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Sunday, 2 March 2014

This Week for Women

I am going to try and include this post every week (ambitious since my last blog post was months ago!) but this is supposed to be the purpose behind this blog. I'd like it to act as a paperclip pulling together current affairs concerning issues that are important to women; like The Week but for women.

The first article is poignantly penned by Laurie Penny in The Guardian and is a letter addressed to Rebecca Adlington pledging support for her and the way her appearance has been negatively described in the media. Written in response to tabloid reports that Adlington has had cosmetic surgery on her nose, Penny's words expose the unequal treatment of sports men and women, soberly reminding us that 'whatever women and girls achieve, we are nothing if we do not conform to society's demented definitions of beauty'. Despite its depressing contents, it is heartening to read a public pledge of support for a woman wronged.

On Tuesday's Woman's Hour (11 minutes into the programme if you want to catch it on iPlayer), Bea Campbell discussed how she believes equality for women is stalling or maybe even going backwards. She said that change is 'palpable but pitiful' and had some striking statistics to back up her argument: European men have increased their commitment to housework by a paltry 30 minutes over three decades! This equates to an extra minute per day, per year over the last 30 years - not exactly rapid progress. On a brighter note, the Woman's Hour Power List has launched for 2014 with a theme of identifying the top 100 female Game Changers  - get involved on Twitter using #whgamechangers.

Triggered by a statement recently on Radio 4's Open Book programme, Beulah Devaney's post on The Guardian Books Blog, makes for interesting reading on how under-represented women are in the book reviewing press. It is hard to believe the defeatism inherent in a quote in a related statement issued by the editor of The London Review of Books (Mary-Kay Wilmers) who thinks (or thought in 2001) that 'women find it difficult to do their jobs, look after their children, cook dinner and write pieces. They just can't get it all done. And men can.' Clearly this has always been a problem but if there is a female editor of a magazine as influential as the LRB, you would hope that they might be more driven to redress the cause of the imbalance by looking for solutions to the problem, rather than deciding it is probably impossible to even up the gender coverage.

And finally, congratulations and much respect to 17 year old Fahma Mohamed, who has secured a pledge from Michael Gove, the education secretary, to write to schools about female genital mutilation to raise awareness of the terrible reality of young girls being taken abroad in summer to be cut. Read Alexandra Topping's article about it here.

As women, to take on Mary-Kay Wilmer's statement cited above, if we can get some of it done all of the time and all of it done some of the time, then we can still make some great changes to stave off inequality, and that can still have considerable impact on changing the world for the better.