Women's News from the Web

Syndicate content The Guardian
Latest Women news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
Updated: 1 hour 7 min ago

Miscarriage is still taboo – which is why Meghan's words are so powerful | Zeynep Gurtin

Thu, 11/26/2020 - 04:44

The mixed reaction to her speaking up proves that there’s a long way to go before women feel comfortable sharing their pain

Yesterday, the Duchess of Sussex became the latest public figure to reveal her membership of a secret club that no one wants to join. In a piece that was rapidly read around the world, Meghan described the July morning on which she suffered the miscarriage of her second pregnancy and the “almost unbearable grief” she and her husband have experienced. “I knew,” she writes, “as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.” It is an arresting image, unusual in its representation of the two opposing truths about reproduction – nurturing new life on the one hand, loss and death on the other – in such close proximity to each other.

Although miscarriages are surprisingly common – experienced by approximately one in four women – there continue to be pervasive taboos around the subject. This is partly because around 85% of miscarriages occur within the first trimester, before most women publicly announce their pregnancies. This leaves many, like Meghan, mourning the loss of a much-wanted baby that no one even knew about. The infertility activist Katy Lindemann has called the early months “a sort of Schrödinger’s pregnancy”, when women are expected to hedge their bets and accept miscarriages without a fuss. She points out that the 12-week rule imposes an unnecessary and harmful secrecy around pregnancy loss, leaving women to cope alone just when they most need support and community.

Continue reading...

Saudi women's rights activist's trial moved to terrorism court

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 08:58

Loujain al-Hathloul looked weak and unwell after 900 days in jail, said her family

Saudi Arabia has moved the trial of activist Loujain al-Hathloul to a special court that handles terrorism cases, a move condemned by human rights campaigners as a heavy-handed attempt to muzzle dissent.

Hathloul has been in jail without trial for over 900 days now, and her family said she looked weak and unwell at a rare court appearance on Wednesday, her body shaking and her voice faint.

Continue reading...

'Shadow pandemic' of violence against women to be tackled with $25m UN fund

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 04:10

At least 30% will go to the women-led grassroots organisations that have been ‘critical’ through Covid pandemic

The UN is to spend $25m (£19m) from its emergency fund to address what has been called the “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence against women displaced by wars and disasters.

The money will be divided between the UN population fund (UNFPA) and UN Women, and at least 30% of it must be given to women-led local organisations that prevent violence and help survivors access medical and legal help, family planning, mental health services and counselling.

Continue reading...

Welsh commissioner offers funding to help staff leave abusive relationships

Tue, 11/24/2020 - 14:01

Pioneering scheme will provide grants or loans to help pay for relocation or essential supplies

People who work for a Welsh commissioner will be eligible for financial support to leave an abusive relationship, in a pioneering scheme designed to break down a key barrier that stops domestic abuse survivors escaping.

The Welsh future generations commissioner, Sophie Howe, has launched a policy, believed to be the first in Wales and possibly in the UK, giving staff suffering domestic abuse access to a grant or loan.

Continue reading...

I'm in my 40s, please stop asking me why I don't have children | Janet Sewell

Sun, 11/22/2020 - 06:30

Probing questions about my decision not to have kids exact an emotional toll. Happiness comes in many forms

At my mother’s funeral I was holding my 11-month-old nephew when a family friend asked: “When are you going to have children?” He’s the kindest man but the question felt like a sledgehammer blow.

It’s a question I get a lot and I am sick of answering it. You feel like you have to divulge details of your personal life to satisfy someone else’s curiosity. I have worked hard to not care what other people think of me but some people assume that I still live like a 20-year-old when I’m in my 40s.

Continue reading...

Criminalise public sexual harassment in UK, charities say

Sun, 11/22/2020 - 05:55

A fifth of girls and women aged between 14 and 21 experienced street harassment during spring lockdown, poll finds

Girls’ rights groups are calling for public sexual harassment to be criminalised in the UK after research suggested more than half of young women and girls were harassed on the street during the summer.

A fifth (19%) of young women and girls aged between 14 and 21 experienced being catcalled, followed, groped, flashed or upskirted during the spring lockdown, according to polling by children’s charity Plan International and campaign group Our Streets Now.

Continue reading...

New equalities commissioner attacked ‘modern feminism’ and #MeToo

Sat, 11/21/2020 - 22:00

Jessica Butcher claimed ‘victimhood narrative’ disempowered women, and disputed reasons for gender pay gap

One of the government’s newly appointed equality commissioners said that modern feminism disempowers women and blamed the MeToo movement for ruining men’s reputations without due process, the Observer can reveal.

Jessica Butcher, a successful digital entrepreneur, was last week appointed as one of four new commissioners at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) by Liz Truss, the minister for women and equalities.

Continue reading...

Biden's likely pick to lead the Pentagon isn't a win for feminism | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 11/21/2020 - 04:00

Michèle Flournoy might become the first woman in charge of the Pentagon, but it seems unlikely she’ll do anything to actually change US foreign policy for the better

Continue reading...

African governments failing girls on equality, report finds

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 21:30

Girls are made to marry too young, excluded from healthcare and are sexually exploited, says African Child Policy Forum

Girls in Africa are being “condemned to a lifetime of discrimination and inequality” due to government failures, according to new data.

Ranking 52 countries in the continent according to how “girl-friendly” they are, a report published on Friday by advocacy group African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) found they were routinely denied education; made to marry too young; endured sexual, physical and emotional abuse at home, work and school; were excluded from healthcare; and were unable to own or inherit property.

Continue reading...

Respect and value girls – they can transform Africa's security and prosperity | Graça Machel

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 21:30

Investment in girls brings socioeconomic benefits, but too many countries lack the political will to bring about equality of opportunity

By 2050, Africa will be home to around half a billion girls and young women. If respected and treated as equals, they have the potential to transform the continent’s security and prosperity. This matters because every penny invested in girls’ education, healthcare and social protection benefits society many times over, while failure to invest in girls results in monumental socioeconomic losses.

Child marriage alone has resulted in human capital and revenue losses equivalent to three times the entire flow of international aid into the continent. As a mother and grandmother, it weighs heavily on me to see millions of girls robbed of their futures and the potential of our continent diminished.

Continue reading...

Jan Morris, historian, travel writer and trans pioneer, dies aged 94

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 06:01

From her Everest scoop to her journey as a trans woman, the author’s authoritative voice and questioning mind found an eager audience

Jan Morris, the historian and travel writer who evoked time and place with the flair of a novelist, has died aged 94.

As a journalist Morris broke monumental news, including Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s ascent of Everest, and the French involvement in the Israeli attack on Egypt in the Suez war. As a bestselling author of more than 30 books, she was equally lauded for histories including Pax Britannica, her monumental account of the British Empire, and for her colourful accounts of places from Venice to Oxford, Hong Kong to Trieste. But she was also well-known as a transgender pioneer, with Conundrum, her account of the journey from man to woman, an international sensation when it was published in 1974.

Continue reading...

Women in mid-30s may never know equal pay in their working lives

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 20:00

More than 40% of working women worried about impact of Covid on job prospects

Women in their mid-30s will never know equal pay in their working lives if progress towards tackling the gender gap is not accelerated, according to new analysis.

To mark Equal Pay Day, the day that women in effect stop being paid because of the gender pay gap in the UK, Labour has said 8.5 million women will go their entire careers without receiving equal pay.

Continue reading...

Pandemic could lead to profound shift in parenting roles, say experts

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 01:47

Men are spending more time with their children and businesses are seeing economic benefits of flexible working

The year 2020 has been transformative for how society sees fatherhood, and could produce the most profound shift in caring responsibilities since the second world war, according to researchers, business leaders and campaigners.

Research has shown that while women bore the brunt of extra childcare during the initial coronavirus lockdown and are being disproportionately impacted by the economic fallout, there has been also a huge surge in the number of hours men are spending with their children.

Continue reading...

Pharrell Williams announces gender-neutral skincare line

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 01:57

Musician’s Humanrace products described as perfect for ‘every individual’

The musician and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams has announced the release of Humanrace, his long-awaited skincare line. Significantly, it is gender neutral.

The products – a powder cleanser, lotus enzyme exfoliator and humidifying cream – are described on the website as being for “every individual”, subtly avoiding any pronoun definition.

Continue reading...

Marie Stopes charity changes name in break with campaigner's view on eugenics

Mon, 11/16/2020 - 20:13

Organisation says Black Lives Matter movement reaffirmed commitment to changing name to MSI Reproductive Choices

Marie Stopes International (MSI) is to change its name in an attempt to break its association with the family planning pioneer.

From Tuesday, the abortion and contraception provider, which operates in 37 countries, will abbreviate the initials and go by the name MSI Reproductive Choices.

Continue reading...

It can feel uncomfortable to keep telling our abortion stories – but it is still essential

Mon, 11/16/2020 - 06:19

Many experiences are like mine: unexceptional, not ‘deserving’ or ‘worthy’. The more of those testimonies we hear, the stronger we are in our fight to protect women’s rights

One of the last things I did before lockdown was attend a rally supporting the protests against Poland’s constitutional court ruling that introduced a near-total ban on abortion. Hardening the country’s already terrifyingly restrictive current law, it would, if enforced, remove one of the few narrow exceptions still permitted: termination in the event of congenital birth defects.

Related: 'A backlash against a patriarchal culture': How Polish protests go beyond abortion rights

Continue reading...

Period poverty has surged in UK during Covid pandemic

Mon, 11/16/2020 - 01:34

Charity supplying six times as many menstrual products compared with before crisis

Period poverty has increased sharply in the UK since the coronavirus crisis began, according to a charity that says it is supplying almost six times as many menstrual products compared with before the pandemic started.

Bloody Good Period (BGP) has been supplying food banks, community support groups, those fleeing domestic violence, asylum seekers and refugees, homeless shelters and even NHS frontline workers.

Continue reading...

Shock new figures fuel fears of more lockdown domestic abuse killings in UK

Sat, 11/14/2020 - 20:45

Calls to advice hotlines soar as abusers turn to latest technology to intimidate and control partners

Calls to the UK’s largest domestic abuse helpline are rising “week on week” as new figures reveal that almost 50 suspected killings may have occurred during the first lockdown.

The charity Refuge, which runs the National Domestic Abuse helpline, said it was “very concerned” by the continuing upward trend in demand for its services, with England a little over a week into its second lockdown.

Continue reading...

‘I need complete freedom’: Maggi Hambling responds to statue critics

Sat, 11/14/2020 - 08:52

Some see a new statue commemorating Mary Wollstonecraft as an affront to the pioneering feminist, but its creator says she is used to controversy

Maggi Hambling, the renowned British artist who outraged a large section of the general public and many feminists last week, to say nothing of the surprised residents of a north London community, has defended her right to artistic freedom.

Her new statue commemorating Mary Wollstonecraft was unveiled last week, the culmination of a 10-year campaign to mark the groundbreaking feminist philosopher who started her writing career and established a girls school in Newington Green in the late-18th century. But Hambling’s work sparked a furious reaction. Rather than a statue of Wollstonecraft, she produced an abstract sculpture which features a small, naked silver woman.

Continue reading...

Is Michael Parkinson having a laugh when he says men are funnier than women? | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 11/14/2020 - 08:00
Why does he need to dredge up the tired myth that comedy’s a male thing?

Why do unfunny men never stop going on about unfunny women? This time, it was the former TV chat show host Michael Parkinson. Disagreeing about men finding it difficult to express their emotions, he said that most men he knew were sensitive and funny: “It’s a very contentious statement, but they’re much better than women in their sense of humour.” He went on to grumble about his comments getting him into trouble. You can’t say anything these days, can you? Especially when it’s demonstrable codswallop.

Let’s deal with this in the fragrant ladylike way that women are really good at. Parkinson is entitled to conclude that one sex is “much better” at humour. It’s his business – and no reflection at all on his archaic attitudes – if he managed to sit in front of innumerable female guests and find none of them particularly amusing. Nor is it Parky’s fault if he’s unable to recall the countless delusional male bores gassing away on his show, because, let’s face it, not all of them were Muhammad Ali.

Continue reading...