Women's News from the Web

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What is Ivanka Trump's legacy? Enabling her father's odious actions | Arwa Mahdawi

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 21:00

The president’s daughter did encourage her father to push through a bill on paid parental leave, but her successes are outweighed by the administration’s damaging policies

Ivanka Trump has wound up her time in the White House in the most fitting way possible: with a scandal about a $3,000-a-month toilet. Members of the Secret Service, it was recently reported, were banned from using any of the bathrooms in Jared Kushner and Ivanka’s Washington DC mansion and, instead, had to rent an apartment to relieve themselves in (although Jared and Ivanka have denied this). Talk about flushing taxpayers’ money down the drain.

One imagines Ivanka did not plan to spend her final days in DC dealing with the fallout from a violent insurrection and battling embarrassing leaks about her loos. When she appointed herself special adviser to the president, Ivanka was a handbag and shoe saleswoman bursting with ambition. She was going to empower women everywhere! Little girls around the world would read about Saint Ivanka for decades to come. She would be a role mogul: her branded bags would fly off the shelves.

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The Guardian view on women and Covid: failed by bosses and ministers | Editorial

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 08:41

Working parents, and particularly mothers, are in an impossible bind. As minister for women, Liz Truss must take a stand

The closure of schools, as well as a looming crisis in the early years sector, has placed working parents in an impossible situation. How to educate or care for children, while simultaneously doing their jobs, is the dilemma that millions of adults now face (there are 8 million families with dependent children in the UK). This is not to minimise the challenges for non-working parents. Without the routine provided by school, and reliant on remote learning that they may struggle to access, families of all types are having a hard time. For some of those on low incomes, or in poor housing, the situation is desperate.

But the specific pressures being placed on the working parents, particularly of young children, require attention. Confronted with research by the TUC showing that 71% of working mothers who asked to be furloughed have been refused, ministers must act. Women are struggling to juggle work and “home school”, and losing sleep and becoming stressed as a result. The difficulties facing nurseries mean things will very likely get worse, especially for new mothers, before they get better.

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Why are increasing numbers of women choosing to be single?

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 00:00

The word ‘spinster’ is still freighted with pity and misogyny, yet the number of women living this way is growing. Emma John says it’s time to reconsider what it means to be ‘never-married’

I remember the moment my sister told me she was having a baby. I was spending the evening with a group of friends and, halfway through, Kate said she needed a word. We ducked into a bedroom, where she looked at me so solemnly that I ransacked my brain for anything I could possibly have done wrong in the past half-hour.

The seriousness of her announcement made me giggle out loud. I had a flashback to the pair of us as kids, when a secret meeting like this meant we’d broken something in the house and were working out how to present the news to our parents. Plus, the thought of my little sister being a mum was innately funny. Not that Kate wasn’t ready for the role – she was in her mid-30s and keen to get on with it. I just couldn’t see myself as anyone’s aunt.

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The pandemic made the childcare crisis an urgent talking point – will the US finally change things? | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 04:00

Will we shrug our shoulders while the American workforce hemorrhages women and millions of people fall into poverty?

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The true horror of Ireland's machine of misogyny must never be forgotten | Elaine Feeney

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 02:10

The landmark mother and baby home report underlines why we need to grapple with our country’s dark past

On a grey day in 2014, I met a friend at the gate of St Jarlath’s College, Tuam, where I was teaching boys of secondary-school age. We chatted under the shadow of Tuam’s cathedral, located beside a large Victorian villa known locally as the Palace, home of the archbishop. Tuam is a town in north Galway, birthplace of Tom Murphy, the Saw Doctors and the infamous Tuam mother and baby home.

A local historian called Catherine Corless had just turned an open secret into something quantifiable: that the remains of 796 children had been buried in a septic tank at the site of the Bon Secours home, active in the town between 1925 and 1961. Corless, at her own cost, obtained death certificates for each child. Her investigation led to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation, which published its report on Wednesday.

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Black women in the UK four times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 23:30

Disparity with white women shows need for action, doctors say, despite slight improvement in mortality rate

Black women are still four times more likely than white women to die in pregnancy or childbirth in the UK, and women from Asian ethnic backgrounds face twice the risk, according to a new report.

The data shows a slight narrowing of the divide – last year’s report found black women were five times more likely to die – but experts say that is statistically insignificant and not a sign of progress.

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Bad Bridgets: podcast reveals Irish emigrants' tales of poverty and prison

Wed, 01/13/2021 - 21:00

Loneliness and poverty made female arrivals to US turn to sex work, crime and alcohol, say historians

The millions of Irish girls and women who emigrated to North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries tend to be remembered, if at all, as domestic servants, cooks, wives and mothers.

A reputation for diligence and rectitude cast them as the unsung heroes of a diaspora that went on to conquer US business and politics.

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US supreme court reinstates restrictions on abortion pill

Wed, 01/13/2021 - 00:28

Justices lift order that had suspended rule requiring in-person visits during Covid crisis

The US supreme court has reinstated a requirement that women visit a hospital or clinic to obtain a drug used for medication-induced abortions, lifting an order by a lower court allowing the drug to be posted or delivered during the coronavirus pandemic.

The justices granted a request by the Trump administration to lift a federal judge’s July order that had suspended the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rule requiring in-person visits.

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PlayStation 5 launch gets more coverage 'than 10 humanitarian crises combined'

Tue, 01/12/2021 - 04:40

Charity says the media is failing countries by underreporting humanitarian emergencies, with women suffering most

The launch of PlayStation 5 received 26 times more news attention than 10 humanitarian crises combined in 2020, according to a Care International report published today.

The humanitarian crises, which included violence in Guatemala, hunger in Madagascar and natural disasters in Papua New Guinea, were largely swept aside by news of Covid-19, global Black Lives Matter protests and more clickbait-friendly events such as the Eurovision song contest and Kanye West’s bid for the US presidency; the latter two each received 10 times more online news attention than the humanitarian crises in question, the report found.

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I am in my 60s and dating men in their 40s. The sex is great – so why do I feel guilty?

Mon, 01/11/2021 - 22:00

I have always preferred younger partners, but now that I am getting older I think other people are getting judgmental

I am a divorced woman in her 60s who has recently dated a couple of men in their 40s. I have always looked young and my ex-husband is much younger than me. I have never thought much about it, but now that I am getting older I think other people are becoming judgmental. The sex is great and they are not boys, so why do I feel guilty?

It is not easy to shrug off societal judgment. I suspect the people who judge you negatively would barely notice a man in his 60s with a 40-year-old woman. Is there an obvious derogatory word for an older man who dates young women? No. Ageism, hypocrisy and double standards regarding “acceptable” partnerships abound in our society. In most cases, age differences between partners are no one else’s business. Your best course is to ignore judgmental looks or comments – including congratulatory words that constitute veiled criticism. People who are sexually confident can attract adult partners of any age – and they have a right to feel comfortable about that.

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Pope changes law so women are allowed to perform tasks in mass

Mon, 01/11/2021 - 05:56

Decision means Catholic church is ‘recognising accepted practices’ around the world

Pope Francis has changed Catholic church law to officially allow lay women to perform tasks during mass, but stressed the move was not a precursor to them becoming priests.

The law makes explicit that lay women can be altar servers and readers during liturgies. Although this has been common practice for years in many developing countries, the change in canon law means that bishops will no longer have the power to prevent women within their diocese from taking on the roles.

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UK ministers face legal action over lack of abortion services in Northern Ireland

Sun, 01/10/2021 - 01:17

Exclusive: government accused of failing to ensure access more than a year after terminations legalised

Northern Ireland’s human rights commission (NIHRC) has launched a landmark legal action against the UK government for its failure to commission safe and accessible abortion services more than a year after abortion was made legal in the country, the Guardian can reveal.

The Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, is accused of unlawfully denying the rights of women in the country, who experts warn are being forced to use unregulated services and to travel to high-risk areas during the pandemic. The NIHRC is also taking action against the Northern Ireland Executive and the country’s Department of Health.

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Victory for Argentina’s women as abortion charges are dropped

Sat, 01/09/2021 - 22:15

Hundreds of criminal cases could be halted following landmark change in legislation

Argentina has announced it will drop criminal charges against women accused of having abortions following the government’s historic decision to legalise the procedure.

The announcement offers hope to the mostly poor and marginalised women facing criminal sanctions. But lingering problems such as obstetric violence and sexism in the justice system show the struggle for reproductive justice is not over, according to campaigners.

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Woman's Hour review: Emma Barnett effortlessly owns the show

Fri, 01/08/2021 - 08:07

Her first week as Woman’s Hour host reveals an iron confidence, shrewd news sense and a need to breathe

The broadcaster Emma Barnett is a seriously tough interviewer. In my fevered mind’s eye, I imagine her home life consists of her gleefully sucking the marrow from hapless politicians’ bones. She’s quite the contrast from Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey as the new main presenter of Woman’s Hour. Murray – very much Dame Jenni these days – long ago underwent an apotheosis from mere broadcaster into treacle-voiced national institution. Garvey, meanwhile, steadfastly projects sanity and ordinariness. There’s nothing ordinary about Barnett – though I wouldn’t rule out her ending up a national institution. “If I may,” is a phrase she uses quite a lot, when speaking to guests or introducing items. Never was there a more phatic request. One senses that Barnett doesn’t ask permission for much. Nor should she.

That iron confidence is reassuring for the listener. From the first moment that she came on air on Monday morning, reading out a letter to the show from the actual Queen, Barnett gave every impression of effortlessly owning the programme. That’s despite the fact that her first interview was a little frustrating. It was a good idea to talk to Sonia Khan, the special adviser who had been marched out of Downing Street in the summer of 2019 after a “conversation” with Dominic Cummings. The trouble was that getting Khan to say anything spontaneous or off-script was like trying to catch a squirrel by the tail. Not that the encounter was devoid of interest. Khan apparently considered herself an “experienced” person in government because she’d served for five years and was nearly 30.

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Canada: activists sue province over refusal to fund abortions in private clinics

Fri, 01/08/2021 - 08:00

Lawsuit argues that New Brunswick’s refusal violates both the law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Human rights activists in Canada have filed a lawsuit against the province of New Brunswick for its refusal to fund abortion services in private clinics – as they are in the rest of the country.

The lawsuit suit filed by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) argues that the refusal violates both the law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – Canada’s constitution.

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UK school closures mean mothers will take twice as much unpaid leave as fathers – poll

Thu, 01/07/2021 - 14:01

Covid-19 and its economic fallout also likely to affect women’s paid work more

Twice as many mothers as fathers say they will have to take time off with no pay due to school closures or a sick child, according to a survey, raising further fears that the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic is falling disproportionately on women’s shoulders.

According to the survey, carried out by a group of women’s organisations across the UK including Women’s Budget Group and the Fawcett Society, 15% of mothers said they had to take unpaid time off work, compared with 8% of fathers, while 57% of fathers said they would be able to work from home during school closures, compared with 49% of mothers.

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Virginity tests for female rape survivors outlawed by Pakistani court

Tue, 01/05/2021 - 20:27

Judge said the ‘humiliating’ practice was used to cast suspicion on the victim, and deflected focus from the act of sexual violence

A Pakistani court has outlawed the practice of subjecting female rape survivors to a virginity test in an unprecedented ruling.

Lahore’s high court ruled on Monday that the virginity test has no legal basis and “offends the personal dignity of the female victim”.

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Argentina legalising abortion is a victory for women over the abuse of political power | Giselle Carino

Mon, 01/04/2021 - 23:00

The young Green Wave activists follow in the steps of the grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in forcing change

The women looked like my grandmothers, at least as I remember them. Every Thursday, they would sit on benches in the square, white headscarves covering their hair, and together they would wait or march. The scarves represented nappies, as if their children were still babies, whatever their age. They were the mothers – and later the grandmothers – of the Plaza de Mayo, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the 1970s and 1980s. Once strangers to each other, they occupied the square to wait. They met at police stations and churches, where they went in search of information about their children. What exactly were they hoping to find? Their children – young men and women, students and workers – who had been disappeared by the military dictatorship, which lasted from 1976 to 1983. What they found instead was an unbearable truth: their children had been tortured and killed by the government.

Only later did it occur to me that I must have looked like their disappeared granddaughters, orphaned soon after birth inside the dictatorship’s prisons. These women searched for the truth in the Argentine style of politics from below: they took to the street, occupied the square, made their own bodies into a monument to the struggle.

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Woman's Hour an 'advocate to women everywhere', says Queen

Mon, 01/04/2021 - 04:31

Monarch’s statement is read out by presenter Emma Barnett during her first edition of the BBC Radio 4 show

The Queen has described Woman’s Hour as a “friend, guide and advocate to women everywhere” in a message sent to the BBC Radio 4 programme in its 75th anniversary year.

In a statement read out by Emma Barnett on her first show as presenter after succeeding Jane Garvey and Dame Jenni Murray, the Queen – who was 20 years old when the Radio 4 mainstay was first broadcast in October 1946 – sent “best wishes to the listeners and all those associated with the show”. She added: “I wish you continued success in your important work.”

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Wonder Woman 1984 is a smug, dishonest let-down. How very 2020 | Emma Brockes

Sun, 01/03/2021 - 21:00

Three years after a truly inspiring superhero film, Patty Jenkins’ sequel uses faux feminism to push a reactionary agenda

I remember very clearly, three years ago, going to the cinema to see Wonder Woman. It was an afternoon showing and the entire experience – slinking off work while the kids were at school, paying extra for the posh seat, walking out on to the street two hours later confident that, if push came to shove, I could probably bend metal – reminded me how transporting big movies can be. Superhero franchises are, for the most part, made by men for men, but this movie, directed by Patty Jenkins, felt like a rare exception. It was almost pitiful: how gratifying – moving, in fact – it was to see a woman at the centre of a $150m (£108m) movie.

Sentimentality for a commercial beast of that size was probably always misguided, like celebrating the “empowerment” of women pole dancing in clubs run by men. If Wonder Woman didn’t feel cynical, it was still formulaic and subject to the usual requirements; it is hard to imagine Batman fighting crime in a suit that ended at the bum-line. And yet, it seemed to me, you could tell there was a woman in charge. If the fight scenes at the top of the movie had a slightly porny aesthetic, the intended audience was other women. For once, it wasn’t about the men.

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