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Take note – why do women composers still take up less musical space?

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 02:33

Sound and Music set itself an ambitious target - gender parity by 2020. How’s it doing?

Two years ago today, Sound and Music made a public pledge to achieve gender equality across all of our work with composers and artists, under the headline “50:50 by 2020”. Anniversaries are an opportunity to reflect, and this one has not only led me to think about the headway we’ve made – but also the significant and systemic challenges that remain.

At one level, we’ve made good progress. This year, 44.5% of composers we – the UK’s national organisation for new music – are working with identify as women, as opposed to 33% two years ago. To reassure those who said that we were sacrificing considerations of artistic quality on the altar of tokenism, this has been artistically thrilling not only for us, but for everybody involved – the composers themselves, our partner organisations and indeed audiences.

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Emma Watson, Keira Knightley among stars urging better protection of women

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 21:00

Scores of high-profile signatories mark International Women’s Day by signing letter calling for stronger global political support

• Letter: Women worldwide must be heard and respected

Emma Watson, Keira Knightley, and Dame Emma Thompson are among 76 actors, writers, business leaders and campaigners calling on governments to increase support and protection of women fighting for their rights around the world.

The letter, published in the Guardian to mark International Women’s Day on Friday, says women risk “backlash, censorship and violence” whenever they defend their rights or speak out over injustice.

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Gender equality is not a ‘women’s issue’ – it’s good for men too | Julia Gillard

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 20:00
There are plenty of proud male feminists, but to make equality a reality we need to draw more into the conversation

Men have always played critical roles in the women’s movement. From John Stuart Mill to Fredrick Douglass, male allies have long supported the struggle for gender equality. And today there are plenty of men who are proud feminists – just ask Andy Murray, who hired and championed a female coach, Amélie Mauresmo; or Ryan Gosling, who has become something of a feminist icon. But there is still a long way to go, and we’ll only get there by drawing more men into the conversation.

Despite all the progress made, men still dominate positions of power. And, as a string of recent harassment scandals has shown, the behaviour of some men has had profound effects on women’s careers, their success and their lives. The good news, as we mark International Women’s Day, is that many men are acknowledging the importance of playing their part to make gender equality a reality.

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Big firms lying about female and minority directors, says top business chief

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 19:00

Exclusive: Charlotte Valeur says she will call for new laws if FTSE 350 firms don’t improve diversity

The new chair of one of the UK’s most influential business groups has accused Britain’s biggest companies of lying when they say they cannot find enough female or ethnic minority directors.

Charlotte Valeur, who joined the Institute of Directors (IoD) in September, said she would start calling for new laws next year to force firms to improve their diversity if FTSE 350 companies failed to make faster progress.

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El Salvador: three women jailed for abortions released

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:35

Supreme Court commutes 30-year sentences of trio who have each served 10 years in prison

El Salvador’s Supreme Court has commuted the 30-year sentences of three women imprisoned for abortion convictions, lessening their punishment to time served and ordering them to be released immediately.

The three women had spent about 10 years in prison on aggravated homicide charges for allegedly having abortions. All claimed that they had miscarriages. The court found that the women were victims of social and economic circumstances and ruled that the original sentences were unreasonable.

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The Guardian view on violence against women: deeds not words are required | Editorial

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 08:41

International Women’s Day allows us to applaud progress, and demand more of it. But the news about domestic abuse in the UK is mainly bad

The creation of the new offence of coercive or controlling domestic abuse in 2015, combined with provisions in the current government’s domestic abuse bill including the creation of a specialist commissioner, ought to mean that the situation for survivors across the UK is improving. The new tools are important ones for police, prosecutors and campaigners. A broader definition of abuse taking in psychological and economic factors was overdue. The bill, published in January, will outlaw the cross-examination of victims by abusers in the family courts and introduce new protection orders.

International Women’s Day ought to be an opportunity to celebrate such successes, while continuing to advocate for change (2 million adults in England and Wales experienced abuse in the year to March 2018, with women more than twice as likely to be victims as men). Theresa May has been widely observed to care about these issues, even amid the maelstrom of Brexit. Last week’s quashing of Sally Challen’s conviction for murdering her husband reinforced the idea that it is becoming easier for women to access justice; that domestic abuse is becoming better understood. Mrs Challen maintained she had killed her husband after suffering years of being controlled and humiliated by him. Judges ordered a retrial after new evidence was presented that she was suffering from two mental disorders at the time of the killing.

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My sister is in a Saudi jail. Her crime? Campaigning for women’s rights | Walid al-Hathloul

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 01:34

Our government claims Saudi Arabia is an open and tolerant nation. Its deplorable actions prove the very opposite is true

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the many achievements of women and stand together to demand equal rights. More and more people worldwide are speaking out against injustices and joining the fight for equality.

My sister, Loujain, is one of these brave gender equality activists – and for that she is now in jail. She has dedicated her life to gaining basic women’s rights in our home country of Saudi Arabia, focusing mainly on the women’s driving ban, male guardianship and domestic abuse.

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Abortion back on agenda in NSW as decriminalisation push gathers pace

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 11:10

Labor, Greens and key independent signal they will pursue changes to Crimes Act

Abortion decriminalisation is likely to be back on the agenda in the next New South Wales parliament, with Labor, the Greens and a key independent signalling they will pursue it.

On Wednesday federal Labor announced a national sexual and reproductive rights strategy to improve access to contraceptives and abortion, and vowed to work with the states on decriminalisation.

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Is the Labor party's abortion policy a vote winner? Who cares, it's the right thing to do | First Dog on the Moon

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 20:40

The right thing is what we all once expected of the Labor party, remember that?

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Many women fleeing domestic abuse face poverty, report finds

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 20:01

Respondents in England say partners use economic abuse as method of control

Victims of domestic abuse face the choice of their families being plunged into homelessness and poverty, or staying with the abuser, a report has found.

Related: Here's the real story of homelessness and domestic abuse that the statistics hide

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Morrison lambasts Labor for raising abortion before election

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 19:25

PM says debate does not ‘unite Australians’ after Labor promises to require public hospitals to provide services

Scott Morrison has blasted Labor for raising the issue of publicly funded abortions just before an election, saying he did not believe the discussion to be “good for the country”.

The prime minister said the issue was better left to the states and territories to decide and he was “disappointed” the opposition had announced its policy “in a very politically charged context”.

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We’d love Nancy Banks-Smith’s take on Fleabag | Brief letters

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 08:38
Music-making | Women on TV | Toilets | Spring

Congratulations on your editorial (2 March) on improvisation and imperfection. How often do we find editorial reference to music-making, even in the Guardian? However, I was disappointed to find you reiterating that old and unhelpful opposition between “discipline” and the supposed freedom of improvisation. Effective improvisation depends absolutely on disciplinary mastery, not on a supposed emancipation from it, whether you’re talking about those experts the Grateful Dead or André Previn.
Susan Melrose
Deal, Kent

• The survey of women who have rebuilt the landscape of television (Fearless, funny and fabulous, G2, 4 March) blissfully included a timely reminder of Nancy Banks-Smith’s talent. Can you at least persuade her to do a Fleabag commentary in the style of her monthly Archers roundup? (Cue knowing grimace to camera...)
Richard Lee
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

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Well done, Virgin Atlantic – now all companies must ditch their makeup rules for women | Zoe Williams

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 07:51

Requiring flight attendants to wear makeup forced them to do two jobs at once – actually look after passengers and play at being stereotypical air-hostesses

You always knew that Virgin Atlantic must have required its female flight attendants to wear makeup. They always looked so polished that any other explanation just wouldn’t have made sense. But it never really registered until this week, when the airline ditched the rule.

Where once cabin crew were reprimanded if their lipstick didn’t match their siren-red jacket, now they can go for neutral shades or – if they are really daring – wear no lipstick at all, like some kind of social worker.

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'Thousands' of young girls denied abortion after rape in Argentina

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 03:06

Anti-choice doctors and health officials accused of obstructing legal terminations after 11-year-old girl gave birth to rapist’s child

The lives of thousands of girls in Argentina are being put at risk as legal abortions are delayed and obstructed by doctors trying to force pregnancies to full term.

The issue of anti-choice doctors, medical institutions and government officials deliberately trying to hold up legally sanctioned terminations was brought into sharp focus last week when it emerged that an 11-year-old girl’s baby was born alive because health officials delayed her request for an abortion. The girl had fallen pregnant after being raped by her grandmother’s boyfriend.

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Virgin Atlantic’s sexism goes deeper than telling women what to wear | Joan Smith

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 02:38
The airline has finally relaxed its makeup rules for female crew. But in paying women far less than men it shows its true colours

Obviously I didn’t think they were all virgins, just because they worked for a company with the V-word in the title. That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? But then I never imagined it was compulsory for female cabin crew at Virgin Atlantic to wear makeup and tight skirts when they were serving meals, dealing with sick children or – in the worst possible scenario – guiding terrified passengers through emergency exits on to inflatable slides.

Related: Virgin Atlantic drops mandatory makeup for female cabin crew

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Mexico slashes funding for women's shelters

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 01:00

Human rights workers say plan to give money directly to victims of domestic violence risks unravelling decades of work

Human rights activists in Mexico have condemned a government plan to slash funding for women’s shelters – and instead give the money directly to victims of domestic violence.

Details of the government’s scheme are still being defined, though it said in a statement that “support for this purpose” would remain unchanged.

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Yes, women wrote Fleabag and Derry Girls. But men still dominate TV | Lisa Holdsworth

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 22:00
Placing a handful of successful female writers with hit shows on a pedestal only masks the problem of gender bias

• Lisa Holdsworth is a TV writer whose credits include Call the Midwife and Midsomer Murders

We really are living in the golden age of television. A new season of TV drama is greeted with as much anticipation and excitement as the release of a Hollywood blockbuster. This week, we are welcoming back two big hits – Fleabag and Derry Girls. Killing Eve will follow next month. And among the highly anticipated premieres will be Gentleman Jack, Kaos and Adult Material.

All these high-end dramas have one thing in common: they are written by enormously talented women. Is this a sign that opportunities for female writers are improving? I hope so, but I wouldn’t bet my next mortgage payment on it. And as I pay my mortgage by writing television, I wish I could be more optimistic.

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I tried to help Dubai’s Princess Latifa to escape – a year on, I dream of her release

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 20:00

Tiina Jauhiainen tried to help her best friend leave her stifling, traditional existence as the daughter of Dubai’s ruler. But in a dramatic intervention at sea, the princess was returned to the UAE. A year on, Jauhiainen is campaigning for Latifa’s freedom

“I wish I’d said something to her when they were taking her away,” says Tiina Jauhiainen, looking down at her now cold tea. We are in a cafe in central London, but Jauhiainen’s mind is 5,000 miles away in the Arabian sea, reliving the night of 4 March 2018, when she attempted to help her best friend escape from her family. “There were guns everywhere. Latifa was screaming and kicking. But I was paralysed with fear. I couldn’t say a word.” She pauses. “I just wish that I’d said, I’m sorry this has failed. That I’d told her I love her.”

That was the last time that Jauhiainen, 42, saw Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, the 33-year-old daughter of Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. The women were captured and separately taken back to Dubai – the emirate from which they had been trying to escape. But while Jauhiainen was released after a fortnight, Latifa’s whereabouts are still unknown.

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California sues to stop new abortion obstacles by Trump administration

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 15:41

Twenty other states plan to sue separately against Trump’s effort to block a rule that would shift funding to faith-based groups

California and 20 other Democratic-led states announced they were challenging the Trump administration’s effort to set up obstacles for women seeking abortions, including barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers.

California attorney general Xavier Becerra said Monday that the state filed its own federal lawsuit in San Francisco that aims to block a new family planning rule from the US Health and Human Services Department. Opponents of the rule say it would shift millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood to faith-based family planning organizations.

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'Dazzling' drama about race wins prize for Jackie Sibblies Drury

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 10:00

US dramatist wins Susan Smith Blackburn prize for female playwrights with Fairview, beating dramas by debbie tucker green and Ella Hickson

The American dramatist Jackie Sibblies Drury has won this year’s Susan Smith Blackburn prize for female playwrights.

Drury receives $25,000 prize money after her play Fairview beat those by other finalists including debbie tucker green’s ear for eye, Nina Raine’s Stories, Ella Road’s The Phlebotomist and Ella Hickson’s The Writer, all of which received hit UK productions last year. Fairview will have its UK premiere at the Young Vic in London in November.

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