We're sorry to announce that due to ill-health November's issue is suspended. At the moment it is next to impossible to use the computer. There may also be no issue in December, or a very limited one, but we hope to return at full strength in the new year. Apologies too for the lack of main features in September and October - delayed for the same reasons. Please stick with us, we will be back.
A word on navigation. There's a lot here, and a lot to post each month. To help you, the archive is at the top right of the page, just under this editorial. You'll see posts listed by month and topic. If you want to skip straight to Sport, or Arts, you can do so using these links. Otherwise you'll have to scroll down through more than one page to read everything each month. Please note that any queries about content or other matters should be directed to the original publications of linked articles as WHTW? can't be responsible for fact-checking and vetting sources of all of them.
This month's issue
While you are waiting, October's issue is full of fascinating articles. We are asking is child labour wrong? Girls in Bolivia's new child union don't think so (see Women/Work) and are demanding respect from society for their labour (and give us your view in our poll at the foot of the page). In Politics, Denmark has a new woman prime minister and you can read a statement on increasing women's political participation from UN women leaders, and research on peace and gender. In Family and society, there's a list of the best and worst countries for women and an article on the pros and cons of pirate husbands in Somalia. In Arts there's a comment on the furore over pop-star Rihanna's in-your-face raunch. And in Science and technology we celebrate Thai and Kenyan women's scientific achievements. In Health, there's a warning about injectable contraceptives and HIV infection, and a rise in breast cancer in UK Asian women. In Law, a US lawyer is protesting at the treatment of jailed women in childbirth. In the Mind, body and spirit post you can engage in debate over the Pill - or the lack of it - and its transformative effects on society. And, for a giggle, look at the men in pin-up poses in the And another thing section of this blog.
Our special feature this month will be a collection of links on Women in the Arab Spring. Look out for it coming soon!
We hope you will find this blog a useful resource and a provocative and productive place for debate. We look forward to your comments and feedback.
Anna Purna

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Special Feature: Abortion

Apologies for the delay (due to ill health). The September special feature on abortion will be posted here shortly. Thanks.

Monday, 19 September 2011


Sex and power 
It could be another 70 years before women gain equal representation in the British parliament according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and women are missing from other positions of influence too: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/news/2011/august/sex-and-power-5-400-women-missing-from-top-jobs/ . The Fawcett Society has produced a detailed response showing that, of 23 cabinet ministers, only 4 are women (a 10-year low), and only 19 of 119 minister positions (16%): http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/documents/Fawcett%20response%20to%20Sex%20and%20Power-%20August%202011.pdf . A UN Women report http://progress.unwomen.org/ shows that 28 of the world's countries have over 30% representation of women in parliament. These include Rwanda (51%), Tanzania (31%), Nepal (33%), Costa Rica (39%), Macedonia (33%) and Spain (34%). They do not include the UK or the USA. Even Afghanistan's parliament has 28% women representatives: http://www.unwomen.org/2011/08/afghanistan-resource-centre-women-parliamentarians/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+unwomen%2Fen+%28UN+Women%29&utm_content=Google+Reader .

Women and peace
Only 1 in 40 signatories to peace deals in the last quarter-century have been women yet women's consent and support are vital to the negotiation and maintenance of peace agreements. No Women No Peace http://www.nowomennopeace.org/the-issue is an organisation set up to campaign for women’s involvement in peace accords and negotiations. 

South Sudan's women
The world's newest country, South Sudan, has a minister for gender, Agnes Lasuba. She talks here about the effects of independence on the country's women: http://www.unwomen.org/2011/07/qa-south-sudans-minister-of-gender-child-and-social-welfare-on-africas-newest-nation-and-its-women/?

Egyptian women's charter
The women of Egypt have released a charter for women's rights and representations following the revolution, calling, among other things, for 40% representation in ministerial posts in a new parliament, a hand in drawing up the new constitution and constitutional rights to equality, justice and an end to discrimination: http://www.unwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/charter-egyptian-women-en.pdf    UN Women reports on the release event here: http://www.unwomen.org/2011/06/egypt-womens-charter-released-calling-for-a-democratic-transition/ .

Poland's gender quotas
However, in Poland, politicians are struggling with the new gender quotas they set themselves earlier  this year. There will be a general election in Poland in October, so parties are listing candidates but women are rarely being included in the guaranteed seat slots on party lists. Poland's gender quota regulations are being evaded and the Act appears to be a paper one only, say commentators:

Women/Economy and finance

Women's unemployment
Women are faring badly in economic stakes at present, not just in the UK but in many parts of the world.     The current recession has seen unemployment figures for women in the UK reach their highest for 23 years at 1.05 million: http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/index.asp?PageID=1241 , while in early September, UK labour market statistics showed that the number of UK women made redundant in the latest quarter of 2011 increased by 72.3% over the previous quarter: http://networkedblogs.com/n58GH .

But the shift away from women in recession isn't only confined to Britain or the West. The recession is having the same effect in Nepal: http://www.ekantipur.com/2011/09/03/business/industries-closure-hits-women-the-most/340176/ . 

UK government's plan for women
The UK Conservative-led government clearly has a 'blind spot' when it comes to women. UK single mothers are the hardest hit by cuts, job losses and welfare changes: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/jul/30/coalition-cuts-mothers-childcare-maternity-leave?CMP=twt_gu. A feeble memo has recently been leaked from the UK government to show that the Conservatives are aware of their failings and listing a series of measures – mere spin and tinkering at the edges – to win back women's support: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/interactive/2011/sep/13/leaked-memo-women-coalition-government. Ascerbic comment from columnist Suzanne Moore here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/16/coalition-smacked-down-women-message and from The F Word here: http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2011/09/how_could_the_g.

Christine Lagarde
Christine Lagarde has now taken over as the head of the IMF http://www.forbes.com/sites/mahaatal/2011/08/24/it-takes-courage-christine-lagarde/. Forbes ranks her at number 9 on its annual list of the world’s most powerful women: http://www.forbes.com/wealth/power-women.  But the Daily Mail (UK) concentrates on her femininity for all the wrong reasons: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2009973/Christine-Lagarde-Secret-life-new-IMF-boss.html, though we do learn she was once a synchronised swimmer, is vegetarian (!) and thinks women bring a “more inclusive” approach to power. 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Women/Family and society

A new draft law in Rajasthan, partly the result of concerted efforts by women's groups to end abuses, bans witch-hunting. But will it ever be passed or implemented? Voting bank politics and police complacency in the Indian state have so far ensured that violence against women, often widows or outspoken single women, continues, with the underlying aim of driving them out of the area and grabbing their land and property:

Lack of brides
Abortion of female foetuses in China and India has led to a generation of missing girls and a lack of brides for men to marry.  Now Chinese men are looking to Korea and Vietnam for wives, with the consequential risks of trafficking, violence, exploitation and the funding of an industry of pimps and brokers. In Tamil Nadu, southern India, cribs are placed in special centres to encourage women to leave unwanted girls instead of killing them. But does the lack of women lead to greater respect? It appears not: http://www.newint.org/blog/2011/09/05/mari-marcel-thekaekara-china-gender/ .

Moral policing
Women and couples are being beaten and harassed on 'moral' grounds for associating together. Women in Kerala travelling with or visiting a male friend are grabbed, questioned, and sometimes arrested for alleged moral offences as zealots clamp down on unauthorised relationships:  http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/nation/devil-s-own-country-for-women .

Army misogyny
A deeply misogynistic culture in the Australian Defence Force has been revealed by a series of scandals over the filming of a sex acts without knowledge of woman involved and other invasions of privacy. When investigated, more women came forward with with claims of rape and other abuses: http://feministing.com/2011/08/26/yet-another-sexual-violence-scandal-at-the-australian-defence-force-academy/ . 

Violence unchecked
Guatemalan women experience some of the highest levels of violence in the world and few perpetrators are ever convicted: http://www.newint.org/blog/majority/2011/08/22/guatemala-femicide-murder-womens-rights/ . 

Honour killings
'Honour' crimes account for a third of all violent deaths in Jordan and  claim at least 25 lives a year. http://www.newint.org/columns/makingwaves/2005/04/01/rana-husseini/ is an interview with a Jordanian journalist who campaigns against honour killing of women in her country.

Later marriage
Asian women are now marrying much later or not at all, in large part because of women's changing attitudes to the burdens they have to bear in marriage. Statistical report on attitudes to marriage, numbers of children, divorce rates and age at marriage across South Asia, South East Asia, China and Japan.


Domestic worker abuses
New Cambodian legislation on domestic workers recruited by agencies to work abroad fails to tackle all the worst abuses, leaving migrant workers open to forced labour and huge 'recruitment' debts:

£10,000 pay deficit
The Chartered Management Institute has found that UK female managers are now paid an average of over £10,500 less than men doing the same job, with the gap having widened by £500 over the last year.  Junior female managers, however (at graduate recruitment level) are on average paid £500 more than their male counterparts, while women's salaries are rising faster than men's. The CMI said that despite this it would take 98 years for women to reach pay parity with men.

Women leaving labour market
UK women are being priced out of work because of cuts to public sector jobs and child tax credits, and the soaring cost of childcare, according to left-wing think tank IPPR. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/women-forced-out-of-jobs-by-rising-cost-of-childcare-2333282.html .

Women/Arts and culture

Women in film and TV
.Women are only 25% of creatives and 41% of characters on screen in US television and film according to Professor Martha M Lauzen, Executive Director, Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, San Diego State University. The figures show a decline in the representation of women except for a few categories, and a marked drop in some, including writers, down from 29% to 15%, and directors, down from 16% to 11%  (contains a link to full report)http://www.wif.org/news/industry-articles-and-stats/732-boxed-in-employment-of-behind-the-scenes-women-in-the-2010-11-prime-time-television-season

Sexist comics
Women in comics – why so few, why so sexist? This link takes you to a report that discusses why there aren't more women in comics, particularly superhero comics, and looks at the industry's embedded sexist bias apparent in hiring creatives, focusing on a single genre, killing off women (and ethnic minority) heroes and alienating its female readers: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/08/29/superhero-comics-women-sexism/

Where are women artists?
Only 8% of exhibits in MOMA in New York are by women, and approximately 23 percent of solo gallery shows at top New York sites feature pieces by female artists. This article discusses why women are still so under-represented in the art world and among top-selling artists: http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=an_ego_of_ones_own .  Some further links to feminist art projects in the US here: http://feministing.com/2011/08/31/the-wednesday-weigh-in-feminist-art-edition/ .

Dancing girls
Traditional dancing girls in Swat valley in Pakistan, near the Afghan border, have been systematically attacked and killed by Taliban as an example to others, and forced to give up their profession. The report contains lengthy history of the region and its conflicts but several first person accounts from former dancers of their experiences:  http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/fall2011/swat-valley . 


Maternity healthcare
Earthquake recovery programmes in Haiti are failing women and girls, according to Human Rights Watch. Women are still having to give birth in muddy tents, with few pregnancy and maternity services available. And where women and girls were vulnerable before, such as to rape and other forms of violence, the earthquake has intensified that vulnerability. http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/08/30/haiti-earthquake-recovery-failing-women-and-girls .

Silicone breast implants
US National Organization for Women is campaigning for better research on silicone breast implants. This report lists diseases linked to implants and areas where insufficient research has been conducted (including in breastfeeding and pregnancy) and demands better information and investigation and a suspension of the marketing of implants till companies fulfil their research and follow-up responsibilities in full:

Women/Body, mind and spirit

Lesbian ethics
Lesbian ethics - a justification and commentary on the necessity of a separatist ethics, through a reflection an essay by Sarah Hoagland:

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Soccer star
Do you know who is the world's best women's soccer/football player? Neither did we. The five times winner of the FIFA woman player of the year award is - unsurprisingly - Brazilian, plays for a US team and her name is Marta Vieira da Silva. She is also  a UNDP goodwill ambassador, and here travels to Sierra Leone to promote women's empowerment: http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2011/08/31/football-superstar-marta-visits-sierra-leone-to-promote-women-s-empowerment.html ,

Women/Missing links

Each month we seek to track down as many important stories from as many sources as we can manage. We don't claim to be comprehensive in our coverage but would like to be able to report and share as much information as is possible. To this end, we ask readers to contribute sources and suggestions, links and ideas to help to fill the gaps.

This month, there are no links on topics such as women law and crime, or women and environment or, except in reviews, women in development. We have only one international sport link (this is to ignore the mainstream of women's sport such as athletics, swimming etc that is covered regularly). And there is nothing here on women, science and technology. Please help us to fill these spaces and others you might be aware of, although we note that absence also suggests areas where women may traditionally be under-represented, under-reported and lacking a voice. 


Greenham Non-Violent Women v The Crown Prerogative, by Sarah Hipperson. http://www.newint.org/columns/media/books/2005/11/01/greenham/ : a new book on the Greenham women by a former activist who tells the story of resistance against the British legal system and the divisions between different groups of protesters.

The Women, Gender and Development Reader, ed. N. Visvanathan, L Duggan, N Wiegersma and L Nisonoff.  http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/book/paperback/2011/women-gender-and-development-reader : The "definitive" text for women in the development process, in five parts, covering migration, structural discrimination and environment issues as well as the impacts of social, economic and political change.

Forced Marriage, ed Aisha K Gill and Sundari Anitha. http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/book/paperback/2011/forced-marriage : Forced marriage discussed and conceptualised from a human rights and social justice perspective, challenging cultural essentialism.

Policing Sexuality by Julian C H Lee. http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/book/paperback/2011/policing-sexuality : examines how and why states seek to control the sexuality of their citizens.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

And another thing....

Nancy Upton's entry to American Apparel's competition for a so-called "plus-size" model has subverted the whole campaign with her witty photos: http://www.dangerousminds.net/comments/subverting_american_apparel_an_interview_with_nancy_upton/

Sexist gender studies
We agree with equality, but this may be taking things a bit too far...http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2011/09/access_to_acade : a man is suing LSE for its ‘sexist’ (anti-male) gender studies course.

Beer for babes
Would you buy this? We know we wouldn't. A beer specially designed for women. And just in case you missed who it was targeted at, it comes in a pink pack with a label sporting a little black dress... http://feministing.com/2011/09/02/finally-a-beer-just-for-women/

Are men finished?
If you are in the NY area, why not join this debate on 20th September, or post a question to be answered live? http://www.slate.com/id/2303488/ . Entitled "Are men finished?" the debate will pose the question of whether men are being left behind, at home, at work, in education and in society at large. Can men make a comeback? Or is this state of affairs just a gloss on the surface of the same old patriarchy?