally in our galleries – let's keep them there

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 20:00

Galleries are finally choosing to exhibit works by women – but will they stay on the walls once the trend for representation has passed? It’s all of our jobs to ensure they do

On the face of it, 2018 was a good year for female artists. Museums and galleries across the UK staged exhibitions on historic and contemporary female artists, with events that celebrated 100 years since British women won the right to vote. But now that the bunting has been taken down and the suffragette sashes stowed away, will women still get wall space in our public museums? Are they here to stay or will they have to make way for the next fad?

It’s certainly true that over the past few years, public museums have begun redressing the gender imbalance in their collections. When Tate Modern opened its major extension in 2016, director Frances Morris made a point of dedicating half of the new gallery space to women artists, increasing the percentage on display across the museum from 17% to 36%. And in 2020, the National Gallery will stage its first solo exhibition on a historic female artist – the 17th-century Italian baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.

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State of the Union: women of both parties invited to wear 'suffragette white'

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 09:35

The House Democratic women’s working group says it will be a symbol of solidarity

Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress could be an overwhelmingly white affair, and we’re not just talking about Senate Republicans.

The House Democratic women’s working group is inviting female members of both parties to wear white to the address next week as a symbol of solidarity.

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It’s not just Meghan and Kate – all women need social media protection | Kimberly McIntosh

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 03:09

Kensington Palace has asked Twitter and Instagram for help, but online abuse affects everyone – especially minority women

Being a royal secures unfathomable perks. Whether it’s getting a £1m home refurbishment gifted by the taxpayer, ownership of all the swans or a lifetime of inherited privilege for you and your descendants, royal status shields the bestowed from life’s mundane troubles. But even a five-metre Givenchy wedding veil couldn’t save Meghan, Duchess of Sussex from misogynoir and a barrage of trolling.

This week, Kensington Palace had to reach out for help from Twitter and Instagram, as staff members were spending hours each week reporting sexist and racist comments and threats aimed at Meghan and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. The diatribe is so dire that Hello! magazine has started a campaign #HelloToKindness.

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The Pool, women's site co-founded by Lauren Laverne, in crisis talks

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 00:49

Company’s director says it is ‘not over yet’ but staff say they are waiting for January wages

The online women’s magazine The Pool, which was co-founded by Lauren Laverne, is fighting for its future, with staff yet to receive their wages for January and management in talks to save the company.

The company has stopped commissioning freelancers following a backlog of complaints that bills had gone unpaid, while staff say this month’s salaries, which were due last Friday, have yet to arrive.

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Landmark case could overturn Northern Ireland abortion ban

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 09:25

Sarah Ewart’s action at Belfast high court aims to find law in breach of human rights

A landmark case at Belfast high court could find Northern Ireland’s abortion law in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The legal action is being launched by Sarah Ewart, who embarked on a long, fraught journey in 2013 when a 19-week scan showed that the baby she was carrying had a fatal defect, revealing that the brain and skull had not developed properly.

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Meet the 'cleanfluencers', the online gurus who like things nice and tidy

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 05:21

Marie Kondo may be the biggest name in decluttering, but Instagram is awash with cleaning experts with millions of followers

It may not be spring yet, but everybody’s cleaning. Or, at the very least, they are talking about it. It has only been a month since Tidying Up With Marie Kondo launched on Netflix, but the series, starring the Japanese organisation expert, has already become something of a phenomenon. It has sparked joy among some, and arguments about how many books you should have in your home among others (Kondo, controversially, caps her collection at about 30). It has also led to charity shops reporting a Kondo-related surge in donations as converts go on decluttering sprees.

Kondo, who shot to global fame in 2014 when her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was published in English, is probably the biggest name on the clean scene. However, she is far from the only person to have organised their way to celebrity. The past year or so has seen cleaning take on a new cultural cachet – particularly on Instagram. The social network is rife with hashtags such as #cleaningobsessed or #cleaningtime and people are amassing enormous followings with pictures of gleaming kitchen counters and sparkling floors. Fitness influencers and fashion bloggers step aside: it’s starting to look like bleach is the new black.

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From Le Pen to Alice Weidel: how the European far-right set its sights on women

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 00:00

In far-right populist parties across the continent, a new generation of angry white women are rising to leadership roles. Why are they turning to groups that have traditionally opposed feminism?

It was a chastening lesson for any woman tempted to join the cut and thrust of rightwing populism. After Corinna Miazga was elected to the German parliament in 2017 for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, a male colleague suggested she would be better suited to being a pole dancer than an MP.

Miazga did not let it rest, getting her own back by telling a party conference of the lewd intervention by fellow MP Petr Bystron. “An ‘Argh’ went up in the audience,” she recalls. “No one could quite believe I’d dared to reveal this. Many people in the AfD were subsequently angry at me. They said: ‘We know you’re cross, but by bringing this into the public arena, you’ll encourage people to say we have a male-female problem in the party.’”

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It is a scandal that working mothers are 40% more stressed than other people | Chitra Ramaswamy

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 07:44

The only thing that lowers mothers’ stress levels is to work less – an option most women are unable to choose

Working mothers, let me tell you something you already know and are powerless to change no matter how many mumsplainers advise you to try mindfulness: you’re stressed. Eighteen per cent more stressed than other people. If you are working full-time and have two children, that figure rises to 40%. For single mothers it will no doubt be higher still. Anyway, as if you have got time for this when even reading about the stresses faced by working mothers is like a spa day. You have probably been interrupted by now and are once again up to your neck in the un(der)paid, undervalued and unending hard labour of meeting anyone’s needs but your own.

According to the largest survey of its kind, analysing measures of chronic stress in 6,025 participants nationwide, neither flexible hours nor working from home significantly lowered women’s stress levels. This goes against common thinking that flexitime is the answer to the stress induced by what used to be called “having it all” and has now resurfaced as the equally mythical “work-life balance”. What did have a positive impact? Working less. In other words, the option most women are unable to choose and the one capitalism will never recommend. How stressful.

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Leading UK child health body under fire over baby milk sponsorship

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 01:54

Royal College of Paediatrics urged to rethink conference funding amid claims deal contravenes World Health Organization code

The Royal College of Paediatrics has been accused of breaching World Health Organization guidance after it accepted sponsorship funding from baby formula companies.

More than 100 medics and 13 health groups have written to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), urging it to drop Nestlé, Nutricia and Danone from the list of sponsors for its first international conference, to be held in Cairo on 29 January.

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