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Hillary Clinton stops in Toronto with praise and a look to the future

“Resist, insist, persist, and enlist.”

That was the message former Democratic presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left with the crowd of over 5,000 people squished into the Encare Centre near Exhibition Place in Toronto.

“I’m here tonight to talk about a book, but more then that to talk about the issues that confront us,” she said. “I don’t want anybody to give up because it’s hard. It’s not going to happen just because we want it to. We have to work for it.”

During the hour-long talk on Sept. 28, Clinton discussed the results of the 2016 election and looked to the future of politics, not just in the United States, but around the world.  With a nod to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his gender-equal cabinet, Clinton reminisced about what happened a year ago. She spoke candidly about the mistakes she made during the campaign, how the FBI director’s investigation directly interfered with the votes, and the continuing influence of Russia in U.S. affairs.

Finally, she spoke with grace and honesty about her experiences as a woman in politics. “I admit that I’ve always felt that I had to be careful in public, to keep my guard up. Well, that’s all gone.”

Her new memoire, What Happened, has been criticized by many current politicians in both parties for staying in the limelight following her loss to now President Donald Trump. But Clinton, as she says, is not letting go of her opinion. Her newest organization, Onward Together, was founded in May to help encourage young people to get involved in the democratic process and to support grassroots organizations that are helping engage youth in the conversation.

“I am not going anywhere except in the middle of the debate about our future!”

Here are four of the most powerful themes Clinton touched during her speech:

Women in politics

“The only way I know of to get sexism out of politics is to get more women in to politics.

For men, professional success and likability go hand in hand. Not for women. In other words, the more successful a man becomes, the more people like him. With women it’s the exact opposite. The more professionally successful we are, the less people like us. Probably a few of you in this room have an inkling as to what I’m talking about. And not only that, women are seen favourably if we advocate for others, but unfavourably if we advocate for ourselves. That struck a cord.

It is eye-rolling to see a picture of a group of white, someone elderly men, sitting around a table deciding what health care women need. So I’d like more women in politics so our politics is more representative and then the voices of families and communities and entire nations are heard. “

On accuracy and truth

“There is no such thing as an alternative fact. Despite the best efforts by some, to wage a war on reason and evidence, we can’t let that happen

We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason. When leaders deny things we can see with our own eyes, like the size of a crowd at an inauguration, or refuse to accept sound science when it comes to urgent challenges like climate change, it isn’t just frustrating to those of us living in the fact-based universe. It is insidious and deeply subversive to democracy.

Democracy is under assault. We must insist on truth and accuracy and we must hold elected leaders and the press accountable when they do not perform on behalf of truth and accuracy.”

On Trump looming over her during the debate

“I wrote about this because I wanted to take you into my mind about what it’s like to be on a stage in front of probably 60 to 70 million people watching and to have you opponent stalking you, and making faces, and generally drawing attention towards himself in contrast to what we were supposed to be talking about – simple things like how to create jobs and give people better futures by making college affordable – so, I had prepared for the debate and I suspected he might try to do something like that. We actually practiced it. I worked on keeping my composure because I thought you’d kind of want a president who is composed. It’s one thing to practice it, and another to be there in the moment.

Yes, my mind was going, calm, composed, versus ‘whip around and say you like to intimidate women, you are not going to intimidate me, back up you creep.” It might have been more satisfying, but I’m not sure it would have been the best strategy. “

On seeing a woman as president in our lifetime

“Well I certainly hope so. I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen. Our system though is really tough. How come other countries have had at least one woman as a head of government? In our system, literally anyone can run for president. As we have seen. In our system, it comes down to the level of your devotion to the job you want to get and why you think you would make a good president and why you think you will make a difference. And it comes down to your pain threshold and I think we may well have in 2020 maybe 20 to 25 who will run.

Eventually, we will have a woman president and I hope she is someone I can agree with so I can support her!”

 

Featured photo by Gage Skidmore.

Breaking: Saudi Arabia King gives women right to drive

In extremely surprising news, King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a decree allowing women to be given driving licences. According to media reports, this royal decree will lead to the creation of a ministerial body that will provide advice and implement the decree by June 2018.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that does not permit women to drive. Women who disobeyed this law were fined, beaten, or imprisoned.

This decree came out a week after the government launched a reform program that allowed women to enter a sports stadium to celebrate a national festivity and attend a concert. The government has been criticized by those within the clergy for gender-mixing.

 

Nova Scotia joins other provinces in Canada offering free abortion pill

The government of Nova Scotia joins the rest of Canada in offering free abortion pills to women who require it. They will also no longer require a doctor’s referral to book a surgical abortion at the Termination of Pregnancy Unit (TPU), Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. In the next few months, the Nova Scotia Health Authority will also be setting up a phone line so women can call and make appointments.

Nova Scotia was the only province to require a doctor’s referral for a surgical abortion.

Very slowly, provinces throughout Canada have pledge to publicly fund Mifegymiso, an abortion pill that will terminate pregnancy up to 49 days from the start of a woman’s last menstrual period. Mifegymiso is a combination of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, and is considered an easy and safe alternative to surgery.

A prescription from a doctor will still be required to get Mifegymiso from the pharmacy. The doctor must do an ultrasound to determine if there are any health risks; however, those women will be given “same day and urgent care” access to an ultrasound, meaning they don’t have to wait a few weeks in order to perform the tests.

The drug itself can cost up to $350, making it a significant barrier for women. That’s why universal coverage of the Mifegymiso is such an important development — no longer should women have to wait until they are eight weeks pregnant to get a surgical abortion. They now have much more control over their reproductive rights.

“We’re supporting more choice for women when it comes to their reproductive health,” said Kelly Regan, Minister responsible for the Status of Women, said in a statement. “This will ensure all Nova Scotia women have access to this option.”

The government estimates the cost of covering Mifegymiso will be between $175,000 and $200,000 per year; although women will be encouraged to use private insurance coverage first.

Alberta announced their intention to cover Mifegymiso in July, with Ontario following suit in August.

The last barrier to women’s control over their reproductive rights is free access to birth control.

 

A touch of pink: women-only co-working spaces expanding in Toronto

If you are looking for a chic and modern co-working space, you are in luck. Toronto has added another women’s-only co-working space in the heart of the city. This multi-use space offers female entrepreneurs a place to connect, network, communicate, and help each other build up their brand. This concept is used in other cities like New York, where the offices almost become a retreat for women with the addition of several amenities. The space is supposed to represent the total opposite of a ‘frat-boy’ dominated office space with a fridge full of beer and beer pong.

The hope is that a feminine environment will help women feel comfortable, motivated, and productive. This idea has developed over the last two years, starting with little pop-up spaces at conferences and conventions that were inviting women. Shelley Zells is the founder of The Girls Lounge, a global pop-up space that offers a professional working environment with a chic ambience. The lounges have several pop-up locations in different countries each month.

The Wing in New York City is another popular co-working space that is exclusive to women. A recent study from Indiana University shows that women feel less pressured in a women’s-only environment. The study also concluded that women suffer from higher levels of cortisol in male dominated workspaces and are more likely to socially isolate themselves. The Wing does require membership, which starts at $215/ month. The membership for these places vary and can cost between $100-$700 monthly, although some places offer hourly or day passes.

The Wing New York

These spaces have become a warm and welcoming space for like-minded women to interact and work on their skills while networking. Places like The Wing are popular because of its design layout, which is very chic and clean, with just the perfect touch of millennial pink. There is a special lactation room for mothers and a beauty bar that offers makeup or fresh blowouts.

“The Parlor” The Wing NYC

Some co-working spaces are described as “boutique spaces” and offer various amenities ranging from beauty to wellness. Toronto joins the list of other big US cities/states that have female friendly co-working boutique spaces, including New York, St Louis, Phoenix, Southern California, and Washington D.C.

The most recent Toronto space opened on Sept 18 and is called Make Lemonade on Adelaide St. West. Make Lemonade is all about offering a beautiful office space to help women feel more productive than they would if they were just living out of a coffee shop. The belief behind Make Lemonade is that you can make any situation sweet no matter how sour. The concept of women-only also comes from the saying “empowered women empower women.” by artist and educator, Jenna Kutcher. The aim is to encourage women to get the job done, but to also be empowered along the way with cute and artsy motivational messages that are playful and simply pretty.

Make Lemonade- Toronto

The aesthetic of Make Lemonade is pleasing with tones of pink and yellow, and they offer $25 drop-in passes or full membership rates where you can even get your own office for $500/month, which includes 24/7 access with your own personal key. Women-only co-working spaces are slowly growing in Toronto and Make Lemonade joins other places like Shecosystem on Bloor Street West that offers wellness packages in addition to co-working.

 

What are your thoughts on women-only co-working spaces?

 

Canada ranks number one for civil service gender equality

By Leanne Benn

The Global Government Forum, an organization that measures standards for gender- equality worldwide, ranks Canada as number one out of any G20 country. This ranking places Canada at the top of the civil service sector for having women in leadership positions.

According to the Women Leaders Index, released in September 2017, 46.4 per cent of senior civil servants in Canada are women. There is a 3.3 percentage point difference between Canada and Australia and the gap has been slowly closing over the past few years.

The data was gathered over three years from 2013 to 2016 and measured gender equality in leadership roles in G20 and EU countries. The goal of this forum is to highlight the countries that are leading the way for gender equal roles in federal or national governments, therefore encouraging other countries to do the same.

This is the first year the data has included research from countries outside the G20 with the inclusion of European Union countries. The data collected from the EU shows that these countries are more advanced in terms of gender equality than those included in the G20. Among 28 EU nations the average is 40 per cent high-ranking women.

This data analysis covers a broader base and as a result new fields of analysis were included this year. In addition to civil service leadership and women elected into political office, the forum examined women on private sector boards. It should be noted that in these sub-sector datas collections, Canada ranked low for women in private sector boards.

The discussion of gender inequality for high ranking positions has been long analyzed and female talent should be promoted within government structures. Canada’s most senior civil servant as of January 2016 was Janice Charette. Charette, in response to the index, said public service should represent the population in order to show they are doing the best job possible. The polices and the practices of high ranking countries can have an internal impact on HR management, staff development, recruitment, and the promotion of women.

“If you look at all the research on this, the value proposition for gender equality and diversity in leadership positions, whether in the public sector or the private sector, is very clear,” she said in the report. “And I would say that in the public sector it’s even more important, because if we are to have credible public service structures and institutions that are able to give good, thoughtful, strategic advice to governments, they have to understand and represent the population they are there to serve. That’s absolutely critical.”

However, there must be a political appetite in order to change the public leadership roles for women. For instance, both Canada and France have a cabinet that includes 50 per cent women. A strong political role is required for gender diversity and this is the only way conditions may improve.

How do you feel about Canada’s ranking and what are your thought on gender equality on a global level?

Stick to your knitting Minnan-Wong, Keesmaat is out of your league

“Stick to your knitting.” Reaction to this phrase can be mixed — and it completely depends on the context in which it is used.

For example, using it in a business meeting to indicate that employees should play to their strengths while allowing others to do the same is a commonly acceptable use of the phrase. “Stick to the knitting” when used by a professional colleague to describe an incredibly accomplished woman who has her foot in all aspects of her craft can come across as derogatory, sexist, and downright rude.

Toronto Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong is being accused of sexism for using the phrase in relation to outgoing Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat in an interview with the Toronto Sun last week. Minnan Wong said this in response to Keesmaat’s use of Twitter and how she debates municipal affairs publicly on the platform.

The history of “stick to your knitting” is a bit obscure, but the phrase has been used widespread in the business community since the mid 1800s. Many business professionals use this phrase when giving advice to young entrepreneurs. Stick to what you know and let others stick to what they know. That way you have the benefit of different experience instead of pretending to be an expert in all fields.

And yet, many politicians get in trouble for using this common phrase — and it’s all because of the context. Especially considering most of the time it’s used to describe women.

Despite its history, the phrase in itself is slightly derogatory. The person who uses it is telling their co-worker they don’t value their opinions. As a woman, this is especially offensive because women fight hard to be heard in the first place. In the case of Keesmaat, she has expertise in city building and most of her tweeting revolves around different aspects of this field. To say she shouldn’t have an opinion on how the City of Toronto is run and/or built is a bit farfetched and, frankly, sexist.

There is also the democracy angle that makes the use of this phrase even more strange. Minnan-Wong decided that posting discussion on city affairs on Twitter was not appropriate, but isn’t public discussion a foundation of democracy? Keesmaat has previously told Women’s Post that defending her planning choices and discussing them with the public was a critical step for accountability. In that case, her activity on social media is an extension of her role as city planner and an active citizen.

“If you have planners gone wild you could end up in a totalitarian type of environment, so the due diligence that comes from the vigour of being questioned by councillors and by the public is an essential part of the planning process from my perspective,” she said.

Why shouldn’t Keesmaat, or any person for that matter, use social media as a platform for public discussion? If everyone on Twitter was told to stick to their knitting, then it would be a pretty boring place. The whole purpose of social media is to allow people to share information and opinions.

And then there is the final point — why would Minnan-Wong care about the social media habits of a city staff member who is leaving their position in a month’s time? The only reason to use this phrase is to remind them that once they leave city hall, their opinions shouldn’t matter. Well, what does that mean for the rest of us? I hope Minnan-Wong’s constituents don’t have any opinions they want to share or ideas they want to suggest, because it appears like he won’t be listening to them.

Ultimately, Minnan-Wong made the same mistake many politicians make — trying to create a sound bite using clichés, hyperbole, and commonly used phrases in order to capture the attention of the media and the public.

Looks like he did — just not in the way he expected.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

When buying lingerie can make the news

Clutch your pearls! Just recently, radio business reporter, Michael Kane was strolling through a shopping mall in Toronto and he noticed something that peaked his interest. He decided to tweet his recount, “ I’m just a reporter: saw two modestly dressed women with religious headgear come out of Victoria’s Secret store in the Eaton Centre.”

It’s 2017, so why is it shocking that women were spotting leaving a lingerie store? Women of all categories are entitled to wear underwear if they choose to do so. Much less, why is it an issue that these women were modest and wearing ‘religious headgear’? Muslim women are women too and it should not be tweet-worthy that they were seen exiting a lingerie store.

Mr Kane’s tweet was not warmly welcomed in such a multicultural city like Toronto. For a society that prides itself on diversity and celebrating various cultural backgrounds, scenarios like this are borderline funny and infuriating. People on social media began grabbing on to the phrase “ I’m just a reporter” and responded to Kane with tweets such as “I’m just a reporter: saw a group of White teenagers, in Lululemon outfits playing basketball in a public park.” Scenarios like this does not open a door for positive discussion, instead it brings up issues of ethnicity, social hierarchy, and stereotypes.

Kane made a poor attempt in claiming his tweet was meant to celebrate diversity and promote positive feedback, saying he wanted to bring “news to some, joyful observation to others,” while responding to one Twitter user. The tweet was unnecessary and though he did not say Muslim women, it is clearly implied. Kane continues to gather angry responses and some people even noted this casting of Muslim women as ‘others’ revealing Kane’s cultural insensitivity and intentional or unintentional views as a white male living in a diverse society.

Kane continued to defend himself against the critics, saying he was just sharing his views and he suggested people not judge him. The problem is that people on social media are hypocritical — people cast judgement, but don’t want want to accept judgment cast upon themselves. The tweet, and the conversation that followed, is entirely prejudice and unmindful. Needless to say, Kane did not win his diversity battle and his poor attempt of celebrating another culture seemed creepy, sexist, racist, and why was this a story worth the attention of others on social media?

Kane has since deactivated his twitter and honestly, I’m just a reporter: but it’s time to end cultural, sexist and ethnic insensitivity, evaluate your thoughts, and own up to your actions.

Time to shut down the pregnancy questions

There are certain things, as proper etiquette, you may not ask a woman: her chest size, her weight, and her pregnancy plans. It seems like common sense, but I guess sometimes men need reminding.

Jacinda Ardern is a newly elected 37-year-old politician in New Zealand and she is the youngest ever leader for the New Zealand Labour Party. Of all the questions that Ardern has faced, this one seemed the most absurd. While appearing on radio talk show, The AM Show, Ardern was asked by male host Mark Richardson of her pregnancy plans. Ardern was asked live on air if she plans on becoming a mother during her time in parliament. Richardson based his questioning stating he thinks it’s a legitimate question to ask on behalf of New Zealand because she could potentially become their Prime Minister.

In what world is it okay to ask this type of question to a woman, regardless of the position she may hold? Ardern, however, quickly shut down the radio host, calling the question out of line.

That is unacceptable in 2017,” Ardern said. “It is a woman’s decision about when she chooses to have children and should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have got opportunities.”

Ardern is familiar with Richardson’s stance on women and pregnancy in the workplace, as the host previously said that employers should know this information from their female employees. Richardson’s bold question asking if it is ok for the Prime Minister to take maternity leave left many upset.

Ardern has already publicly spoken out about her plans to to start a family and she doesn’t mind discussing it, however the comparison to women in the workplace is what caused the upset. Ardern insists that women should not have to be worried about maternity leave and consider this a struggle in the workplace.

Ardern even went on to ask Richardson if he would ask a man this question, to which Richardson responded with an unenthusiastic “yes”. Instead of focusing on the accomplishments of this young woman, many seem to be stirring up drama and provoking emotions from the public about her personal decisions. This is not the first time that Ardern was asked this question. During an appearance on a New Zealand TV show called The Project, she was asked by male co host, Jesse Mulligan, if she planned on having children. In this case, Ardern responded politely and said her situation is no different from any other working woman looking to balance priorities and responsibility.

In New Zealand, many activists are debating this form of sexism. The Human Rights Act of 1993 prohibits any employer to discriminate on the grounds or pregnancy or plans to start a family.

Ardern’s case is no different.

Ontario makes abortion pill Mifegymiso free

A week after Alberta announced the government would cover the cost of Mifegymiso, otherwise known as an abortion pill that will terminate a pregnancy up to 49 days from the start of the last menstrual period, the government of Ontario followed suit.

As of Aug. 10, women in Ontario will be able to request this drug from their doctors free of charge. “The commitment to publicly funding Mifegymiso means women across Ontario will have fair and equal access to safe abortion without payment, judgment or exception,” said Indira Naidoo-Harris, Ontario Minister of the Status of Women, in a statement.

Mifegymiso is a combination of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, and is an easy and safe alternative to surgery. One of the biggest barriers facing women’s reproduction rights is the financial accessibility of both birth control and abortion. By covering this drug under a universal health plan, women will now have immense power over their own reproduction system — only a doctor’s prescription is needed to get the drug. There will never be a woman in Ontario who cannot afford to get an abortion. That is an amazing thing.

“The arrival of the new abortion pill Mifegymiso has been greatly anticipated,” said Notisha Massaquoi, Executive Director, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre. “The Ontario government’s decision to publicly fund this option is increasing our right to choose and will provide all Ontarians with barrier-free access to safe abortions regardless of socio-economic circumstances.”

The Liberal government promised to make Mifegymiso free of charge in their 2017 budget back in April. Ontario is now the third province to cover Mifegymiso following New Brunswick and Alberta.

Next step? Making birth control government funded!

What do you think of this announcement? Let us know in the comments below!

Medical abortion drug available at no cost in Alberta

Earlier this year, a potentially life changing prescription drug arrived in Canada called Mifegymiso. What is Mifegymiso? With a name as complicated as it sounds, the drug follows a lot of controversy. It is the medical abortion pill that can terminate a pregnancy for up to 49 days following conception.

Women are slowly gaining access to more reproductive choices and on Monday, it was announced in Alberta that this pill will receive universal coverage, which means it will be free.  Alberta is the second Canadian province to approve universal coverage, following in the steps of New Brunswick. The new policy in New Brunswick also led to a change in abortion access.

Mifegymiso has been the choice drug for medical abortions for over 30 years and it was approved for use by Health Canada in July 2015, following an application time of three years. It became available in January 2017 for a cost of $300 and physicians are required to complete a training program before prescribing. In April 2017, New Brunswick approved coverage and now Alberta has joined them in July 2017.

The idea behind universal coverage is to remove financial barriers and allow women complete freedom over their reproduction choices. It also allows access to rural parts of Canada, where it is more difficult to access reproductive health care services due to the lack of physicians and skilled workers operating clinics.

Sandeep Prasad, the executive director for Action Canada for Sexual health and Rights, remarked that Alberta has shown great leadership in implementing universal coverage of the drug, and hopes it will  motivate other territories. “They have demonstrated that cost coverage is both necessary and possible, she said in a news release after the Government of Alberta announced their decision. “That is why we expect all provincial and territorial governments to commit to cost coverage programs of at least the same caliber as Alberta’s before the health ministers’ meeting in the Fall of 2017.”

Abortion is legal in Canada and in the province of Ontario, but there has been no amendment to covering the cost of Mifegymiso, but many expect the cost to be covered in this province by the end of the year as mentioned in the last budget.

Free Mifegymiso does not mean that the process is simple, as women are still required to do ultrasounds first before taking the pill so that doctors will assess if the candidate can undergo use of the drug. The pill is only available through prescription by your doctor.