Malala Yousafzai



Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, Reuters reported Oct. 10. Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ right to education, becomes at the age of 17 the youngest Nobel Prize winner by far. She shares the prize with Indian children’s right activist Kailash Satyarthi.

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The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has introduced policy recommendations that will no longer require a surgical requirement for transgender New York City residents to align their gender marker on their birth certificate with their gender identity. The city will instead only require certification from a health provider, including doctors, nurses, social workers and therapists, that the person seeking a change is living a different gender than the one listed on their birth certificate, instead of needing proof of surgery or hormone replacement therapy. Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the proposed policy will make the process of changing one’s gender on a birth certificate easy and accessible, now that transgender people no longer have to change their bodies to change their gender identity, according to a New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene press release. Forty percent of transgender people have faced harassment when presenting identity documents that did not match their gender identity, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. The health department will hold a public hearing on the proposal in November. The city’s Board of Health will vote on the proposal on Dec. 9; approval is expected.

— Crystal Lewis

Comedian Sarah Silverman and creative agency Droga5, co-creators of “The Great Schlep,” launched Oct. 8 a $30 trillion campaign to help close the wage gap between men and women, according to a National Women’s Law Center’s press release. Named the Equal Payback Project, the campaign was launched with a four-minute video in which Silverman glosses over gender pay gap basics and then tries to get a doctor to turn her into a man so she won’t lose any more money. Then she asks for donations so she can turn around and give them to every woman in the United States. The funds raised will benefit The National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit organization educating the public about the wage gap.


Some 90 percent of women in restaurant jobs that depend on tips report being bothered at work by some form of sexual harassment, according to a report on the restaurant industry released Oct. 7, USA Today reported. It is particularly a problem, the report says, for female restaurant workers in states where tipped jobs have the lower federal minimum wage of $2.13.

“Women who have to live off of tips are subjected to the worst kind of sexual harassment,” said Jayaraman Saru Jayaraman, co-director and co-founder of the nonprofit restaurant worker’s group, Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which oversaw the 34-page report, “The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry. She says all states should require that a full minimum wage be paid to all tipped, restaurant workers.

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Two cases of sexual harassment in two U.S. cities just turned very violent. In Detroit, Mary “Unique” Spears, a 27-year-old engaged mother of three, was shot and killed after leaving a funeral on the city’s east side, the Michigan Chronicle reported Oct 8. Spears was approached by a 38-year-old suspect who asked her for her phone number. When she refused, a fight broke out and the man opened fire, killing Spears and wounding five of her family members, The Daily News reported Oct. 7. In Queens, N.Y., a 26-year-old unidentified woman is in critical condition after a man slashed her throat after she turned him down for a date, the New York Post reported Oct. 8. “As more and more folks flood into cities, street harassment — and its escalation into more extreme forms of violence — is a growing global epidemic,” said Emily May, co-founder and executive director of Hollaback!, in a press statement, “Contrary to popular belief, it’s not perpetuated by construction workers though, or even that creepy guy in the corner. It’s perpetuated by sexism.”                                         

Léa Bouchoucha

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, said women don’t need to ask for a raise and should instead put their trust in the system, The Guardian reported Oct.10. Nadella spoke on Oct. 9 at an event for women in computing held in Phoenix. He added that “good karma” would help a boss realize the employee could be trusted and should have more responsibility. He later backpedaled on Twitter saying women should ask for a raise.

Hundreds of pregnant women and girls are dying needlessly in South Africa, because they fear their HIV status might be revealed during prenatal care, according to a major report released Oct. 9 by Amnesty International. The human rights watchdog found that 1,560 maternal deaths were recorded in 2011 in South Africa and 1,426 in 2012. Experts suggest that 60 percent of all the deaths were avoidable.

Latinas have to work 21 more months–until Oct. 8–to catch up with white male earnings in 2013, finds an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center. Latinas on average get paid 56 cents for every dollar their white male counterparts earn. Latinas face fluctuating wage gaps across all occupations and lose around $931,165 to the wage gap over the course of a 40-year career, the law center said in an Oct. 7 press statement. Equal Pay Day for all women fell this year on April 7.

Women and girls were among hundreds of demonstrators targeted in Hong Kong on Oct. 3, Amnesty International said in a press statement. Incidents of sexual assault, harassment and intimidation were reported. “The police inaction tonight is shameful. The authorities have failed in their duty to protect peaceful protesters who came under attack,” said Mabel Au, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

A young man was stabbed to death on Oct. 5 while attempting to rescue women from sexual harassment in Egypt, reported activist group I Saw Harassment, the Egyptian Streets publication reported. Holiday seasons in Egypt are normally associated with a peak in sexual harassment. I Saw Harassment said the second day of Eid saw them witnessing and intervening in 25 cases of harassment in Cairo, while the first day saw 21 incidents in downtown Cairo.


British doctors are to give five women without wombs the chance of giving birth to their own babies by 2017, The Daily Mail reported Oct. 3. They say the success of the world’s first birth from a transplanted womb – announced by Swedish medics on last week – has opened the door for the revolutionary technique to take place in the U.K. Around 60 couples are now hoping British womb transplant pioneer Richard Smith, who has spent two decades working on the project, will be able to make their dreams come true.

Women giving birth should be given epidural pain relief as soon as they ask for it as it does not lead to more complications, an influential review of the evidence has found, The Telegraph reported Oct. 9. Currently women are often told they must wait until they are in established labor and are at least 4 cm. dilated.

Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections have been delayed for home-care workers. The Obama administration announced Oct.7 it won’t enforce this rule, which involves an estimated 2 million home-care workers, for the first six months after its Jan. 1, 2015, effective date, The New York Times reported Oct.7. Numerous states, already facing budget strains, complained to the Obama administration about the cost.

Five Afghan men were executed Oct. 8 for the gang rape of four women despite the United Nations and human rights groups criticizing the trial, i24 News reported. The death of the five rapists at Pul-e-Charkhi prison near Kabul marked the first executions in Afghanistan in 2014, according to Amnesty International. The ministry of women’s affairs in Kabul welcomed the hangings “as a step towards ensuring social justice and defending women’s rights, and a lesson for those who think of committing such crimes.” Afghanistan’s new president Ashraf Ghani did not comment.

A poll conducted by HuffPost/YouGov found that most Americans think there’s a problem with campus sexual assault, and nearly 6-in-10 approve of California’s law –”Yes It Means Yes”- intended to combat it. Americans are nearly four times as likely to say that colleges and universities do a bad job as they are to say they do a good job of handling cases of rape, sexual assault or harassment. Against this backdrop, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered last week the State University of New York to overhaul the guidelines on sexual assault on all of its 64 campuses, The New York Times reported Oct. 6.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to decide whether states can ban same-sex marriage, Reuters reported Oct. 6. The absence of a ruling will allow gay men and women to marry in five states where same-sex weddings were previously forbidden.

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