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Updated: 11 hours 19 min ago

Australia has a chance to make workplaces safer, but Morrison is ignoring key rights women fought hard to achieve | Michele O’Neil

Mon, 08/23/2021 - 19:03

The government needs to adopt the Respect@Work recommendations next week to ensure no worker has to choose between their job and their safety

As a country, we can take a major step towards making workplaces and homes free from sexual harassment and abuse. But not if a government bill passes unamended next week.

Back in March, I listened to Brittany Higgins address the March4Justice rally outside Parliament House. Her courage in telling her story on the national stage has been extraordinary, but the issues at the heart of her experience are not hers alone.

Related: Sexual harassment more than ‘a few bad blokes’ and preventive measures needed, Kate Jenkins says

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‘We owe them a huge amount’: march to honour Greenham Common women

Sun, 08/22/2021 - 01:15

Hundreds will march 130 miles to mark 40th anniversary of peace camp created to protest against US nuclear weapons

Forty years ago a small group of women, along with a few men and children in buggies in tow, left their homes in Wales to protest against the arrival of US nuclear warheads at RAF Greenham Common. The steps they took that day would lead to the establishment of the Greenham women’s peace camp, which at its height gathered more than 70,000 women for direct action and became the biggest female-led protest since women’s suffrage.

Now hundreds more will march 130 miles to mark the 40th anniversary of the camp and call for the original women who led it to be remembered and respected as much as the suffragettes.

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‘Progress is on the line’: former Afghan ambassador warns of women’s fate under Taliban rule

Sat, 08/21/2021 - 19:30

Two decades of gains in rights and liberties for the women of Afghanistan hang by a thread as many go into hiding

The embassy of Afghanistan occupies a handsome redbrick mansion in a serene and tree-lined Washington neighbourhood, set back from dog-walkers and joggers, as distant from the gunfire and panic of Kabul as could be imagined.

Related: ‘Trapped in hell’: Kabul airport chaos casts doubt on US promise of safe evacuation

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From the archive: Katharine Whitehorn on the housewife’s lot, 1970

Sat, 08/21/2021 - 19:00

Kids, cooking, washing her husband’s shirts… Was this all that a woman could expect in the home?

Launching a new series about ‘the housewife and her husband in the age of equality’ for the Observer Magazine of 22 November 1970, Katharine Whitehorn asked, ‘Does a housewife have to be a cabbage?’

‘To read half the newspapers,’ wrote Whitehorn, ‘you wouldn’t think there was a door in England that didn’t hide a housewife going mad with the monotony, cursing her husband with every shirt she washes and her children for every mouthful they eat.’

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Patsy Kensit: ‘You don’t have to marry all your boyfriends’

Sat, 08/21/2021 - 03:00

The actor, 53, talks about her charming dad, never reading her reviews in the papers, staying strong and eating nothing but shepherd’s pie

We grew up without money: two rooms and an outside loo. I remember shyly cowering behind the coal shed as Mum tried to photograph me, but by the age of four I was playing Mia Farrow’s daughter in The Great Gatsby. I loved the fantasy of acting, the contrast of the worlds in which I lived. It’s not that one was better, but going from life with not very much to this extravagant, surreal set opened my eyes to possibilities.

Dad was charming and a genius with numbers – he was also deep in the organised crime world. In the 60s, he worked with both the Kray twins (Reggie was my brother’s Godfather) and their arch enemies, the Richardsons. He went to prison quite a few times and Mum would never take us to visit him. Still, he was my dad who I loved deeply.

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The new award from the Women’s prize should scrap its age limit

Fri, 08/20/2021 - 07:00

Literary prize culture favours young and marketable writers – and the new Futures scheme is simply adding to the problem

Last week, the Women’s prize announced a new award in partnership with Good Housekeeping magazine. “Futures” will provide promotional support to 10 female writers of fiction in the UK and Ireland who have published one book. The award, however, has an age limit of 35.

It’s great to encourage young writers, so what’s the problem? The arts world is already deluged with age-limited awards. Big prizes include the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award (for under-35s), the Dylan Thomas (for under-39s) and the Rooney prize (for under-40s) in Ireland. There are also a host of smaller age-limited grants, residencies and other opportunities, not to mention publicity campaigns similar to Futures, such a Granta’s Best Young British Novelists (for under-40s) and their Best Young Spanish Novelists (who, for some reason, have to make it even faster, by the age of 35). The assumption, it seems, is that older writers are so culturally or financially secure that they have no need for money or recognition.

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Scottish government launches country’s first women’s health plan

Fri, 08/20/2021 - 03:32

Initiative described as ‘first stage of a long-term commitment to reducing health inequalities for women’

Commitments to reduce waiting times for diagnosing endometriosis from over eight years to less than 12 months, offer individual care plans after a woman’s first miscarriage and widen access to specialist menopause services form part of the Scottish government’s first women’s health plan, published on Friday.

The plan, which was informed by women’s own testimonies, is described as “the first stage of a long-term commitment to reducing health inequalities for women”. The 68-page document also pledges to appoint a national women’s health champion, establish a research fund to close gaps in scientific and medical knowledge and improve information and public awareness of heart disease symptoms and risks for women.

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Zimbabwean man charged with rape after girl, 15, dies giving birth

Fri, 08/20/2021 - 00:12

Death has caused outrage in country where one in three girls are likely to be married by 18, despite ban

Zimbabwean police have charged a man after a 15-year-old girl died while giving birth at a church shrine last month.

Hatirarami Momberume, 26, has been charged with raping Anna Machaya, whose death provoked outrage in the country and was condemned by the UN.

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Ex-Afghanistan women’s captain tells footballers: burn kits and delete photos

Thu, 08/19/2021 - 06:28

Cycling federation and others echo Khalida Popal’s call for precautions as country falls under Taliban rule

High-profile sportswomen in Afghanistan have been urged to wipe their social media presence and in some cases burn their kit as supporters scramble to protect them from the Taliban.

Speaking from Copenhagen, Khalida Popal, the former captain of the Afghanistan women’s football team, said female players should take urgent steps to remove all trace of their sporting history.

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Delaying US exit a month could have meant peace in Afghanistan, says negotiator

Thu, 08/19/2021 - 02:17

Biden’s hasty withdrawal removed leverage in talks with Taliban, says first female vice-president of Afghan parliament Fawzia Koofi

Joe Biden delaying the exit of American forces from Afghanistan by just a month could have made a significant difference to the outcome of continuing peace talks with the Taliban leadership, according to one of the negotiators.

Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan politician and women’s rights activist, said the chaotic withdrawal undermined all leverage that the US and the Afghan government had had with the Taliban at the talks in Qatar.

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Can I be submissive in the bedroom and still be a feminist?

Thu, 08/19/2021 - 01:32

If I exert control during sex, I don’t enjoy it. I prefer to lie back – but how do I square this with my beliefs?

I have been with my partner for almost six years and, for the most part, have enjoyed our sex. I prefer to ‘sit back and relax’ and my partner is OK with that. If I get on top or have too much control, I am unable to get out of my head and I feel stressed. However, my personality and moral side finds this conflicting, as outside the bedroom I am a feminist and agree that women have for too long been taught to submit to their man and forget their own needs. This has caused confusion in my understanding of the way I enjoy sex. How can I feel as if I am in control without being dominant in the bedroom? Can I be a feminist while being submissive during sex?

Consensual sex requires that both partners give permission for what occurs, whether they take on a more passive or a dominant role at any given moment. If someone chooses to assume a submissive erotic position, that is an agreement that he or she could withdraw at any time. So, in fact, the submissive partner is actually the moral controller; if that person wishes to gain physical dominance, he or she must first be sure that permission for that is fully granted by the partner. But while these facts may help you to consider physical submission more ethically palatable, in general, erotic connections are heightened when taboos are broken … including what might be considered a feminist no-no.

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I am an Afghan woman working for a western NGO in Kabul. I feel forgotten | Anonymous

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 00:20

In the past I thought that, if worst came to worst, the NGO would protect me. Now I think they have forgotten me

I am an Afghan woman in my 20s, living in Kabul. I have five sisters. My oldest sister completed elementary school. The second one is a midwife, and my third sister is doing her PhD. My younger sister is a film-maker. And my youngest sister, she is a high school student and a member of a volleyball team. And I myself am doing my bachelor in one of Kabul’s universities. Although my parents are uneducated they have tried their best for their children to earn an education.

I have been working for a western NGO for two years advocating for women and working towards a stable, sustainable and equal society. When I heard the Taliban was taking over, I was worried about my future and about every single Afghan’s future, especially women and youth. It was a sad moment to think we women will return to the 1990s, and will live behind the closed doors and Burqa.

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Equality laws could be changed to protect women in menopause, says MP

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 19:00

Strengthening legislation ‘not ruled out’ claims chair of inquiry into menopause discrimination, Caroline Nokes

Changing equality legislation to protect women going through the menopause should “not be ruled” out, according to the chair of a group of MPs leading an inquiry into discrimination on the issue.

Caroline Nokes, chair of the women and equalities committee, said the inquiry had heard from women who have suffered discrimination in the workplace and have been forced to use disability legislation to seek redress in the courts.

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Women's rights will be respected 'within the limits of Islam', say Taliban – video

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 10:31

The Taliban said they wanted peaceful relations with other countries and would respect the rights of women 'within the limits of Islam', as they held their first press conference since seizing Kabul. During their rule between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban implemented their own strict interpretation of sharia law, preventing women from working and girls from going to school.

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Green frontbencher at centre of trans rights row to run for leadership

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 07:58

Shahrar Ali’s selection as a spokesperson was behind former co-leader Siân Berry’s decision to step down

A Green frontbencher whose views on transgender rights were behind the decision of Siân Berry to step down as co-leader is to stand for the vacant leadership himself, saying the party should become a beacon to “politically homeless” women.

In a candidacy statement that appears likely to reignite a sometimes fractious internal debate about trans rights and the wider issue of the party’s internal structures, Shahrar Ali called for what he termed “a culture of open debate, where the taking of offence is not used as a means to prevent those who do wish to debate from doing so”.

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The UK government must do everything it can to help Afghan women | Women for Women International and more

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 07:30

We call for visas, safe exit and humanitarian care for those now in need

  • This is an edited version of an open letter to Boris Johnson

With the Taliban now in full control of Afghanistan, women in the country face particular risk to their lives. As women’s rights and civil society organisations, we have been in touch with a number who have already received death threats. Some have the Taliban at their doors already. There is a particular risk to those who have acted to make a fundamental difference to what it means to be a woman or girl in Afghanistan: those brave enough to hold public office or start women’s rights organisations, those who have tirelessly spearheaded grassroots advocacy efforts and those fearless enough to hold decision-makers to account through their journalism. Some, through their work, have played a visible, enabling role in helping the British government achieve its own objectives. As a direct result of this exposure, these women now face a high and imminent risk to their lives.

Along with other civil society organisations working with partners in Afghanistan, we write with urgent concern about this risk. Collectively, we call on the British government to take action immediately. First, to work closely with governments of neighbouring countries and other international powers to ensure safe and legal exit from the country for women and their families at risk of imminent danger. This would include providing visas for and assisting with the escort and evacuation of Afghan women at risk. The government must work hard to ensure the country’s land borders stay open to evacuations and to facilitate aid, including supporting safe houses and gender-based violence services for women and their families who cannot flee.

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The strange appeal of an old boys’ club | Brief letters

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 07:22

The Garrick Club | Latin | Clothkits | Flatulence

I fail to understand how anyone – Stephen Fry, Nigel Havers et al – can maintain their membership of the Garrick Club and claim to object to its antediluvian policy of refusing to admit women (Report, 16 August). Surely the only ethical stance to take is to own up to it being a mistake to join. To adapt a famous Groucho Marx quote: why would you want to belong to any club that wouldn’t accept a woman as one of its members?
Paul Keleher QC

• It is a myth that in the 1960s Latin was required for university entrance (Letters, 13 August). In the mid-60s, I worked at the Careers Research and Advisory Centre, and compiled a table of all the courses that required Latin. Apart from classics, the only courses included were Romance languages and some history and archaeology degrees.
Veronica Matthew

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Cherie Blair backs campaign for Garrick club to admit women

Mon, 08/16/2021 - 04:10

Female lawyers protest against men-only rule at networking institution used by senior judges and politicians

Cherie Blair has joined a campaign to force the men-only Garrick club to admit women, as a growing number of female lawyers protest against the unfairness of rules that exclude them from a networking institution used by senior judges and politicians.

Signing a petition calling on the club to change its membership rules, Blair recalled watching her fellow trainee barrister and future husband Tony Blair being admitted into the club in 1976, while she was shut outside. She described the lack of progress as “outrageous”.

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Victims of femicide are shamefully ignored in strategy on violence against women

Sat, 08/14/2021 - 22:00

A quarter of killings of women would not be tackled by a focus purely on domestic abuse

Femicide – the killing of women and girls by men – is once again hidden in plain sight by the government. A new Violence Against Women and Girls strategy announced last month fails to address the worst form of men’s violence against women and girls: their killing. The same omission was made in the two previous strategies. Our End Femicide campaign’s first objective is to “name it”. Six months in to the campaign, our government has failed women and girls at the first hurdle.

The murder of women in the UK has recently generated hundreds of articles and a mass outpouring of grief and anger. So how come the government has failed to name and identify femicide? If not now, when? What will it take?

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Anti-vaxxers using pro-choice slogans make me so angry | Eva Wiseman

Sat, 08/14/2021 - 21:30
Slinging around phrases about body autonomy belittles the pro-choice debate and overlooks issues surrounding pregnancy and fertility

I am not an angry person, I get headaches instead. Rage is swallowed like a meatball and spreads fattily around my body, ensuring afternoons of snippy irritation and pounding temples. But when it comes, when I do manage to access my anger, the relief is stunning, and it happened this week when deleting photos from my very old phone.

Mine is a predictable photo album – a baby transforms across a camera roll from limpid mole to Ian Hislop in leggings, kittens simper beside screengrabs of news stories, pink cake, a very big plum. It was the juxtaposition of three pictures that documented April though, that pricked my fury. A photo taken from our car of one of the anti-vaccine marches that shut down London sat beside a headline that pregnant people were finally being offered the coronavirus vaccine, then a picture of my son’s first birthday party.

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