7-12-19 U.S. women’s soccer triumph drives push for equal pay
The U.S. women’s soccer team came back to New York City this week to a ticker-tape parade and chants of “USA! Equal pay!”—echoing the shouts in the stadium that greeted the squad’s fourth World Cup victory. Tens of thousands of paradegoers cheered the team, which turned in a historically overpowering performance, winning its seven matches 26-3, including a 2-0 defeat of the Netherlands for its second straight title. The team was defiantly joyful and relentless in the process, beginning with an unheard-of 13-0 romp of Thailand. The Americans celebrated goal after goal, sometimes cheekily—as when forward Alex Morgan pretended to sip tea after scoring in the semifinal against England. “There is some sort of double standard for females in sports,” Morgan said to critics, a theme that continued after the Americans’ triumph. The women’s team is pursuing a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming they make less than the underperforming men’s team. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) proposed a bill this week that would withhold federal funding for the U.S.’s hosting of the 2026 men’s World Cup until the teams got equal pay. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer invited the women champions to visit the Capitol after President Trump demurred on a White House invite. Co-captain Megan Rapinoe, the dominant player of the tournament, said Trump distracts from the example her teammates have set: “They have inspired particularly young women to believe in themselves, to be brave, to be bold, to be fierce.”
7-11-19 Islamic headscarf: Iran's promotional video divides opinion
As part of Hijab week in Iran, a video endorsed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps promoting the Islamic headscarf has created a social media stir. In the clip, produced by the Basij Cyberspace organisation, an "inappropriately dressed" young woman enters a shop that sells fake jewellery. The woman, who is also the film's narrator, says the male shopkeeper gives her "a peculiar look and a meaningful smile". When she asks about real jewellery, he tells her she needs to go to a store where jewellery is "kept in seven boxes and locked in seven safes". He also tells her anything that is valuable is "hard to access and commands special respect", while appearing to lean low and stare at her. When a woman enters wearing a full-body veil, the chador, the man stands up straight and bows his head. The clip ends with the first woman - now dressed in a chador - saying: "I realised I had to make a change. I understand the difference between fake and genuine jewellery." It has been viewed on Twitter 114,000 times since posted, and has inspired some people to share their views. Responses to the animation have been mixed. One woman, apparently pro-establishment, felt it did not help promote the hijab at all and disliked being compared to jewellery, tweeting: "I'm a human being. Don't downgrade us to goods," A man who claimed to be a shopkeeper said he was more vigilant with chador wearers as they could sneak things under their clothes. Another woman tells the "absolute jewels" to "leave us fakes alone", implying that she does not like being told to wear the full-length veil. Some have lamented that the animation is "ridiculous" and a waste of mobile data. In Iran, the law requires women to wear modest "Islamic" clothing. In practice, this means women must wear a chador, a full-body cloak, or a headscarf and a manteau (overcoat) that covers their arms.
7-2-19 Germany's Ursula von der Leyen nominated to lead EU Commission
EU leaders have put forward their choices for the bloc's top jobs, with a woman for the first time proposed for European Commission chief. The nomination of German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen came as a surprise after the main front-runners were rejected. IMF head Christine Lagarde has been nominated for the head of the European Central Bank (ECB). The announcement follows days of difficult negotiations. Ms Lagarde said she was "very honoured" to have been nominated, tweeting that she had "decided to temporarily relinquish my responsibilities as IMF Managing Director during the nomination period". Their nominations must be approved by the European parliament. "We have agreed the whole package before the first session of the European Parliament," said European Council President Donald Tusk. He praised the "perfect gender balance" and said Germany had abstained on Ms Von der Leyen's nomination over coalition issues. However, he pointed out that Mrs Merkel herself had backed her. The German leader told reporters that her abstention had come according to a deal reached in the ruling coalition in Berlin. "We agreed this in the coalition: that if there is no unanimity, then one abstains. But one can say this has been approved today without any opposition," she said. If Ms Von der Leyen is confirmed in the role it would be the first time in over 60 years that a German has been given the post. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the nomination of two women for key jobs sent a powerful message that the EU was leading the way towards gender equality. However, there were concerns that the European Parliament's own contest for the main job - the "Spitzenkandidaten" (lead candidate) process - had been cast aside. Neither the winner, Manfred Weber of Germany, nor other frontrunners were selected by EU leaders.