WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Scotland Vows to Reform Gender Recognition Laws
While the U.S. plays tinker toys with any form of national protections for trans people, Scotland is tinkering its act together. Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to reform gender recognition laws for people who identify as trans or non-binary. Her legislation would allow trans people to change their gender on official documents without appearing before a panel of psychiatrists, and young people of sixteen and seventeen could do so without the permission of their parents. (Because parents, what do they know about being a teenager, right? In this case, yes, probably nothing.) Last year, human rights organization ILGA-Europe rated Scotland the best European country on issues of equality for LGBTI people, though Time for Inclusive Education campaigners want Sturgeon to commit to passing education initiatives that would tackle issues like bullying and homophobia in schools. Maybe the U.S. can just borrow her for some of our own education endeavors?
It doesn’t matter what’s under the kilt.
U.S. Women's Soccer Team Demands Equal Pay
Even the non-soccer fans (read: Americans) of the world know that the U.S. women’s national soccer team is basically unstoppable. They won the World Cup in 2015 and have taken the Olympic gold medal in four out of five tournaments. Meanwhile the U.S. men’s team is still learning to break in their fancy sponsorship cleats, yet its players earn nearly four times more than the women’s team. But wait—you might be thinking—isn’t that because women’s sports are less popular and bring in less money? Nope. The U.S. women’s team has also out-performed the men’s team in revenue and TV viewership, bringing in millions more on both fronts. This past week five members of the women’s team alleged wage discrimination against the U.S. Soccer Federation in a complaint filed with the Equal Opportunity Commission. The U.S. Soccer Federation says, “While we’ve not seen this complaint and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we’re disappointed about this action.” This isn’t FIFA, hold yourselves to higher standards! The complaint comes on top of a pile of other inequalities between the teams, such as male players flying business class to games while the women fly coach, and the women’s team subjected to dangerous synthetic turf while the men’s team plays on real grass. Score check: sports aren’t just for men!
How much force is required to kick a soccer ball through a glass ceiling?
New York Expands Paid Family Leave
On Thursday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his state would now be entering the 21st-century, leaving behind the middling states still trying to figure out basic education. As part of the new budget, by 2018 New York will have paid family leave for residents who have worked six months (meanwhile practically the entire rest of the world is like, “Welcome to the club!”). The program will eventually allow up to twelve weeks off to take care of a child or dying family member. How’s it different from the Family and Medical Leave Act? The program will cover both full-time and part-time employees, with no exemptions for small businesses. To fund the program, about a dollar a week will be taken from employee paychecks. Ugh, that’s so much money, how could other states could possibly adopt such a measure?
Dolla Dolla Bill ya’ll.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Mozn Hassan, Executive Director of Nazra for Feminist Studies, holds her own against an official investigation into the organization as part of Egypt’s assault on civil society. On the charge that Nazra has been operating illegally, Hassan has been summoned to be questioned; the government has repeatedly sought to stop her activism in public space, promoted smear campaigns, and issued a gag order on media coverage of her case. (Anyone else having 1984 flashbacks right now?) In response, 43 women’s rights organizations from around the globe have signed a statement decrying the assault on Nazra and general attacks on feminist thought and organization in Egypt. Egyptian blogger Sabah Hamamoupoints out that the last two female rulers in the state were Shajarat al-Durr and Cleopatra, who died 800 and 2000 years ago, respectively. (That’s almost the same length of time between African American Oscar winners.)
A moving girls-only club? At the request of women and mothers seeking more privacy, German railway company Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn has introduced female-only train cars. The innovation comes after a spate of reported sexual assaults that occurred on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, and will be available near where the attacks happened. Although the aim of the new train cars is to create a safe haven for women, some Germans actually view them as markers of inequality. “In the long term, we need to work on facilitating integration and cannot deviate from our aim to reach a gender-inclusive society,” said Konstanze Morgenroth, a regional representative on issues of equality. The impetus behind the cars may also be convoluted with anti-immigrant stance in light of the Syrian refugee crisis and the New Year’s attacks, which have been mistakenly attributed exclusively to refugees. In light of the rising popularity of the anti-migrant AfD party, the female-only train cars still raise concerns about the underlying motivations that may be behind railway segregation. (If only we lived in a world where women did not feel so compelled to seek safe haven in public spaces.)