The percentage of women in the United States who are working or want to work has declined — a drop that economists see as an impediment to economic recovery. One of the most powerful tools would be to mandate policies like paid leave, according to a report published this month by the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
“It’s sort of a no-brainer to think about it: If you don’t have child care, you’re going to have fewer women in the labor force,” said Betsey Stevenson, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers.
The United States is the only developed country not to offer paid maternity leave as part of federal policy. Just 59 percent of workers say their employers offer them paid leave.
The debate over paid leave will only become more important in the coming decades, as the baby boomer generation ages and their adult children - women especially - become their primary caregivers.
Read more via The New York Times.
In Bhubaneshwar, India, a 60 year-old-woman was beat, stripped naked, and tied to an electric pole after she was accused of killing an 18-year-old boy using witchcraft. Even though medical records show the boy died of malaria, villagers in Odisha state’s Mayurbhanj district left her tied up for around 12 hours. The woman was rescued and brought to a local hospital.
Despite there being a law against it, the practice of assaulting and killing women accused of being witches is common. “According to government statistics, there were 160 cases of murder linked to witch hunts in 2013, and 119 the previous year,” says Reuters author, Jatindra Dash.
Read more via Thomas Reuters Foundation.
Marina might not have bruises or scars from her abusive relationship with her ex-husband, but when you take a look at her finances, it’s clear that her ex ruined her life.
“My husband was in total control of the money,” she told The Huffington Post at a conference on financial abuse. “At times, he let me have a debit card but he would tell me where and when I could use it. Other times, he would borrow it and ‘lose’ it, leaving me with nothing. I couldn’t drive. I had no money to call a cab. I was stuck.”
Financial abuse is an often invisible and deeply insidious form of controlling one’s partner or spouse. Recently, the Rutgers University School of Social Work released a 14-month study that evaluated the Moving Ahead through Financial Management Curriculum, the nation’s most commonly used program to help survivors of abusive relationships.
These diagrams from the Women’s Media Center’s Women Under Siege project shows the ways in which sexual violence against women has been weaponized by armies in many conflicts around the world.
One of the more disturbing reasons soldiers engage in sexualized violence against women is to promote solidarity among the soldiers, or “unit cohesion.” “[Unit cohesion is] a kind of nasty socialization in which soldiers find something terrible they have now in common." writes Lauren Wolfe, director of the Women Under Siege project.
When Supriya Hobbs and Janna Eaves met at the engineering program at the University of Illinois Springfield, they both wondered, “Where are all the women?” Given the lack of women in STEM, they created Miss Possible, a series of dolls modeled after real trailblazing women that they hope will inspire girls to dream big.
Their first doll will be Nobel Prize-winning chemist and physicist Marie Curie. What’s more, the doll comes with an accompanying app that lets girls learn about Curie’s life and do experiments and activities.
Learn more via Mic.com.
Street harassment is a frightening and disempowering reality for many women and girls. From catcalls, to flashing, to inappropriate touching, many women are forced to navigate an “obstacle course of sexual menace” — as coined by The Daily Show — on a regular, if not daily, basis.
One woman, Lindsey from Minnesota, is determined to change that. She has created Cards Against Harassment, an online resource with printable PDFs of cards women can hand out to street harassers. The cards are brief and to the point, and provide a method for women to address the issue of verbal street harassment in a hopefully educational way.
"If you do not feel safe confronting street harassment, you should not put yourself at risk," Lindsey states on her FAQs page. “However, for many women, silence is frustrating and its own form of victimization.”
The Girl Summit
in London this week generated momentum, but if we look beyond the pledges, it is evident that these harmful practices are connected to other injustices girls endure.
Statistics show 30 million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the next decade, and each year about 14 million girls are forced to marry before they are ready.
FGM tends to happen with the complicity of families, communities and police, who not only do not report the crime, but also often try to hide it.
Yet it is said that when girls are empowered, they can change their communities and the world. So why, with all this interest in girls, are their rights violated in every country?
Maha was only 12 when she was forced to marry her 23-year-old husband due to financial difficulties and fear of sexual assault. At 13, she is now one month pregnant and hasn’t been in school since she was 10 years old.
"I didn’t want to get married. I am still young, and I wanted to finish my studies," she says.
Maha is one of thousands of girls forced into early marriage due to the extreme poverty and increasing fears of sexual violence among Syrian refugee communities. Data collected by UNICEF shows a quarter of all Syrian refugee marriages registered in Jordan now involve a girl under the age of 18.
"Since I got married I don’t feel anything," says Reem, 15. "I do feel sad when I see other girls from my neighbourhood going to school. Whenever I see a woman who has become a doctor or a lawyer or has finished her education I get upset."
Read more via Al Jazeera.
Four million women and girls in Iraq are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM). According to the UN, the Sunni Islamist group Isis, which currently controls the city of Mosul, has issued an edict ordering all women aged 11 through 46 to undergo FGM.
Although FGM is a cultural practice in several African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries, it is not commonly practiced in Iraq — another reason why this development is so disturbing. The practice “is something very new for Iraq… and does need to be addressed,” said Jacqueline Badcock, the UN correspondent in Iraq. "This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists," she added.
Learn more via BBC News.
A new report by British writer/producer Stephen Follows has revealed damning statistics about gender equality in the film industry. The report, entitled “Gender in Film Crews,” analyzed data from 2,000 blockbuster films since 1994 to look at the distribution of roles in film crews between men and women.
According to the report, just 22.6% of all film crew positions are held by women. Women only make up the majority of positions in traditionally female departments such as costume and make-up. Furthermore, women are severely underrepresented in key creative roles: for example, women make up only 5% of all directors on blockbuster films since 1994.
"It’s terrifying. Every time I did a small bit of research I couldn’t believe how unrepresentative the industry was," Follows told The Guardian. “Honestly, when I first saw quite how big the divide was, how overwhelming it was, I went back and did my research again just to double check.”
Former college basketball player Natalie Nakase first gained notoriety for her killer jump shot. Now the 34-year-old assistant video coordinator for the Los Angeles Clippers has another goal in mind — to become the first female head coach in the NBA.
Breaking barriers is nothing new for Nakase. She served as the head coach for a men’s professional league in Japan and landed a spot as an assistant coach on the Clippers’ bench during a two-week NBA Summer League, something no woman has ever accomplished.
"There’s going to be a woman at some point in the NBA," says Nancy Lieberman, an assistant manager of the Dallas Mavericks. "We don’t want to be hired because we’re girls. We want to get hired because we’ve earned it and we have the qualifications for the job."
Read more via The New York Times.
The first ever Girl Summit is being held by UNICEF and the UK Government to rally support to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage. According to newly released data: “more than 130 million girls and women have experienced some form of FGM in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common.”
"The numbers tells us we must accelerate our efforts," UNICEF Director, Anthony Lake said. "We can’t let the staggering numbers numbs us— they must compel us to act."
These drawings, made by young Syrian girls, depict what child marriage is like in a Syrian refugee camp. Although, child marriage existed long before the Syrian conflict, the problem worsened in the camps. Child marriage rates sore in times of desperation and young girls are put under tremendous pressure by their families to marry.
These images show how “children, in particular these girls, are without a doubt the ones most impacted by war.”
Learn more via RYOT.
“When girls are empowered, we all do better. Female genital mutilation [FGM] and child marriage destroy childhoods, but supporting girls and women will boost the lives of boys and men too,” said Priyanka Chopra, Indian actress and singer. She is lending her voice to urge others to take a stand to end FGM and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation.
It is estimated that more than 700 million women worldwide were married as children, and more than 130 million girls and women have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM is concentrated.
These practices violate the fundamental rights of girls and women, and hold back social and economic development, leaving girls at higher risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes, and contribute to a cycle of poverty.
Read more via The Guardian.