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In The News

Amnesty Denounces Russian War Crimes, U.S. Gun Reform Progress, Man Outruns Horse

👋 Buongiorno!*

Welcome to Monday, where an Amnesty International report details Russian war crimes in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, gun reforms gain bipartisan support in the U.S. and an aptly-named man runs faster than horses. Meanwhile, Melilla-based, Spanish-language daily El Faro de Melilla explores how a new generation of Muslim women is managing to navigate both misogyny and Islamophobia to create its own space.

[*Italian]

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The Ideal Age To Marry? Reflections Of A 20-Something Indian Woman

India is raising the minimum age for women to marry. What does that mean on the individual level (with your parents whispering in your ear)?

-Essay-

NEW DELHI — A few days ago, I got a call from my parents, who wanted to talk about the "ideal age to marry." This came after news about India raising the minimum age for women to marry to 21, to match the age for men. It's a laudable move, sure, but I even wonder if 21-year-olds will be able to fathom the expectations, responsibilities and limitations that come with such a socially-constrained institution.

I am not ready at 26, and won’t be even at 30.

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How Italy’s New Draconian Bill On Surrogacy Twists The Meaning Of "Women's Dignity"

Italy’s right-wing politicians are trying to ban surrogacy, as the pope pushes parents to have children and feminists are divided on the issue. On such a complicated issue, hard thinking and nuance have been in short supply.

-Essay-

After almost two decades away from Italy, I ended up moving back just after I found out I was pregnant in 2018.

We lived in a stone house among olive trees in the Umbrian countryside, just off a beautiful medieval borgo called Montecastello di Vibio.

Even if I had tried, I could not have picked a better place for my pregnancy to be celebrated — and monitored publicly. With its aging dwellers slowly fading and younger families moving to the big cities, Montecastello was a perfect illustration of Italy’s falling fertility rates.

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Political Fashion In Latin America Leaves White Men In Suits Behind

Politics has always been associated with image. This is especially true in Latin America, where white men in suits have dominated the field for years. But a new generation of women are shaking up politics — as well as how female politicians are expected to dress.

During "The Great Male Renunciation," toward the end of the 18th century, men stopped using refined forms of dressing in order to be taken seriously, leaving conspicuous consumption of clothing and ostentatious dressing to women. It was an attempt by the bourgeoisie to leave behind all the decadent vanity of the overthrown aristocracy.

Men flaunted their power through the clothing their female counterparts wore, though they themselves could not aspire to that same power. Men could no longer dress extravagantly and had to moderate their "feminine impetus", unless they wanted to be considered weak and frivolous. That is why many women at that time who wanted to succeed in “men's” professions had to dress in a masculine way (like French novelist George Sand), with some going as far as pretending to be men.

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Society

Colombia: "Feminist" Candidate Ingrid Betancourt Accused Of Blaming Rape Victims

The former hostage Ingrid Betancourt, who recently decided to run for president with a focus on women's rights, is the center of criticism after her declarations in a presidential debate at a University seemed to say poor women who are raped are somehow provoking it. She later blamed a mix-up between French and Spanish.

When Ingrid Betancourt announced last month she was running for president of Colombia, the celebrated former hostage said a central focus of her candidacy would be women's issues. After a candidate debate on Tuesday night, those issues have arrived in the worst possible way.

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Ideas
Axelle Jah Njike

African Feminism Exists! A Brief Manifesto

There is a persistent misconception that African women fighting for their rights and building their identity owe a debt to feminism passed down by White women and the West. It is crucial to understand that there are unique forms of feminism that have developed on and of the African continent.

-Essay-

"You cannot go around claiming that an idea or an item was imported into a given society unless you could also conclude that — to the best of your knowledge — there is not and never was any word or phrase in that society's indigenous language which describes that idea or item.”

These words, spoken by the Ghanaian feminist writer and playwright Ama Ata Aidoo, perfectly illustrate why feminism is tirelessly put on trial the moment it is used in reference to sub-Saharan or Afropean girls and women. Here, feminism is seen by many to be an import from the West, an imposition from white women to women of African descent, going against the "true" traditional values of the latter.

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Ideas
Dacia Maraini

Why Italy's Next President Should Be A Woman — And Not Just Any Woman

Italy's head of state is being elected next week, amid a flood of attention of the candidacy of infamously misogynous former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Having a woman in the presidency, argues Italian writer and intellectual Dacia Maraini, may finally help steer the country in a better direction.

Italy is a parliamentary democracy led by a prime minister. The functions of the President of the Republic are more honorary than operational, yet can be crucial in moments of political or constitutional crisis. Next week the votes among members of the Parliament and Senate will decide who replaces outgoing President Sergio Mattarella. With most attention focused on the names of current Prime Minister Mario Draghi and controversial former four-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, calls have been sounded that Italy is long overdue for having a female president.

-Op-Ed-

Many Italians, including some women, have criticized those calling for the election of a woman as Italy's next head of state — as if these calls were saying that being a woman is enough to govern well. To attribute such naive and clumsy thoughts to the people pushing for a woman president is an insult — we are talking instead about a question of principle.

"If the Constitution declares," as Sabino Cassese, a former Constitutional Court judge, wisely recalls, "that citizens are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, why has there not even been one woman among Italy's 12 presidents of the republic?"

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Society
Marième Soumaré

"She Asked For It" — Rape Culture In Spotlight At Miss Senegal Beauty Contest

A top executive of the Miss Senegal beauty pageant dismissed accusations made by last year's winner that she'd been raped, igniting furious debate across the West African nation about the treatment of women and the retrograde attitudes across society.

DAKAR — As a defense mechanism, Amina Badiane could not have done worse. It was last Thursday, Nov. 18, when the chairwoman of the Miss Senegal organizing committee spoke with Dakarbuzz, a website based in the capital.

The interview was an opportunity to respond to the revelations of Ndèye Fatima Dione, Miss Senegal 2020, who had revealed publicly the violence she'd suffered during her time as the nation's No. 1 beauty queen. Her mother had also revealed that Dione's pregnancy was the consequence of rape, committed during a trip organized by the committee.

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Ideas
Sophie Amsili

Tunisia, An Ambiguous Role Model For Women's Rights In The Arab World

Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed caused a stir by appointing Najla Bouden, the first female head of government in the Arab world. But as the president has assumed full powers a decade after the launch of the Arab Spring, it is a choice with a mixed message.

TUNIS — On Najla Bouden's recent visit to Paris to participate in a conference on Libya, every step was being watched closely. The new head of the Tunisian government appeared both at ease and discreet. Her public agility may explain why Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed chose Bouden for this position with limited political weight, two-and-a-half months after he took full powers of the North African nation, where the Arab Spring began a decade ago.

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China
Robert Kozinets and Chih-Ling Liu

"Sheng-nu" No More - Revenge Of China's Unmarried Career Woman

The frequent use of the Chinese term "Sheng-nu," translated as "leftover women," is a sign of the lingering stigma in China of women who don't get married. But financially successful women are turning the tables on the question of social status.

In China, if you are female, educated and unmarried by the age of 27, people might use a particular term – "Sheng-nu" – to describe your social status. It translates simply as "leftover women".

The label was deliberately invented to curb the rising number of single women in a traditional society which sometimes views not marrying as a moral transgression. Some even consider it a threat to national security.

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Society
Jane Roussel

LGBTQ+ In Morocco: A New Video Series To Open Minds

In a country where homosexuality is still penalized, the feminist LGBT+ group Nassawiyat launches a poetic and political video series to try to change conservative mindsets.

"My hair has never been like others, people have always described it as ugly, frizzy..."

So begins "Nouwara," the first episode of the web series Homouna (which means "they/them," in reference to the pronoun used to designate a person who doesn't use she or he pronouns).

It's produced by the Moroccan LGBTQ+ feminist group Nassawiyat (meaning "feminist") and financed by an undisclosed backer. Posted on Youtube, Instagram and Facebook, Homouna tells the story of a queer woman in a patriarchal society.

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Society
Anna Rousseau

The XXL Saga Of French Fashion And Inclusive Sizing

Clothing companies in France have a habit of simply ignoring larger-sized women. But led by a new generation of designers, some of them inspired by first-hand frustrations, the sector is finally showing signs of change.

PARIS — Leslie Barbara Butch offered quite an eyeful when she appeared, in February 2020, on the cover of the French culture and television magazine weekly Télérama wearing nothing but a dash of crimson lipstick.

The image is all the more striking because of how the DJ and feminist activist directs her gaze — purposely away from the reader — thus giving people free rein to study her ample curves and countours as much as they want.

"My body is big," says Butch. "I accept it, I show it."

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