Visible Women

From Emma Thompson to grassroots activists: the women making waves this week

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Moya Crockett
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Dropping every Friday, Women Making Waves is a series highlighting the women who rocked the boat, pushed for change and made history around the world this week.  

Muslim women in Scotland campaign for equality in mosques

Currently, more than a quarter of UK mosques have no facilities for women, and many others have women’s sections that are restricted, cramped or otherwise inadequate. Now, Muslim women in Scotland have launched a grassroots campaign calling for greater gender equality in how mosques are run.

Scottish Mosques for All aims to give Muslim women more of a say in how their mosques operate.

“It is unfortunate that many mosques fail to provide basic access for Muslim women to use the facility to pray or the quality of the space can often be inadequate and not suitable,” the group said in a statement.

Many mosques have few or no women in senior positions, the group said. This, they said, was either a deliberate attempt to “[prevent] women from taking up these roles”, or was evidence that they did not “sufficiently [provide] a welcoming atmosphere where women feel comfortable to get involved”.

The group continued: “The place and role of women in mosques is in real crisis in the UK and elsewhere and this status quo must change.”

26-year-old aviator becomes Japan’s first female fighter pilot


Misa Matsushima in her fighter jet 

On Friday (24 August), Misa Matsushima made history as the first Japanese woman to fly a fighter jet.

Until 2015, women were banned from serving in the Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) as fighter jet or reconnaissance aircraft pilots. Matsushima was the first woman to complete her training after that ban was lifted.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference, she said that her ambition to become a fighter pilot was sparked by watching Top Gun as a child.

“Ever since I saw the movie Top Gun when I was in primary school, I have always admired fighter jet pilots,” she said.

“As the first female [fighter] pilot, I will open the way,” she said. “I would like work hard to meet people’s expectations and show my gratitude to people who have been supporting me. I want to become a full-fledged pilot, no different from men, as soon as possible.

“I hope to be the one to inspire more people to become a pilot.”

Emma Thompson calls out Hollywood ageism 

Emma Thompson with short silver pixie cut

Emma Thompson 

Actor, activist and national treasure Emma Thompson has always had a refreshingly frank approach to Hollywood. In an interview this week, she described the ageism she had encountered throughout her film career.

“It’s extraordinary,” she said. “I remember listening to people say Hugh Grant was too young for me in Sense and Sensibility, when I was 35 and he was 34. You just go, ‘OK, this is really endemic, really deep, deep, deep in our culture’, so it has to change.”

Thompson continued: “I’ve been doing gags about this for centuries. I’ve literally been doing stand-up about this for 30 years. They’re going to have to exhume someone to play opposite me. That’s the gag. I just played a late night talk show host talking about that: ‘What are you going to do, I’m nearly 60, I’m in Hollywood, so next time someone’s going to play opposite me, who’s it going to be? They’re going to have to dig them up’.”

She said she was determined to keep pushing for more realistic depictions of relationships in films. “The more we can show actual relationships, women with younger men, the better,” she said. “Absolutely. Let’s get on with it!”

New Zealand women’s minister cycles to the delivery room 

On Sunday (19 August), Kiwi politician Julie Genter made headlines around the world when she cycled to hospital to give birth to her son.

Genter, a member of New Zealand’s Green Party, is also the country’s women’s minister and associate minister for health and transport. She posted a photo on Instagram that showed her heavily pregnant and smiling next to her bicycle.

“Beautiful Sunday morning for a bike ride, to the hospital, for an induction to finally have this baby,” she wrote. “This is it, wish us luck!”

She explained that she and her partner had cycled to hospital because there wasn’t enough room in her car for their “support crew”. “But it also put me in the best possible mood!”

During her time in government, Genter has campaigned heavily for more people to cycle in New Zealand. In a post congratulating her on the birth of her child, the New Zealand Green Party said her trip to hospital was “the most #onbrand thing ever”.

Women Making Waves is part of Stylist’s Visible Women campaign to raise awareness of women who’ve made a difference. See more Visible Women stories here.  

Images: Getty Images