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women are not equal

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk down the road without clinging to your keys, without flinching every single time you see someone in a hoodie and without that unnerving feeling in your tummy that you’re not safe?

No woman should fear for her safety as she walks down the street she has lived on for 25 years, but we do.

The season where our house keys are gripped so tightly in our hands that they leave a mark is here. Warm summer evenings are long gone and have been replaced by November’s darkness that seeps it’s way into the sky at 4pm.

I reached out to our wonderful Shemazing readers to discuss the fear of walking alone that hangs over millions of women, especially in the winter months and it’ll come as no surprise to discover that 87% of our followers do not feel safe when they are walking alone in the dark.

Can you imagine a world where it is perfectly safe for a young woman to stroll home from the office without feeling the need to call her best friend, just so she isn’t entirely alone?

When asked what makes them feel that little bit safer when out in the dark, the majority of our readers revealed that calling someone, anyone who is free, is their biggest reassurance.

Hearing a familiar voice and knowing that someone is with you until you’re in the safety of your own home has become an essential part of late evening walks like the scarf that keeps you warm and the runners on your feet.

Others cling to their house keys, stick to busier streets and ensure their loved ones always know what route they’re taking.

Many carry weapons because you just don’t know what could happen when you’re alone. Better safe than sorry, we mutter, but it shouldn’t be this way.

If we see a suspicious character we’ll pretend a random house is our home. We’ll call our mam to feel less alone but we can’t help but flinch whenever a man appears to be following us.

We lower our music so much that the lyrics are unrecognisable. Our hands tighten around the strap of our handbag. A passing car or the sound of footsteps can send you into a state of panic, because this is the world that we live in, one where you can’t even feel safe as you walk down a familiar street at 8pm.

We need better street lights and safer routes. We need more support from neighbourhoods and improved surveillance, a stronger presence of Gardaí and an alert system if we're in danger.

However, what we really need is for people to change, especially men. I’m not trying to say that no man has ever felt this unnerving fear in the pit of his stomach as he walks alone in the dark, but it is a feeling that every woman, no matter what her age, is way too familiar with.

A 2018 survey revealed that an astonishing nine in 10 women feel unsafe in Ireland just because of their gender. Three-quarters admitted that they walk or jog faster to ensure they’re safe at nighttime. Almost 50% will change their route or walk longer distances as a safety precaution.

Everyone should have the right to walk down the street without the fear of being attacked. Women should be able to listen to music and stroll down the road, but we don’t and it’s because of that shared fear, that constant terror and because this is the world we live in.

The council can install as many street lights as possible, but this feeling of fear will never leave us unless men change their attitudes towards women. 

When asked what would make them feel safe when walking alone, one reader’s simple response hit me hard. 

“Lights in darker areas, but it still doesn’t stop men attacking us.”

Her words prove that teaching men to respect and treat women as their equals is the key here.

We need them to be our allies, not our enemies.

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Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on November 25, World Vision Ireland has stated that one in three women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner. 

According to World Vision Ireland, an international aid charity, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; while 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).

“Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations globally, today.” Niall Mc Loughlin, CEO of World Vision Ireland, said. 

“It remains largely unreported due to the lack of support services, and the silence, stigma and shame surrounding it. Violence against women manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms, including intimate partner violence – battery, psychological abuse, marital rape, and femicide; human trafficking; female genital mutilation (FGM); and child marriage.

"World Vision Ireland is working to raise awareness of these issues in Ireland and abroad. With international support, education and empowering women, we can reduce these figures significantly.”

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

World Vision Ireland said that gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, but that some women and girls are particularly vulnerable, including young girls, migrants and refugees, indigenous women and ethnic minorities, or women living through humanitarian crisis.

“Violence against women is a barrier to gender equality, family development, education, child welfare, and human rights.” Niall McLoughlin said. “71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited. With robust international peace agreements and supporting women in vulnerable communities, we can hope to tackle and correct these issues.”

According to World Vision Ireland, only 52 percent of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care. 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2017, while 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances.

For more information on World Vision Ireland’s work, go to www.worldvision.ie

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It's about time!

A razor company has made shaving history by featuring women with real body hair.

Banished are the days of watching women 'shave' their hairless legs – which makes no sense at all.

Not to mention the whole argument of why women are supposed to be hairless in the first place, in order to be seen as attractive. (EYEROLL)

However, Billie's Project Body Hair is the breath of fresh air we need when it comes to normalising women's body hair.

The razor brand, Billie, launched a campaign to celebrate a normal woman's body hair – Big fat YEP to that.

Speaking of the campaign, Billie's co-founder, Georgina Gooley said:

"Only showing smooth, hairless legs seemed like an archaic way of representing women. We have always said shaving is a choice."

 

A post shared by Grupa Ponton (@grupaponton) on

"It’s your hair and no one should tell you what to do with it. We’re excited to launch a campaign that will help normalise body hair and change the one-dimensional way in which women are portrayed in mass media," added Georgina.

If we didn't love them enough for paving (hopefully) a new trend for all shaving companies, they've gone and donated their photographs to stock image website Unsplash.

It might seem insignificant, but we challenge you to find ANY stock images that show women's body hair in a positive way — yeah, finding all the same hairless images; harder than it seems eh?

 

A post shared by Parallels Co (@parallelsco) on

Director and photographer Ashley Armitage commented on her involvement in the advertisement. 

"It’s amazing that Billie is the first shaving company to actually show women with body hair. In all razor commercials, for some reason, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that models already have smooth hairless skin.

"How can you know that a razor is even doing its job if all it's doing is swiping off some shaving cream? And more importantly, why is showing female body hair so taboo?"

We ask ourselves the same questions daily tbh!

Photo Credit: Clare Martin (@clarencethebearence)

Though you should never feel ashamed as a woman to embrace your body hair, we know we don't live in an ideal world, particularly as the media seem reluctant to make the change.

Therefore, steps like Billies' is taking are seriously important in the fight towards normalising women's body hair, with one day – it becoming the norm.

It should be purely your choice to shave or not – You're SLAYING either way.

Check out their rad advert below:

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The top ten most dangerous countries for women in the world has been released, and we're not surprised. 

According to a survey commissioned by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, India is currently the worst place in the world for women, followed by war-torn countries Afghanistan and Syria. 

The United States also makes the list in tenth place. 

The poll was conducted around was conducted experts from Europe, Africa, the Americas, South East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific between March and May of this year. Respondents included aid professionals, academics, healthcare staff, non-government organisation workers, policy-makers, development specialists and social commentators.

The inclusion of the US on the list came as a surprise to some in the wake of the Me Too and Time's Up movements. 

"People want to think income means you're protected from misogyny, and sadly that's not the case," said Cindy Southworth, executive vice president of the Washington-based National Network to End Domestic Violence.

"We are going to look back and see this as a very powerful tipping point … We're blowing the lid off and saying '#Metoo and Time's Up'."

India ranked in first place due to the risks that women face from cultural and traditional practices, such as acid attacks, female genital mutilation, physical abuse and child marriage. However, this only seems to be worsening as the rate of reported crimes against women rose by 83 per cent between 2007 and 2016, with a sickening four cases of rape reported every hour.

India has made international headlines this year with a number of high-profile sexual assault cases. Earlier this year, eight men were accused of the gang rape of an eight-year-old girl and in April, a seven-year-old girl was raped and murdered during a wedding.

Protests saw thousands take to the streets in wake of the death of a 16-year-old girl, who was raped and burnt alive in her home. 

"India has shown utter disregard and disrespect for women … rape, marital rapes, sexual assault and harassment, female infanticide has gone unabated," Manjunath Gangadhara, an official at the Karnataka state government told Reuters.

"The (world's) fastest growing economy and leader in space and technology is shamed for violence committed against women."

India was also ranked the most dangerous country for women for human trafficking, including sex slavery and domestic servitude, as well as for traditional practices such as forced marriage, stoning and female infanticide.

The list also included Somalia, Saudi Arabia,  Pakistan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Nigeria. 

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has acknowledged that he sees the inequalities Irish women face. 

The Taoiseach welcomed the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone's call for women's reproductive rights.

Ms Zappone said that Irish women would not be equal citizens until the 8th amendment was removed from the constitution.

Mr Varadkar welcomed her statements. 

'The decision is we intend to have a referendum ideally in the first part of next year, and that will give the Irish people an opportunity to decide what they want to do with the Irish Constitution – because ultimately it’s only going to be a decision for the Irish people,' he said, according to The irish Times.

Mr Varadkar said that while the 8th amendment is an area which needs to be addressed, he said that women face inequality in 'lots of different fields. '

'I don’t believe Irish women are fully equal, but I think that’s about many things, not just the Constitution.'

'We see it in lots of different fields. It is an issue that I know divides households.'

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