According to United Nations estimates, the world population hit 7 billion this week. As a result, we’ve turned this week’s Week in Review post into a seven-story round-up of top news related to women and girls.
1. Seven billion and counting
With the world population hitting 7 billion, the UN argued that empowering women is vital to stabilizing growth, as demonstrated in this Christian Science Monitor piece. A baby girl named Danica Camacho born in the Philippines on Oct. 31 became the symbolic seven billionth baby.
2. Women’s rights in the Arab Spring
Continued concerns about the role of women and women’s rights during upheaval in the Middle East emerged this week. U.S. State Department officials spoke to a Senate committee about the issues Wednesday. Tunisian women demonstrated regarding their rights on the same day in light of the election victories of an Islamic party.
3. Herman Cain deals with sexual harassment accusations
Campaign coverage this week was dominated by allegations that presidential candidate Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment during his time working for the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s. Politico broke the story that at least two women had complained of “inappropriate behavior” from Cain. These women ultimately left their jobs with financial packages and having signed nondisclosure causes, meaning they are unable to discuss the issues. Cain has denied the claims and suggested it was the work of candidate Rick Perry’s campaign. A third woman came forward saying she considered filing a workplace complaint against Cain. One woman received permission to speak about the matter publicly and issued a statement through her lawyer.
4. Journalists and sexual violence
The Atlantic published a piece by Lauren Wolfe, director of Women Under Siege, about journalists and sexual violence, specifically the efforts of Jineth Bedoya Lima, a Colombian journalist to seek justice nearly a dozen years after she was drugged, kidnapped and gang raped. Women Under Siege is a new initiative by the Womens’ Media Center on sexualized violence in conflict situations.
5. Gender-based online harassment
Women writers also spoke out this week regarding the harassment they receive online for writing and expressing their opinions and called for it to stop. Women detailed comments ranging from their level of attractiveness to threats of gang rape and mutilation. One woman, Laurie Penny, referred to a woman’s opinion as the “mini-skirt of the Internet.”
6. Not Funny Facebook
In an effort to combat a specific issue of misogyny online, activists campaigned to put pressure on Facebook to enforce and clarify its guidelines and to remove pages that promote sexual violence. Facebook’s Terms of Service do ban “hateful, threatening” content and those that contained “graphic or gratuitous violence,” but Facebook has refused to remove these pages, saying they are jokes or don’t qualify as hate speech. Campaigns included a “Rape is Not Funny” campaign in the UK and a Change.org petition and social media campaign (See #notfunnyfacebook on Twitter) in the US. As of the time of this post, campaigners noted that at least one page — “You know she’s playing hard to get when your chasing her down an alleyway” — has been taken down this week.
7. Feminism and the web
For those looking for a good read, New York Magazine published a piece this week titled “The Rebirth of the Feminist Manifesto” about the ways the blogosphere has “transformed” the feminist conversation. It includes interviews with a number of feminist figures on the web and a roundup of some links to their sites.
This is the Gender Report’s Week in Review, a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.