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TOPIC: women

Society

Why MeToo In Italy Is Different

A recent wave of testimony from inside the Italian entertainment industry again failed to gain much attention, another example of MeToo failing to take off in the traditionally sexist country. There are multiple explanations, though also quieter signs that something may be changing.

For a few fleeting hours, it seemed the MeToo movement might finally break out of the shadows in Italy: the internet was buzzing after the La Repubblica daily had published the testimonies of several actresses recounting the sexual harassment they’d faced.

A week later, on Jan. 16, the associations Amleta and Differenza Donna held a press conference to report 223 additional testimonies of sexual harassment and violence in show business.

The activists broke the cases down by gender (in all but two cases the abusers were men, and 93% of the victims were women) and by job title (directors made up 41% of the abusers, followed by actors, producers, teachers, casting directors, agents, critics, and even some audience members). But it was also notable that only 12 actresses had brought their cases to court, and that the names of those accused would not be revealed so as not to compromise ongoing legal actions.

A few newspapers reported the news. Then, nothing more.

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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Iran's Tale Of Two Revolutions, 1979 & 2022 — And What To Look For Now

The revolt in Iran began in protest of police brutality and the Islamic Republic's rotten structures, but quickly became a "revolution of minds," hastening the rise of a national community united in its resolve to live in a free and lawful state.

-OpEd-

The revolutionary uprising of Iranians against the clerical regime of the Islamic Republic did not end with the last days of 2022.

Two of the movement's defining traits have been its nature and essence, as shown in protesters' slogans and initiatives, as well as the support of the international community — something the world, watching protesters' courage and resilience, couldn't refuse.

But one of the demands made by the Iranian defenders of democracy still hasn't received meaningful support from Western governments: their call to investigate the residency rights given to families of Islamic Republic officials in Western countries.

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The Everyday Weight Of Wearing A Hijab In India

Several Muslim women who wear hijabs share their stories to highlight the discrimination, from disapproving looks to outright insults, they face everyday in India in both their personal and professional lives.

On September 20, 2022, the government of Karnataka told the Supreme Court that Muslims girls in Udupi were goaded into wearing a hijab to school by the Islamic Popular Front of India (PFI) through social media messages. The state government made the argument while responding to a petition challenging the ban on wearing a hijab to school imposed by Karnataka, and upheld by the state high court. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court that wearing a hijab was part of a "larger conspiracy" orchestrated by the PFI to create social unrest.

On October 13 this year, the Supreme Court of India delivered a split verdict on pleas challenging the Karnataka high court order that had upheld the ban. A constitutional bench comprising the Chief Justice of India will now examine whether Muslim girls can or cannot wear a head scarf in school.

As of December 1 this year, there were 69,598 cases pending before the Supreme Court. The backlog includes petitions challenging the Modi government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 and pleas challenging the government’s decision to dilute Article 370 of the Constitution. These have been pending for more than two years. Despite the urgency of matters that have been placed on the back burner, the apex court is being forced to spend its time deciding whether schoolgoing Muslim girls can get an education while wearing a head scarf, a tradition some Muslims believe is integral their faith.

The ban on wearing a hijab in classrooms may have highlighted the Karnataka government’s intolerance towards minorities, but the bias against the head scarf, it seems, is an old one.

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Work In Progress
Bertrand Hauger, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin and Emma Albright

Work → In Progress: Time To Change Everything Or Back To Business As Usual?

The world of work is at a crossroads. A new French study published last week shows that in the span of four years, jobs offering remote work have increased tenfold since 2017, as the world grapples with the long-term impact of COVID-19. The profound questioning of the necessity to “go to the office” that the pandemic posed led to teleworking becoming a “new normal” of sorts, with the majority of businesses implementing hybrid models that allow employees to work remotely while still having access to the necessary resources they need to do their jobs ...

… that is, until it was "back to business as usual." But returning to office-based work, as most parts of the world consider the coronavirus crisis more or less a thing of the past, it is becoming apparent to some that things would, and should, never be the same.

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Geopolitics
Roshanak Astaraki

Beyond The Hijab: Iran's Protests Now Seek Nothing Less Than Revolution

Iran's protests have quickly expanded to be "national and revolutionary" in scope, having surpassed the various class, region and gender-based barriers that might have reduced their significance. The Islamic regime has never faced a bigger challenge.

-Analysis-

For three weeks now, the propaganda machine of the Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly announced the end of the mass protests that erupted in mid-September, following the suspected killing of a 22-year-old girl, Mahsa Amini, in a Tehran police station.

We keep hearing from official sources that "calm" has returned to many districts, in the face of all the audiovisual evidence of the recurrence of unrest on the streets, and in schools and universities in Tehran and elsewhere.

A good many of Iran's protesters are young people born just before or after the year 2000, constituting a generation the regime liked to dub the "foot soldiers of their commander," the term used of late for the country's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

It so it seems they have done everything but obey a "commander" they consider nothing more or less than a dictator.

By now, we can no longer describe these protests as a reaction against the hijab or the headscarves and thick clothes imposed on women in public, or in defense of their gender rights. For protests over hijab restrictions might just fit into the framework of the regime, with protesters seeking specific rights within the existing polity.

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Society
*Saumya Kalia

India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

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Future
Rachel E. Gross

Injecting Feminism Into Science Is A Good Thing — For Science

Feminists have generated a set of tools to make science less biased and more robust. Why don’t more scientists use it?

-Essay-

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a mystery played out across news headlines: Men, it seemed, were dying of infection at twice the rate of women. To explain this alarming disparity, researchers looked to innate biological differences between the sexes — for instance, protective levels of sex hormones, or distinct male-female immune responses. Some even went so far as to test the possibility of treating infected men with estrogen injections.

This focus on biological sex differences turned out to be woefully inadequate, as a group of Harvard-affiliated researchers pointed out earlier this year. By analyzing more than a year of sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data, they showed that the gender gap was more fully explained by social factors like mask-wearing and distancing behaviors (less common among men) and testing rates (higher among pregnant women and health workers, who were largely female).

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Society
Ignacio Pereyra*

Papá, Papá, On Repeat: Are We Men Ready For Fatherhood To Change Our Lives?

How many men are willing to change their lives when they become fathers? For Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra, becoming his son's main caregiver showed just how difficult caring for a child can be.

There is a moment on Saturday or Sunday, after having spent ten hours with my kids, that I get a little exasperated, I lose my patience. I find it hard to identify the emotion, I definitely feel some guilt too. I know that time alone with them improves our relationship... but I get bored! Yes, I feel bored. I want some time in the car for them to talk to each other while I can talk about the stupid things we adults talk about.

This is what a friend tells me. He tends to spend several weekends alone with his two children and prefers to make plans with other people instead of being alone with them. As I listened to him, I immediately remembered my long days with Lorenzo, my son, now three-and-a-half years old. I thought especially of the first two-and-a-half years of his life, when he hardly went to daycare (thanks, COVID!) and we’d spend the whole day together.

It also reminded me of a question I often ask myself in moments of boredom — which I had virtually ignored in my life before becoming a father: how willing are we men to let fatherhood change our lives?

It is clear that the routines and habits of a couple change completely when they have children, although we also know that this rarely happens equally.

With the arrival of a child, men continue to work as much or more than before, while women face a different reality: either they double their working day — maintaining a paid job but adding household and care tasks — or they are forced to abandon all or part of their paid work to devote themselves to caregiving.

In other words, "the arrival of a child tends to strengthen the role of economic provider in men (...), while women reinforce their role as caregivers," says an extensive Equimundo report on Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighting a trend that repeats itself in most Western countries.

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In The News

We Don’t Need More Women Leaders Like These

September 17-18

  • In Kharkiv, 43 seconds from the rocket launchers
  • Eternal youth IRL
  • Doggies on the run
  • … and much more.
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Society
Lila Paulou

A Closer Look At "The French Roe" And The State Of Abortion Rights In France

In 1972, Marie-Claire Chevalier's trial paved the way for the legalization of abortion in France, much like Roe v. Wade did in the U.S. soon after. But as the Supreme Court overturned this landmark decision on the other side of the Atlantic, where do abortion rights now stand in France?

PARIS — When Marie-Claire Chevalier died in January, French newspapers described her role in the struggle for abortion rights as an important part of what’s become the rather distant past. Yet since the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States, Chevalier’s story has returned to the present tense.

A high school student in 1971, Chevalier was raped by a classmate, and faced an unwanted pregnancy. With the help of her mother and three other women, the 16-year-old obtained an abortion, which was illegal in France. With all five women facing arrest, Marie-Claire’s mother Michèle decided to contact French-Tunisian lawyer Gisèle Halimi who had defended an Algerian activist raped and tortured by French soldiers in a high-profile case.

Marie-Claire bravely agreed to turn her trial into a platform for all women prosecuted for seeking an abortion. Major social figures testified on her behalf, from feminist activist Simone de Beauvoir to acclaimed poet Aimé Césaire. The prominent Catholic doctor Paul Milliez, said, “I do not see why us, Catholics, should impose our moral to all French people.”

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Society
Beatriz de Vera

Hysterical To Hypersexual: Bogus Female Diseases Have Always Held Women Down

Throughout history, women have been overdiagnosed with mainly psychiatric ailments and syndromes that have already been ruled out, from hysteria to nymphomania. This distorted portrait, which had its golden age in the 19th century, has been questioned in recent decades by the research community.

"Born weak and sensitive, the woman, faithful companion of man, deserves the most lively interest and presents a vast field for the meditations of philosophers and doctors." This is how the Treatise on the Diseases of Women begins, a text from 1844 that aims to be an update of everything known by medicine about women to date.

The "fair sex" or the "angel in the house" were names used by some scientists of the 19th century, who underpinned the notion of the "weaker sex" in the collective imagination to refer to women.

“The physical modifications that constitute the beauties of women are in inverse proportion to those that constitute those of men. The features of her face have fine and pleasant proportions, her feet are smaller and her hands are delicate, her arms, thighs and legs are thicker, the muscles of all her limbs are sweetly demarcated with undulating lines”, writes the doctor Baltasar de Viguera in Female physiology and pathology (1827).

For De Viguera, who recounted the sensitivity and delicacy in forms, senses and character of women, their qualities had to do with "the organs of the womb."

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