Mar 13
Her eye on the news
Shaking things up

Actor Daniel Craig, better known as James Bond, ditched his usual dapper attire for full drag in a British PSA for gender equality. Lending its front man to the forefront of women’s equality, the multi-billion-dollar spy thriller franchise, famous for its misogynistic portrayals of women now spanning five decades and 24 films, serves as a genuine statement on equality.

Set against a stark background, the PSA is voiced over by Dame Judi Dench, famous for her role as “M”, the head of MI6 in the James Bond series, whom she portrayed seven times over a 20-year period. “We’re equals … aren’t we 007?” Dench prompts in her disembodied voice. Pleasantries out of the way, she then proceeds to lay out the statistics explaining how woefully unequal the two genders really are — from the disparity in pay to domestic violence. Craig, silent and brooding, slowly exits and re-emerges on screen dressed in full female regalia looking more and more uncomfortable in his role as the minutes tick by and Dench continues listing the inequities.

Originally aired in 2011, the short film directed by English filmmaker Sam Taylor-Wood (Nowhere Boy) and written by Jane Goldman, was re-released on International Women’s Day this year and has garnered renewed attention. Unique for being the first time the icon spy was directed on film by a woman, the PSA has struck a chord with a new audience. Even though it’s now seven years old, its relevancy today is haunting. Despite best efforts, little seems to have changed. Watch the full video below.

Read the full story at Jezebel.


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Double standards!

In a skit for the latest episode of her BBC One show, comedian Tracey Ullman highlights the ludicrousness of the sort of victim-blaming many women face when reporting sexual assault. Applying the same line of questioning deployed in sexual assault investigations to a man who has been mugged, Ullman ridicules the unfair double-standard.

When a well-dressed man steps into her office to report the incident Ullman begins by asking him what he was wearing and suggesting that his suit made him look “provocatively wealthy.”

“Just a bit of an invitation, isn’t it? Like you’re advertising,” she says without sympathy.

When he appears to get a little “distressed” while describing the mugging she invites in a colleague who promptly asks, “Had you been drinking?” If so, they tell him, then he has to accept some responsibility for what happened.

With 14 million views and counting on Facebook, the video has clearly resonated with audiences. Watch the full video below.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post.


‘SNL’ spoofs ‘complicit’ Ivanka Trump in withering parody video

‘Man’s Right to Know’

In a bid to highlight the restrictiveness of anti-abortion laws on women, a Texas state representative has introduced legislation that would financially penalize men for masturbating and force them to have counseling before receiving a prescription for Viagra.

Introduced by Democratic state Rep. Jessica Farrar, the legislation would impose a $100 civil penalty for “masturbatory emissions” occurring outside of a woman’s vagina or a hospital. According to the bill, every such instance would be categorized as an “act against an unborn child, and failing to preserve the sanctity of life.”

The measure would also allow doctors to refuse to carry out vasectomies, write prescriptions for Viagra or conduct a colonoscopy if they felt such actions went against their moral or religious beliefs in any way. Directly mimicking legislation introduced in Texas in 2011, which required women seeking an abortion to have a sonogram and listen to a description of the fetus prior to having the procedure, Farrar’s bill would require doctors to perform a “medically-unnecessary digital rectal exam” and an MRI before carrying out vasectomies or colonoscopies or before prescribing Viagra.

Where the 2011 Texan legislation demanded that the state publish a booklet called “A Woman’s Right To Know,” in which the strict rules around abortion were set out, Farrar has also called for a state-printed booklet called “A Man’s Right To Know,” which would describe the above restrictions.

In a post on Facebook, Farrar wrote, “Although HB 4260 is satirical, there is nothing funny about current health care restrictions for women and the very real legislation that is proposed every legislative session.”

Read the full story at The Hill and The Statesman.


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The bigger picture

The Data Journalism Awards welcomed three female journalists to its jury this year, and as part of the welcoming process, Marianne Bouchart, the manager for the competition, interviewed the new acquisitions who will be judging the entrants. The joint interview — with Yolanda Ma, Esra Dogramaci and Stephanie Sy — touched on their experiences innovating with data journalism in their previous jobs as well as their current positions. The trio also addressed their experiences as women working in the industry and talked about the role of women in news.

“How is it being a woman in your respective work environment? Do you feel it makes a difference? If so, which one and why?” Bouchart asked all three of them.

“Most of the data journalism teams in China are led by woman,” Ma, who co-founded the educational platform Data Journalism China, replied. “And I think they are doing really well.” Esra Dogramaci of Deutsche Welle spoke of a bit of a different experience throughout her career, in which she noticed a dearth of women in the business.

“Women are underrepresented not just in news coverage but in leadership positions, too,” Dogramaci, who previously worked at the BBC and Al Jazeera, said. “I have to admit, though, that being at Deutsche Welle, I see a lot more women in senior management and it feels like a much more egalitarian working environment. However, looking at my overall experience as a woman in news, you do face a lot of sexism and prejudice.” She pointed to the recent social media post by Susan Fowler, a former Uber employee, that discussed sexism at the startup as a description that she and other women can identify with.

Stephanie Sy of Thinking Machines said, “It’s important for us to speak up as women, and to practice intersectionality when it comes to other marginalized communities. As people who work with data, we can see past the aggregates and look at the complex messy truth.”

Bouchart noted that the three new jury members are pivotal additions since they represent regions of the world — Asia and the Middle East — that are commonly overlooked in the data journalism world. The interview touches on a host of other topics, including the advice they’d give to those applying for the Data Journalism Awards, the deadline for which is April 7.

Read the full Q&A at Medium.

Never too late

India’s school for elderly women celebrated its first anniversary on International Women’s Day last week, the AFP reports.

Aajibaichi Shala, which means “school for grannies,” is located in the Thane district of Maharashtra. It seeks to provide an education to women between the age of 60 and 90, who never learned to read or write when they were younger. While their brothers went to school, they stayed at home or worked, and most started their own families at young ages.

The school’s pupils also reported feeling ashamed of their illiteracy. “At the bank I used to have to give my thumb print every time,” 75-year-old Janabai Dajikedar told the AFP. “There was a stigma attached and I felt shame. Now I am proud to sign my name.”

Dressed in pink uniforms and toting matching satchels, the 29 students of Aajibaichi Shala study each day from 2-4 PM. They practice reading, writing, and simple arithmetic.

The 70 families who occupy the village are reportedly very supportive of the grannies’ educational ambitions. The elderly students are often dropped off at school each day — by their grandchildren.

Read the full story at Yahoo News.

Too real

The Trump administration may be a continued source of anguish to many people in this country, but it has sure provided a whole lot of fodder to the folks over at Saturday Night Live. Kate McKinnon has been pulling double duty as Jeff Sessions and Kellyanne Conway, Alec Baldwin continues to gleefully annoy Trump off with his impressions of the president, and of course, Melissa McCarthy assumed the role she was born to play when she made her debut as a hilariously pugnacious White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

This week, the target of the show’s satiric barb was Ivanka Trump. Played by Scarlett Johansson, the first daughter appears in a fake perfume ad — for a fragrance called “Complicit.”

The sketch is great because it manages to skewer so many things in so little time: the Trumps’ predilection for tacky opulence, Ivanka’s indiscriminate self-promotion, her insistence that she is an advocate for women, though she has remained silent while her father enacts legislation that curtails women’s rights.

“She’s Ivanka,” the sultry voiceover says. “And a woman like her deserves a fragrance all her own. A scent made just for her. Because she’s beautiful. She’s powerful. She’s … Complicit.”

“A feminist. A champion. An advocate for women,” the voiceover says later. “But, like, how?”

And the kicker: “Complicit: The fragrance for the woman who could stop all of this. But won’t.”

Watch the full video below:

Scarlett Johansson and other remarkable women will be appearing at our 8th Annual Women in the World New York Summit, taking place April 5-7. Tickets available now.


Like many 17-year-old students faced with encroaching graduation, Black-ish star Yara Shahidi has started planning for college. She wants to major in African American studies and sociology, and has applied to four different schools — including Harvard, Vanity Fair reports. With a 4.6 GPA and a hit series under her belt, Shahidi probably didn’t need to do much to pad her application, but her chances were surely improved thanks to a letter of recommendation written by none other than Michelle Obama.

Speaking to W Magazine, Shahidi revealed that the former first lady “wrote her a college recommendation, and gave her a ‘go get ’em, tiger’ back-rub before Shahidi took her AP exams.” Shahidi has been an advocate for a number of causes, including women’s leadership and diversity in Hollywood, and has appeared onstage alongside Obama.

“She is very amazing and such a supporter,” Shahidi told W, “which is something very surreal to say.”

Last year, Shahidi appeared onstage at the Women in the World New York Summit for a discussion about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and the medium that had emerged as the antidote to Hollywood’s lack of diversity on the big screen. Watch the video of the complete panel, moderated by ABC News anchor Juju Chang, below. And for details and ticket purchases for this year’s Summit, click here.

Read more at Vanity Fair and W Magazine.

No remorse

Ahmed Daqamseh, a Jordanian corporal who murdered seven Israeli schoolgirls in a 1997 attack, has been freed from prison after serving 20 years.

The Island of Peace massacre, as the killings are known, took place on a patch of land south of the Sea of Galilee, The New York Times reports. The area had been given to Jordan in a 1994 peace agreement with Israel, but had been leased back to an Israeli kibbutz. Daqamseh opened fire at the schoolgirls while they were on a class outing, killing seven children.

The murders threatened a new and fragile peace between Israel and Jordan, prompting King Hussein, who was at the time the ruler of Jordan, to pay visits to the bereaved parents. Daqamseh, who was diagnosed as having antisocial personality disorder, was sentenced to life in prison, but such sentences can be commuted after 20 years in Jordan.

According to The Washington Post, Daqamseh has become a figurehead for Islamists and nationalists in Jordan, who say that Israeli soldiers are rarely punished for killing Palestinians. Though he was released overnight to minimize publicity, hundreds of people greeted Daqamseh at his family home. Social media users have been hailing him as a “hero.”

Upon arriving home, Daqamseh expressed no remorse over the murders.  “There is no country named Israel,” he said, according to the Times. He also referred to Israelis has “human garbage,” ABC News reports.

“This garbage should be burned or buried,” he added. “This will happen, if not in our generation, than in other generations.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.