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June 15, 2017


How Trumpcare will hurt women's health  

By Angela Liu | June 14, 2017

May was not a good month for women’s health care. On May 4, a Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which proposes to tighten existing regulations on contraceptive access and maternity care and to cut Planned Parenthood from the federal budget. On the same day, Trump signed a “religious liberty” executive order that allows organizations to limit their employees’ access to contraception and abortion based on the organization’s faith. Then, on May 23, the administration released its 2018 budget proposal, which Dawn Leguens, the vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the “worst budget for women and women’s health in a generation.”

Under Trumpcare, simply being a woman is considered a pre-existing condition. Historically, insurers have treated occurrences of domestic violence, sexual assault, pregnancy, Caesarean sections, and postpartum depression as “preexisting conditions,” and have charged women more or denied women coverage based on them. The AHCA would also make pregnancy more expensive, and the religious liberty executive order would make birth control harder to obtain. While the Affordable Care Act required insurers to cover certain essential health services like mammograms, birth control, and prenatal and maternity care, if this requirement is scrapped, insurers would not have to offer such services and/or could make coverage for services like maternity care prohibitively expensive.

No previous budget has ever attempted to exclude a specific health care provider from receiving federal funding, but Trump’s proposed 2018 budget explicitly states that Planned Parenthood is not to receive any funding from the federal government. This means that Planned Parenthood would be barred from participating in any federal program, including cancer screening programs funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika virus prevention, and HIV/AIDS testing and prevention. More >>

Photo: President Trump standing behind a podium that reads "TRUMP | PENCE"

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Women are at the forefront of renewable energy

By Shazia R. Rafi | June 7, 2017

Last week President Donald Trump announced to a dismayed world that the United States was “leaving” the Paris Agreement—the most important global accord to mitigate climate change. This announcement is the latest attack on the environment by this administration.

I recently had the opportunity to interact directly with staff inside the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of AirQualityAsia, a global advocacy campaign for clean air focusing on Asia’s rapidly growing economies. My exchanges with people inside the EPA provided a painful window into the agency, where dedicated staff are plugging away monitoring air quality and enforcing regulations that are still law while their work faces the Trump administration’s axe.

The administration’s assault on the environment includes threats to the EPA budget (the proposed budget cuts the EPA’s funding by about 30 percent), weakening of pollution regulations, and appointment of a climate-change skeptic as the EPA administrator. Women’s groups like Moms Clean Air Force have led public opposition to these policies at the March for Science and the Climate March.

There is also a lesser-known resistance that is building within the economy—the renewable energy (RE) sector, including new energy finance, where women are also emerging as leaders of the global energy transition from fossil fuels. More >>

Photo: Jing TianI is an executive in the burgeoning solar energy sector in California. (Shazia Z. Rafi)

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Journalists challenge Syrian media to improve gender coverage in war  

By Jihii Jolly/Guest Blogger | June 14, 2017

Milia Eidmouni’s family didn’t want her to be a journalist. They wanted her to choose a more typical career for an educated Syrian woman, such as teaching.

But as a feminist, women’s rights defender and human rights campaigner, she pursued her desire to become a working journalist in 2007. She worked as an online news editor and wrote for a number of Arab media outlets under a pen name, as well as covering the outbreak of war on the ground.

In late 2012, she fled to Jordan, but her zeal for supporting female journalists did not abate, especially in the case of citizen journalists entering the field during and after the revolution. That same year, she and her friend Rula Asad cofounded the Syrian Female Journalists Network, an organization that trains both male and female journalists on issues of gender and media, as well as helping Syrian media organizations source female experts and researching women’s representation.

In training sessions held both online and in person outside Syria, they discuss the role gender plays within media organizations and how to sensitively report on women’s issues. Today, the network has 77 member journalists, and a core team of six.

Women & Girls spoke to Eidmouni to learn more about the situation of female journalists in Syria, and how women are represented in Syrian journalism. More >>

Photo: Milia Eidmouni

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Efforts to stop sex-trafficking focus on hotels

By Marija Šajkaš | June 9, 2017

Anneke Lucas survived being trafficked for sex not once, but twice.

“I was 9 years old when an elderly English-speaking man took me to the United States in his jet and sex-trafficked me in a luxurious hotel,” says Lucas, an anti-trafficking advocate and the founder of the nonprofit organization Liberation Prison Yoga.

“When I was 11, a similar thing happened with a French-speaking guy,” she tells me. “Both times there were numerous hotel staff around us, and I was never approached by anyone.”

I was speaking to Lucas in a Brooklyn coffee shop in April, admiring her calm, composed demeanor while she revealed intimate details of her childhood. Lucas, who credits yoga and mindfulness practice to her healing, is in her early 50s. She says that she hopes speaking openly about her experience will help other young women who are in a similar situation.

According to the nongovernmental advocacy organization Polaris, which operates a national U.S. hotline on human trafficking, two of the most commonly reported venues for sex trafficking are hotels and motels. Data from Polaris show that from December 2007 to February 2015, there were more than 1,400 cases of human trafficking in the hospitality industry reported nationally. Yet advocates and experts suspect that because many workers in hospitality are immigrants and may fear being deported, this number is much higher. They predict that recent changes in U.S. immigration policies may contribute to a surge in trafficking. More >>

Photo: A small sign at the University of Chicago reads "End sex trafficking." (Quinn Dombrowski)

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How Hailee Steinfeld's "Most Girls" pushes back on toxic female competition 

By Farha Khalidi | June 12, 2017

“You’re not like most girls,” a boy tells Hailee Steinfeld in the music video for her latest single, “Most Girls.” He tells her this sincerely, but ignorantly; Hailee gets visibly uncomfortable by this “compliment” and tells him that she has to go. She rushes away from the unnamed, now irrelevant man.

The man, like so many other men who have uttered this classic backhanded compliment, doesn’t understand why it would make women cringe. They don’t see the hidden bitterness in those words because on the surface it seems sweet to tell a girl she is unique. But this “compliment” perpetuates the toxicity of female competition. It maintains that in order for a woman to be great, she must be distanced from every other woman—specifically elevated above a perceived uniform group of other women. It both assumes that all women generally have a generic personality and that a woman can only be ideal if she is placed on a pedestal above every other woman.

This unhealthy distancing doesn’t just persist in terms of women’s romantic lives. We are taught to bash other girls from a young age to elevate ourselves in all realms. We are taught that there is no such thing as being “pretty,” or “smart,” or “funny,” but only the possibility of being “the prettiest,” or “the smartest,” or “the funniest.” And to reach these superlative goals, we need to waste our time kicking other women (the perceived “most girls”) off the ladder entirely so we can reach the top. Only one woman can make it to the courtroom, we’re taught. One woman in the laboratory. We often hear stories of women who have “jumped through hoops” to get where they are today; to compete with every girl she has ever come into contact with and to use them as indicators of how much she needed to jump to reach the top. More >>

Photo: Hailee Steinfeld in the music video for "Most Girls". (Vevo/YouTube)

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WMC Live #212: Jane Manning, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein. (Original Airdate 6/11/2017)

Robin on Comey's testimony, Reality Winner's leak, and what everyone overlooks but Trump fears most. Guests: former prosecutor Jane Manning on drug-facilitated rape and the Cosby trial; physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein on "the physics of melanin." Listen here >>


This week WMC SheSource features experts on DC and Maryland suing President Trump with claims that he violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution, cities across the U.S. working to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement, Puerto Rico voting on becoming the 51st U.S. state, 150 executives committing to diversity, and the first anniversary of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting.

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