French Veil Ban Is Turning Women Off, Away

Sarah B. said she suffers discrimination that’s tied to her religious beliefs and appearance in France, a country that partially bans religious head coverings. For Muslim women, that means the hijab that covers their hair and chest.

In 2011, Sarah B. decided to start covering her hair with a veil and to dress modestly. She wears loose, long skirts and dresses that hide the shape of her body. But due to France’s 2004 national ban on any religious signs in public schools, she takes off her hijab every time she enters the high school where she is pursuing her nursing studies. “It hurts,” she said, when asked about how she feels when she removes it.

"I love France," she said. "It is a country that has offered me a lot but I am also entitled to my freedom. I have the right to be myself. The first thing when you live here is to feel French, but I don’t feel French. The problem is that we will never be seen as French, we are just seen as Muslim."

Read more here.

Boko Haram Truce Reached; Games Critic Cancels Talk

Catch up on our Cheers and Jeers section here:

Why I’m Not Buying Beyonce’s Brand of Feminism

It’s not about having a successful career, making buckets of money and forming a perfect nuclear family. Maybe it’s old school, but for me feminism is still about caring about the women out there who are still stuck in a raw deal.

Read more here.

Let’s Take Luck Out of the ‘Boss Lottery’

Without federal legislation, employers in many states get to decide whether workers can take paid time off to care for a new or sick child or rearrange their schedules to attend doctor appointments, parent-teacher conferences, or even, say, a preschool graduation. Ultimately, employers can help determine whether women stay and rise in the workforce and whether we are able to create a better, fairer and more just world for all.

"In the absence of a binding national policy, a variety of routine situations, like a sick child, a call from the principal’s office, the birth of your child, a parent’s funeral … can get you in trouble, not paid, or even fired, depending on the particular employer or manager or boss," Valerie Young, advocacy coordinator at Mom-mentum, a nonprofit organization in New York, said in an email interview. "There’s no rhyme or reason" to it, and that, she says, "is no way to run a railroad."

We could all use more winning tickets in the boss lottery, but more than that, we need national legislation that takes the luck factor out of a mother’s chance of staying, and thriving, in the workplace.

'Eleanor's Hope' Puts Retirement Gap Into Races

The Washington-based National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare launched a national initiative Oct. 9 to create grassroots support for ending the gender gap in retirement benefits to decrease the nearly 11 percent poverty rate among senior women, which is 50 percent higher than that of male retirees.

Called “Eleanor’s Hope”—in honor of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt who championed passage of the Social Security Act in 1935—the initiative proposes sweeping changes to modernize the system to reflect women’s contributions as breadwinners as well as family caregivers.

"Women have a lot at stake in November’s election and beyond," said Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, last week at a press conference organized by the committee in Washington, D.C. "Although Social Security is vitally important to all Americans, it is especially important to women because they live longer than do men, have more health care needs and receive less in Social Security benefits because they worked in low-wage jobs or took time out of the workforce for caregiving."

Read more here.

Subminimum Wage Plus Tips Don’t Add Up To A Living

My first job in high school was as a waitress. I continued waitressing while attending college and into adulthood when I left a community organizing job and was volunteering to gain experience as a women’s anti-violence advocate.

It wasn’t until the job turned into my main livelihood that I realized that tips accounted for most of what servers live on. It was the start of an education that’s important to share with those who only go to a restaurant to eat. I particularly want to share it with the legislators who will be seeing proposals to increase the minimum wage in Congress and dozens of other states and cities around the country.

The first thing I learned was that as a tipped worker under federal law my employer did not have to pay me the full minimum wage, but a subminimum wage, which at the time was 50 percent of the minimum wage. The tips I received from customers, when added to the subminimum wage, were supposed to equal at least the minimum wage. If they did not, the employer was supposed to make up the difference. But that’s not as easy as it sounds. By the time the paycheck arrives with all of the deductions, and tips calculated minus what was shared with other staff, it is difficult to know how much the employer should be paying.

Read more here.

Photoshopping: ‘C’mon Now, Make it Stop!’

Meghan Trainor’s summer hit “All About That Bass” has maintained its hold near the top of the Billboard charts as we push into fall. The song has been hailed as a positive body image anthem by those struggling with eating disorders. It also raised the ire of some feminists who believe it skinny shames and objectifies women, criticism that seems to miss the point of a song that is clearly a parody of a culture obsessed with thinness.

Trainor got one thing absolutely right: She criticizes Photoshopping, which she knows isn’t real, saying “C’mon now, make it stop.” If only she could.

We can’t look at the cover of a fashion magazine without seeing pictures of models who have been Photoshopped. No wonder a People magazine telephone survey of 1,000 women found 80 percent feel worse about themselves after seeing a beauty advertisement. Maybe beauty ads should be legislated.

Read more here.

Many women struggle financially after having a child because their employers don’t offer paid sick or maternity leave, which would allow women with children to keep earning money at several key junctures when they would otherwise go without pay or leave their jobs, such as after the birth of each child and during children’s sickness.

Without the paid-leave buffer to protect their earnings and job security women with children burn out and some look at the high costs of child care and decide it’s too much.

Read more about how the lack of a safety net, combined with gendered expectations, affects mothers’ abilities to support their children:

Dalit Stops Cleaning Dry Toilets, Becomes Leader


There are 790,000 families that still work as manual scavengers, according to the 2011 census. Activists working for this community give higher estimates, closer to 1.2 million. Certain groups of Dalits, especially the women, make a living out of manual scavenging and have been doing so for generations.

Those who get paid can earn as little as 60 cents a day. However, most female manual scavengers receive no wages. Bai said she used to get leftover flatbread, food and a small sack of wheat from her employers.


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