Another varied week in the global gender newsroom – here were just some of the stories which caught my eye.
As the Obama presidency comes to an end, the BBC used the occasion of International Women’s Day to examine Michelle Obama’s legacy. I think the fact that the word “legacy” is even being associated with the First Lady’s work is testament to her skills, smarts and passion to make the world a better place and not just be a passive partner or a clothes horse.
“It is her work on economic, social and racial inequality that most animates her and sets her apart. It is also this work, particularly the education of girls of colour in the United States and around the world, that is most likely to define her post-White House life.”
And still on the topic of FLOTUS, Nicholas Kristof noted in his weekly newsletter that:
“International Women’s Day came and went [this week], and it’s remarkable and reassuring to see how much more attention global women’s issues are getting. Michelle Obama has done a fine job promoting girls’ education, and President Obama says all the right things about how this is a security issue as well as a justice issue. But while the issues are getting more attention, they’re not getting adequate resources. President Obama promised when he was running for the White House in 2008 that he would start a $2 billion global education fund, and he never followed up — and it’s not as if Republicans have been interested either. One of my conclusions from spending a lot of time since 9/11 in conflict areas is that we overuse the military toolbox and underuse the education and women’s empowerment toolboxes. In short, educating girls and empowering women isn’t about helping half the population, but about helping everyone.”
Over in Turkey, The Observer’s Catherine Bennett dubbed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan one of the world’s “greatest misogynists” in her article on Turkey potentially joining the EU. And we learned of the female cricket team flying in economy whilst their male counterparts are up in what my former Australian colleagues used to refer to as “the pointy end of the plane” (business class).
The BBC shared an interesting trio of stories written by their pan-Asian team: the amazing adventures of ‘Sue in Tibet’ and her creator; how Indian women are fighting back against the prevailing preference for fair skin (as exemplified by the fact that every Indian cosmetics range has a skin lightening cream available, even ‘western’ brands like Clarins and L’Oréal) with the social media campaign which celebrates dark skin via hashtag #unfairandlovely; and a profile of Ladakh’s all women trekking company.
This year’s global teacher prize of $1 million was won by Hanan Al Hroub, who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp and now is a teacher of refugees herself. She specialises in supporting children who have been traumatised by violence.
And this week’s #HeforShe hero is “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams, who has announced that his production company, ‘Bad Robot’, now requires studios to submit female and minority candidates in proportion to their representation in the US population. Speaking at the New Work Summit conference, Abrams said the new hiring system is meant to increase diversity behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. However, Fortune reported that a new survey finds that 67% of men believe “men and women have equal opportunities” in most workplaces. Not surprisingly, only 38% of women agree that’s the case.
Meanwhile, The Atlantic examined the USA gender pay gap, referencing that it’s now the narrowest it’s ever been, and yet it’s still 2.5 times the size of those of other industrialised countries – so they framed a few potential solutions.
I doubt that creating a washing powder aimed at men will help, but Leif Frey thinks that a new product (with a “cologne-inspired masculine fragrance of oak and musk”) will help break down stereotypes about who should do which household chores.
Finally, the ever on-point ManWhoHasItAll has a helpful recommendation as to how to break down structural inequalities – just smile!