As part of our Visible Women initiative, stylist.co.uk 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.
Handmaid’s Tale creators love that the costume has been adopted by feminist protestors
Over the last 14 months, the red cloak and white bonnets of the handmaids in The Handmaid’s Tale have been adopted as a symbol of resistance against attacks on reproductive rights. It started in March 2017, when a group of women in Texas walked into the state legislature wearing scarlet robes to protest changes to abortion legislation.
Since then, women elsewhere in the US and around the world have worn the iconic costumes to protest proposed restrictions on their reproductive rights. It’s no coincidence that women have chosen these clothes to demand that their right to safe, legal abortions is protected: The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a dystopian world where fertile women are forced to bear children.
Now, the show’s creators and stars have spoken of their joy at seeing the costume adopted for a political cause. “It’s amazing that [costume designer] Ane Crabtree’s design has become this symbol of resistance,” said Yvonne Strahovski, who plays Serena Joy in the hit show.
She added that the “art imitating life, life imitating art” aspect of The Handmaid’s Tale was purely coincidental – the show was in the works when it was still assumed that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 election – but she said it was nevertheless “empowering and really cool to see”.
The show’s executive producer Warren Littlefield said: “They’ve used the handmaid costume to be part of their voice of protest, and we feel the responsibility of that, but we’re honoured to help give them a voice and help with that cause.”
He added: “We’re a feminist drama and we’re also a human drama, and it doesn’t feel like those battles are over. The world we’re living in feels each and every day like it’s a little more pre-Gilead than we would like.”
Read more on this story at The AV Club.
UN condemns violence against Iraqi women election candidates
The UN has spoken out against the “defamation and violence” being meted out to women candidates in the upcoming elections in Iraq.
Election hopeful Dr Intidhar Ahmed Jassim recently had to withdraw from the race after an alleged sex tape – which she says is a fake – was published online. Other women candidates have also complained of online harassment.
A quota means that one quarter of parliamentary seats in Iraq must be held by women. However, the special representative of the UN secretary general for Iraq, Jan Kubis, said that many of the women running for the election in May have been subjected to “vulgar acts”.
“Those behind defamation, cyber bullying and harassment are trying to scare you off, afraid of educated, dynamic, qualified, courageous and open-minded women candidates that rightfully claim their space and meaningful role in political life of Iraq,” he said.
BBC News has more on this story here.
How women builders are reconstructing post-earthquake Nepal
More than 2,000 women have been trained as stonemasons in Nepal to help rebuild the country after the devastating earthquake of 2015.
Half a million homes were destroyed in the quake three years ago, and many communities have yet to recover. According to The Guardian, this is partly to do with political upheaval and bureaucratic red tape, but is also down to a lack of trained builders.
To help tackle the problem, Swiss development agency Helvetas has trained 6,500 masons, a third of whom are women. The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) provided funding for the project.
Phulsani Tamang, who lives in the eastern village of Baluwapati, said she and her friends initially faced resistance when they began their masonry training. “They said, ‘You are women so you can’t do it and you shouldn’t be doing it,’” she explained.
After she built eight houses in a year, however, attitudes changed. “Now the men walk by quietly when they see us working,” Tamang said. “They don’t dare to make negative comments.”
Read more on this story here.
Stylist’s Visible Women campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of women who’ve made a difference, celebrating their success, and empowering future generations to follow their lead. See more from Visible Women here.
Images: George Kraychyk / Hulu / Getty Images