Women's News from the Web

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Multitasking is a menace – it should come with a health warning | Emma Beddington

Mon, 07/05/2021 - 04:09

In an era of mass distraction, we have no choice but to keep juggling every aspect of our lives. But we could at least stop heroising the process

A number of the 37 open tabs on my laptop are currently devoted to trying to substantiate various pop culture claims about multitasking. Does it increase cortisol levels or reduce your IQ by an amount twice that of smoking marijuana? Does it make you less productive or less empathetic?

I struggled to tease this out. I started by answering an email about union membership in Chile, updating a spreadsheet and paying some bills. After that, I forgot what I was doing for a while and stared at my phone until I became enraged by a bluebottle (and decided to find out whether “bluebottles make you homicidal” is one of the 72 Japanese microseasons: it isn’t).

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This space race has its downside… Rocketwoman Wally Funk joins crew for Jeff Bezos’s ego trip

Sat, 07/03/2021 - 23:00

The veteran US pilot is set to become the oldest woman in space – the only snag is she has to go with the Amazon billionaire

You have to feel for the American pilot Wally Funk. You would sympathise with anyone with that name, but she has had a particularly mixed week. On one hand, at 82, she is set to finally fulfil her life’s ambition and travel into space. Funk was one of the most promising female candidates for the Mercury 13 programme in the 1960s, but was denied a spot because of her gender. Right stuff, wrong parts. On Thursday, the Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, announced on Instagram that Wally would become the oldest person in space as one of the four passengers on New Shepard, the rocket being launched by his company Blue Origin on 20 July. “I didn’t think I’d ever get to go up,” Funk said in an interview.

The obvious downside, which she was too polite to mention, is that she has to ride with Bezos, his brother and one other, in a kind of UberPool from hell. She ought to have been more specific to the genie. Midlife does strange things to men, and so does being a billionaire. The combination leads to some odd outcomes. Not content with building his own rockets, Jeff, as he approaches 60, has decided to start riding them as well. Towers and yachts are so passé. Private space travel is the thing. Elon Musk is at it, too, and presumably a load of guys in China.

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No evidence and little research – it’s no wonder that women and babies continue to die | Sonia Sodha

Sat, 07/03/2021 - 22:00

A series of fatal failings in maternity care is evidence of a systemic problem within the NHS in England

Giving birth used to be one of the most dangerous things a woman could do. In parts of 15th-century Europe, women wrote wills as soon as they knew they were pregnant. In the 17th and 18th centuries, around one in 25 women died in childbirth. It was a danger that cut right across class, from queens to domestic servants, and one that women had to face over and over again. For their babies, the risks were even higher.

It is a miracle of modern medicine that the joy of getting pregnant no longer has to be tempered with the very real prospect that you or your baby may not survive the birth. A true marker of human progress is the fact that maternal and infant mortality have dropped dramatically in the UK even as births have become more complicated, with babies getting bigger and women having children later.

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The more we see older women succeed, the more they will succeed | Gaby Hinsliff

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 20:00

Anne Robinson’s new job might not seem relevant to the average working woman, but visibility is vital to defeat ageism

Anne Robinson is, as she says herself, the oldest woman on television not judging cakes.

But age has hardly mellowed her. Like the canny pro she is, the 76-year-old former Queen of Mean toned it down a bit for her somewhat unlikely new gig hosting the gentle teatime TV quiz show Countdown, but the pre-launch interviews were as sharp and punchy as ever. After this long in the business, she knows her shtick. And love it or loathe it, there is something rather thrilling about her determination not to be put out to grass.

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Pregnant women in England denied mental health help because of Covid

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 19:01

In 2020-21, only 31,261 out of 47,000 managed to access perinatal mental health services

Thousands of pregnant women in England were denied vital help for their mental health because of the pandemic, analysis from leading psychiatrists shows.

In 2020-21, 47,000 were expected to access perinatal mental health services to help with conditions such as anxiety and depression during or after giving birth, but only 31,261 managed to get help in the most recent data for the 2020 calendar year only, according to analysis from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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Social network giants pledge to tackle abuse of women online

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 19:00

Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok commit to overhaul their platform’s moderation systems

Four of the world’s largest social networks have committed to overhauling their moderation systems to tackle the abuse of women on their platforms.

Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok have signed up to the pledge, led by the World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF), to fix persistent weaknesses in how they tackle online gender-based violence.

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Billions pledged to tackle gender inequality at UN forum

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 06:00

Generation Equality Forum in Paris announces plans to radically speed up progress on women’s rights

Billions of pounds will be pledged to support efforts to tackle gender inequality this week at the largest international conference on women’s rights in more than 25 years.

The Generation Equality Forum, hosted in Paris by UN Women and the governments of France and Mexico, will launch plans to radically speed up progress over the next five years.

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Rise in women sleeping rough is hidden crisis in England, charities warn

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 01:59

Charities report increase as figures show overall rough sleeping in London is up by 35% in five years

Growing numbers of women are reporting as homeless in England as figures show rough sleeping in London has risen by 35% in five years.

More than 11,000 people were counted sleeping rough in the capital from April 2020 to March 2021, a 3% increase on the previous year, despite the push to get “everyone in” last spring. The homelessness charity Crisis described the figures as “dreadful” and said it showed progress resulting from the push to house people in hotels at the start of the pandemic was “in imminent danger of being lost”.

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Sexual assault has been an epidemic in New Zealand high schools for years. Maybe now adults are listening | Catherine McFedries

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 18:47

My old high school in Christchurch has had the guts to listen to the reality that too many of us have girlhood stories of being groped, objectified or worse

I was at Christchurch girls’ high in the 90s. I still remember arriving in chemistry class at the start of a new year, and news getting round about a summer rape. No one would probe, but everyone knew, and there was a silent acknowledgement amongst my peers that it could have been any of us.

In the years since, it seems like little has changed. It was unsurprising when a survey released this week found 20 young women at the school alleging they had been raped, and more than half saying they had been sexually harassed, many multiple times. For almost all of them, these violations happen before they turn 17.

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Honduran state responsible for trans woman’s murder – court

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 04:47

Landmark ruling orders state to pay reparations, protect trans people and legalise gender change

In a landmark ruling for transgender rights, the Honduras government has been found responsible for the 2009 murder of the trans woman and activist Vicky Hernández. The ruling, at the Costa Rican-based Inter-American court of human rights, was published on the 12th anniversary of Hernández’s death, and marks the first time the highest regional human rights court has held a state accountable for failing to prevent, investigate and prosecute the death of a trans person.

The court has ordered Honduras, which has the world’s highest rate of murders of trans people, to pay reparations to Hernández’s family and implement a sweeping range of measures designed to protect trans people, including anti-discrimination training for security forces and state collection of data on violence against LGBTQ+ people.

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New Zealand must tackle ‘epidemic’ of sexual violence, says children’s commissioner

Sun, 06/27/2021 - 19:23

Andrew Becroft speaks after small survey of girls uncovered allegations of multiple rapes and thousands of instances of sexual harassment

New Zealand’s children’s commissioner has called for urgent action to tackle an “epidemic” in sexual violence in the country, after a survey of more than 700 girls at a school in Christchurch found more than 20 alleged they had been raped, and half said they had been sexually harassed.

Andrew Becroft said in a statement on Monday the results of the survey were “incredibly disturbing”, adding: “Sadly, this survey is the latest in a growing body of evidence about the extent of sexual violence against girls and LGBTQ+ teenagers in Aotearoa. It’s time for New Zealand to admit this is an epidemic, and it needs a national epidemic-level response.”

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India’s Covid gender gap: women left behind in vaccination drive

Sun, 06/27/2021 - 19:15

Misinformation and access issues combined with patriarchal social norms fuelling disparity in distribution across most states

Deep-rooted structural inequalities and patriarchal values are to blame for India’s worrying Covid vaccine gender gap, campaigners and academics have warned.

As of 25 June, of the 309m Covid vaccine doses delivered since January 2021, 143m were administered to women compared with nearly 167m to men, according to CoWin, India’s national statistics site – a ratio of 856 doses given to women for every 1,000 given to men. The difference is not accounted for by India’s gender imbalance of 924 women to 1,000 men.

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How I realised my family of two was perfect for me

Sun, 06/27/2021 - 02:00
Families come in all different sizes – the secret is realising that yours may be even better than the one you longed for

It is a strange irony that the thing we want most in life is often that which eludes us. The writer and feminist Rebecca Solnit says, “Often it is the desire between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing.”

The protagonist in my debut novel, The Imposter, wrestles with the sensation that Solnit describes – that blue of longing. She travels on the top deck of the bus in the city where she lives, glancing into the cosy living room windows she passes, filled with seemingly happy families, and longs to be a part of one of them.

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The Observer view on the right to free expression | Observer editorial

Sat, 06/26/2021 - 19:30

Whatever your view on sex and gender, freedom of speech is key

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of democracy, which cannot flourish unless citizens can articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship or sanction. So it should concern anyone who claims to be a democrat that there is growing evidence that women who have expressed a set of feminist beliefs that have come to be known as “gender-critical” have, in some cases, faced significant professional penalties as a result.

“Gender-critical” beliefs refer to the view that someone’s sex – whether they are male or female – is biological and immutable and cannot be conflated with someone’s gender identity, whether they identify as a man or a woman. The belief that the patriarchal oppression of women is grounded partly in their biological sex, not just the social expression of gender, and that women therefore have the right to certain single-sex spaces and to organise on the basis of biological sex if they so wish, represents a long-standing strand of feminist thinking. Other feminists disagree, believing that gender identity supersedes biological sex altogether.

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The case of the cursing cheerleader shows how we police profanity | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 06/26/2021 - 03:00

The teen was victorious in the supreme court – but would she have been punished in the first place if she were a boy?

It’s been a great week for cheerleaders fond of tossing around the occasional F-bomb. On Wednesday the US supreme court ruled that a Pennsylvania public school violated a 14-year-old student’s first amendment freedom of speech rights when it suspended her from the cheerleading team because of an expletive-ridden social media post she’d sent from outside school premises.

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People have told me I’m on the wrong side of history, but I still want to be their friend | Hadley Freeman

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 22:00

I don’t drop people I disagree with from my life – but for many liberals, differences of opinion have become unacceptable

It’s rare to see a woman really let her anger glitter, unhindered by any fear of accusations of hysteria or worse, so what a blast of delicious fire Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has given us. Her essay It Is Obscene, published online last week, is ostensibly about two former students of hers who denounced her on social media after she gave an interview to Channel 4 in 2017 in which, when asked if she thought trans women were women, Adichie made the tautological but now highly controversial reply, “Trans women are trans women.” Instead of just calling her, one of Adichie’s students “went on social media to put on a public performance,” she wrote. The other tweeted that people should “pick up machetes to protect us from transphobes like Adichie”, and still assumed Adichie would endorse her book.

Really, the essay is about a strong current in modern culture. “There are many social media-savvy people who are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion... People who demand that you denounce your friends for flimsy reasons in order to remain a member of the chosen puritan class,” Adichie writes.

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‘I knew how dangerous things could become’: the perils of childbirth as a Black woman

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 19:00

When she was pregnant, Anna Malaika Tubbs was thrilled – then terrified, knowing the shockingly high death rate of Black women in childbirth. Could she find a way to stay safe?

In the bathroom of a friend’s house in Washington DC, I waited anxiously for a few minutes before turning to look at the pregnancy test. It was positive. My eyes filled with tears; I was overjoyed, grateful and excited, but also very scared.

I think many parents can relate to this feeling, which seems to start as soon as we see that test result, and continues until our children are adults; we are overwhelmed with happiness for their mere existence while simultaneously terrified of the possibility of losing them. But as a Black feminist scholar, I was well aware that I had even more reason to worry.

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No one should be penalised if they want to carry on working from home | Gaby Hinsliff

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 21:00

Unless men also ditch the commute, flexible working is bound to be held against those who embrace it

If dating can sometimes feel like hard work, then playing Cupid is evidently no picnic either. Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder of the dating app Bumble, has just given her entire company a week off to recover from what one senior executive (in a swiftly deleted tweet) called “our collective burnout”, following similar gestures at Facebook and LinkedIn.

Related: Post-Covid work patterns must not be imposed by bosses with an eye on cost

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Outrage after Pakistan PM Imran Khan blames rape crisis on women

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 14:59

Khan accused of being a ‘rape apologist’ after saying rise in attacks is down to women wearing ‘very few clothes’

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, is facing backlash after he blamed victims of rape for wearing “very few clothes”.

The former cricket captain was questioned by the Axios journalist Jonathan Swan about the ongoing “rape epidemic” in Pakistan and responded by saying: “If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact on the man unless they are robots. It’s common sense.”

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The advertising industry sold us the perfect woman – do we finally understand the price we paid?

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 04:24

For decades, marketing left women feeling they must live up to punishing ideals. Now, finally, some brands are offering a glimmer of hope

When Billie Eilish appeared on the cover of Vogue’s June edition sporting a corset and a magnificent set of platinum blond curls, staring into camera and daring anyone to object, it felt properly shocking. Many on social media berated her, vigorously and unforgivingly, for “selling out”. Eilish was unfazed. She is, she said, an adult. She has every right to dress as she prefers. And at that moment, she preferred a corset.

She was, in effect, claiming her womanhood, her adulthood, her right to present herself in any way that makes her feel good. She was growing up, not giving in.

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