Women's News from the Web

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The Observer view: We can no longer turn away, femicide must be tackled now | Observer editorial

Sat, 03/06/2021 - 22:45

Working with a unique census, our new campaign draws attention to the women who die at the hands of men, and calls for urgent action

Today, the Observer launches a campaign to tackle femicide, defined as the killing of a woman by a man. We are working in conjunction with Karen Ingala Smith and Clarrie O’Callaghan, creators of the unique Femicide Census. Annually, the census details and analyses the deaths of all women at the hands of men in the UK. In November, for the first time, the census published a 10-year study. In this campaign, we are drawing on its unique database. The title of the 10-year report was “If I’m not in on Friday I might be dead”, the words of Judith Nibbs who was beheaded by her husband of 30 years, Dempsey Nibbs.

Related: End femicide: 278 dead – the hidden scandal of older women killed by men

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Why should a woman be held to account for a man’s transgressions? | Sonia Sodha

Sat, 03/06/2021 - 21:45
The nine who complained about Salmond are unheard and treated as pawns

Team Sturgeon or Team Salmond? Watching the parliamentary inquiry into the handling of sexual harassment allegations against Alex Salmond last week, you would be forgiven for thinking this begins and ends with an explosive showdown between the two giants of the Scottish independence movement.

In one corner is the former first minister turned Russia Today presenter, who implausibly alleges these complaints were part of some giant political conspiracy against him. In the other is his former protege and current first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who has stridently defended herself against charges she broke the ministerial code.

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Enter a feminist superhero … without the catfights and ass-kicking

Sat, 03/06/2021 - 20:53

Director Julie Taymor tells how her new film depicts women’s rights pioneer Gloria Steinem, minus the stereotypes

The film industry has long been criticised for its stereotypical depictions of women, from damsels in distress to the love interest of a male protagonist. But the drive for equality in acting roles has led to screen portrayals of female characters who are empowered by physical toughness rather than intellectual prowess, according to a leading director.

“Women’s equality in film recently has been about women kicking ass,” said Julie Taymor, whose award-winning productions include The Lion King. “It’s about women in skimpy clothes, but being able to fight, to do karate, use weapons, to be a superhero.

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Mexico's president defends decision to barricade palace ahead of women's march

Sat, 03/06/2021 - 09:10

Andrés Manuel López Obrado claims the measure is only intended to avoid provocation

The Mexican president has claimed that a metallic barrier to wall off the presidential palace ahead of a planned women’s march is intended to avoid provocation and protect historic buildings from vandalism.

In a country where femicides rose nearly 130% between 2015 and 2020, critics said the decision to erect the three-metre-high (10ft) barriers was symptomatic of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s apathy toward the crisis of violence against women.

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Covid could endanger progress on gender equality, says Merkel

Sat, 03/06/2021 - 03:54

In a video statement for International Women’s Day, the German chancellor said women were disproportionately affected

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic could endanger progress made on gender equality, as women take on the lion’s share of childcare in lockdown and are more likely to work in at-risk jobs.

“We have to make sure that the pandemic does not lead us to fall back into old gender patterns we thought we had overcome,” Merkel said in a video message ahead of International Women’s Day on Monday.

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Salmond inquiry having 'chilling effect' on women, say experts

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 05:24

Campaigners believe Holyrood crisis may prevent women from coming forward to report harassment

The Salmond inquiry is having a significant impact on the momentum for change brought about by the #MeToo movement, according to experts and campaigners on workplace harassment.

They have told the Guardian the political crisis convulsing Holyrood has also had a “chilling” and “demoralising” effect on women in terms of their confidence in reporting unacceptable behaviour.

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Poly Styrene's inspiring sensitivity should be the true legacy of punk

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 03:00

Mixed race, with braces on her teeth, Poly broke the mould of UK punk. A new documentary explores her struggle to find meaning in the Day-Glo chaos of modern life

The moment I heard that Marianne Elliott-Said, AKA Poly Styrene, had died, I was at band practice. We put on X-Ray Spex and jumped around, screaming along to Identity, Oh Bondage Up Yours! and Germ Free Adolescents. On that day in 2011 we lost one of punk’s greatest heroes and one of the few who really looked and sounded like me. She broke the mould of UK punk stereotypes. She was brown, chubby, weirdly dressed and had braces on her teeth. Even in an era when quirky, abrasive style was all the rage, she stood out.

Poly Styrene embraced this. She played with the attention her weirdness attracted, making a cartoon of herself. To be an artist is often to feel like a shiny trinket – hip and trendy one moment and disposable the next – and Poly had a fascination with all things garish and throwaway. She knew that through selling her art, she herself would inevitably become the product. Consumer culture overwhelmed and horrified her at times but she poured those thoughts and feelings into surrealist, confrontational art and music.

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Single, wealthier US women increasingly bought homes during the pandemic

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 07:20

While millions of women lost their jobs, higher-income women desiring more space have benefitted from low mortgage rates

The number of single women buying homes has grown during the pandemic, according to a report released yesterday, a surprising trend as Covid’s economic effects have disproportionately impacted the same group.

Compared with the same time last year, single women bought 8.7% more homes in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a report from real estate company Redfin. In comparison, single men saw an uptick of 4.6% in home buying during the same time period.

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'I've grown tenfold': Zara Mohammed on her whirlwind start as MCB head

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 03:40

First female leader of the Muslim Council of Britain says she has an ‘amazing opportunity to make a difference’

In the past few weeks Zara Mohammed has been living, breathing and even dreaming about her new role as the first female and youngest ever head of the Muslim Council of Britain. “My mind doesn’t stop. There are times when I need to go see the ducks in my local park, just to take a break.”

Apart from the responsibilities of leading the UK’s foremost Muslim umbrella group, with more than 500 affiliates, Mohammed, 29, has also experienced an “ongoing media blitz” – including a now notorious interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. “I didn’t really expect the extent of this celebrity, if you can call it that,” she says.

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200,000 UK women in line for pension back-payments of about £13,500

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 03:15

Investigation found some women on state pensions were underpaid over last 20 years

About 200,000 women could be in line for pension back-payments averaging £13,500 after an investigation into the underpayment of state pensions over the last 20 years.

As Guardian Money reported last month, some of the affected women received pensions of as little as 86p a week, when they were in fact entitled to 60% of the basic state pension – about £80 a week.

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Reading past feminists, I understand how writing things down can be a political act | Koa Beck

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 22:00

Digging through archives, White Feminism author Koa Beck found records of racist and exclusionary tactics used against people of colour that had eerie echoes with today

In 1969, the Black American feminist Frances Beal published a pamphlet titled Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female. In it, Beal argued that the idea of two separate genders acting in distinctly gendered ways was a concept shaped by commerce, motivated by a need to sell products that enhance or distinguish gender even more. The version of womanhood seen in popular magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal – middle class, affluent, and with disposable income – she pointed out, was not an aspirational reality for Black women, given the arduous and low-paying domestic work that they are often tasked with; such is the nature of the US economy.

I found Beal’s pamphlet in the digital archives of a university library, 50 years after it was published, while researching for my book, White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind. That this pamphlet still existed, preserved through generations of editors, librarians, and readers is a testament to the endurance of the archive.

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Zoom legend Jackie Weaver cuts first dance track

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 02:20

Clerk who hosted explosive parish council meeting makes point about diversity in music track

Jackie Weaver might have no authority, but she’s got the grooves.

The 62-year-old parish council clerk who became an internet sensation after a car crash Zoom meeting has now cut her first dance track, to help raise awareness of the lack of diversity and representation at local government level.

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Taylor Swift rebukes Netflix over 'deeply sexist' joke about her love life

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 00:40

The pop star accused sitcom Ginny & Georgia of ‘degrading hardworking women’ with outdated attempts at humour

Taylor Swift has criticised the Netflix sitcom Ginny & Georgia for making a “deeply sexist” joke about her dating history.

In a scene where the mother and daughter characters argue about relationship, Ginny tells her mother: “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.”

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If oestrogen can save women from the worst of Covid, they should be given it | Kate Muir

Sun, 02/28/2021 - 00:00

There is mounting evidence that HRT can help menopausal women recover from the virus, but little action is being taken

‘To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” wrote George Orwell, and seeing in front of our masks in this endless pandemic turns out to be even harder.

Take the compelling case of the effect of oestrogen, the female hormone, on the coronavirus. Quite simply, research suggests that women with more oestrogen in their bodies are less likely to die and more likely to have milder symptoms of Covid-19. Doctors are also discovering that topping up low hormone levels seems to help some women suffering from long Covid. Yet, this area of research is being sorely neglected. I wonder why?

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Guilt and fury: how Covid brought mothers to breaking point

Sun, 02/28/2021 - 00:00

The pandemic exposed gender inequality, shattering the fragile jigsaw of support that allowed women with children to work. Radical action is necessary to prevent women’s rights backsliding a generation

“It is so hard, I cannot describe it.”

“I burned out, completely.”

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Restoration influencer: how Charles II's clever mistress set trends ahead of her time

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 23:00

Hortense Mancini’s celebrated London salon allowed her female peers the freedoms men enjoyed

There were few places in 17th-century London where women could embrace the same economic and intellectual freedoms as men. Hortense Mancini’s salon next to St James’s Palace was one of them, new research reveals – yet its influence in Restoration society has largely been dismissed throughout history.

Mancini, a mistress of Charles II, was a renowned Italian beauty who famously fled to England dressed as a man to escape her abusive aristocratic husband. But she also wielded her fame and status to create a subversive space in London where royal mistresses could meet, gamble, drink champagne and discuss science and literature on an equal footing with men, according to Annalisa Nicholson, a researcher in French Studies at Cambridge University.

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To expand women's prisons is idiotic and inhumane. We should phase them out | Sonia Sodha

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 22:30

The government has overturned the commitment to reduce the number of women in jail. This ignores how female offenders are very different from their male counterparts

Does aspiring to equality mean treating people equally or differently? This is a question that has long divided right and left.

The right would wish away structural discrimination: treat everyone the same when it comes to the workplace or the education system and the people who deserve to flourish will; no matter that the biggest impediment to women’s careers is going part-time after having a baby, or that young black men in London have grown up in a society where they are 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police. The left recognises that equal treatment might not be enough to overcome deep-seated structural disadvantage.

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Revealed: Priti Patel U-turn on end to detention for refugee women

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 07:00

Home Office accused of betrayal over network of new asylum-seeker centres

A new network of immigration detention units for women is being quietly planned by the Home Office, contrary to previous pledges to reform the system and reduce the number of vulnerable people held.

An initial detention centre, based in County Durham on the site of a former youth prison, will open for female asylum seekers this autumn.

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It’s time to face up to colourism | Candice Brathwaite

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 23:00

As I grew up, the majority of black women I saw on TV were fair skinned. Those who looked like me were never cast as the lead

I’ve been building a profile as a writer and broadcaster long enough to know that there will be public storms. Some creep up on you, others you sense brewing, and some have been lingering in the background for a lifetime.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on social media about having “lost out” on hosting a documentary to a lighter-skinned black woman. The subject of the documentary was maternal mortality in the UK, and the harrowing fact that black women are five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. This is something I have campaigned on for several years, wrote about in my book I Am Not Your Baby Mother and experienced first-hand when I almost died a few days after the birth of my first child in 2013.

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Home smear tests will be a game-changer | Letter

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 07:11

Judith Walker thinks home testing is an excellent idea, but urges people not to blame or shame women who currently don’t take part

Excellent news that cervical screening postal HPV test kits are at long last being trialled (Home smear tests to be trialled in London, following lockdown delays, 24 February).

For some women, the existing “routine” test is far worse than inconvenient, uncomfortable or embarrassing – it is traumatic. It can trigger memories and feelings about previous vaginal examinations or experiences of sexual abuse where women had no control over their bodies.

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