March 8th is really one of the best days of the year

I love March 8th. First of all, it’s my mom’s birthday. Who wouldn’t love a day that set the stage for me coming into the world. More importantly, though, it’s International Women’s Day. And though this week, it also happens to fall on the day of Hugo Chávez’s funeral, that really only serves to remind me of the last International Women’s Day I spent in Caracas.

The last week has been filled with lots of news on the ladybusiness front. The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization (VAWA) passed both houses and was signed by the President after much too long a delay. Domestic violence is getting all kinds of attention due to the murder of a South African woman who happened to be in a relationship with a somewhat famous Olympic athlete. Vida’s annual count of women writers, book reviewers, interviews, and contributors in major magazines came out. In many cases, it’s worse than you thought. I mean, really, essentially no change over three years?

So, for this Women’s Day, I thought I would mention the names and sites of a few female journalists and academics who I think are kicking a** for women all around. Some write on “women’s issues.” Some are so-called “feminist bloggers.” Some I saw in San Diego at the meetings and am still kicking myself for not introducing myself. Next year, Betsey, next year.

Without further ado, in no particular order, a list of women writers you should be reading.

There are so many more. I think that’s enough for today! Tell a woman you know she’s amazing and deserves to live a life free from violence.

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As long as we’re talking about violence against women…

It’s VAW week here, it seems. I railed about the Oscar Pistorius trial last week and how it obscures the larger pictures of violence against women in South Africa. As of last night, it seems that the House is ready to (sneakily?) pass the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, replete with protection for LGBTQ individuals and college students, and a strengthened ability for trial courts to act within their own borders (call your congressperson). The CDC also released a special report of its violence and victimization data with a focus on gender and sexual orientation. This is huge because national level surveys often don’t provide large enough samples of LGBTQ individuals or victims of violence in general to extrapolate to national level statistics.

Last, but not least, the UNFPA released a pamphlet advertising its commitment to data-gathering on violence against women and girls and gender-based violence. In the era of big data, it’s perhaps hard to believe. But while we may be able to track all of the things you buy and the time you spend driving and how much time you spend on the internet at work instead of working, we know very little about gender-based violence all over the world. In my own field work, perhaps the biggest constraint I found is that there is not a good consensus on how to define violence. UNFPA agrees:

Why is it so hard for the humanitarian community to generate quality data and meet ethical and safety standards?
• Lack of standardization in GBV terminology, data collection tools and incident classification; also, lack of uniformity in how and what data is collected.
If I have to be a brat about it, I’d say what data are collected, but I think the spirit is right. Consensus on what is included in violence and better attention paid to the dangers and pitfall associated with measuring violence against women and girls should be a significant part of the work going forward.

Weekend Roundup and off to SF

VAWA passed! 68-31. Notably, Kay Bailey Hutchison, who engineered a substitute with Chuck Grassley, voted for it, and all 31 Republican men voted against it.

If you haven’t read Mona Eltahawy’s essay in Foreign Policy: “Why do they hate us?“, you should. Then you should go watch Melissa Harris Perry moderate a discussion between Mona and another Egyptian feminist, Leila Ahmed. (Samhita has it on her latest post at Feministing.)

In other news, today was my last day of teaching this semester. Agreeing to attend a conference the last week of classes was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but all in all, I think I’m ready. I’ll be in San Francisco for the Population Association of America meetings (PAAs) from Wednesday to Monday, attending sessions, tweeting about demography and families, and eating a lot of good food. Apparently, events are already starting. I arrive Wednesday and will be going to the Economic Demography session on Wednesday afternoon and more. If you’re in town, my session is on Friday morning: 96. Stop by!

Session 96:
Child Health

Friday, May 4
10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
Continental Parlor 1
Ballroom Level

Chair: Laura M. Argys, University of Colorado at Denver
Discussant: Susan L. Averett, Lafayette College
Discussant: Anoshua Chaudhuri, San Francisco State University

1. The “Marriage Advantage” in Infant Health Outcomes: Evidence of Selection or Risky Behavior?Jennifer Buher Kane, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2. Expectations of Support: Health Investments and Promises of Financial Assistance for ChildrenErin K. Fletcher, Gettysburg College

3. Parental Age at Birth and Longevity of Offspring in Centenarian Families: The Role of Biology, Social Interaction and CultureValérie Jarry, Université de Montréal; Alain Gagnon, Université de Montréal; Robert R. Bourbeau, Université de Montréal

4. The Psychological and Physical Well-Being of Involved, Low-Income FathersLetitia Kotila, Ohio State University