Japan’s New Gender Equality Policy Takes a Step Back – The Diplomat


On December 25, a fifth basic policy draft for gender equality, which made concrete recommendations regarding allowing different surnames after marriage, was dropped after heated pushback from conservative lawmakers.

Japan’s new five-year gender equality promotion policy fell short of embracing the use of premarital surnames despite growing calls within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to introduce a dual-surname policy. The original, more positive phrasing was slimmed down from three pages into just 10 lines which consisted of ambiguous wording: “many Japanese women continue working after marriage and the current system presents an obstacle for their daily lives.”

The LDP is generally known for its conservative stance on gender roles, but the resignation of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has unlocked more support for women’s social advancement. The shift to a dual-surname system, however, continues to divide the ruling party. An earlier meeting to discuss the basic gender equality promotion policy on December 8 ended in a near stalemate after 19 lawmakers expressed caution and 18 lawmakers voted in support of separate surnames.

On December 25 at the Council for Gender Equality meeting, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide refrained from directly addressing the controversy and stated, “We will form a policy which reflects women’s voices and aim for a society without gender bias for people in leadership positions.”

Japan is the only country in the world that does not officially allow married couples to have different surnames. The law requiring married couples to have the same surname – in practice requiring the woman to change her name to match her husband’s – was first introduced in 1898. But as women continue to work after marriage, maintaining their identity in the academic and business spheres is a practical step that can prevent career disruptions. The basic plan for gender equality draft acknowledged that mandating the same surnames for couples was hindering women’s success as their achievements are not carried over under their married name.

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The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed concern over the current family system in Japan and requested international perspectives be taken into consideration when reviewing the civil code and the Family Register Act.

Meanwhile, backlash from conservative LDP lawmakers has been driven by ideals around traditional family values. In 2015 the Supreme Court upheld the same surname system as constitutional, citing entrenched Japanese views on family and child rearing. The court judgement rejected the notion that the current system and changing surnames after marriage promotes gender discrimination or damage to individual identities. The court argued that “the family system is rooted in the history and culture of each country and international comparisons which ignore it are meaningless.”

Although 96 percent of women in Japan adopt their husband’s surname after marriage, a growing number of women are choosing to maintain their maiden name in social and professional settings, especially if they remain at the same company. A 2018 survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research found that 50.5 percent of married women believe couples should be allowed to retain different surnames. Public opinion appears to have grown increasingly accepting of a dual-surname system, with approval rising 9 points compared to 2013.

Minister of Gender Equality Hashimoto Seiko expressed support for introducing the option of different surnames and highlighted that the same surname law is a factor in Japan’s rapidly declining birth rate. It’s believed that some resistance to marriage can stem from wanting to continue one’s own family generational register, which under law certifies family relationships, birth, deaths, marriages, divorce, and designates a head of the household. While separate surnames are permitted for marriages between Japanese and foreign nationals, marriage between Japanese nationals means leaving one’s birth family registry for another.

There have been incremental inroads to permit the use of premarital names in social settings. In 2016 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved the use of premarital names in passports, albeit in parenthesis. That was expanded to resident cards and social security cards, without the need for official legal backing, in 2017. Judges and prosecutors are also able to work under their premarital name and arrests can be made in accordance with a premarital name on a driver’s license.  Some conservative lawmakers have proposed expanding the option of using premarital names unofficially, in parentheses, in order to minimize the inconvenience women face after marriage.

Ultimately the revised basic plan for gender equality highlighted the need for further discussion on the issue, underscoring Japan’s difficult progress toward gender equality.



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Equality groups criticise Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas over comments on transgender people


Equality groups have branded comments the Perth Lord Mayor made about transgender people on breakfast radio “repugnant and bigoted”.

Basil Zempilas, who was elected to office earlier this month, told listeners of the breakfast show he co-hosts on 6PR it was “wrong” for someone to identify as a different gender to their physical anatomy.

“If you’ve got a penis mate, you’re a bloke,” he said.

“If you’ve got a vagina, you’re a woman. Game over.”

Mr Zempilas then laughed off a suggestion by co-host Steve Mills that he would likely come into contact with transgender people in his role as Lord Mayor.

Basil Zempilas campaigned to be Perth Lord Mayor on a platform of tackling homelessness, begging and loitering in the CBD.(ABC News: Gian De Poloni)

Mr Zempilas also called for any women with a penis to ring the radio station for the chance to win a $100 store voucher.

When Mr Mills suggested that people in the wider community may disagree with his stance, Mr Zempilas replied: “Well mate, if you want to go softy, lefty, namby-pamby.”

The pair had been discussing an LGBTIQ boxing tournament in Sydney, which led to a debate about parents who did not identify their children as male or female.

‘Misinformed, hurtful, damaging’

TransFolk WA chair Hunter Gurevich said Mr Zempilas’s comments were harmful to transgender people.

“These comments are repugnant, bigoted, narrow minded, parochial and fundamentally deny contemporary science,” they said.

“Further, it puts LGBTQIA+ people at increased risk of harm, when we are already a vulnerable group in society.”

Mr Gurevich suggested Mr Zempilas undertake transgender awareness training.

Basil Zempilas wearing a suit and his wife Amy wearing a white and blue dress hold hands and smile.
Basil Zempilas and his wife Amy on the night of his election as Perth Lord Mayor.(ABC News: Jessica Warriner)

Pride WA president Curtis Ward said the comments were misinformed, hurtful and damaging.

Mr Ward said sex and gender were two different things.

“It is possible to appear one way and feel another and when someone says they’re transgender, they are simply saying they feel differently to how they appear,” Mr Ward said.

“[That is] sex being your physical appearance and your biology whereas gender is how you identify psychologically, whether you’re feminine or masculine.”

Mr Ward said comments such as Mr Zempilas’s fuelled stigma around the transgender community, describing mental health issues among transgender people as “rampant”.

“I think people need to be educating themselves about what they’re speaking about and if they do have that stage, and they are commanding such a large audience, they should be making educated statements,” he said.

Zempilas says he will apologise if he caused offence

The ABC has contacted Mr Zempilas for comment.

However, Mr Zempilas told local publication Out in Perth he would apologise if anyone was offended as that was not his intention.

In accepting the Lord Mayor role, Mr Zempilas said he would resign from his top-rating 6PR radio show duties later this year.

He said he would remain a sports presenter for Seven West Media and continue to write a weekly column for the West Australian newspaper, which is also owned by Seven West Media.

That column was also the source of backlash from human rights groups, after Mr Zempilas wrote about how he would “forcibly remove” homeless people from the Perth’s streets, calling them a “blight” on the city.

He later apologised for the comments.

The City of Perth, a longstanding sponsor of Perth’s annual Pride parade, declined to comment.



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Liberalism and its contradictions – Who could object to the Equality Act? | United States


WHEN SHE was ripping through the water during swimming races as a little girl, it did not occur to Nancy Hogshead-Makar that she might one day make a career out of it. But that changed during high school, when she won a full athletic scholarship to university. Four years later Ms Hogshead-Makar won three gold medals at the 1984 Olympics.

Her achievements would have been impossible without Title IX, a brief one-paragraph amendment made to the Civil Rights Act in 1972, when she was ten years old. Title IX banned discrimination “on the basis of sex” in educational institutions that receive federal funding. This meant that most schools and all universities were legally required to provide equal opportunities in activities. It covered things like scholarships; it also resulted in the provision of separate programmes for girls.

Its effect on female participation in sport was immediate and dramatic. Two years after Title IX was passed, the number of girls playing high-school sports jumped from under 300,000 to 1.3m. Today the figure is 3.4m. The lost ground it enabled women to make up has been one of the biggest achievements in the battle for sexual equality in America. It has also had important knock-on effects: research suggests that girls who play sport stay in education longer and get better jobs.

Nearly half a century later, there is still some way to go: Ms Hogshead-Makar, who went on to become a lawyer and establish Champion Women, a women’s-rights non-profit, says many universities do not comply with Title IX’s requirements. And yet some of its protections may soon be erased.

This is because of the demands of another group that has long suffered discrimination: transgender men and women. Their call to be recognised as members of the gender with which they identify—amplified by the merging of their rights with those of gay and lesbian Americans—has led to demands for an Equality Act, which would ban “discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity and sexual orientation”. The House of Representatives passed it in 2019; Joe Biden has said making it law would be a priority during his first 100 days in the White House.

A federal anti-discrimination law of this kind is sorely needed. In its absence a clashing patchwork of laws and regulations has sprung up across states, counties and cities. Conflicts over such matters are increasingly decided by the courts; they should be settled by elected lawmakers. Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, which campaigns for the rights of LGBT students, says the passing of the Equality Act would be “a transformative moment of liberation for millions of Americans who have had to live as second-class citizens”.

The problem is that parts of the bill appear to put the needs of transgender people above those of women. This is because the act redefines “sex” in Title IX and other amendments of the Civil Rights Act to include “gender identity” rather than making transgenderism a protected category of its own. Its definition of “gender identity” is fuzzy and appears to downplay the reality of sex, listing as it does, “gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.” The way the act is written suggests that women-only spaces, from public bathrooms to sports teams and prisons, would have to be open to transgender women.

The problem is clearest-cut when it comes to Title IX. That is because although opening up spaces once reserved for females to transgender women carries security and privacy concerns, these can be mitigated to an extent: toilets can be made both unisex and more private (prisons would pose more of a problem). But the protections of Title IX are rooted in the differences between the sexes, chiefly, the physical advantages bestowed by testosterone, which allows boys of average sporting ability to run faster or jump higher than exceptionally talented girls. The Equality Act would require female sports teams to include transgender players, even if their transition from male to female was not obvious: if, for example, they had not taken testosterone-suppressing drugs.

Transgender activists tend not to accept that this is unfair. When asked what she thought about transgender girls with undiminished levels of testosterone racing against female runners and trouncing them (as has happened in at least one state with such a policy) Ms Byard of GLSEN said, “But they are girls! They are girls. Men don’t compete in women’s sports.”

Let’s talk about sex

This denial of the meaning of “sex”, which is reflected in the language of the Equality Act, is a poor ground on which to build policy. The implications could extend well beyond spaces once reserved for women. Doriane Coleman, a law professor at Duke University, points out that if policymakers are not allowed to ‘see’ sex, “all the centres of excellence at research hospitals that currently exist to collect data on and then study sex differences in immunology, cancer, you name it, would be defunded and, indeed, become verboten”.

Ways exist to prevent discrimination against transgender Americans without denying the reality of sex. In prisons, where transgender women housed with men are much more likely to be sexually assaulted than other inmates, wings could be set aside for them. In sport, some champions of Title IX have suggested that transgender girls who have not been through puberty as males (because they have taken testosterone blockers and then oestrogen) could be included in women’s teams. A system of adjusted scores and start lines, according to testosterone levels, could also be introduced. “This is about testosterone, not whether someone is transgender or not,” says Donna Lopiano, adjunct professor of sports management at Southern Connecticut State University and a former college sports director who is lobbying for a change to the wording of the act.

Such solutions are unlikely to satisfy some feminists, who believe no person born a man should win a women’s contest. For many trans activists, these work-arounds would amount to a denial of gender identity and the continued perpetuation of discrimination. Negotiating a path through these clashing demands would be messy and time consuming. But ending discrimination against one group of people should not depend on discriminating against another.

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “Liberalism and its contradictions”

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Marriage equality opponent David van Gend among frontrunners for Groom LNP preselection


An outspoken opponent of marriage equality, homosexuality and abortion is one of the favourites for LNP preselection for the blue-ribbon federal seat of Groom on Queensland’s Darling Downs.

One of seven candidates will be chosen in a vote on Sunday for the electorate based around the city of Toowoomba following last month’s resignation of sitting MP John McVeigh.

The ABC understands local GP David van Gend, Toowoomba councillor Rebecca Vonhoff and former Wellcamp Airport manager Sara Hales are among the frontrunners.

LNP sources have said Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former cabinet minister and long-term Groom MP Ian Macfarlane are backing Cr Vonhoff.

Among those vouching for Dr van Gend are Senator Matt Canavan, conservative columnist Miranda Devine and Sky News host Rowan Dean.

The Toowoomba GP, who is president of the Australian Marriage Forum, is an outspoken critic of same-sex marriage, publishing a book in 2016 titled Stealing From A Child: The Injustice Of Marriage Equality.

“Australians are being asked to accept a breathtakingly subversive redefinition of marriage, parenting, family and gender, with consequences for core liberties and our children’s education, yet when we raise concerns we are called bigots,” it stated.

“In response, this book respectfully demolishes the edifice of error, injustice and moral coercion that is built around marriage equality.

“It is a manifesto in defence of society’s inviolable foundation — father, mother, child.”

David van Gend’s surgery was vandalised in 2015.(Facebook: Isaac Moody)

In 2015, Dr van Gend’s medical practice was vandalised after he took out $20,000 worth of TV advertisements against marriage equality during Mardi Gras.

The words “Van Gend bigot”, along with an encircled A — a symbol for anarchists — were spray-painted on the side of the building in the following months.

Senator Canavan said he could not comment on the preselection but gave a glowing endorsement of Dr van Gend’s character.

“I can’t stand people who want to crucify others for comments taken out of context,” Senator Canavan said.

“It would be much better if we all tried to understand others rather than rush to judgment based on a small percentage of someone’s total contributions.”

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As a regular contributor in far-right publication The Spectator, Dr van Gend has recently attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, describing it as “Marxist” and “demoralising slander of our culture”.

He has also disputed climate change, made anti-transgender comments and came under fire in 2017 for calling homosexuality “a disordered form of behaviour”.

His supporters, however, are steadfast.

“David van Gend is a compassionate Toowoomba GP and faithful Catholic,” Devine tweeted.

“He does not advocate gay conversion therapy. Such a lie.”

Acting LNP president Cynthia Hardy refused to be drawn on the matter.

“Members of our party generally select the right person to represent our seats and that’s what will happen,” she said.

“All the candidates have been vetted.

“We’ve got seven fine candidates and our membership — we’ve got nearly 600 members living in the Groom electorate — they’ll make their decision on Sunday, and any one of those seven would represent Groom very well.”

Dr van Gend declined to comment.

A woman with blonde hair stands in a park, smiling.
Local councillor Rebecca Vonhoff is believed to have the backing of the Prime Minister.(ABC Southern Qld: Elly Bradfield)

Bryce Camm, Garth Hamilton, Daniel Cassidy and Andrew Meara are also contesting the preselection.

A by-election for the seat will be held on November 28.

Labor is yet to announce its candidate.



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Time for equality for Indigenous Australia


 

“I can’t breathe.”

Here, we see three words that pierced the hearts of black men and women across the globe. Here, we see three words that echoed centuries of dispossession. Here, we see three words that reflected the cries of those enslaved, whipped and segregated. 

Sadly, these three words are too familiar for Indigenous Australians who have stood against the silent demon.

It was a dark winter’s day when I first heard it.

A gut-wrenching shock paralysed my body as I stood in disbelief. I glanced towards my father who re-lived the howls that haunted his childhood. A proud Djadjawurrung man, my father was taken from his parents at the age of two and institutionalised until the age of 16.

He was separated from his parents for being Aboriginal. This experience gave me an insight into his youth and for the first time — I truly understood his pain. Never before had I felt so lonely. Nobody came to my rescue. 

Almost two years ago, I was abused. Not physically and yet, it left an everlasting impression on me. Almost two years ago, I was racially abused.

I heard these taunts in the classroom, I heard it in the yard and I heard it in the locker room. It felt like the first steps of reliving the childhood lived by my father, a childhood marred by abuse and vilification. 

Why we must confront the racism of 'The Australian' cartoon

When I heard those final gasps of air from George Floyd, I heard the howls that haunted my father’s childhood. Yet still to this day, Australia is more focused on prejudice occurring in countries on the other side of the world than the silent demon on our doorstep.

This tragedy gave Australia yet another chance to look at itself in the mirror and question what it could accomplish to better the lives of us Indigenous Australians. Instead, Prime Minister Scott Morrison chose to deny the existence of Aboriginal slavery having occurred in a history marred by centuries of white supremacy.

He is the same Prime Minister who monotonously repeats, “if you have a go, you’ll get a go”. My people can’t have a go. Not when I’m more likely to end up in jail than finish high school. Not when my people represent 50 per cent of the juvenile detention population despite comprising just 3.3 per cent of the national population.

Things like this merely represent yet another missed opportunity for Australia’s Government to contribute to the equality desired by all Indigenous Australians. Unfortunately, this notion of the “missed opportunity” rings all too true for Aboriginals across the country.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was deemed a leader for apologising to the Stolen Generations. Yet what came from that?

Australia’s structural racism and the pandemic

I was there five years later when my childhood hero was called an “ape” while playing the sport he loves. Instead of taking a stance against racism, the AFL remained silent as a soldier as Adam Goodes combatted two years of relentless booing for exposing the inherently racist flaws in Australian culture.

Every time there is a chance for White Australia to take a stance, they hit a brick wall. It often feels like we are Jon Snow, standing solitary in the wind as we look to fend off a raging Bolton army of Australians clinging onto their generational white privilege.

If there is something that George Floyd’s murder has taught us, it’s that we’re no longer alone in the fight. The solidarity shown for the Black Lives Matter movement has been pleasing; especially in Australia, where thousands of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians have taken to the streets to protest the silent demon that lingers in the air of Australia.

While it is fantastic to see “social justice warriors” express their support for George Floyd, some are the same people who oppose movements towards First Nations rights in Australia. Opposition to these movements asking so little as equality are forcing our people away from genuine change.

These movements are crucial in raising awareness for the need to reform the Constitution to include Indigenous Australians. Suppressing the voices of our minority merely accentuates the difficulty in fighting against Australia’s silent demon.

The reasons behind Australia's racism

This silent demon is omnipresent, yet hides behind notions of the Australian Dream. This silent demon is impossible to see if you choose not to look for it, but when you see it once, it hits you like a ton of bricks every day.

The silent demon becomes less and less silent when we hear the cries of George Floyd or the boos of Adam Goodes. The silent demon lives inside the minds of all Indigenous Australians.

I first encountered the silent demon on that day almost two years ago and I’ve spent much time pondering how I could defeat it. Unfortunately, this demon is strong, resolute and will not take a backwards step.

For this demon to be slain, it takes a collective effort. A pact from each and every Australian to play their part in supporting our Indigenous population as we continue to wage a war against white supremacy.

Unfortunately, we as people cannot slay this demon by ourselves. The first step of slaying this demon is the government recognising my people in the Constitution as the traditional owners of the land.

Once this is achieved, we can begin a genuine conversation about slaying the silent demon of racism in Australia once and for all.

Scott Morrison, don’t let this be yet another “missed opportunity”. After all, if you fail to slay a demon once, you might never get another chance again.

Thomas Williams is an Indigenous Year 12 student at St Kevin’s College.

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Why HP is pushing for boardroom equality


Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.

As we head into a much-deserved weekend, I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of worthwhile reads.

The first is this LinkedIn post from HP CEO Enrique Lores, following an appearance before the California Senate yesterday by HP’s strategy chief, Kim Rivera. Rivera was there to express the company’s support for a state bill that would force firms to diversify their boards.

Here’s what Lores had to say on the matter:

“It’s an important piece of legislation. I urge the legislature to adopt it and Governor Newsom to sign it into law. But we shouldn’t have to rely on the Governor’s pen to make our boards more diverse. Business leaders should be doing that on our own.

“This isn’t just the right thing to do. Study after study has shown how gender and ethnic diversity can help power innovation and strengthen a company’s performance. For example, McKinsey has found that companies with more women and more ethnic diversity at the executive level are more profitable, and they’ve also found that companies with more diverse boardrooms enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity.”

HP itself certainly walks the talk; as Lores noted in his post, its board is 58% minorities, and 42% women. “Yet, we also know we have a lot more work to do—as a company and industry—to finally shatter the barriers that have prevented true equality and fairness for far too long,” he wrote.

And speaking of McKinsey studies, here’s a new report from the consultancy on the outlook for corporate travel. It suggests business travel will take longer to recover than leisure travel will, and it’s crucial for travel players to understand which segments will return first.

According to McKinsey, the earliest revival for business travel will be for in-person sales and client meetings. Internal meetings, conferences and events won’t be significant drivers until “well into 2021” or later, while “some travel for internal purposes will be permanently replaced by virtual meetings and collaboration.”

More news below.

David Meyer
@superglaze

david.meyer@fortune.com





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Men must play a constructive role to achieve gender equality


Girls will be safer when masculinity moves away from patriarchal dominance toward the pursuit of gender equality.

Adult males can add to this justice venture and there is an possibility to do so by signing up to HeForShe.

A 2019 report from domestic violence not-for-revenue, Our Check out, citing 374 resources, identified that adult men who adhere to masculine stereotypes of remaining sturdy, dominant and top-quality to females are much more probably to perpetrate violence against women. The report indicated that protection for women can be attained by redefining masculinity, selling more healthy, optimistic social expectations between adult males and boys.

Clementine Ford, writing on the problem of gender, reported:

It just isn’t misandry to want to talk about how we can protect against our sons from getting punched in the again of the head or overwhelmed while out owning a celebration. Nor is it an attack on adult males to motivate gentle behaviour between guys though critiquing the laddish shows of machismo that are so frequently heralded in this state as an case in point of purple-blooded masculinity.’

Her thoughts on harmful masculinity stimulate adult men to find approaches to cost-free on their own from areas of patriarchy that restrict their relationships with just about every other as well as hurting ladies.

The place can we come across illustrations for adult men to act in a beneficial and conciliatory way? Plainly not in previous 2GB radio host, Alan Jones, who in 2019 used violent language to rebuke NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. In 2020, on Jones’ retirement from radio, Primary Minister Scott Morrison commended him for always undertaking the correct thing by his nation.

Associated Content

Of an episode of Q&A that mentioned violence against ladies that was “pulled” due to the fact of Mona Eltahawy’s forceful language, Jennifer Wilson wrote for Independent Australia:

“We stay day by day inside systems of appalling violence, a great deal of which is perpetrated by the point out instantly, or indirectly by its unwillingness to sufficiently intervene.’

When the state intervenes to modify the culture of violence, it faces backlash.

Palestinian women most affected by COVID-19 and annexation

For Caleb Stephen, the concept of white male privilege in the Victorian education and learning system, Respectful Associations, is:

‘Nothing considerably less than a total myth. It is many thanks to this regressive form of imagining that in today’s courageous new earth, boys can no more time be boys.’

Federal government failure in reaction to violence towards gals mirrors the insufficient focus afforded to isolated people with disability. A South Australian Governing administration taskforce investigating abuse and neglect of a person in care observed gaps in the technique and a want for susceptible individuals to have accessibility to assistive technological innovation. It has referred this to the Federal Authorities for urgent action. In Victoria, at the very least, there is the Victorian Andrews’ government’s balanced funding of numerous disability advocacy teams and the Incapacity Worker Commission to lower challenges of abuse for persons with disability.

Victorian Leading Daniel Andrews has shown a willingness to contest the society of violence in opposition to women of all ages and to supply avenues of guidance for women. His Cupboard has equal female-male representation his Governing administration has strengthened its responses to domestic violence and it has legislated actions for gender equity.

The women changing Australia are mainly in Queensland

An untypical male hero has emerged in the variety of the Thomas the Tank Motor singing volunteer, Ben Gibbs, who insisted that credit score was thanks not to him for obtaining William Callaghan, but somewhat the group of searchers.

One more constructive instance of masculinity came to the fore when, as an alternative of chest-beating and recriminations over how William was shed, move-father Nathan Ezhard and father Phil gave just about every other psychological guidance as they waited for him to be observed.

To deliver an end to domestic violence we need to have several atypical male heroes to aid redefine masculinity. There is an option right right here and now in HeForShe: the United Nations Females Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality 2020. 

For far more facts, see HeForShe.

Thea Calzoni is a member of the committee of administration of the Victorian Advocacy League for Folks with a Disability (Legitimate). You can comply with Thea on Twitter @Calzonit.

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Gloucestershire race equality group aims for ‘fundamental change’


Khady Gueye, BLM organiser (left) pictured with Eleni Eldridge-Tull

Image caption

The Local Equality Commission is led by Khady Gueye (left) and Eleni Eldridge-Tull (right)

A race equality group has been set up to tackle racism in rural areas of Gloucestershire.

Khady Gueye co-organised a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest in Lydney in June and is a co-founder of the new Local Equality Commission.

Since the protest, three local councillors have resigned, including Di Martin who faced a barrage of abuse for attending the rally.

“I would love to see a higher level of compassion and empathy,” Ms Gueye said.

The commission was launched on Tuesday and is led by Ms Gueye and Eleni Eldridge-Tull.

“It’s so important in these areas where we are not exposed to culture or diversity as in London or Bristol or bigger cities, I think it’s so important that actually we provide an understanding of different cultures,” Ms Gueye said.

“People in the Forest of Dean rally around for all sorts of issues, but there is a fear of talking about racism, and fear of talking about equality.

“A lot of people don’t accept that racism is a problem or that it doesn’t exist.”

She wants all age groups to understand the message in order to enact “fundamental change”.

Image caption

The rally on 20 June and adhered to social distancing guidelines despite some local concern

The BLM protest in support of George Floyd was cancelled in early June by organisers who “felt pressured and bullied” by a council letter telling them “all lives matter”.

However, the rally later went ahead at Bathurst Park in Lydney after a U-turn by the council.

Since the rally, Ms Gueye and fellow organiser Ms Eldridge-Tull said they had been racially abused and threatened on social media.

Gloucestershire Police confirmed it was investigating.

Image copyright
Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell

Image caption

Filmmaker Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell lived for several years in Bourton-on-the-Water

Local filmmaker Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell, 26, runs media strategy company NKG and has been helping to set up the commission.

“The more you scratch the surface, the more you see this horrific divide between the moneyed people who come in from London and live in big stone houses and the sprawling estates that are under-funded, with poor transport links, no mental health facilities,” she said.

She said she believed rural communities need “a sense of unity and camaraderie between white working class and black and ethnic minority working groups”.

“Economic justice is a real hallmark of the BLM movement and it’s also what rural communities and white working class communities really need,” Ms Ajulu-Bushell said.

‘Incredibly inclusive’

The newly-created commission is currently in talks with the Campaign for Rural England for youth workshops and has been asked by the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail to work with an artist to create a black rights inspired artwork.

Lydney’s town clerk and campaigners also hope to work together to draw up an equality policy for the council.

Ms Gueye said: “We wanted to be incredibly inclusive and obviously we understand there are some relationships in the local area that may be slightly damaged and we seeking to try to repair those relationships to an extent.”



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Outdoor Brands Stepping Up to Support Racial Equality and Social Justice


The ongoing struggle for social justice and racial equality in the U.S. reached an inflection point with the May 25 police-killing of George Floyd. On the heels of other gut-wrenching examples of injustice in Black communities that included the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, plus the efforts of Amy Cooper to mischaracterize Central Park birdwatcher Christian Cooper to the NYPD, mass outrage against racial injustice has turned into organized action. Millions have marched globally in solidarity against police brutality. The voices for change are growing louder as the nation’s needs to reform institutionalized racism can no longer go ignored. And many brands in the outdoor space are joining the cause for change.

Though many gear and outfitting companies were hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic health crisis, many have stepped forward to speak out against racism and renew their commitment to Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI). Droves of outdoor companies, shops, athletes and journalists went “black” on their social media accounts and offered solidarity in the fight for racial equality. Others dug deep into their pocketbooks, offering serious financial support. Here are some of those outdoor brands who stepped up to both open their wallets, adding millions of dollars to the war chest for social justice, and to enact steps toward real, sustained change.

Ruffwear  Bend, OR
Dog-lovers know Ruffwer, but do they know about brand’s dedication social justice? Ruffwear is contributing $10,000 to Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit that connects Black people with nature and strives to create diverse leadership in the outdoors. Ruffwear believes that having access to the outdoors and a connection to nature is foundational to becoming a great leader—and that diversifying the outdoors will help change the face of leadership in the U.S. The brand has also signed the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, founded by Teresa Baker, to help hold companies accountable to become more inclusive and diverse, both internally and externally, in their visual and written content, their ambassador programs, and partnerships. Additionally, it has committed to internal training and education on privileges, biases, micro-aggressions, and more (with outside help from DEI experts).

 

Club Ride Apparel  Sun Valley, ID
Club Ride, the bike lifestyle clothing brand famous for its social conscience, has donated $20,000 to be allocated among three charities: Equal Justice Initiative, to bring about criminal justice reform, the Bahati Foundation, to empower kids through bikes, and to Conscious Kid, a group dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in youth (more info).

 

BUFF  Santa Rosa, CA
Maker of the multi-purpose headwear that’s become so handy during the COVID-19 crisis, BUFF has pledged $10,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund starting this fiscal year. The brand has also announced the immediate development of an internal DEI Team. The brand says it will seek out Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders as consultants for this new committee.

 

Black Diamond Equipment  Salt Lake City
Known for climbing gear, skis and packs, Black Diamond has committed to spending $250,000 to support people of color in the outdoors. This will include direct financial support of BIPOC athletes, as well as new partnerships and initiatives.

Brooks Running  Seattle
Over the last several years, Brooks has focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. The brand signed the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, and is committed to diversifying its staff and leadership, as well as being representative in marketing and advertising, and engage and supporting diverse ambassadors and athletes. But Brooks didn’t stop there. The brand is making a $250,000 donation to the Equal Justice Initiative and seeking ways to have a meaningful effect on race and equity through ongoing corporate responsibility programs.

 

Burton  Burlington, VT
The pioneering snowboard brand is known for its commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. To help further the cause of racial equality and social justice, and to show the brand’s solidarity with the Black community, Burton has donated $100,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense fund, and reports that there is more long-term action to come.

 

Danner  Portland, OR
Danner representatives report that during the past weeks, the brand has been listening and learning. In order to express its sorrow for, and solidarity with George Floyd’s family, friends and the Black community, Danner wants to help in the fight against racism and social injustice toward people of color. To emphasize that change starts from within, the brand is focusing on education and action in its community. It is matching employee donations to Urban League of Portland and Self Enhancement, Inc., and invites the public to join the cause. If people direct message Danner with a receipt, it will match donations up to $25,000 for a total of $50,000.

 

Specialized  Morgan Hill, CA
Specialized Bicycle Components will be investing $10M over the next three years to its public nonprofit OUTRIDE, whose mission is to build the next generation of riders through school and youth development programs, as well as providing access to safe places to ride for underserved and underrepresented communities and children. Additional funding will go to the Legion of Los Angeles Elite Cycling Team to further its work of increasing diversity and encouraging inclusion in cycling. SBC is committed to further elevating and amplifying BIPOC voices, stories, and narratives from our community or riders, athletes, and ambassadors.

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‌The North FaceDenver ‌ ‌
Over the past two years, The North Face has donated more than $1.5 million dollars through its Explore Fund to organizations fostering equality in the outdoors. But the brand wants to do more. Moving forward, the Explore Fund will focus solely on addressing and eliminating barriers that prevent safe exploration, with the goal of creating access for all. It also pledged $25,000 to the brand’s long-term partner Outdoor Afro, the leading organization for Black connections and leadership in nature. Another $25,000 went to PMG ONE, the brand’s partner that centers Black, Indigenous, and people of color to lead movements for environmental justice and collective liberation. The North Face is also donating $50,000 to the ACLU to support its work on police accountability, racial justice and defending the right to protest (more info on the efforts).

GirlVentures Outdoor Adventure and Personal Enrichment Programs was a recipient of The North Face Explore Fund grant. Courtesy The North Face

Velocio Apparel  Londonderry, NH
Since its inception in 2014, Velocio has had a commitment to sustainable sourcing, biodegradable packaging, and support of public lands. The company has upped its social responsibility commitment by looking for ways to fight racism and to engage more Black cyclists in hiring and strive for more diversity in hiring. It also donated $15K to the ACLU, an organization it has supported in the past through the brand’s UNITY project, and $15K to Black Lives Matter.

 

HOKA ONE ONE   Goleta, CA
HOKA, and its family of brands at Deckers, united to make a donation of $500,000 to the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the ACLU Foundation, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Black Lives Matter Foundation, and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.

 

Feetures  Charlotte, NC
Feetures CEO sent out a recent email to its subscribers and posted the same letter on its blog announcing its stance on no longer remaining silent in the face of racial injustice and recommitting to taking meaningful action throughout the company working together with employees, partners and customers to address diversity and eradicate racism. As part of this statement, it stated that as a first small step, it will donate $10,000 to the NAACP and Black Lives Matter.

 

Twin Six  Minneapolis
Twin Six is donating 100 percent of the sales of its June T-shirt of the month (a BLM/ “Stronger Together” design) to support local food shelves around Minneapolis as well as the ACLU. The brand stated that every dollar spent will be paid forward to support local food shelves serving the neighborhoods immediately affected by the protests in and around Minneapolis, as well as the ACLU.

 

Columbia Sportswear Co.  Portland, OR
Tim Boyle is committed to social justice. First, the Columbia CEO gave up most of his salary to help employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Then, in response to the George Floyd tragedy, he closed all 95 brick and mortar stores in observance of George Floyd’s memorial service (see more info on the effort here). The support didn’t stop there, after donations to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Marshall Project, he offered to double-match employee donations to a list of organizations outlined with additional resources at the bottom of this story.

 

 

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The murder of George Floyd was a tragedy, underpinned by the corrosive effects of institutional racism. That’s why today, June 4, 2020, we will close all of our North American stores for two hours during his memorial services. We stand against racism in all its forms, but in this moment, we want to be clear that we are proud to say BLACK LIVES MATTER. We are taking additional concrete actions to fight racism. It has taken a few days to research what we will do and how we will do it. We don’t have all of the answers, and listening is more important than talking, but here are some steps we will take. We will make donations to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Marshall Project to advance our country’s understanding of racism and its root causes and to promote equal justice and opportunity. We will follow the lead of our employees. When employees choose to make donations to 501[c]3 non-profits focused on addressing racism, we are offering to double match the contributions up to $1,000. We will help individuals and communities exercise the critical right to vote, along with others in our industry. We will continue to speak out and be a company that celebrates and encourages diversity. We are working to help end racial injustice. This includes the facilitation of education about racism within our own company, with ongoing events and dialogue. George Floyd’s life mattered.

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Smith Optics  Portland, OR
Smith launched a give-back program that will be an on-going initiative to supporting social justice, the dismantling of racism, and an environment of equality and inclusivity. From June 6-12, 10 percent profits from sales on smithoptics.com were donated to the NAACP. The organizations Smith supports will rotate periodically, and will be reflected/announced on its website and in digital ads.

 

Orvis  Manchester, VT
Orvis is asking everyone in the outdoor and angling communities to join them in expressing a commitment to combat racism of any kind, a willingness to engage in this conversation, and an obligation to create change and a more equitable fly-fishing culture, outdoor community and greater world. Orvis is working out specific next steps, but in the meantime is committed to amplifying the voices of those who need to be heard right now. Orvis will be participating in the #justaddwater campaign that you can read more about here. And, every Thursday in June, NRS, American Rivers and Orvis will be coming together for virtual film screenings and discussions with industry players on breaking down barriers in fly-fishing. On June 18, Orvis President Simon Perkins will be showing his own film, Una Razón para Pescar (A Reason to Fish), followed by a Q&A with #justaddwater guides, Orvis’s Simon Perkins, and Amy Kober from American Rivers and Katie Guerin from City Kids.

 

Conservation Lands Foundation  Durango, CO
The Conservation Lands Foundation is a nonprofit that protects places like Bears Ears. As a conservation organization working within a movement that has its own history with racism, CLF has re-doubled its commitments to dismantle systemic racism and to take action to create a just nation.

 

Igloo  Katy, Texas
Igloo released a statement standing with its “employees and community in recognizing social inequality in America,” making donations to the Greater Houston Black Chamber to foster business development and community partnership in the Houston African American Community and to the Center for the Healing of Racism.

 

CADEX  Taichung, Taiwan
Cadex makes some of the best wheels, seats and rims in the industry, and it has a strong social conscience. The brand is standing against racism, and working to foster awareness, action and inclusivity in cycling. As a start, CADEX’s parent company, Giant Group, will donate $20,000 to organizations fighting racism.

 

— In addition to Columbia’s efforts, it provided the list below of worthy organizations that are working on racial and social justice.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund – Legal organization fighting for racial justice
The Marshall Project – Nonprofit journalism about criminal justice
ACLU Foundation – Public interest law firm defending civil rights
Southern Poverty Law Center – Racial justice advocacy and hate group monitoring
National Urban League – Civil rights organization
Campaign Zero– Eliminating police brutality
Black Lives Matter– Racial justice
Color of Change: –Racial justice
Equal Justice Initiative – Justice reform and advocacy
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) – Educating white folks to be better allies


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