The Feminist News Feed is a podcast where we discuss the biggest news stories affecting gender equality through a feminist lens. A summary of our discussion for the first half of March 2022 can be found below.
Companies with Female Leaders Outperform those Dominated by Men
Research collated by the UK Labour party to mark international women’s day shows that companies with more women on their executive team have a much higher chance of above-average success. However, in the UK, women make up only 20% of executive team members, 6% of CEOs, and 13% of CFOs. Only one company (NatWest) had both. The shadow secretary for women and equalities has warned that the UK is facing a childcare emergency with the Early Years Alliance reporting that some areas of England have seen a 25% decline in the number of childcare places in the past six years. Labour is campaigning on a promise to “create 100,000 government-backed start-ups with an “equal recovery pledge” ensuring female representation, strengthen the pay gap reporting system, and give a “new deal” for working women.” This may seem an obvious result, as the inclusion of new perspectives in leadership leads to more creative and well-rounded decision-making. But nevertheless, it’s great to see a major political party foregrounding this issue.
Attacks on LGBTQ Youth Across America
Attacks on LGBTQIA+ rights are happening across multiple states in the US right now. Florida has passed a bill colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, banning public schools using materials that “promote, normalize, support or address LGBT issues or lifestyles”. Iowa has also joined multiple other states in banning transgender girls and women from participating in high school sports and women’s college athletics. Tennessee has progressed legislation through its lower house to ban learning about LGBT “issues or lifestyles” in schools. And Georgia has similarly introduced legislation to ban discussions of LGBT people in private schools. The wide language in these laws and potential application to any discussion of the existence of the LGBTQIA+ community in schools sends the harmful message that the very existence of LGBTQIA+ people is inappropriate and damaging, cementing marginalization.
Texas Judge Blocks Baseless Child Abuse Investigations for Trans Youth
Recently, Texas state officials have implemented a policy targeting families with transgender children for investigations of child abuse, even when no abuse is evident. These investigations can be traumatizing and could result in removing trans children from families, and jailing parents and healthcare professionals who provide them with procedures. Last week, on the back of testimony from a recently resigned employee of the department of family and protective services and a clinical psychologist, a judge has temporarily blocked these investigations.
South Korea’s New Anti-Feminist President
South Korea has elected a new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, a self-described, avowed anti-feminist who campaigned on abolishing the ministry for gender equality. He has claimed that “South Korean women do not suffer systemic discrimination” calling it a “personal matter”. He has also blamed the country’s low birth rate on feminism, and has promised to “enhance punishments for false accusations of sexual violence”. He also campaigned on fiscal conservatism saying he would cut the minimum wage and remove limits on working hours. In South Korea, there is a notable trend towards many young men regarding women’s advancement as a threat to their financial security, amid a bleak job market and rising living costs. Surveys have also indicated that a majority of young men believe that it is they who are victims of gender discrimination, fueling a gender divide that has been exploited by both conservative and centrist politicians.
Justice for Sarah Everard Vigil Organisers
After Sarah Everard’s murder by a serving police officer in early 2021, a group called Reclaim These Streets proposed a socially distanced vigil that doubled as a protest about violence against women. The Met contacted the organizers and informed them that they could be facing £10,000 fines and possible prosecution. As a result, the organizers cancelled their planned event, but an unplanned spontaneous vigil and protest took place instead. The Met then put down the vigil for a murdered woman, protesting violence against women, with more violence. As a result of all of this, the Reclaim These Streets organizers brought a legal challenge against the Met. They argued that “decisions made by the force in advance of the planned vigil amounted to a breach of their human rights to freedom of speech and assembly, and say the force did not assess the potential risk to public health.” The Met argued that “there was no exception for protest in the coronavirus rules at the time, and that it had “no obligation” to assess the public health risk.” The judge ruled in favour of the organizers, stating “None of the [force’s] decisions was in accordance with the law; the evidence showed that the [force] failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering, or to conduct the fact-specific proportionality assessment required in order to perform that duty.” Issues of misogyny in police remain, but this ruling is a win for women, and an important recognition of the importance of women standing up for their rights.