The Week in Women

Republicans don't want to teach American history; African countries increasingly end the death penalty; abortion rights remain under siege.

San Sebastian, Spain, July 2021

Hello, readers, and welcome to The Week in Women, a roundup of women’s rights news from around the world, followed by links to a few good features, long-form pieces, podcasts, and radio stories in the universe of gender equality, international human rights, politics, and whatever else is interesting on the internet.

If you’re enjoying this newsletter, please feel free to share it, and to upgrade to a paid subscription.


What to Know

As the world recovers from Covid, fewer women than men are projected to recover their jobs.

The Taliban are rapidly expanding their reach in Afghanistan, and the country’s female business owners are worried. And concerns extend beyond just women-owned businesses — the threat of forced marriage, sexual slavey, child marriage, and beyond rises as a far-right misogynist and authoritarian force gains power.

Women in Ecuador still go to prison for having abortions; so do health care workers who help women. Overwhelmingly, a Human Rights Watch report found, the people who are prosecuted for abortion-related crimes are young, poor, and female. The country’s Constitutional Court ordered the legislature to at least pass a law allowing legal abortion for rape survivors, and feminists are pushing for more expansive reforms.

In the U.S., some 100 female protesters from the Poor People’s Campaign marked the 173rd anniversary of first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls by demonstrating in front of the Supreme Court, demanding a $15 minimum wage, voting rights protections, and an end to the filibuster.

American conservatives oppose including women in the draft.

It’s happening: Mississippi is asking the Supreme Court to end Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the US. I wrote about this case and its implications for paying subscribers here.

An EU court has confirmed that private employers can ban religious clothing and symbols at work — a decision that could make many Muslim women choose between a job and the hijab.

Taxi violence in South Africa has shut down a great deal of transport, leaving women vulnerable to sexual violence as they walk home.

Utah is the least gender-equal state in the nation. Naturally some people think this isn’t a big deal, or that it’s “unfair” to use data to determine that the state just isn’t doing so great when it comes to gender equality.

A Texas bill requires that teachers not offer lessons that make students “feel discomfort, guilt, [or] anguish” over racism or inequality, which is too bad, given that discomfort, guilt and anguish are all perfectly appropriate and common responses to learning about racism and inequality (and last I heard from conservatives, it’s very snowflake-y to expect anyone to predict or manage your feelings). The bill also cuts a requirement that schools teach pretty basic American history, including “the history of white supremacy,” “the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong; the Chicano movement; women's suffrage and equal rights; the civil rights movement.”

A Norwegian church holds a name-change ceremony for a transgender woman, the first such ceremony in a Nordic country.

Mexico’s Veracruz state becomes the fourth of the country to legalize abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

More good news: Sierra Leone abolished the death penalty, a move that is especially relevant given that the death penalty was mandatory regardless of mitigating circumstances — so if a woman or a girl killed her abuser, for example, a judge couldn’t take those facts into account when determining her fate. And Sierra Leone is just the latest in a long line of African countries dismantling death penalty laws, which were largely imposed during the colonial era.

Australia’s Covid response has been, in some ways, a model for the world, insofar as Covid rates remain incredible low in the country. But they’ve also instituted strict and sometimes unnecessarily cruel rules, including those governing who can be in a hospital with a woman as she gives birth.

India is cracking down on interfaith marriages, and mix-faith unions are increasingly illegal across the country.

Argentina is the first Latin American country to recognize nonbinary people.

Chinese singer Chris Wu is at the center of a #MeToo storm.


What to Read

Los Angeles Goes to War With Itself Over Homelessness [New York Times Magazine]

Vaccinated America Has Had Enough [The Atlantic]


Take a Break

…and read The Sex Lives of African Women, by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah.

…or read The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan.

…and come on a writing retreat with me! (Yoga is on offer, too). Retreats are mostly listed here, and I’ve just added another one in California from Oct. 28 - Nov. 1, 2021. Daily yoga, daily writing workshops, wine tasting, hiking, nature, and lots of good stuff.

Three spots also just opened up in a previously sold-out retreat in Tuscany(!) from Sept. 19 - 25, 2021.

And there are still a few spots left for the retreat in Costa Rica from Feb. 28 - Marc 5, 2022.

Just hit reply to this email if you want more information.

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And that’s it! Thank you very much for your support. Feel free to share this newsletter with anyone you think might be interested. And if you want to support feminist-minded journalism, analysis, and opinion-writing, consider upgrading to a paid subscription.

xx Jill