In Closed-Door UN Meetings, Trump Administration Officials Pushed Abstinence For International Women’s Health Pr ograms

In closed-door meetings at the United Nations in March, Trump administration officials pushed socially conservative views on women’s rights issues — including abstinence-based policies over information about contraception — that were further to the right than those expressed by most other countries present, including Russia and the representative for the Arab states, UN officials who attended the meetings told BuzzFeed News.
Early in this series of meetings, Bethany Kozma — a senior adviser for gender equality and women’s empowerment at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and anti-transgender activist — emphasized that the US was a “pro-life nation,” sparking a strong reaction from delegates in the room, two officials in the room confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
Throughout the two-week session, Trump administration officials discussed shifting international policy on women toward abstinence-oriented education and teaching women sexual “refusal skills.” Those views — as well as the US’s push for more conservative policies on immigration, trade and environmental regulation — ended up uniting most of the 45 CSW member states against the US on family planning issues, six sources who attended or were familiar with meetings told BuzzFeed News.

A few things to know about the global fight for women’s rights

There was broad consensus at the forum that the backlash against women’s rights is fiercer than ever right now. Sarah Martin, a gender-based violence specialist with nearly 20 years experience in the field as a humanitarian, said it is no longer sufficient to simply fight for new ground.
Women’s movements are the only way women have ever won rights.
The vote. The right to choose. The right to work. To open bank accounts. To marry who we choose. To be free from harassment. These rights have only ever been achieved by movements led by women to make it so.

Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts: Transgender activists try to curb free speech on site

Transgender activists are targeting companies which advertise on Mumsnet, because the online forum allows people to debate transgenderism.
Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts said she had been approached by three significant advertisers who had been contacted by pro-trans groups threatening boycotts.
Roberts said: “What’s worrying to me is the thought-police action around speech and the shutting down of the right to be able to disagree and immediately labelling it as transphobic”.
She added that there is “a section of the hardline trans side which thinks that any discussion at all is by definition transphobic”.
Mumsnet, Britain’s most popular parenting website with twelve million monthly users, does not take a position on the debate, but its founder is determined to protect free speech.
The activists, she said, demonise anyone critical of the self-identification plans by portraying them as evil bigots who want to eradicate transsexuals and incite violence against them.
She concluded that proper debate is essential, as “what is proposed is nothing less than changing the very definition of man and woman in law – biology replaced with identity”.

Where to from #MeToo? Breaking the silence about ‘gender-hostile’ workplaces

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, sex discrimination expert Dr Karen O’Connell said that conversations about the experience of women in the workplace often omitted the little and sometimes quiet acts of denigration which served to undermine their professional status.
Dr O’Connell suggested these discriminatory acts could be anything from silent, negative attitudes about motherhood to expectations about how women should dress at work.
“‘Second-generation discrimination’ is the idea that there are certain kinds of discrimination that are just a bit less visible than the most obvious ones. They are the sort of systematic, pervasive, cumulative acts, which can be really difficult to isolate out as an individual act of one individual on another,” she explained.
While buoyed by the momentum that the #MeToo movement has taken on in Australia, Dr O’Connell said that she was concerned a focus on specific, sexualised incidents of workplace harassment would leave big gaps in the conversation about broader problems working women faced.

EL SALVADOR – 20-year-old faces prison after giving birth to her stepfather’s baby in a latrine

A year ago today, Imelda gave birth in the latrine at her family’s small, one-room home with curtains for dividers in a small community. She said she did not know she was about to give birth; instead, she told her lawyer, she “felt something come loose”. She screamed for help, fainted and started to haemorrhage.
Her mother took her to the local public hospital, where they saw that she had given birth. She was pregnant, she told health professionals, because her stepfather had raped her repeatedly from the age of 12. This was documented by the hospital, but not acted upon. Instead, they notified police. At her home, the baby was rescued from the latrine without any injuries.
Imelda was charged with attempted aggravated homicide, although no evidence was presented that she had taken any action to endanger or attempt to murder the baby. She has been in detention for the past year, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for 30 April.

Plan International Australia launches bold new campaign to stop women feeling unsafe after dark

In fact, the vast majority of young women aged 18-25 surveyed in research conducted by Plan International Australia, (90%) said they felt unsafe on the streets of Sydney at night, while a further 92% expressed feeling uncomfortable taking public transport alone after dark. Of those, one in three (35%) said they always felt unsafe on public transport at night.
And this campaign isn’t just a local venture. Indeed, Sydney is just one of five cities worldwide where the Free to Be map launches today, including: Delhi, Kampala, Lima, and Madrid. According to Plan International Australia, the campaign is “believed to be the most ambitious crowdsourced data collection project to combat street harassment ever undertaken.”
She hopes the data accrued from this initiative will help to propel government authorities to take the issue more seriously and enact change.
“This data will be provided to city planners, public transport authorities, police and groups responsible for urban safety, so they can make positive changes to make cities safer places for women.”

Gender Equality Charter launched

Developed by the peak lawyer body’s Women’s Advisory Panel, the charter features nine tasks that signatories must commit to completing in the next two years. The charter tackles why women in the country’s legal profession are so far behind men in the senior ranks. It aims to improve retention and advancement of women lawyers.
Signatories of the charter must appoint a senior-level individual, who will be responsible for meeting commitments made under the charter. These organisations must also:

  • implement unconscious-bias training for all lawyers and key staff and take action to address identified bias;
  • conduct annual gender pay audits and take action to close any gender pay gap;
  • encourage and support flexible working to assist all lawyers to balance professional and personal responsibilities;
  • regularly review areas of their practice with a gender equality and inclusion lens (e.g. recruitment, retention and promotion practices);
  • adopt equitable briefing and instruction practices;
  • actively work to increase gender equality and inclusion in senior legal roles;
  • collect and share with the New Zealand Law Society examples of practical approaches to gender equality and inclusion that make a real difference; and
  • report on progress against charter commitments every two years to the New Zealand Law Society.

Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis

This tragedy of black infant mortality is intimately intertwined with another tragedy: a crisis of death and near death in black mothers themselves. The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality — the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth up to a year after the end of pregnancy — is now worse than it was 25 years ago.
Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, according to the C.D.C. — a disproportionate rate that is higher than that of Mexico, where nearly half the population lives in poverty — and as with infants, the high numbers for black women drive the national numbers.
Last year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement noting that “evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor.”
Monica Simpson is the executive director of SisterSong, the country’s largest organization dedicated to reproductive justice for women of color, and a member of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, an advocacy group. In 2014, she testified in Geneva before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, saying that the United States, by failing to address the crisis in black maternal mortality, was violating an international human rights treaty.

The Fight for Fair Housing’s Forgotten #MeToo Chapter

In 1982, Tammy Shellhammer, a young white woman, walked into the Toledo Fair Housing office because she felt she was the victim of discrimination by her landlord, Norman Lewallen. In their interactions, Lewallen was sexually aggressive with her and had begun to demand that she pose for nude photos, perform oral sex, or have intercourse with him. When she repeatedly refused, Lewallen evicted Tammy and her husband.
After talking with Mrs. Shellhammer, the all-female staff of the center and I knew we had to take this on.” Shanna remembered as we spoke about the case. “I went to the most progressive attorney we knew, C. Thomas McCarter. I told him, ‘This ought to be against the law.’”
“It ought to be, but it isn’t.” he told Smith, “There is no case law to support sexual harassment as the basis for a Fair Housing claim. And most of the women who rent from this guy are black and on welfare. No one is going to believe them. But listen, I am willing to try if you are.”
On December 11, 1983, the New York Times reported “A young couple [should
add that Shellhamer and her husband were both plaintiffs] …have been ruled victims of sexual harassment and are eligible for damages under Title VIII of the Fair Housing Act. The ruling is believed to be the first of its kind under fair housing laws.”
More than 35 years ago, it’s important to remember this other group of courageous silence breakers who revealed how predatory landlords made girls and women subject to sexual assault and violation in their own homes. In fair housing, #MeToo.

‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’? It’s Shelved

For generations of girls, “Our Bodies, Ourselves” was the starter pack to adulthood: It let you know whether your vulva was weird looking (it wasn’t), what kind of birth control you might want to use and whether you were the only one who had a special relationship with your pillow. (You weren’t, Page 162 assured.)
But after nearly 50 years, Our Bodies Ourselves, the Boston nonprofit home of the book, will stop publishing the pubescent tome amid a period of “transition.” The book, last updated in 2011, will no longer have new editions. The nonprofit organization housing their programmatic work — they reported $279,460 in revenue for its 2016 fiscal year — will now be led by volunteers.
That the foundational feminist text will cease to publish at this particular time seems strange. Trump’s inauguration was dwarfed by millions of women wearing “pussy hats”; abusive men across every industry are being outed by #MeToo; women in film, television and music are embracing the feminist label with gusto.
But feminist nonprofits, especially those founded during the movement’s second wave heyday, aren’t thriving in a way that reflects the moment. Stalwarts like the National Organization for Women and Ms. magazine still exist. But their profiles dwindle in the shadow of newer endeavors like Times Up, or Teen Vogue’s recent political makeover.
“Our Bodies, Ourselves” has “always been a labor of love,” Ms. Childers said, but perhaps that’s part of the problem. Even as women’s work and activism has completely changed lives and shifted the direction of the country, we still have largely been expected to do it for little to no money, with women’s nonprofits relying on pure passion and urgent need.
As feminism becomes more and more culturally powerful, guiding voices with experience will be more important ever. The more mainstreamed feminism becomes, the easier it is to water down the values of the movement.