Visible Women

Women’s Daily Dispatch: The news you need to know on 14/3/18

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Moya Crockett
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As part of our Visible Women initiative, brings you the Women’s Daily Dispatch: your daily digest of international news relating to women. It’s the good, bad, inspiring and urgent stories you need to know from around the world, all wrapped up in one bitesize piece.     

In tonight’s Dispatch, we’re looking at a report highlighting the dangers of online abuse of women politicians. In other news, Saudi women discuss learning to drive; football club Tottenham Hotspur apologises after sending ‘sexist’ survey to fans; and a woman jailed for having a stillbirth in El Salvador is freed. 

Report highlights how online abuse of women politicians can affect democracy

Theresa May receives much more online abuse based on her appearance than Jeremy Corbyn 

New research has revealed the different kinds of abuse that male and female politicians receive online, and warned that the disproportionate harassment levelled at women could have a negative effect on British democracy.

The extensive study, by UK organisation Atalanta, analysed social media conversations about male and female politicians in the UK, South Africa and Chile. It found that women politicians were three times as likely as their male counterparts to receive sexist comments online: between September and November 2017, nearly three-quarters of Twitter posts sent to female politicians had to do with their appearance or marital status. Most of these were negative in tone and had nothing to do with their political competence.

In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May received three times as many comments on her physical appearance as her Labour counterpart Jeremy Corbyn, who was attacked predominantly for his political outlook and policies.

The report also emphasised the ways in which online sexism, harassment and threats can have a significant impact on a functioning and gender-equal political system, from distracting politicians from their work to undermining their status as leaders and discouraging women from running for office in the first place.

The research supports previous studies that indicated abuse of female MPs. Last year, an Amnesty International study found that Diane Abbott received almost half of all abusive tweets in the six weeks leading up to the election.  

Read more on this story here

Women start lessons at Saudi Arabia’s first female driving school 

A Saudi woman poses for a photo with a certificate after completing a driving course in Jeddah on March 7, 2018

Women have historically been banned from driving in Saudi Arabia – until last September, when the country’s leader issued a special decree granting women permission to get driving licenses. The law is expected to be formally changed in June this year, when women will be allowed to get behind the wheel without an instructor.

The first driving school for women opened recently at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in the capital city of Riyadh, and students at the school have now spoken out about their excitement about learning to drive.

Dr Ruba Alzuhairi, who is training to become a surgeon, was one of the first women to sign up to the driving school. She told US broadcaster CBS that being able to drive will give her more freedom and help her financially.

“This will also decrease some of the cost that I’m paying on taxis, on a driver,” she said. “This will help me be independent.”

Another woman said that she thought women drivers would have a positive influence on Saudi culture. “This is a small change, but it’s a significant impact on our society,” she said, adding that the men she knew were “significantly positive” about women learning to drive.

Read more on this story here

Football club forced to apologise over “sexist” survey

Tottenham Hotspur has apologised after sending a survey to supporters which asked whether they agreed that “a woman’s place is in the home”.

The quiz sent out to fans in the US asked respondents to choose from a range of responses to the statement, including “definitely agree” and “definitely disagree”.

Journalist Jeff Maysh was first to post screengrabs of the quiz on Twitter. “Hey, @SpursOfficial, a few of the questions in this survey you just sent out are… unforgivable,” he wrote.

The club has since said that the questions were compiled by a third party, and released a statement of apology.

“The inclusion of this question in a club survey was wholly unacceptable and a regrettable oversight,” it said. “It has been immediately removed from the survey for any other fans now looking to fill this out.

“We sincerely apologise to anyone offended by its initial inclusion.”

Sky News has more on this story here

Woman jailed after suffering stillbirth is freed from prison 

Maira Verónica Figueroa Marroquín with a family member after being released from prison

A 34-year-old woman was released from jail in El Salvador this week after serving 15 years of a 30-year sentence for suffering a stillbirth.

Maira Verónica Figueroa Marroquín says that she suffered a stillbirth in 2003 while working as a maid. However, she was later arrested on suspicion of having had an abortion, and charged with aggravated murder.

Abortions are banned in all circumstances in El Salvador, which has some of the most draconian reproductive rights laws in the world. Women suspected of terminating pregnancies can be imprisoned for up to eight years – a sentence that can be extended up to 30 years if a judge decides they are guilty of murder.

After being released, Figueroa said that she planned to help other women who faced prosecution for going through miscarriages or stillbirths. “I want to study law to understand what happened to me and help other women,” she said.

“I’m going to start again and make up for lost time.”

Read more on this story here

Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.  

Images: Getty Images