In tonight’s Dispatch, we’re looking at the news that most of the money raised by the tampon tax is not being used to fund specialist women’s charities.
Plus: record numbers of Lebanese women are running for office, the Nobel Prize for Literature is in disarray over sexual misconduct claims, and one US state looks set to pass a Gilead-esque abortion law.
Most tampon tax funding doesn’t go to women’s charities
The vast majority of the money raised by the tampon tax does not go to specialist women’s charities, it has been revealed.
Only two of the 10 charities awarded funding as a result of the tampon tax are women-only organisations. Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid, which specifically help women, received a little under £3million between them.
The other eight organisations supported with tampon tax money include UK Community Foundations, the mental health charity Mind and two housing associations. While these organisations have received funding to run projects directed at women, the decision not to fund more women-only charities has raised eyebrows.
George Osborne, the former chancellor under David Cameron’s government, pledged that money raised by the tampon tax would be used “to fund women’s health and support charities” in 2015.
Vivienne Hayes is the chief executive of the Women’s Resource Centre, a national umbrella group for the women’s sector. She said that specialist women’s charities had been snubbed for political reasons.
“The general charities don’t always have that strong analysis of structural inequalities, so I think it’s not surprising that the women’s sector has been sidelined and the mainstream organisations that say ‘we work with women’ have been given the money,” she said.
Read more on this story at The Guardian.
A record number of Lebanese women are running for office
Currently, women make up just 3% of parliament in Lebanon. However, that could be set to change in the upcoming elections in the country – because there are more women running for office than ever before.
A record 86 female candidates will be competing for one of Lebanon’s 128 legislative seats in the election on 6 May. Out of the 976 candidates who originally registered to run, 111 were women. This represents a stunning rise of more than 800% since 2009, when just 12 women registered to run.
Catherine Batruni, a researcher specialising in women’s political participation in Lebanese history, said that the fight for women’s rights in Lebanon was ongoing. This is largely due to the fact that different laws are applied to women from different religious sects.
“It’s not just that Lebanese women are subordinate to men, or unequal to men; they are unequal amongst each other,” she said. “We all have different access to divorce, child custody, and inheritance. It’s insane.”
Al-Jazeera has more on this story here.
Nobel Literature Prize could be cancelled over sexual misconduct claims
The organisation behind the Nobel Prize for Literature has admitted that the prestigious award could be postponed or even cancelled this year, as it struggles to deal with allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
The Swedish Academy, which organises the Nobel Literature Prize, has been criticised for how it handled allegations of sexual misconduct made against French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault. Eighteen women came forward last autumn in the wake of the #MeToo movement to say that Arnault had sexually assaulted or harassed them, with some of the alleged incidents taking place in properties belonging to the academy.
Arnault’s wife, the poet and writer Katarina Frostenson, had been a member of the Swedish Academy, and the institution had given the couple funding to run a cultural club together. Shortly after the allegations were made against Arnault, Frostenson stepped down from her position – as did Sara Danius, the former head of the academy, who had argued that the organisation should cut all ties with Arnault.
“I find it frustrating that such a conflict ends with two women having to step out of the way,” Sweden’s minister of democracy and culture, Alice Bah Kuhnke, said in April. “I can’t accept that.”
Now, the academy is set to decide whether this year’s Nobel Literature Prize can go ahead, given the chaotic state of its internal politics.
Read more on this story at BBC News.
US state criminalises abortion ‘before most women realise they’re pregnant’
The US state of Iowa has approved a law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Republican lawmakers voted in favour of passing the so-called “heartbeat bill” on Wednesday. It stipulates that any women seeking a termination will be required to have an ultrasound to see if the foetus has a heartbeat. If a foetal heartbeat can be detected, the woman will be blocked from having an abortion.
Ultrasounds can routinely detect foetal heartbeats as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. But many women do not realise they are pregnant for six weeks or more – and so critics of heartbeat bills say they will make abortions illegal before most women even know they’re pregnant.
Reproductive rights campaigners and members of the Democratic Party in Iowa have suggested that the bill could be unconstitutional. They say it may be used to violate Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court ruling that granted women the right to abortion.
Alarmingly, however, Republican lawmakers in Iowa have welcomed the idea of their law facing a legal challenge. “I would love for the United States Supreme Court to look at this bill and have this as a vehicle to overturn Roe v Wade,” said Republican Senator Jake Chapman.
Read more on this story here.
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