Go with the flow
In many developing regions of India, menstruation is regarded as unclean, and even unholy; women don't attend school or work while on their period, with the result they are lagging in education and job advancement. Worse yet, women frequently don't have access to sanitary supplies, which health officials say helps account for India's high rate of cervical cancer—nearly double the global average. Organizations from all over are pitching in: Proctor & Gamble, New Delhi organization Plan India, and MIT's Poverty Action Lab are just a few of the groups getting involved in improving the situation.
August 1, 2013 11:59 AM
The FBI's decade-long Innocence Lost initiative has culminated in the rescue of thousands of child prostitutes, and their most recent sweep resulted in the arrest of 152 pimps. More than a hundred young people were recovered during the nationwide operation; they will not be charged with any crime, and will receive counseling and other services. The head of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, John Ryan, said the problem of child prostitution has intensified with the ubiquity of the internet. The most recent operation, he says, demonstrated “just how many of America’s children are being sold for sex every day, many on the Internet.”
August 1, 2013 11:57 AM
Pakistan's getting its first female superhero—so why are people in a dither? The heroine of a new cartoon for children is a schoolteacher by profession, when she dons a burqa she transforms into Burka Avenger. Reactions have been mixed: novelist Bina Shah asked, “Is it right to take the burqa and make it look ‘cool’ for children, to brainwash girls into thinking that a burqa gives you power instead of taking it away from you?” However, Kulsume Hai, a female viewer of the show, called it a “strong take on womanhood.” The creator—a man—claims the burqa functions merely as a disguise.
August 1, 2013 11:56 AM
In Japan, women represent 49% of college graduates, but only 2% of executive board members and less than 1% of CEOs—but there's a chance that one woman can help turn the tide. Thursday, President Obama nominated Caroline Kennedy to become the next Ambassador to Japan, and observers are betting she can provide a role model to other women. “When Japanese young women look up, they often see a ceiling full of men in dark suits,” said Kathy Matsui, managing director and chief Japan analyst for Goldman Sachs. “Japan needs more female role models.”
July 25, 2013 1:39 PM
Close to the chest
There's a disparity in the 5-year survival rates of black and white women, but not because of genetics—and the reason goes back to their initial diagnosis, creating a marked difference between the two demographics. Black women have a 12.9% less chance of surviving 5 years after diagnosis, versus their white counterparts. According to the data, black women are diagnosed later, in worse health, meaning when the treatment is administered, it is less effective.
July 25, 2013 1:38 PM
A website is in hot water following the airing of its latest ad, which suggests that women are incapable of buying a car on their own. Truecar.com's spot shows several women stressing at the prospect of going to a dealership, but salvation arrives in the form of the site. “I don't need a dude,” shrugs the last speaker. The company's Facebook page was besieged with complaints almost immediately, causing the site to issue a response: "This particular ad is pro-consumer and pro-women. It was developed by our creative director, who is a woman, and it addresses a real consumer issue in the marketplace."
July 24, 2013 1:29 PM
Flexible work options have been touted as the ultimate solution to the work/life balance problem, but a Catalyst survey says that there's a gender divide there, too. When MBA candidates were asked whether they'd rather telecommute or have flexible hours, 39 percent of the women chose telecommuting over flexible hours, as opposed to only 29 percent of men. However, telecommuting may hurt employees' chances of advancement, according to recent reports.
July 24, 2013 1:28 PM
She was the first female governor of Afghanistan—and now, she's won the Magsaysay Award, which has been called the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. Hariba Sarabi, who's pushed for education and women's rights in her civic role, was selected as one of three Magsaysay honorees.
Read it at the Washington Post
July 24, 2013 1:25 PM
Thalidomide was taken off the market in the US in the early 1960s because it caused birth defects in the offspring of pregnant women. But other countries continue to prescribe the drug for certain conditions. Since 1965, the drug's been used to treat skin lesions in Brazil, which has one of the highest leprosy rates in the world. Advocates say the benefits outweigh the cost, but researchers say Brazil is currently home to more than 100 Thalidomide babies, with more on the way. Potential mothers who take the drug aren't warned of the dangers.
July 24, 2013 1:23 PM
Slap in the face
Faced with a mounting pile of sexual harassment accusations, the mayor of San Diego is also watching his staff defect in protest. His main accuser: his communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, who took a pay cut of $50,000 to come work for him, only to be repeatedly harassed within her first few weeks on the job. Opponents and even members of his own party are calling for Mayor Bob Filner to quit, and his fiancee has broken off their engagement. Filner denies the charges, but has nevertheless enrolled in a program to curb sexual harassment.
Read it at ABC News
July 23, 2013 12:50 PM
A Norwegian woman living and working in Qatar was raped on a business trip with a colleague to Dubai, but when she went to the police, they jailed her, charging her with having sex outside marriage and alcohol consumption. It gets more twisted: Her employers encouraged her to rescind her accusations in order to “make the problem go away,” which not only didn't help her legal case, but she was also fired. Luckily, Facebook and Twitter campaigns struck up for her freedom, and the UAE government backed down.
July 23, 2013 12:49 PM
Tour de femme
Efforts to revive the women's Tour de France, last raced 24 years ago, kicked into high gear in early July when an online petition by Olympic medalist and road racer Marianne Vos garnered more than 65,000 signatures. The parallel event was held from 1984-89, but died due to lack of financial support. This time around, organizers say they'll try to work out an appropriate economic model.
July 23, 2013 12:48 PM
If, as Judith Butler said, femininity is a performance, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome makes it hard to put on a show. Women diagnosed with PCOS, caused by elevated testosterone, often have abnormal hair growth. Thick, dark hair sprouts on chests, upper lips, chins, and elsewhere. Cat Gray, a PCOS patient, who sometimes shaves up to twice a day, decided to take a month off and encourages women everywhere to join her to de-stigmatize female body hair. Similar to “no-shave November” celebrated by men, Armpits 4 August encourages women to not shave for a month and embrace their natural hair growth. “Seeing other women who expose their condition and are still totally gorgeous has convinced me that attitudes can and will change,” Gray said.
July 19, 2013 1:49 PM
A massive power outage in India last year revealed just how inconsistent the nation's technological capabilities are; now, nonprofit Barefoot College is taking steps to fix that. Six-month training programs to teach women from remote areas how to build and install solar panels, with the hope they'll carry the knowledge back to their local communities, which often rely on kerosene lamps for nighttime light. It's estimated that 400 million Indians have no access to electricity. Though initially the program was offered to men, Barefoot College found that women were more likely to stay in their villages and share the knowledge.
July 19, 2013 1:47 PM
Beauty comes in all sizes, and a new NYC modeling agency is determined to not let the fashion industry ice out “fat” size 4s. Fashionista reports two former Ford plus-size agents have started Jag, the first modeling agency that doesn't specialize in a size range and instead tries to promote girls of all sizes. Typically, agencies represent either the “norm” of 0-2, or jump to plus-size representation (sizes 14-16). The company's 30-model roster is focused in the plus-size range, but “there are 10s and there are 18s and if there’s a size 8 or a size 6 that we fall in love with we’ll take them on,” said co-founder Gary Dakin. “We’re not going to limit ourselves, because the industry shouldn’t be limiting to anybody.”
July 19, 2013 1:31 PM
In the UK, girls as young 10 are experiencing significant self-doubt about their weight, according to a report by the British Schools Health Education Unit. Nearly two-thirds of 14- and 15-year old girls expressed a desire to lose weight—a wish that's manifested itself in the form of skipping meals. One in six teenagers skips breakfast, and 18 percent of girls age 13 to 15 admitted to not eating lunch. “What's particularly worrying is that girls.. are skipping meals at a time when their bodies are changing fast and they're particularly in need of good nourishment,” said nutritionist Laura Sharp.
July 10, 2013 12:36 PM
India's Supreme Court ruled that the government has failed to adequately address acid attacks, and the court set a July 16 deadline for a new plan to curb this widespread form of violence. “People are dying, but you are not worried about it. Think of people who are losing their lives every day. Girls are being attacked every day in different parts of the country,” read part of the ruling. Acid is cheap and accessible in India, leading to its rise as a popular weapon, often used against women, and the court's ruling suggested restricting the ability to buy it.
July 10, 2013 12:35 PM
More than a third of broadcast TV programs in 2011 and 2012 contained content which sexually exploited their female characters, according to a new report by the Parents Television Council. Surprisingly, girls were more likely to be targeted than adult female characters. Comedies were the worst offenders; consider the episode of Family Guy that showed a teenage girl with a voiceover that said, "This girl is perfect if you want to buy a sex slave, but don't want to spend sex slave money."
Read it at the Miami Herald
July 10, 2013 12:32 PM
A comment by Chile's president Sebastian Pinera has reignited controversy over the pregnancy of an 11-year old girl. Pinera said the girl's decision to keep the baby rather than appeal for abortion was “brave and mature,” a statement that riled politicians such former president Michelle Bachelet, who questioned the ability of a pre-teen to make an informed decision. The girl was raped repeatedly over the course of two years by her mother's partner. He's been arrested, but the mother defended the relationship as “consensual.”
July 10, 2013 12:18 PM
As tensions escalate in Egypt, a group previously ignored by the global media is trying to establish their voice: women of the Muslim Brotherhood. A conservative Islamist group, the Brotherhood (which helped lead the 2011 Egyptian revolution) is generally perceived as a boys' club, with little regard for women's voices. Not so, say women cited in a Daily Beast piece. Women have been out in force in the most recent round of protests, despite widespread sexual violence. Brotherhood member Fatma Saad El Din said she felt obligated to participate. “I have a national duty as a woman, as an Egyptian, and as a Muslim to defend my rights and my role as a Muslim Brotherhood member,” she said. “I stand for truth.”
July 9, 2013 12:23 PM
In the UK, the role of the adviser on women's issues has been expanded—that is, to cover other duties. Laura Trott, who has acted as the adviser on women's issues to Prime Minister David Cameron since last February, will now be expected to also cover education and childcare. Critics are furious, claiming the move denotes negligence of women in the PM's administration. "What this says to me is that women's issues and women's equality are obviously not deemed important enough to merit the full attention of one official at Downing Street," said Vivienne Hays, chief executive of the Women's Resource Center, a nonprofit for women's issues.
July 9, 2013 12:19 PM
Time out for Leaning in
A New York Times story says that not every women aspires to a high-powered job: many just want flexibility. A poll from the Families and Work Institute shows that only 37 percent of working women want a job with more responsibility, and only a quarter of working mothers with children under 18 would work full-time if money weren't an issue. Sarah Uttech, a mother who works full-time, says that for her, the ability to work from home on a regular basis has been a saving grace, and because of her, her employer has made official telecommuting policies. However, only about a third of employers allow regular work from home.
July 9, 2013 12:14 PM
The Sacramento Bee reports that from 2006 to 2010, nearly 150 female inmates in California prisons were sterilized, often agreeing to the procedure after coercion from prison staff. Former inmates and prison workers claim that medical staff pressured women into tubal ligations; most of the patients were repeat offenders with multiple children already. The revelation has drawn comparisons to the retired practice of sterilizing prisoners and the mentally ill, which was outlawed in California in 1979. Prison officials claim it was a matter of the women's health, and also helped prevent women gaming the system by returning to prison for better healthcare.
Read it at the Sacramento Bee
July 9, 2013 12:11 PM
Though there has been increased legislative attention to sexual assault in the military, the Coast Guard often gets left out. The surprising reason? The Coast Guard isn't technically part of the military branch, so none of the laws being passed or talked about apply to them. Meanwhile, sexual assault victims in the service are suffering; out at sea, harassment victims in the Guard have access to only flimsy support systems to handle both the situation, and their psychological health. Many accusers are diagnosed with personality disorders and discharged, in numbers that quadruple the military's discharge rate.
July 2, 2013 5:05 PM
In a marked change from the original revolution, Egyptian women constitute roughly half of the protestors in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where they are calling for change. For two years, Tahrir Square has gained notoriety as an unsafe zone of intense assault, where local women as well as foreign reporters have been publicly raped. Despite the danger, women have joined the throngs of protestors rallying in the square. Monitoring groups report that on Sunday alone, nearly 50 women were attacked.
July 2, 2013 5:03 PM