By Mia Abrahams
Happy Women’s History Month! Though usually we reserve this space for feminist #news and #current affairs, we are taking the opportunity through March to spotlight some women from history who paved the way for us to do our thing at THINX—women you should have heard of, but haven’t, bc, ya know, the patriarchy.
1. Women’s History Month Spotlight: Dr. Helen O. Dickens
Let’s kick things off with Helen Octavia Dickens (1909-2001). The daughter of a former slave, Helen Dickens sat in the front row of her medical school classes so she wouldn't be bothered by the racist comments coming from her classmates. Dr Dickens was the first African-American women to become an ob-gyn, and later the first African American woman admitted to American College of Surgeons. She battled racism and sexism to dedicate her life’s work to providing young women with sex education, and helping them feel empowered about their sexual health. In Philadelphia, she worked to increase cervical cancer screenings, initiated programs to lower STIs, and in 1967 founded the Teen Clinic at the University of Philadelphia (one of the country’s first) which assisted teen mothers with education, family planning, and prenatal care. She also developed the Office of Minority Affairs at UPenn to increase diversity in enrolments. Today, Dr Dickens’s work is continued at the university’s Helen O. Dickens Center for Women which advocates for women’s health.
2. Democratic Women White-Out Trump’s congress address
If you were watching Trump’s first address to Congress on Tuesday (which like, good for you) you might have noticed that the OOTD for Democratic Congresswomen was all white err’thang. Why white? Well, it's the symbol of the suffragist movement, and in a statement, Rep. Lois Frankel said: "We wear white to unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century, and we will continue to support the advancement of all women. We will not go back." To which we say, AMEN.
Image via Human Rights Watch
3. Bangladesh Weakens Laws Protecting Women from Underage Marriage
Human rights activists have been dealt a blow in a decades long campaign to reduce teen pregnancy, deaths from childbirth, and infant mortality in Bangladesh, which has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage. On Monday, Bangladesh’s Parliament rolled back part of a landmark law banning underage marriage. The new provision allows girls under the age of eighteen to marry “in some circumstances”. Advocates for the law argue that it is necessary to prevent pregnant teenagers from being ostracized from their communities, but critics say that it was enacted by Prime Minister Hasina to gain support of conservative Islamic voters. Keep your eye on places like Human Rights Watch for what will certainly be a continued fight to protect young women from unwanted marriage and pregnancy.
4. UPDATE: Chinese “Feminist Voices” taken offline by government
A couple of weeks ago, we featured NY-based Chinese feminist activist Lu Pin, and her group Free Chinese Feminists. This week, the main social media account of Chinese feminist organization that Lu Pin helped found, Feminist Voices, was taken offline for "violating national laws and regulations" in China. This might have been linked to an article the group posted about a women’s strike planned in the US on March 8th (which THINX will be taking part in). Lu Pin told the NY Times “This is about attacking civil society. They want to take away our voice.” While the Chinese government says it is working to achieve equality for women, it is still a country with limited political debate and censored media. Follow Free Chinese Feminists for updates, especially in the lead up to International Women’s Day.
5. Dot Labs CEO Heather Bowerman Develops New Blood Test That Could Diagnose Endometriosis In A Day
Endometriosis, which affects nearly 1 in 10 women, is a painful condition where the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus overgrows and surrounds other reproductive organs. Sufferers of endometriosis (and being a woman, you either are one or know one) will tell you — it really f*cking sucks. Not only is it a condition that causes chronic pain, it is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. In the US, it takes an average of 11 years for a woman with endometriosis to receive a correct diagnosis!! Heather Bowerman, CEO of SF-based start-up Dot Laboratories, is working to change all that. She has developed a blood test that would diagnose endometriosis in a day, and she plans to launch it in mid-2017. While there is no cure currently for the condition, a quick diagnosis would mean that women could better manage their pain and potential fertility issues. Why has science been so slow to develop effective diagnosis and treatment for endometriosis? Syl Freedman, endometriosis advocate, says: "We shouldn't be treated any differently than men and I think if guys were bleeding from their balls and doubling over in pain for months of the year then they would be taken seriously and I think we should as well." Well, that about sums it up then!
- The Harvard Law Review (yes, the one that once called Obama prez) elected a black woman president, ImeIme Umana, 24, for the first time in its 130 year history. So, should I start making up some Umana 2028 pins now, or . . .
- Girl Scouts x Black Lives Matter = The Radical Monarchs. Aka an activist youth group that specifically addresses issues facing young women of color. Watch this short documentary here and prepare to inspired by a bunch of REALLY cute future leaders of this country.
- Nothing made me happier than learning that THINX’s fave Supreme Court justice, the one and only RBG, keeps fit (and alive) with this killer workout. Summer here we come! Now, if only I could find a beach look that works with my judges robes . . .