May 15
Her eye on the news
‘Gender mainstreaming’

The neighborhood of Aspern in Vienna, Austria, has quietly become the world’s leader in the practice of “gender mainstreaming” — an approach to urban planning that seeks to ensure women and men are accounted for equally in policy, legislation and resource allocation.

Eva Kail, a world-famous expert in gender mainstreaming and strategic planner for Vienna, told The Guardian that cities had long been designed solely by “white, middle-class men” who sought to optimize the lives of working men and “car drivers in the city who looked like them.” But during her time heading Vienna’s first women’s office, the Frauenburo (which Kail has called “a little bit of a feminist utopia”) in the 1990s, she discovered that while men were accounted for two in three car journeys in the city, women were making up two-thirds of the city’s foot traffic.

The lesson, Kail says, was simple. “If you want to do something for women, do something for pedestrians,” she explained.

In 1992, Kail’s Frauenburo was given the chance to put her ideas into action with the creation of Frauen-Werk-Stadt (Women-Work-City), a 357-unit complex deliberately designed to improve the quality of women’s everyday lives. At the time, Vienna was rapidly expanding to the tune of 10,000 new apartments per year, but none of the other 30-odd projects underway in the city at the time had even invited a woman to pitch a design. Kail, by contrast, invited solely women architects to pitch potential blueprints for her project. The result? A massive success, and the beginning of a movement to gender-mainstream the whole city.

Since then, Kail has actively worked on pedestrian friendly measures that include improved street lighting, foot-traffic prioritizing traffic lights, wider sidewalks, more benches, and fewer barriers that would obstruct strollers, wheelchair users, and the elderly. In 1999, she reversed two parks’ declining usage by girls by redesigning them with well-lit footpaths and new facilities, such as volleyball courts, to provide an alternative to the male-dominated basketball courts. In 2005, her success was recognized by the city through the implementation of gender-sensitivity guidelines for all parks citywide based on her efforts.

At 240 hectares, by the time the neighborhood of Aspern is complete, in 2028, it will be home to 20,000 people, plus another 20,000 workplaces, and with an explicitly family-oriented design — and with every street and public space named for women, including Hannah Arendt Platz, Janis Joplin Promenade, Ada Lovelace Strasse, Madame d’Ora Park and more, chosen by 30 experts.

Watch Eva Kail speak about gender-aware redesign of public spaces in the URBANACT video below:

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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The cost of stigma

Victoria Bateman, a University of Cambridge economist who scandalized colleagues at the Royal Economic Society in Brighton last year by attending the annual gathering naked, is calling on her fellow academics to acknowledge “the elephant in the room in the economics profession.”

“Women and women’s bodies … this is what’s being ignored,” Bateman told Quartz..

Bateman says that economists, to their great discredit, have long ignored the unpaid labor of women — including the bearing and raising of children, housework, and providing care for the young and elderly. The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics estimates that the British economy would have been $1.6 trillion larger in 2016 — an increase of 63 percent to the country’s GDP — if housework were included in GDP calculations.

Similarly, 75 percent of unpaid care globally is provided by women — the equivalent of 2 billion women working full time for free, according to the International Labor Organization. These time-intensive unpaid responsibilities, she argues, effectively prevent women from entering the job force and marketplace, dramatically stifling economic growth across the world.

To that end, Bateman believes that ensuring women have full legal control over their bodies is the most surefire way to encourage economic growth. By providing women with access to birth control and abortion services, women would be freed from paying the price for unintended pregnancies that can force them out of the job market and into the role of unpaid carer.

“We can’t underestimate the risk of poverty that comes alongside an unplanned pregnancy,” says Bateman, adding that an estimated 44 percent of pregnancies globally are unintended. In general, she says, women’s freedom across the world — including bodily autonomy — is restricted due to a dominant notion that “women’s bodies are sinful” and “that a woman’s value rests on being very modest about her body.” As a result, she says that many people believe that restrictions must be imposed on women, including limitations on what they can wear and the criminalization of sex work, “to protect them from having their respect undermined by their bodies being on show.”

Her naked protests at the Royal Economic Society and elsewhere, she says, are meant to call attention to how the stigma attached to women and their bodies actively contributes to their continued economic marginalization.

“Women should be free to monetize their body or their brain,” Bateman told Quartz. “It is intellectually elitist and hypocritical for feminists to say otherwise. We should be thinking more about the effect of society on women, the way we judge women who monetize their body and the stigma and the marginalization that they experience.”

Bateman’s new book, The Sex Factor: How Women Made the West Rich, revisits economic history through feminist eyes.

Read the full interview at Quartz.


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‘Great days’

A proposed NASA plan to land a woman on the moon by 2024 has been named Artemis, in honor of the Greek goddess of the Moon and twin sister to the god Apollo, after whom NASA’s original flagship lunar program was named.

“I think it is very beautiful that 50 years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man and the first woman to the Moon,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. “I have a daughter who is 11 years old, and I want her to be able to see herself in the same role as the next women that go to the Moon.”

The announcement of a formal name for the Artemis project came as NASA issued an updated budget request to the White House in response to Vice President Mike Pence’s March request that the space agency accelerate its plans to put people on the moon within five years. Since then, Bridenstine has repeatedly emphasized that any such effort would be sure to include women astronauts.

“NASA is committed to making sure we have a broad and diverse set of talent and we’re looking forward to the first woman on the moon,” said Bridenstine in March. “These are great days.”

Later that month, the agency’s plan to conduct the world’s first all-woman spacewalk had to be scrapped — apparently because the agency had failed to prepare enough suitably-sized spacesuits in time.

Read the full story at The Verge.


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'Not alone'

Women in New York and London are standing up against catcalling and sexual harassment — both in the street, and on social media. Speaking to the BBC, Farah Bennis said she was inspired by the Instagram page Catcalls of New York City to chalk the catcalls thrown at women on the very same streets where they were subjected to them. Since starting on the project on her sister page Catcalls of London, she said she had received more than 3,000 submissions from women asking her to share their testimonials on the London pavement.

“It’s so awful the things that are said,” Bennis told the BBC. “You have really young girls experiencing over-sexualization, very misogynistic things, and violent things said to them … I’ve had so many catcalls that you don’t know if this is a harmless person who’s just saying something or if they’re going to react in a violent way.”

“This campaign has given me the opportunity to give other women a voice to express their frustration,” she continued. “We, as women, have constantly been conditioned to just ignore it and just move on with our lives — take it as a complement. It’s no longer just: ‘Be quiet and put up with it.’ It’s ‘No,’ we’re saying, ‘No, we don’t want it anymore.’”

One woman who shared her story with Bennis, Saffron Savill, said she had her perspective on the world — and men — irrevocably altered after facing persistent sexual harassment from a man on the street when she was 16 years old.

“He was like: ‘Give us a kiss,’ and he was saying it over and over. And then he grabbed the inside of my thigh and was like: ‘Oh, what I would do to you if I was younger,’” Savill recalled. “It really make me anxious about where I go. If I’m alone, what might happen. If there’s a man around I get really scared.”

But the work being done by Bennis and others, she said, had helped her to feel less alone in her experience, and more optimistic that stress harassment could be curtailed.

“It feels like something is being done, like it’s being challenged,” said Savill. “I think that’s why men carry it on, because it’s not challenged. It highlights how often it happens and it brings those girls together. You know you’re not alone.”

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"While visiting my NYC my daughter was harassed near the Times Square M & M store. We were walking when a guy kept yelling 'single? Single? Single?' My daughter responded with 'no thank you'. He then yelled 'Single, say no, don't you speak English'? She was a week from her 18th Birthday and this trip was my gift. It made me feel scared, because I know I won't always be able to protect her." – Anonymous … When I was chalking out this catcall, a man came up to me to ask what I was doing. I told him I have an Instagram account about catcalling and asked him what he thought about catcalling. He went on to tell me a story about his female friend being catcalled while he was with her and how messed up he thought it was. I said that I agreed it was messed up and told him that's exactly what the project is about, excited that we were on the same page. He said, "but wait, 'Single? Single? Single?' That's not a catcall. He's just trying to ask her if she's single. That's different." Clearly, we still have work to do. #stopstreetharassment

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Watch the full interview at BBC News.


France passes bill outlawing public catcalls and street harassment

Catcalling is not ‘normal’ — and we cannot allow it to be


“Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy – Until I Wanted a Baby.” A three-time U.S. running champion has bravely turned against her sponsors, attacking their recent spate of feminist commercials as “just advertising.”

In a bold new video essay shot in the style of a Nike motivational spot, Alysia Montano reveals that male executives at both Nike and Asics told her they wouldn’t pay her sponsorship fees during her pregnancy and early maternity. This meant Montano had to independently arrange for her breast milk to be shipped from China to the United States after her daughter was born, just so she could compete in enough races to satisfy her Nike contract.

It’s an issue that’s apparently rampant in an industry where almost all of a woman’s livelihood comes from her sponsors. A fellow runner Montano interviewed for the piece, Phoebe Wright, revealed that “Getting pregnant is the kiss of death for a female athlete — there’s no way I’d tell Nike if I were pregnant.”

“This attack was part of a horrifying new trend … it was designed to be broadcast on the internet.”

With a strongly-worded opinion piece in the New York Times, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gets honest about how in the 21st Century, leaders can no longer singlehandedly protect their countries. Despite the sweeping gun reforms Ardern was able to heroically pass in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, the Prime Minister writes that she won’t be able to truly rest until social media platforms prove they’re working harder to remove terrorist content before it goes viral and inspires others.

“No-one,” Ardern writes, “should be able to broadcast mass murder,” revealing that she was one of the social media users who inadvertently saw the footage of the Christchurch carnage.

Just days after posting on social media that she feared her life was in danger, a prominent Afghan journalist and adviser to the Afghan parliament has been gunned down in Kabul.

Mena Mangal was killed on Saturday morning in a brazen, public attack carried out in broad daylight. While the murder remains under investigation, Mangal’s mother (in a video posted to Twitter) named a group of men as suspects — claiming they had previously kidnapped her daughter but escaped justice by bribing their way out.

President Trump’s spiritual adviser has announced that she’s quitting her church after God “personally told her she needed to found a further 3,000 churches, a university and a performing arts center.”

Paula White, who started counseling the President in 2002, preaches something called “prosperity gospel” — a philosophy which advocates that the faithful will prosper financially if they give their money to church leaders. Previously, she’s called working for Trump “an assignment from God” — and staunchly defended his child separation policies.

It’s easy for a feminist empowerment tweet to go viral these days, and 99 percent of the time we’re firmly on board.

But Alyssa Milano’s call over the weekend for women to go on a “sex strike” in response to Georgia’s abortion ban was met with more confusion than retweets. As one Twitter user responded,“This idea pushes a sexist narrative that sex is something WE give to men as currency. That is not empowering. At all.”

In a strange turn, Milano’s call instead saw her earning praise from an unintended fanbase — the anti-abortion, pro-abstinence crowd.And hers wasn’t the only confusing tweet to cause a viral stir over the weekend: After actress Constance Wu appeared to complain that her television show was being renewed, her apology urged readers to “believe women” — a phrase typically invoked when discussing sexual assault, not lucrative television deals.

A popular Chinese radio program inspired by NPR’s “This American Life” has used its significant platform to share one woman’s #MeToo experience, defying the government’s attempts to censor the hashtag.

Norway’s new health minister, Sylvi Listhaug, has shocked Norway by declaring that “people should be allowed to smoke, drink and eat as much red meat as they like.”

“You’ll have better luck finding Waldo at Coachella.” Journalist Adiba Nelson has written about her struggle to find a parenting book that takes the distinct experiences of black mothers into consideration.

After Georgia, more “heartbeat” abortion bills are gaining momentum across the South, from Louisiana to Mississippi and Alabama. In all honesty, this could be our leading story each newsletter, so great is the effect that these bills, if passed, will have on millions of Americans. Wherever you are, you can support the fight by donating to the ACLU of Georgia, or to Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight.

Previous newsletters

The Week in Women: Which hot-button issue inspired AOC’s most liked Tweet ever?

The Week in Women: Which show-stopping Met Gala gown took its inspiration from feminism?

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