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Listen to women and close the gender pain gap | Letter

Women | The Guardian

Dismissing the concerns of women in pain adds to their distress, writes Sarah Hyde

The proliferation of support groups for women dealing with conditions such as endometriosis and migraine is testament to the existence of the gender pain gap discussed by Emma Barnett (Endometriosis showed me we need better ways to talk about women’s pain, 22 October). In Giving up the Ghost, Hilary Mantel, who has suffered from both conditions, describes both the excruciating physical pain of illness that is misdiagnosed and mistreated, and the stress and humiliation of being “ignored, invalidated, and humiliated” – not being listened to, and not being believed.

This is not just another complaint directed at overworked NHS staff (though I have not forgiven the neurologist who, instead of treating my migraine, told me: “I don’t know what you’re making a fuss about – it won’t kill you”). Those outside the medical profession can cause pain by their casually dismissive comments too. One of the cries most often heard in migraine groups is “Migraine is not just a headache!” I imagine endometriosis sufferers shout: “This is not just period pain!” Employers, colleagues, friends and families need to think twice and listen again when women tell them they are in pain.
Sarah Hyde

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October 23rd 2020, 1:02 pm

Poland braces for more protests over abortion ban ruling

Women | The Guardian

Demonstrations planned amid anger over court decision banning almost all abortions

Protests are planned for various Polish cities this weekend amid public anger over a ruling banning almost all abortion in the country.

Poland already has some of the most draconian abortion laws in Europe, and on Thursday a constitutional tribunal ruled that one of the few exceptions to the ban – cases of severe foetal impairment – should also be made illegal. These cases, which hardline Catholic anti-abortion activists have called “eugenic abortion”, made up almost all of the small number of abortions performed legally in Poland.

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October 23rd 2020, 10:29 am

Rape prosecutions and convictions dropped by half early in UK pandemic

Women | The Guardian

Data for England and Wales reflects lockdown, distancing and rising court backlog

Prosecutions for crimes against women and girls in England and Wales plummeted in the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting a backlog in the court system exacerbated by the UK-wide shutdown and subsequent social distancing measures.

The number of completed rape prosecutions more than halved, falling to 218 in the three months to June this year compared with 480 in the previous quarter, according to violence against women and girls (VAWG) figures from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). There were 174 convictions resulting from those 218 prosecutions, a record rate of 80%, down from 341 ( 71%) in the previous quarter.

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October 22nd 2020, 3:05 pm

Poland rules abortion due to foetal defects unconstitutional

Women | The Guardian

Constitutional court’s ruling could pave way for governing PiS party to move ahead with legislative ban

Poland’s constitutional tribunal has ruled that abortion due to foetal defects is unconstitutional, rejecting the most common of the few legal grounds for pregnancy termination in the predominantly Catholic country.

Chief justice Julia Przyłębska said in a ruling that existing legislation – one of Europe’s most restrictive – that allows for the abortion of malformed foetuses was “incompatible” with the constitution.

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October 22nd 2020, 12:50 pm

Australian women with endometriosis face six-year wait for diagnosis, study finds

Women | The Guardian

Experts call for ‘dedicated women’s pain services’ after survey finds people often undergo surgeries that fail to improve their chronic agony

A study of 620 Australian women living with the painful and often debilitating condition endometriosis found women have to wait an average of 6.4 years before being diagnosed and often undergo surgeries that fail to improve their chronic pain.

The study, published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, found despite medical and surgical intervention, 65.8% of respondents suffered period pain and 82.7% experienced chronic pelvic pain in the three months prior to responding to the survey. Respondents had consulted an average of three different health practitioner specialties in the previous 12  months.

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October 21st 2020, 9:25 pm

Meg Mathews: ‘I feared my colourful 90s life had caught up with me’

Women | The Guardian

She felt anxious, depressed and overwhelmed, until she realised it was the menopause. Now Meg Mathews is on a mission to get women talking about it without shame

I am sitting in the road, in Primrose Hill, during a global pandemic, when Meg Mathews starts loudly telling me about her vaginal atrophy. All right, we’re at a café table but, due to the aforementioned plague, the tables have been allowed to stretch into the main thoroughfare, which is half closed to traffic, and Mathews is explaining how the menopause closed down her own private thoroughfare. “I first realised when I was wearing my workout leggings and they weren’t new, but they were starting to chafe,” she says, before describing the laser part of her “vaginal rejuvenation” treatment.

At this point, a voice from the pavement calls out “Meg!” and I can’t help but spin around, just in case it’s Kate Moss shouting from 1997, but it is not Kate Moss, it’s a sweet old lady in a raincoat with a tiny dog. “You’re looking well, Meg,” she says, and they chat politely until Meg can get rid of her neighbour and return to the business of her collapsing genitalia. The menopause is Meg’s new subject you see – the former first lady of Britpop, once married to Noel Gallagher, now has a book, a website and products to launch, all branded as Meg’s Menopause. She’s on a mission to rid us of our hormonal embarrassment and shame.

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October 18th 2020, 4:17 am

Women march against Trump and Republicans in major US cities

Women | The Guardian

Thousands of mostly young women in masks rallied on Saturday in Washington DC and other US cities, exhorting voters to oppose Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans in the 3 November elections.

Related: Goodbye civil rights: Amy Coney Barrett's America is a terrifying place | Arwa Mahdawi

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October 17th 2020, 4:26 pm

A man tried to body shame the gloriously unabashed Billie Eilish. It didn’t go well

Women | The Guardian

The six-time Grammy-winning singer has largely rejected the societal pressure placed on women to be quiet, feminine and pretty

Today a paparazzi photo of Billie Eilish without her usual baggy clothes has been shared on the internet, revealing – shock, horror! – the 18 year old looks like she has a regular body like you or me.

The photo showed Eilish wearing shorts and a tank top, rather than her signature baggy clothing. And so a butt hurt man (apparently 29 and from the UK) took this opportunity to announce on Twitter: “In 10 months Billie Eilish has developed a mid-30’s wine mom body.” (The backlash was mercifully swift.)

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October 14th 2020, 2:36 pm

Harman calls on Ofcom to publish data on older women in broadcasting

Women | The Guardian

Former deputy Labour leader says female presenters over 50 ‘as rare as hen’s teeth’

Harriet Harman, the longest continuously serving female MP, has called on the media regulator, Ofcom, to publish data on the gender of older broadcasters to highlight the “double discrimination” facing senior female presenters on TV and radio.

In an opinion piece in this week’s Radio Times, Harman complained of a “cull” of women over the age of 50 in broadcasting that she said meant they were now “as rare as hen’s teeth”.

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October 13th 2020, 1:49 am

A piece of Fleet Street history: Katharine Whitehorn's desk for sale

Women | The Guardian

Pioneering columnist’s 60s design classic to be auctioned to aid Alzheimer’s charity

They were inspiring and entertaining words that helped set the tone for more than just one era of social change. Katharine Whitehorn’s 60 years of provocative, useful and funny journalism and books were all typed up at a large wooden desk in a busy family living room.

Now that desk, a piece of classic Danish design as well as vintage Fleet Street history, is to go under the auctioneer’s hammer to raise money for a charity that cares for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

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October 11th 2020, 6:19 am

Cleaning up: the social media stars making housework cool

Women | The Guardian

Donning the Marigolds need not be a chore, according to a new breed of influencers who say cleaning is fun and aspirational

There were fears that this autumn’s bumper crop of books would see some titles overlooked – but one volume definitely didn’t get brushed under the carpet. This Is Me by Sophie Hinchliffe, better known as the Instagram cleaning sensation Mrs Hinch, was the runaway hit of Super Thursday on 1 October, fighting stiff competition from almost 800 other hardbacks published that day to top the UK charts and shift more than 90,000 copies in its first week.

It’s no surprise: Mrs Hinch’s three previous books have been bestsellers, and the 30-year-old comes with a readymade audience thanks to her “Hinch Army” of 3.8 million Instagram followers.

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October 11th 2020, 4:34 am

Nimco Ali calls for frank discussion on violence against women in UK

Women | The Guardian

Campaigner gives first major interview after being appointed as government adviser on issue

The UK needs a frank conversation about the fear of male violence that women live with every day, according to the government’s new adviser on violence against women and girls.

In her first major interview since her role was announced on Friday, the feminist campaigner Nimco Ali – who has been a key figure in the global fight to end female genital mutilation (FGM) – said she wanted to work across political, ethnic and gender lines.

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October 9th 2020, 12:14 pm

The trope of ‘her indoors’ is alive and well. Rather that than be silenced | Coco Khan

Women | The Guardian

What being called a nag really means is to be self-possessed and strong

My friend Pete is very into “cable management”. He spends his evenings artfully hiding the wires of his gaming machines and “soundscaping” devices, before communing with other Sonos bros on Reddit.

“If Pete had his way, there would be no room to move for all the speakers,” his girlfriend will say with a loving eye-roll. I playfully prod him, too. “Pete, why are you making a home cinema when all you watch is Homes Under The Hammer? Is it worth all this effort to hear a gavel in 3D?” (“Only someone who has never heard a gavel in 3D would say that,” he’ll reply.)

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October 9th 2020, 9:25 am

Women bear brunt of Covid-related work stress, UK study finds

Women | The Guardian

Report comes a day before World Mental Health Day and calls for four-day working week

Women are being disproportionately affected by a rise in mental health problems caused by increasing workloads as people do their jobs from home amid the pandemic.

The length of the working day has increased steadily, resulting in a 49% rise in mental distress reported by employees when compared with 2017-19. Women are bearing the brunt of problems as they juggle work and childcare, according to a report by the 4 Day Week campaign and thinktanks Compass and Autonomy.

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October 9th 2020, 9:11 am

Italian women take legal action over foetus graves marked with mothers' names

Women | The Guardian

More than 100 women launch action as activists say practice is serious violation of human rights and privacy

A group of more than 100 Italian women have asked prosecutors to investigate who is behind the burial for nearly a decade of foetuses in graves marked with the names of their mothers in a cemetery in Rome.

The practice only came to light last week after one of the women, whose curiosity was sparked after reading about the so-called “fields of angels” in local newspapers, discovered a plot with a wooden cross bearing her name and the date on which the foetus was buried at Prima Porta cemetery. She subsequently posted about her experience on Facebook.

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October 8th 2020, 7:15 am

Lloyds Pharmacy apologises again for emergency contraception refusal

Women | The Guardian

Firm says sorry after pharmacist would not dispense product ‘for religious reasons’

A pharmacy chain has been forced to apologise for a second time after a woman was refused emergency contraception because of the pharmacist’s personal beliefs, a year after a similar incident at a different branch.

Charlotte, 41, who preferred not to give her surname, said she felt “upset and humiliated” when the pharmacist at her local Lloyds Pharmacy branch in south London, told her she was unable to distribute the contraception “for religious reasons”.

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October 7th 2020, 8:19 am

Netflix indicted by Texas grand jury over 'lewd visual material' in Cuties

Women | The Guardian

French film about pre-teen girls who form a dance group is called ‘prurient’ in Tyler County prosecution. Netflix defends story as social commentary against sexualisation

Netflix has defended the controversial film Cuties after it emerged the streaming giant is facing a criminal charge in Texas over the movie’s allegedly “lewd” depiction of children.

Cuties follows an 11-year-old Senegalese girl living in Paris who rebels against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a “free-spirited dance crew”.

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October 7th 2020, 6:20 am

Women's health organisation president resigns following bullying and racism investigation

Women | The Guardian

Françoise Girard and two others cleared of racial discrimination but report finds culture of fear and intimidation at IWHC

The president of a women’s health charity has resigned following an investigation into allegations of racism and bullying within the organisation.

The findings of the independent investigation cleared Françoise Girard and two other senior managers at the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) of unlawful racial discrimination or retaliation against employees.

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October 7th 2020, 2:19 am

Most girls and young women have experienced abuse online, report finds

Women | The Guardian

Cyberstalking, body shaming and being sent explicit content among issues highlighted by Plan International

Most girls and young women using social media have experienced abuse that has driven them offline and left them traumatised, according to a new global survey.

More than half of the 14,000 15- to 25-year-olds interviewed by Plan International said they had been cyberstalked, sent explicit messages and images, or abused online.

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October 5th 2020, 2:20 am

'Something has to be done': tackling the UK's Black maternal health problem

Women | The Guardian

As the issue is raised in parliament, two women are campaigning for change within the medical community

Tinuke Awe hadn’t been long at her midwife’s appointment when her pregnancy started spinning out of her control. Despite her body swelling uncomfortably as her baby grew, it was only at that 38-week check-up that preeclampsia was diagnosed. The midwife’s message was stark: go straight to the hospital, your life could be in danger.

Once there she was given a vaginal pessary to induce labour, and told to expect nothing to happen for at least 24 hours. But a few hours later she was in agony. “I kept saying, ‘I’m in pain, I’m in pain’, but I was completely dismissed and fobbed off – no one looked at me,” says Awe.

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October 2nd 2020, 10:32 am

DRC protestors demand justice over unprosecuted rapes and murders

Women | The Guardian

Women lead protests against conflict violence in Democratic Republic of the Congo, amid calls for action on hundreds of civil war crimes

Women led thousands of people in demonstrations in four cities across the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Thursday, demanding justice for historic murders and rapes committed in the east of the country.

Organisers said police beat protesters in Kisangani, one of the cities, as they marked a decade since the UN documented hundreds of crimes in DRC between 1993 and 2003 that have not been prosecuted.

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October 2nd 2020, 7:30 am

Potty training: ISS crew to give Nasa’s first new space toilet in decades a go

Women | The Guardian

The new $23m loo better accommodates women with a tilted seat, new shape and redesigned funnels for urination

Nasa’s first new space potty in decades – a $23m titanium toilet better suited for women – is getting a not-so-dry run at the International Space Station before eventually flying to the moon.

It’s packed inside a cargo ship set to blast off late Thursday from Wallops Island, Virginia.

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October 1st 2020, 5:53 pm

HPV vaccine helps prevent invasive cervical cancer, landmark study shows

Women | The Guardian

Research is first to show vaccination helps protect against more than just pre-cancerous changes

Vaccinating populations against the human papillomavirus, which causes most cases of cervical cancer, is effective and saves lives, according to a milestone Swedish study.

The results were welcomed as a significant moment in the fight to eradicate cervical cancer, which kills more than 250,000 women a year.

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October 1st 2020, 1:21 pm

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend speak of 'deep pain' after miscarriage

Women | The Guardian

US model and TV presenter was pregnant with her third child when she was taken into hospital following complications

Chrissy Teigen has said she and husband John Legend are “shocked” and in “deep pain” after she suffered a miscarriage.

The US model and TV presenter had been taken to hospital suffering from excessive bleeding during her pregnancy.

Teigen, 34, later announced she had suffered a miscarriage, writing in a statement on social media: “We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before.

“We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough,” she wrote on Wednesday night.

Teigen shared the news with a black-and-white picture showing her crying while sitting in a hospital bed.

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October 1st 2020, 2:16 am

Report calls for universal care service to transform UK economy

Women | The Guardian

Women’s Budget Group says plan for free full-time childcare and elderly care would create 2m jobs

The UK economy needs radical transformation equal to the post-second world war era, including the creation of a universal care service providing free full-time childcare and elderly care, according to a seminal report published by the Women’s Budget Group.

The service, which would be free at the point of delivery, would create more jobs than equivalent investment in transport and construction and help provide secure work for the thousands of people losing livelihoods in retail and hospitality, according to an 18-monthcommission on a gender equal economy.

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September 30th 2020, 2:27 am

Japan Airlines scraps 'ladies and gentlemen' in favour of gender-neutral greetings

Women | The Guardian

Airline becomes first in Japan to make move as part of commitment to tackle gender-based discrimination

Japan Airlines is replacing “ladies and gentlemen” in its in-flight and airport announcements with gender-neutral expressions, beginning in October.

The formerly state-owned airline will use phrases such as “all passengers”, “good morning” and “good evening” in its English announcements. The standard term used in Japanese “minna-sama” – an honorific form of “everybody” – is already gender neutral.

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September 30th 2020, 12:39 am

Pantone launches new shade of red to end menstruation stigma

Women | The Guardian

Campaign by colour matching company aims to ‘emboldens people who menstruate to feel proud of who they are’

Pantone has unveiled a new shade of red inspired by the colour of women’s periods, as part of a new campaign to end the stigma associated with menstruation.

The company, which has the biggest colour matching system in the world, relied on by the global design industry, from graphic design to fashion, product design to printing, said the new shade was “an active and adventurous red hue” that it hoped would “embolden people who menstruate to feel proud of who they are”.

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September 29th 2020, 11:47 am

Most countries failing women and girls with Covid response, UN finds

Women | The Guardian

Global gender tracker assesses how governments address violence, strengthen women’s economic security and support unpaid caring

Most countries are failing to adequately protect women and girls during the fallout from Covid-19, according to a new UN database that tracks government responses to the pandemic.

The global gender tracker has looked at how 206 countries and territories address violence against women and girls, support unpaid care workers and strengthen women’s economic security.

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September 29th 2020, 1:43 am

Argentina president under pressure to keep election promise on abortion

Women | The Guardian

Over 1,000 public figures call for Alberto Fernández to stay true to his election pledge despite distraction of coronavirus pandemic

Pro-choice campaigners are renewing pressure on president Alberto Fernández to make good on his electoral pledge to legalise abortion in Argentina.

More than 1,000 public figures, writers, journalists and artists added their names to an advert published in three Argentinian newspapers on Sunday, calling for the government to keep its commitment.

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September 28th 2020, 2:36 am

Journalist whose award was rescinded for criticising Trump owed an apology, senator says

Women | The Guardian

Jessika Aro was to receive the award in March 2019, but the state department took it away after finding tweets attacking the president

The US state department “owes an apology” to a Finnish journalist who saw the International Women of Courage Award, bestowed in part for her work on Russia, taken away because she criticised Donald Trump on social media, a prominent senator said.

Related: Trump's public lands chief axed after court rules he was serving unlawfully

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September 26th 2020, 12:05 pm

French police investigate attack on woman, 22, for wearing skirt

Women | The Guardian

Student tells radio station she was punched in face in Strasbourg by three men who said she ‘looked like whore’

French police have opened an investigation after a young woman said she was attacked by three men and beaten in public for wearing a skirt.

The government denounced the “very serious” incident as unacceptable.

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September 24th 2020, 2:02 pm

El Salvador woman freed after six years in jail following stillbirth

Women | The Guardian

Cindy Erazo was accused of aggravated homicide after an obstetric emergency

A woman sentenced to 30 years in jail after a stillbirth that was judged to be her fault has been released from jail in El Salvador.

Cindy Erazo, 29, from San Salvador, was granted conditional freedom on Wednesday after six years in jail.

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September 24th 2020, 10:14 am

Female voices 'drowned out' in reporting on Covid-19, report finds

Women | The Guardian

Analysis of stories across six countries including UK found fewer than a fifth of experts quoted on the pandemic were women

Women’s voices have been “worryingly marginalised” in reporting of the coronavirus, partly due to the war-like framing of the pandemic, according to a report analysing stories across six countries.

Each woman’s voice in news coverage of the crisis is “drowned out” by at least three men, it said.

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September 24th 2020, 1:11 am

Australian teenager to address UN about Covid hardship among young women

Women | The Guardian

Exclusive: Mayela Dayet, 16, a student at Sydney Secondary College, says ‘there’s been an absolute decline in mental health’

A 16-year-old Australian student, Mayela Dayet, will address the United Nations general assembly on Wednesday night to present the findings of a survey that shows young women and girls are shouldering a greater economic, domestic and emotional load and working harder during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study, released by humanitarian organisation Plan International as part of a report called “Halting Lives – The impact of COVID 19 on girls and young women”, surveyed more than 7,000 15-to-24 year-olds across 14 countries.

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September 22nd 2020, 8:40 pm

Misogyny 'should become a hate crime in England and Wales'

Women | The Guardian

Law Commission, which recommends legal changes, calls for sex or gender to be protected trait

Misogyny should be made a hate crime in England and Wales, according to the independent body that recommends legal changes, as part of an overhaul of legislation.

The Law Commission is proposing sex or gender should be made a protected characteristic in hate crime laws, primarily to protect women, in a consultation launched on Wednesday.

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September 22nd 2020, 7:09 pm

Younger women 'bearing brunt' of second wave of Covid in UK

Women | The Guardian

Exclusive: Figures show big rise in number of women aged 20 to 40 admitted to hospital

Younger women are “bearing the brunt” of the UK’s second wave of coronavirus infections, according to a fresh analysis of hospital admissions prepared by government science advisers.

Hospital records reveal a substantial rise in the number of women aged 20 to 40 admitted for serious coronavirus infections since the beginning of August, a country-wide trend that suggests younger women are now more exposed to the virus.

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September 22nd 2020, 12:20 pm

‘A weird liberation’: why women are exposing the wild truth about midlife and menopause

Women | The Guardian

The edgy, angry, upbeat reality of life as a woman in your 40s and 50s has long been hidden. Now a new wave of writers are telling all

Sitting at the bar, martini in hand, Kristin Scott Thomas rolls her eyes briefly heavenwards.

And then she declares, in one of the most memorable monologues of the cult BBC drama Fleabag, that menopause is the “most wonderful fucking thing in the world. And yes, your entire pelvic floor crumbles and you get fucking hot and no one cares. But then – you’re free! No longer a slave, no longer a machine with parts. You’re just a person, in business.” When an entranced Fleabag says she has been told the whole thing is horrendous, Scott Thomas’s character responds: “It is horrendous, but then it’s magnificent. Something to look forward to.”

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September 22nd 2020, 5:00 am

BBC subjects older women to 'lookism', says Libby Purves

Women | The Guardian

Broadcaster, 70, claims female presenters not allowed to grow old gracefully like men are

Older women are subject to “lookism” at the BBC, even on the radio, while men are allowed to age gracefully, the broadcaster Libby Purves has said.

Purves, who presented Radio 4’s Midweek from 1983 until it was dropped in 2017, said the corporation had a problem with older women as they were under more pressure to appear attractive and youthful.

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September 22nd 2020, 1:14 am

UK plan to use all-male team to host UN climate summit angers observers

Women | The Guardian

All senior politicians, civil servants and negotiators to represent Britain at next year’s Cop26 talks are men

The UK is fielding an all-male team to host a vital UN climate summit next year, flouting international norms and angering activists and observers, who say the lack of gender balance imperils progress on key issues.

All of the politicians who will host the Cop26 talks for the UK in Glasgow are men, from the business secretary Alok Sharma, who will act as president of the summit, to his team of climate and energy ministers – Lord Callanan, Lord Goldsmith and Kwasi Kwarteng – who have represented the UK in recent online meetings.

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September 21st 2020, 7:47 am

I was assaulted by government minister, says Joan Bakewell

Women | The Guardian

Broadcaster says junior minister had to be ‘fended off’ after he made a grab for her

Joan Bakewell has said she was sexually harassed early in her career by a junior government minister, as she described sexism she experienced while working for the BBC.

The broadcaster told Times Radio about a career spanning more than 50 years, and revealed how she was the “victim of unwelcome attention” during the 1950s and 1960s.

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September 20th 2020, 4:15 am

Bernardine Evaristo: living as a lesbian made me stronger

Women | The Guardian

Booker prize winner recalls angry decade as part of ‘counter-cultural, black womanist’ community

Bernadine Evaristo, the first black woman to win the Booker prize and a co-founder of Britain’s first black theatre company, has spoken of an angry, lesbian period she went through in the 1980s and of a decade spent living in a “black womanist” community.

Although she looks back on it now as “fun”, at the time she was “very angry as a woman”, she says.

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September 19th 2020, 7:13 pm

Bilge, booze and misogyny: why I'm outraged by a new idea to police pregnant women

Women | The Guardian

Perhaps I should be more shocked by the latest proposal to control women. But what else can you expect in this supremely sexist era?

Last week I got an email from a reproductive rights campaigner I have known, liked and admired for many years. “Good morning,” it began. “I thought this would make you cross.” She went on to describe a fresh frontier in the war against pregnant women: that any woman drinking anything during pregnancy, even a glass of wine in the first week of it, would have that marked on her medical records, which would then be transferred to her baby’s records. It was a Nice idea (for clarification, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – this is not a nice idea), being put out for consultation.

It did make me cross. Not because of the gross infringement of women’s privacy – it would probably be illegal to transfer a woman’s health records over to those of her child – and complete obliteration of trust between a prospective mother and her midwife, but because this is just bilge. Welcome to the age of bilge, where mindless hysteria accrues around risks for which there is no evidence; where experts are disregarded in favour of fanatics; where real and demonstrable threats to pregnant women – which come mainly from underfunded services – are ignored in preference for finger-pointing; where no explanation is ever more complicated or less divisive than: “People (especially women) are weak.” But far more than cross, I felt nostalgic. Because I remember a time when this unusual approach was limited to pregnant women, and now it’s our whole politics.

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September 18th 2020, 11:45 am

US warns Afghan women of increased risk of extremist attack

Women | The Guardian

Message from the US embassy comes during long-postponed direct talks between the government and the Taliban

The United States has warned women in Afghanistan that they are at increased risk of attack by extremist groups.

The US embassy in Kabul warned on Thursday that “extremist organisations continue to plan attacks against a variety of targets […], including a heightened risk of attacks targeting female government and civilian workers, including teachers, human rights activists, office workers, and government employees.”

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September 18th 2020, 10:55 am

More than 1,500 NHS breast reconstructions delayed due to Covid

Women | The Guardian

Breast cancer patients in UK facing waits of ‘months, possibly years’ because of cases backlog

More than 1,500 breast cancer patients in UK face long waits to have reconstructive surgery after hospitals could not operate on them during the pandemic because they were tackling Covid-19.

The women are facing delays of “many months, possibly years” because the NHS has such a big backlog of cases to get through, according to research by the charity Breast Cancer Now.

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September 18th 2020, 12:11 am

Missing voices: guide to female philosophers counters absence in textbooks

Women | The Guardian

The Philosopher Queens highlights thinkers from Hypatia to Hannah Arendt who the authors say are missing in most accounts of the subject

Two philosophy graduates are bringing out a book celebrating history’s unsung female philosophers, after realising that most textbooks and guides they found on the subject didn’t include a single woman.

Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting came up with the idea for The Philosopher Queens while searching for a book about history’s greatest female thinkers.

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September 17th 2020, 11:32 am

'Shocking' lack of racial diversity and women in UK journalism – report

Women | The Guardian

In one week, BBC Newsnight did not feature one live interview with guest from minority ethnic background

BBC Newsnight went an entire week without featuring a single live interview with a guest from a minority ethnic background, according to an analysis of national media output.

All 17 individuals interviewed live on the flagship current affairs programme during one week in mid-July were white, according to a survey conducted by the Women in Journalism group amid the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd.

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September 17th 2020, 1:10 am

UK's revenge porn helpline registers busiest year on record

Women | The Guardian

Government-funded helpline received equivalent of nine reports a day so far this year

The UK’s revenge porn helpline has experienced its busiest year on record, with experts predicting the number of images it deals with will increase by 60% this year.

The helpline, run by the charity SWGfL, part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, had cases almost double in April compared with the same month last year – from 122 to 242. But while the number of cases has dropped slightly since April, they remain higher than in any previous year, prompting campaigners to warn of a “new normal” post lockdown.

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September 16th 2020, 11:11 am

Late DJ Erick Morillo accused of further sexual assaults

Women | The Guardian

House music star died earlier this month after being arrested on sexual abuse charge

Erick Morillo, the dance music star who died early this month, weeks after his arrest for sexual battery, has been accused by numerous other women of similar attacks.

A new investigation by Mixmag has spoken to 10 people who accuse the DJ of sexual and physical assaults, either against them or people they know. Prior to his death, Morillo consistently denied the accusations: he was arrested after turning himself in when a rape kit tested positive for his DNA.

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September 16th 2020, 11:00 am

Dalits bear brunt of India's 'endemic' sexual violence crisis

Women | The Guardian

Girls in Uttar Pradesh targeted in assaults aiming to reinforce caste and gender hierarchies, say activists

A spate of brutal rapes and murders of young girls in a single district of India over the past month has provoked outrage and exposed the ongoing use of sexual violence as a tool of oppression and revenge against lower caste communities.

Over the past month, the Lakhimpur Kheri district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has witnessed four incidents of girls being raped and brutally murdered. At least two of the girls were Dalits, the lowest caste in the Hindu system of social hierarchy, who were previously referred to as “untouchables” and cast out from society.

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September 15th 2020, 9:24 pm

Women lose court of appeal challenge against pension change

Women | The Guardian

Judges rule that raising state pension age did not amount to unlawful discrimination

Two women have lost their court of appeal challenge against the government over changes to the state pension age.

Nearly 4 million women born in the 1950s have been affected by changes introduced by successive governments to ensure “pension age equalisation”, which have raised the state pension age for this group from 60 to 66.

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September 15th 2020, 6:44 am

GP cash incentive linked to fall in UK abortion rates, study finds

Women | The Guardian

Use of long-acting reversible contraceptives rose due to scheme encouraging targeted advice to women

A scheme that saw GP surgeries given cash incentives to tell women about long-acting reversible methods of contraception has been linked to a sharp fall in abortion rates.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives, known as Larcs, include the implant, intrauterine device and contraceptive injection and are highly effective.

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September 14th 2020, 2:54 pm

‘It’s about breaking boundaries’: Nicola Adams on dancing with a woman on Strictly

Women | The Guardian

The Olympic boxing champion retired last year, but her competitive spirit will soon have a new chance to thrive – when she takes to the ballroom and makes TV history

Nicola Adams is used to being a trailblazer. As a boxer, she fought her way to historic firsts, picking up trophies in a sport that had only relatively recently allowed women to compete, powered by determination and quick feet. She became boxing’s first female gold medal-winner at the London 2012 Olympics. Four years later, in Rio, she successfully defended her title. She retired last year aged 37, but her pioneering spirit is as strong as ever – recently announced as one of the contestants on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, Adams is the first celebrity to be paired with a same-sex partner. She wanted to do the show for the challenge, she says, “and to show the fun side of me”.

When Adams was approached a few months ago to be on the BBC show, she said she would do it only if she could have a female partner. “I guess it’s just breaking those boundaries and showing people that it’s OK,” she says. “It’s not such an uncommon thing: professional dancers dance with people of the same sex all the time; you dance in a nightclub with your friends. I just wanted to break down the thing of it being a big deal when it’s not really a big deal.” She thinks she will be dancing the traditionally male lead steps and mostly wearing suits. “Dresses aren’t my thing,” she says.

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September 14th 2020, 1:14 am

Margaret Atwood: ‘If you’re going to speak truth to power, make sure it’s the truth’

Women | The Guardian

A polarising US election, a global pandemic, the rise of cancel culture: what does the queen of dystopian fiction make of 2020 so far?

Margaret Atwood is smiling, waving a green copy of her book The Testaments at me, while I wave a black one back at her. High-cheekboned, pale-skinned, her curly grey hair like a corona, she’s wearing a jewel-green blouse that makes her eyes glitter. Behind her stretches her large, comfy, slightly darkened sitting room in Toronto, with books and wall hangings and a whirring fan. Atwood gleams out of my screen, bright in all senses.

She is talking about being a grouch. She tells me she turns down a lot of interview requests, “and then I get a reputation as being very grumpy and hard to deal with. But who cares?” Grumpy seems wrong to me. I had been warned that Atwood was scary – super-sharp and impatient – but she’s not like that either. She is unsentimental, clear, sure of her facts and opinions, but she also has a light, mischievous quality. She says my name as though constantly on the verge of teasing me.

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September 12th 2020, 4:05 am

German military mulls bringing in feminine form for army ranks

Women | The Guardian

Under current system a female captain, for example, is called Frau Hauptmann – Mrs Captain

Germany is considering introducing feminine forms for military ranks, according to reports, 20 years after women gained the right to join the Bundeswehr.

The army has resisted using the feminine form even after women gained the right to join in 2000. A female captain in the Bundeswehr is addressed as Frau Hauptmann, the equivalent of “Mrs Captain”.

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September 11th 2020, 8:57 am

'She began the real sexual revolution for women': Shere Hite dies aged 77

Women | The Guardian

Reviled by Playboy, her 1976 study of 3,500 women challenged male assumptions about sex

The pioneering feminist Shere Hite, known for her research on female sexuality, has died at the age of 77.

She was best known for the Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, which has sold more than 50m copies since it was published in 1976.

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September 10th 2020, 12:47 pm

French book I Hate Men sees sales boom after government adviser calls for ban

Women | The Guardian

Ralph Zurmély, who advises the gender equality ministry, says Pauline Harmange’s ‘ode to misandry’ should be withdrawn for inciting hatred

A French government official’s attempts to ban an essay entitled I Hate Men over its “incitement to hatred on the grounds of gender” have backfired, sending sales of the feminist pamphlet skyrocketing.

Pauline Harmange’s Moi les hommes, je les déteste explores whether women “have good reason to hate men”, and whether “anger towards men is actually a joyful and emancipatory path, if it is allowed to be expressed”. Its small French publisher, Monstrograph, called it a “feminist and iconoclastic book” that “defends misandry as a way of making room for sisterhood”.

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September 8th 2020, 9:53 am

Regina King makes history at Venice film festival with One Night in Miami

Women | The Guardian

King’s directorial debut is the first film directed by an African-American woman to be selected in the festival’s history

Regina King’s directorial debut stood out at this year’s Venice film festival. There’s the intriguing subject matter: it’s an adaptation of Kemp Powers’s dramatisation of a real-life meeting between Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke after Clay’s surprise win over Sonny Liston in February 1964. But there’s another reason: it’s the first film directed by an African-American woman to be selected in the festival’s history.

At the event on Monday, King recognised that the success or failure of her film, One Night in Miami, could have ramifications for other black female directors. “It’s interesting because how this film performs will open doors or maybe close doors for more black female directors … that’s how things seem to work,” she said over video link.

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September 7th 2020, 2:14 pm

Two-thirds of black Britons believe NHS gives white people better care, finds survey

Women | The Guardian

Black women especially feel unequally treated by health service, says report put to MPs

Almost two-thirds of black Britons think the NHS does less to protect their health than that of white people, research has found.

That negative view of the health service is shared by a majority of black people of almost all ages, and is held especially strongly by black women, according to findings of a study commissioned by a parliamentary committee.

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September 6th 2020, 7:21 pm

Village effort saves those caught short

Women | The Guardian

Public toilets | National anthem | Local poo | Comfort blanket | Overkill

The closure of public toilets has caused a panic, not least for those travelling by car (The Shewee revolution: how 2020 has changed urination, 3 September). When our parish council decided to close the village centre toilets a splendid initiative took them over. Now, they are a pristine facility, funded and run by volunteers. Significantly, they are the only roadside toilets on the 50 miles between Harrogate and Kirby Lonsdale. Closure would have been a disaster for visitors to the Dales and the Lakes.
David Handley
Gargrave, North Yorkshire

My mother and I once went to a theatre in Altrincham that played the national anthem (Letters, 3 September). As a staunch republican, she refused to stand. In the row in front was the only other person still sitting, so my mother leant forward to express solidarity, only to discover they were in a wheelchair.
Bob Hughes
Willoughby, Warwickshire

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September 6th 2020, 12:17 pm

How Victorian female brewers broke the (pint) glass ceiling

Women | The Guardian

As more women take charge of commercial beer production, a new book reveals their pivotal role in the industry historically

It’s an industry long associated with men, from the whiskered industrialists of the 19th century to the hipster craft brewers of the present. But women have played a significant role in brewing beer in Britain, and are increasingly running breweries and creating new beers.

A new book, published this week, unearths the pivotal role of women in family breweries. “Beer is often portrayed as a male domain, even though many iconic breweries would not be what they are today if they didn’t have strong women at the helm,” says its author, the veteran beer expert and real-ale advocate Roger Protz.

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September 6th 2020, 2:32 am

Women's sex lives in lockdown prove online comedy hit

Women | The Guardian

Show backed by BBC Studios using real-life stories and starring Aimee Lou Wood and Miriam Margolyes being adapted for TV

A groundbreaking new comedy sketch show based on women’s sex lives during lockdown, starring Aimee Lou Wood and Miriam Margolyes, is designed to “claim the stage” for women, its co-creator, Joanna Scanlan, says.

Sex Lives, believed to be the first interactive comedy backed by the BBC’s commercial wing, BBC Studios, documents stories submitted anonymously by women and has proved a hit online.

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September 4th 2020, 3:24 am

Childcare shortage looms after Covid lockdown hits providers – study

Women | The Guardian

Nurseries and childminders in England that rely on parents’ fees have seen income collapse and could close without support

Nurseries and childminders in England who rely on fees from parents may be forced to close or quit the sector, creating a national shortage of childcare places, according to new research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The study found that the coronavirus lockdown caused severe financial pressures for providers that received the bulk of their income from fees rather than through the government’s childcare entitlement, leaving about 25% of private sector nurseries vulnerable.

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September 4th 2020, 1:54 am

Women are losing out in coronavirus job cuts | Letter

Women | The Guardian

Women are being singled out for redundancies, says one anonymous writer – and the economic crisis risks reversing the progress for women in the workforce

The TUC is right to be worried that “women will be pushed out of the workforce” (Report, 3 September), and it is at the behest of men, still too often the decision-makers at all levels, that this is happening. To give just one example, my daughter works for a small specialist company that employs 20 people, which, until April this year, was proud that 50% of its workforce were women. Along came Covid-19, when the company furloughed almost half its workforce – all of them women. When this was pointed out to the male owner, he claimed not to have noticed.

With the furlough scheme coming to an end, and orders for the company drastically reduced, its survival plan determined that redundancies were necessary. Two women volunteered. Four more compulsory redundancies were announced – all of them women. The company has reduced its female workforce by 60% while the men remain unscathed. This doesn’t even make economic sense as, typically, most of the women made redundant were in lower paid and/or part-time roles. Were these skilled and experienced women employed just for decoration, one wonders?

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September 3rd 2020, 12:48 pm

The Shewee revolution: how 2020 has changed urination

Women | The Guardian

Since lockdown, sales of devices that help women and trans men pee standing up have gone through the roof. But would it be healthier for everyone to just sit down?

Natasha Bright watched in horror as she saw her friends drinking beer after beer in the park. She had gone out to meet them as lockdown restrictions eased and maybe have a drink herself. But one thought plagued her: what if I need the toilet?

It was the same when she went to walk her dog in the Peak District near her home in Sheffield. With the already dwindling numbers of public toilets closed, and pubs and cafes shuttered, the options were to hold it in or find a bush. “There’s a lot that can go wrong when you’re squatting outside,” says the 33-year-old charity communications manager. “It takes longer to get your trousers up than it does for men, there’s nettles and the fear of being caught … oh God. If the choice was to have a drink and have to go in the bushes, or not have a drink and wait until I got home, it was easy.”

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September 3rd 2020, 5:28 am

Cate Blanchett says she would rather be called an actor than an actress

Women | The Guardian

Venice film festival jury chief backs Berlin event’s move towards gender-neutral prizes

The Hollywood star Cate Blanchett has said she would rather be called an actor than an actress.

The Australian, who is heading the jury at the Venice film festival, gave her backing to Berlin festival’s controversial decision last week to do away with gendered prizes and only give a best actor award.

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September 2nd 2020, 8:23 pm

Childcare crisis risks pushing women out of workforce, says TUC

Women | The Guardian

Families in Britain struggle with reduced access to nurseries and informal care during pandemic

Two in five working mothers with children under 10 in Britain are struggling to find the childcare they need, as breakfast and after-school clubs remain shut and care from friends and family remains limited, according to a survey for the TUC.

The lack of access to childcare has resulted in a crisis that risks turning the clock back on decades of labour market progress, warned Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress.

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September 2nd 2020, 7:10 pm

'It destroys lives': why the razor-blade pain of vaginismus is so misunderstood

Women | The Guardian

This common condition can lead to relationship breakdown and unnecessary surgery. So why is treatment still so poor and underfunded?

I was just a few weeks into a new relationship when the pain started. Whenever my boyfriend and I started to have penetrative sex, it felt as if there were razor blades inside me. At first I laughed it off, but soon I became terrified of intercourse. My body would freeze with fear as my clothes came off. By the time we said: “I love you,” even kissing made me feel anxious. I would spend entire day trips and holidays with him worrying about the pain.

When I first went to my GP, the advice I got was to “try and relax”. It was about as helpful as telling someone having a panic attack to “just chill out”. Without a real solution, I started to question whether I was imagining the pain. Or if maybe, somehow, I was to blame for it. My boyfriend was kind and supportive but I felt I was letting him down. Some days, I would feel so ashamed that it was hard to think about anything else. Other days, I’d feel an overwhelming sense of loss for the carefree woman I had been.

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August 31st 2020, 9:10 am

'Women are future of the Catholic church': Anne Soupa leads renewed fight for female ordination

Women | The Guardian

French academic’s bid to become archbishop of Lyon reflects growing calls for women in leadership roles

A French female academic has put herself forward to be the next Catholic archbishop of Lyon in a move that is gathering support around the world even though she stands no chance of succeeding.

Anne Soupa, 73, a theologian and biblical scholar, says there is “an awakening of women within the Catholic church”. Seven other Catholic women in France have followed her move in applying for ministries that are open only to men.

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August 30th 2020, 5:26 am

'I don't have to smile if I don't feel like it!': Covid freed me from politeness and unwanted touchi

Women | The Guardian

I had been brainwashed into ‘nice girl’ behavior, meaning: never do or say anything that might anger or humiliate a man. Then came a global pandemic

Just before the New York shutdown for Covid, I’d been kvetching all over the place about people touching me too much. It was the feminist rant of a woman with experience in the service industry, mostly. But in particular, a guy who’d recently not-really-asked me out had decided to repeatedly reinforce his ambiguous, undeclared interest in me by putting his hands on my shoulders at the slightest provocation whenever he ran into me in public, coming up from behind me while I sat working at my computer at a cafe, or just going full-frontal, sometimes sideways, even.

Along came the shutdown. Suddenly, people who used to reach for me found themselves spasmodically curling their arms back to bring their hands to their chests, and standing six feet away from me.

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August 28th 2020, 9:06 am

Lesbian love story wins Popcorn Writing award for new play Edinburgh never got to see

Women | The Guardian

Jennifer Lunn wins £2,500 prize for drama Es and Flo, whose fringe premiere was sabotaged by the Covid pandemic

A drama about an ageing lesbian couple’s love, and their experience of discrimination and dementia, has won a prize for new plays that were due to be presented at this year’s Edinburgh fringe.

Jennifer Lunn’s play, Es and Flo, was set to premiere at Edinburgh’s Traverse theatre this summer before the Covid-19 pandemic led to the fringe’s cancellation. It has now beaten more than 130 other scripts to win the Popcorn Writing award 2020 for new work.

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August 27th 2020, 7:09 am

Laura Bates on the men who hate women: 'They canonise and revere and idolise murderers'

Women | The Guardian

For years, the founder of the Everyday Sexism project has had vile abuse heaped upon her. But that still didn’t prepare her for what she found in the toxic world of online misogyny

Laura Bates founded the Everyday Sexism project in 2012, when she was 25, inviting women on social media to detail sexist encounters they’d had. Two years later, she published the book of the same name, curating a document that was horrifying but unsurprising. It should have been shocking but nobody was shocked. Six years on, we meet in King’s Cross, in London, where the cafe has separated the tables with Perspex, so I have a flash-forward to a dystopian near-future where one of us is in prison for feminist activism (obviously her, I decided, ruefully). She is as passionate and determined as I have ever seen her (I have met and interviewed her a few times before), yet somehow more cautious, for reasons that become clear.

Bates was surprised by certain elements of the Everyday Sexism project, like how many of the accounts came from girls in their mid-teens (she had expected more responses to be from women working in offices), but not the phenomenon of sexist harassment itself, which she knew was “hidden in plain sight. It was an invisible problem and this was very much trying to make it visible.” In doing so, Bates seeded an idea that would be proved again and again in the following years, in more and more vivid ways. From the #MeToo movement to Black Lives Matter, the inflection point for resisting injustice is not when one crusader saves the day, but when everybody is emboldened to speak out at once. Bates comes back to this repeatedly, and not, I think, for reasons of modesty. It was never, she insists, about her.

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August 27th 2020, 6:58 am

A third of girls say they won’t post selfies without enhancement

Women | The Guardian

Charity behind survey says unrealistic images increase pressures as girls spend more time online

A third of girls and young women will not post selfies online without using a filter or app to change their appearance, while a similar proportion have deleted photos with too few “likes” or comments, research has found.

About half regularly alter their photos to enhance their appearance online and “find acceptance”, Girlguiding’s annual Girls’ Attitudes survey found.

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August 27th 2020, 1:39 am

Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding receiving chemotherapy for cancer

Women | The Guardian

38-year-old singer, who had 21 Top 10 hits with Girls Aloud, says breast cancer ‘has advanced to other parts of my body’

Sarah Harding, former member of pop group Girls Aloud, has announced that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In a series of tweets and an Instagram post, she wrote:

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August 26th 2020, 11:18 am

Men going their own way: the toxic male separatist movement that is now mainstream

Women | The Guardian

The men of the MGTOW movement aim to live their lives with no female contact. The idea began on the fringes of the internet – so how has it made it all the way to the White House?

‘There has been an awakening … changing the world … one man at a time.” These are the dramatic words that appear when you visit In a video that looks a lot like an action-movie trailer, the words are soon followed by five more that appear to smash through the screen, smouldering fiery red: “Men … going … their … own way.”

If you stumbled across this website and had never heard of “men going their own way” (MGTOW) before, you would probably assume this was a tiny, extreme movement. But you would be only half right.

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August 26th 2020, 1:14 am

'This year has made me feel, at times, that I look like a freak. What should I do for my head?' | Le

Women | The Guardian

It can be traumatic for women to lose their hair, writes advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith, but your hair doesn’t need to be a symbol of fragility

I had breast cancer in 2002. It came back a second time this year. I had a double mastectomy and chemo. I have had reconstructive surgery but expect more. It’s been a rough year. Mostly I am proud of getting through all this. But I am concerned about my daughter’s wedding, which is in six weeks.

I have a wig for Zoom calls, but it doesn’t look great and it is not me. I bought it online; because of Covid I could not go to a wig shop. I have very little hair, a quarter inch, but you can still see my scalp. I don’t know what to do for my head. Do I wear a wig that is hot and not me? Do I go with my own hair and look like a man with a crew cut, but wear it as a symbol of pride for a tough year? Do I wear a scarf that will hide my head but not the fact that I have no hair?

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August 25th 2020, 10:26 pm

French minister defends 'precious' right to sunbathe topless

Women | The Guardian

Gendarmes’ request for topless sunbathers to cover up on south coast prompts outcry

France’s interior minister has defended the “precious” right to sunbathe topless on beaches, after police asked a group of women to cover up on the southern coast.

French gendarmes patrolling a beach in Mediterranean seaside town Sainte-Marie-la-Mer last week asked a group of topless sunbathers to cover up in response to a complaint from a family, the local gendarmerie said in a statement on Facebook.

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August 25th 2020, 4:38 pm

Cervical cancer: minority ethnic women more likely to miss screenings in pandemic

Women | The Guardian

Study by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust finds almost 40% feel unsafe visiting surgeries

Minority ethnic women are less likely than white women to attend cervical cancer screenings, with four in 10 saying they would feel unsafe attending a doctor’s surgery as a result of the pandemic.

The findings in a study for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has revealed that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women are twice as likely (20%) to be strongly worried about contracting the virus at a cervical cancer screening than white women (9.4%). It also found that BAME women are a third more likely (39.6%) to feel unsafe visiting a doctor’s surgery at the moment than white women (27.2%).

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August 25th 2020, 9:33 am

Cricketers in India pad up to push periods out of the shadows

Women | The Guardian

Niine’s sponsorship of Rajasthan Royals aims to help remove stigma around periods

When the Rajasthan Royals walk on to the pitch this September, it will mark more than a long awaited return of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket.

Emblazoned on the back of their purple jerseys will be the name Niine, making it the first time any Indian sports team has been sponsored by a sanitary towel brand.

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August 25th 2020, 12:25 am

Stephanie Yeboah: ‘How I learned to stop using my body as a punch bag’

Women | The Guardian

As a plus-size black woman, Stephanie Yeboah has faced decades of racism and fat phobia. Here, the author of Fattily Ever After, reveals how she overcame prejudice to accept herself – and live with confidence

Let me paint the scene. It’s October 2019. I’m on a deserted beach in St Lucia, on a work trip with other influencers. It’s a balmy 38C and I’m wearing a duo-toned glitter bikini underneath a yellow beach skirt. In a moment of sheer spontaneity, I rip off the skirt and run into the sea. To most people, this would be an everyday response to hitting the beach, but for me it was an act of emancipation; a decision, made in the moment, that I would never let the opinions of others hold power over my body and my self-esteem. It was an attempt to stick two fingers up at “bikini body” culture – the idea that in order to wear a bikini, or to feel confident at the beach, you need to present as super slim. Here I was in this fat body – in a bikini nonetheless – having fun, feeling free, unapologetically me. It felt exhilarating.

It had taken many years to get to this point. Until the age of eight or nine, I had been a happy, active child. I was a bit taller and bigger than other kids, sure, but it had mostly been a non-issue for me, until I started to be made aware of my weight by my dad. He would frequently snatch away my plate in the middle of a meal and comment on how much bigger my arms and legs were getting.

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August 23rd 2020, 3:18 am

First ladies: voices of reason and compassion, central to US politics today

Women | The Guardian

Michelle Obama’s powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention showed how the roles of leaders’ wives are more important than ever

Michelle Obama may think that Donald Trump “cannot meet this moment”, but she has proved without a doubt that she can.

When Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) last week, she pleaded for Americans to vote for Joe Biden like their “lives depend on it”. She used her recent history as America’s “mom-in-chief” to make her case in what was the most talked-about speech of the convention. And she made clear that first ladies have enormous platforms, if they choose to use them.

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August 23rd 2020, 2:46 am

Uganda court rules government must prioritise maternal health in 'huge shift'

Women | The Guardian

Ruling is result of lawsuit filed over deaths in childbirth of two women due to staff negligence and lack of facilities

Health rights activists in Uganda have welcomed a landmark court ruling that the government should increase its health budget to ensure women receive decent maternal healthcare services.

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed in 2011 over the deaths in childbirth of two women – Jennifer Anguko and Sylvia Nalubowa – in a public health facility.

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August 21st 2020, 7:38 am

Selective abortion in India could lead to 6.8m fewer girls being born by 2030

Women | The Guardian

New study shows preference for a son is highest in north of country with Uttar Pradesh having highest deficit in female births

An estimated 6.8 million fewer female births will be recorded across India by 2030 because of the persistent use of selective abortions, researchers estimate.

Academics from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia projected the sex ratio at birth in 29 Indian states and union territories, covering almost the entire population, taking into account each state’s desired sex ratio at birth and the population’s fertility rates.

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August 21st 2020, 1:48 am

Natasha Stott Despoja urges Coalition to apply 'gender lens' to pandemic recovery

Women | The Guardian

Our Watch chair and former Australian Democrats leader says federal budget must strengthen women’s economic security, which will help reduce the ‘shadow pandemic’ of violence against women

The Morrison government must apply a “gender lens” when it draws up the next federal budget because the pandemic has disproportionately harmed women, Natasha Stott Despoja has said.

Australia’s candidate to the United Nations committee on discrimination against women called on the government to look beyond “shovel-ready” stimulus projects and to support female-dominated, low-paid sectors at the frontline of the pandemic response in the budget in October.

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August 19th 2020, 4:01 am

'We’re living like it’s not happening': Michelle Obama opens up about menopause

Women | The Guardian

The former first lady used her podcast to also draw attention to other issues affecting women such as weight, ageing and image

Michelle Obama made a point of breaking taboos about women’s health in the latest episode of her new podcast, talking about going through menopause in the workplace, weight, ageing and image.

In a conversation with Samantha Malone, a longtime friend and Washington DC-based obstetrician and gynecologist, the former first lady shared a story about having a hot flash while on Marine One, the presidential helicopter, before an event with then-president Barack Obama.

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August 13th 2020, 3:19 pm

Elif Shafak: ‘We need to tell different stories, to humanise the other’

Women | The Guardian

History has shown that hate doesn’t start with concentration camps or civil war. It always starts with words

• Time to reset: more brilliant ideas to remake the world

The year 2020 hasn’t solely been defined by the pandemic, rising unemployment, deepening economic inequalities and a critical time for the climate emergency. There has also been an alarming increase in hate crimes across the world.

In Poland, LGBTQ communities have become enemy number one. In Hungary, neo-Nazi crowds organise demonstrations to expel the Roma communities. More than half of the hate crimes in New York last year targeted Jewish citizens. In Germany, there has been a dangerous increase in attacks against minorities and refugees. In the UK, Home Office figures indicate a surge in hate crimes, including those against sexual minorities and transgender citizens. In Turkey, Brazil and India, a dangerous form of dogmatism continues to brew. All these seemingly disparate events have one fundamental thing in common: a systematic hatred of and bias against people who are regarded as different; the dehumanisation of the “other”.

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August 13th 2020, 4:31 am

‘George Eliot’ joins 24 female authors making debuts under their real names

Women | The Guardian

The Reclaim Her Name project, marking 25 years of the Women’s prize for fiction, will introduce titles including Middlemarch by Mary Ann Evans

Middlemarch is to be published for the first time in almost 150 years under George Eliot’s real name, Mary Ann Evans, alongside 24 other historic works by women whose writing has only ever previously been in print under their male pseudonyms.

Evans adopted the pen name of George Eliot in the mid-19th century, in order to ensure her works were taken seriously. Middlemarch, originally published in eight parts in 1871-72, has never been released under her real name. Evans said she was “resolute in preserving my incognito, having observed that a nom de plume secures all the advantages without the disagreeables of reputation”, while her partner George Lewes said “the object of anonymity was to get the book judged on its own merits, and not prejudged as the work of a woman, or of a particular woman”.

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August 12th 2020, 12:38 pm

Intimate letters reveal Simone de Beauvoir’s role as an agony aunt

Women | The Guardian

Inspired by the author’s unconventional love life, thousands of men and women wrote to ask for her advice on sex and sexuality, hidden correspondence reveals

She was the feminist icon made famous by her 1949 seminal treatise, The Second Sex, and her open relationship with fellow writer Jean-Paul Sartre, with whom she swapped sexual partners. Now a vast trove of 20,000 letters reveals that Simone de Beauvoir sparked an extraordinary outpouring of emotion from readers in Britain and across the globe.

Far from ordinary fan mail, these are letters filled with an exceptional author-reader intimacy. Both men and women sought her advice on everything from marriage to mistresses, sexual confusion to sex, abortions to affairs.

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August 9th 2020, 4:52 am

UK’s women’s refuges turn away victims who speak no English

Women | The Guardian

BAME sufferers of domestic abuse refused sanctuary despite available places at many sites

Women’s charities have raised concerns that victims of domestic violence are being refused places at refuges, even when there is capacity, because they do not speak English.

Those turned away include a mother with a 14-month-old baby who was fleeing violence after being held as a slave by her ex-husband.

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August 9th 2020, 4:07 am

'Polarised' debate on gender recognition is harming UK, says equalities chief

Women | The Guardian

David Isaac urges women’s groups and transgender campaigners to listen to each other and focus on consensus

The departing chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said the polarising debate around transgender rights will be damaging to the country if it continues.

In his final interview, David Isaac, who left his position on Saturday after more than four years in post, urged supporters and opponents of gender self-identification to recognise that they had much in common.

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August 8th 2020, 3:47 pm

Indian food delivery company Zomato offers 'period leave' to women

Women | The Guardian

Employer aims to remove stigma in a nation where menstruation is still taboo to some

Indian food delivery company Zomato has said it will give female employees up to 10 days of “period leave” a year, as part of an effort to combat what it said was stigma around the issue.

Zomato is the most high-profile organisation to institute the policy in India, a country where menstruation is still taboo to some.

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August 8th 2020, 2:47 pm

Pope appoints six women to top roles on Vatican council, in progressive step

Women | The Guardian

Former Labour minister Ruth Kelly is among the women who will oversee Vatican finances and address its cashflow problems

Pope Francis has appointed six women to oversee the Vatican’s finances including Ruth Kelly, the former Labour minister, in the most senior roles ever given to women within the Catholic Church’s leadership.

The appointments mark the most significant step by Francis to fulfil his promise of placing women in top positions. Up until now, the 15-member Council for the Economy was all male. By statute, the council must include eight bishops – who are always men – and seven lay people.

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August 6th 2020, 12:50 pm

Female doctors in menopause retiring early due to sexism, says study

Women | The Guardian

Experienced women leaving medicine early because of symptoms and lack of support

Female doctors going through the menopause are reducing their hours, moving to lower-paid roles or retiring early from medicine due to sexism and ageism in surgeries and hospitals, research has found.

The British Medical Association (BMA) found a strong pattern of highly experienced women leaving GP partnerships, ending their positions as clinical leaders and directors and leaving medicine early, because they were struggling to cope with menopause symptoms with no support from management or peers.

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August 5th 2020, 7:31 pm

‘Disgusting’ study rating attractiveness of women with endometriosis retracted by medical journal

Women | The Guardian

Fertility and Sterility took seven years to take down Italian study, which was criticised by doctors for ethical concerns and dubious justifications

A widely criticised peer-reviewed study that measured the attractiveness of women with endometriosis has been retracted from the medical journal Fertility and Sterility.

The study, Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study, was first published in 2013 and has been defended by the authors and the journal in the intervening years despite heavy criticism from doctors, other researchers and people with endometriosis for its ethical concerns and dubious justifications, with one advocate calling the study “heartbreaking” and “disgusting”.

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August 5th 2020, 3:59 am

Dreary chat and no sexual spark: the couples who fell out of love in lockdown

Women | The Guardian

With coronavirus keeping us at home, many of us have been taking a long, hard look at our most intimate relationships – and deciding to end them

Hannah began to question her relationship when her boyfriend chose not to live with her during lockdown. They had been dating for two and half years but didn’t share a home. Now, forced to choose between not seeing each other for weeks on end, or being together 24/7, he had opted for separation.

“At first, I felt anxious about being apart,” she recalls. But friends reassured her that it was only natural not to want to start living together in such stressful circumstances. “We are both very young, in our early 20s, so I brushed aside my concerns and we went to stay separately with our families.”

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August 4th 2020, 5:20 am

I’m bisexual – but worry I'm not as attracted to men as I am to women

Women | The Guardian

I’d feel there was something missing in a long-term heterosexual relationship, but am concerned I am not attracted enough to men to have a monogamous gay relationship

I’m a bisexual man in my 30s. I greatly enjoy sex with women, but the thought of it doesn’t turn me on as much as the thought of receiving anal sex from a man. However, when I am physically intimate with a man I find it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain an erection. In some ways, this is fine, but I’m worried that the men I sleep with think I’m not enjoying it, or don’t know whether I am or not. I think the wider problem may be that I don’t find men as attractive as women. I don’t enjoy cuddling with men or kissing like I do with women. As a result, I treat the men I’m with like sex objects. I’m worried that if I end up with a woman, I’ll always have something missing from my sex life, but that I am not attracted to men enough to have a satisfying monogamous relationship with a man.

When people are grappling with such questions, what they are really comparing is not so much the qualitatively different sexual experiences, but rather who they experience themselves to be in the context of their relationships with people of different genders. But you do not have to make a choice – not now and not ever.

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August 4th 2020, 3:15 am

'A small but powerful signal': Mumbai installs female figures on traffic lights

Women | The Guardian

Campaigners in India say the move helps dispel the notion that only men should be out in public

Mumbai has become the first city in India to introduce female figures on its traffic lights, a move welcomed by campaigners as a step towards greater inclusivity.

Authorities are swapping the green and red male stick figures for female figures on more than 100 pedestrian crossings as part of a broader plan to make roads more pedestrian-friendly.

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August 4th 2020, 1:33 am

Women's prize for playwriting longlist is 'politically charged', say producers

Women | The Guardian

The £12,000 prize is a galvanising moment for industry that must ‘rejuvenate rather than regress’ after the Covid-19 pandemic

The longlisted writers for a new prize for female playwrights have created “satisfyingly puzzling” characters and “ambitious, politically charged” plays, say the award’s producers.

The Women’s prize for playwriting, open to writers in the UK and Ireland who identify as female, was launched last year. Submissions closed in early March and the prize has grown in significance in the wake of coronavirus, which led venues to close that month and has since devastated the theatre industry. Producer Ellie Keel, whose company launched the prize with Paines Plough (run by Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner), warned that fewer creative risks will be taken by the industry after the pandemic. “It is a historically well-trodden path that work by women can be seen as risky,” said Keel, who wants to “force the theatre industry to rejuvenate rather than regress”.

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July 31st 2020, 9:23 am

Democrats introduce bill to repeal anti-abortion rule for US overseas aid

Women | The Guardian

Critics of the Helms amendment, which currently prevents the use of aid to fund abortion services abroad, say it is ‘deeply rooted in racism’

The first bill to repeal a US law preventing aid from funding abortion services overseas was introduced to congress on Wednesday.

Democratic congressswoman Jan Schakowsky said the Helms amendment, a policy introduced in 1973, was “deeply rooted in racism” and must be replaced to allow US money to be used to support safe abortion services worldwide.

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July 29th 2020, 10:43 am

Gisèle Halimi, trailblazing French feminist MP and lawyer, dies aged 93

Women | The Guardian

Instrumental in decriminalising abortion in France, Halimi spent her life fighting for women’s rights

The Tunisian-born French feminist MP and lawyer Gisèle Halimi, described as a “trailblazer” and a “rebel”, has died one day after her 93rd birthday.

Halimi was instrumental in the decriminalisation of abortion in France and spent her life fighting for women’s rights. “Injustice is physically intolerable to me. All my life can be summed up with that,” she once said.

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July 29th 2020, 9:43 am

Mexico’s activists brace for landmark supreme court abortion ruling

Women | The Guardian

The ruling could set a precedent; in states that have restrictive regulations, injunctions could be granted to allow the procedure

Activists on both sides of Mexico’s abortion debate are bracing for a potentially historic supreme court hearing on Wednesday which could lead to decriminalisation across the country.

The case before the five judges of the high court’s first bench involves an injunction granted in the eastern state of Veracruz, which ordered the local legislature to remove articles from its criminal code pertaining to abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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July 29th 2020, 5:26 am
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