Weekly News Highlights

Weekly News Highlights

Our global community must stay connected to the issues that impact midwives and their frontline work. Every Friday, ICM publishes a 'Top 5 List' of news stories from the week related to the development world, gender, and maternal health.   


Here is our Top Five List from the week of 26 June 2020:



Why does Covid-19 kill more men than women? Researchers grapple with gender mystery, The GuardianThe New York Times, 24.06.20

Why Covid-19 seems to kill more men than women, and how the virus is impacting frontline health workers who are

Predominantly women, are some of the unanswered questions researchers are grappling with amid the global pandemic. On Thursday, the Australian Human Rights Institute announced it had partnered with the George Institute for Global Health to undertake two Covid-19 research projects that will remove sex and gender biases so often seen in medical research that can prevent patients from getting the best care. Traditionally, medical research has been dominated by men in lead research roles, and their medical research has involved male cells, animals and humans.

Catalyst For Change: Can The Organizational Response To The Pandemic Advance Gender Balance?, Forbes, 25.06.20

Forbes discussing the current working climate and its significance for women, who have been flagging for years that the lack of flexible working is a significant factor in their career choice. It is noted that whilst diversity and inclusion priorities may have been dropped from the corporate agenda in the short-term, some companies are naturally taking a more gender-focused approach to work, without realizing.  

Midwifery + Nursing 

Nursing regulator sets out plans to restart fitness to practise cases, Nursing Times, 26.06.20

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has set out a series of regulatory and education “changes”, including the restarting of physical fitness to practise hearings, as the UK moves towards a “new normal”. The proposed measures, to be reviewed by the NMC’s council next week, focus on enabling a “more stable” learning environment for nursing and midwifery students, said the regulator. The NMC said the changes were designed to help support nursing and midwifery students and professionals as the UK “cautiously transitions to a new phase” in the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurses invited to first ever ‘virtual pride’ for LGBT+ NHS staff on Friday, Nursing Times, 25.06.20

Health service workers from across the county are being invited to enjoy an “unprecedented online celebration” of the LGBT+ community this Friday evening, NHS England has announced. To mark the time of year when thousands of people would ordinarily be gearing up for pride season, NHS England is hosting its first-ever “virtual pride” to celebrate and involve all of its LGBT+ staff. Members of the NHS England and NHS Improvement LGBT+ Staff Network and others have given up their spare time and expertise to organise NHS Virtual Pride on Friday 26 June.

Key institutional / organizational highlights

Tech giants partner with UN Women to provide life-saving information to survivors of domestic violence during COVID-19, Relief Web, 25.06.20

To counter this alarming rise, UN Women offices around the world have partnered with tech giants like Google, Twitter and Facebook to provide important information about helpline services for domestic violence survivors. Among the “Big Five” tech giants, Google and Facebook have partnered with UN Women to make information and resources available to survivors of violence.


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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 19 June 2020:


Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter protests: Why are statues so powerful?, BBC, 12.06.20

The recent destruction of monuments in Britain and the US – from the toppling in Bristol, England, last weekend of a bronze sculpture commemorating the 18th-Century British slave trader Edward Colston, to the defacement this week in Boston, Miami and Virginia of statues venerating Christopher Columbus and Confederate leaders – raises intriguing questions about the very purpose of public statuary. The outrage that many feel about having to share the streets with such hulking ghosts of oppression is deep and crushingly real. To address the thorny issue of how best to handle monuments whose aura an appreciable proportion of society finds toxic, countries have begun to adopt a variety of different strategies. In London, the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced the convening of a special commission to debate the dismantling (and erection) of the city’s statues. In the US on Wednesday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, hoping to pre-empt a violent plundering of Capitol Hill, called for the swift removal of 11 statues that commemorate Confederate leaders.


Romanians protest against ban on gender identity studies, Reuters, 18.06.20

Hundreds protested outside the Romanian president’s palace on Thursday against a proposed ban on gender identity studies which they said would infringe human rights and fuel discrimination. The Romanian parliament approved the ban without public debate this week in the latest initiative by religious and conservative groups to adopt similar policies on gender to neighbouring Hungary and Poland. Romania is one of the only European Union states that bars both marriage and civil partnerships for same sex couples.

Top women's rights group probes claims of racism by staff, Reuters, 18.06.20

The head of leading rights group Women Deliver has apologised and pledged an independent investigation after current and former staff said she ruled over a “toxic” culture of racism. Experts said the problems at New York-based Women Deliver were endemic in the NGO world, with widespread complaints of racial inequality in a sector already under fire for sexual abuse of vulnerable women. President Katja Iversen, who has previously worked at the United Nations, said she would go on leave until the investigation was complete.

No tolerance for crime against women: Twitter launches prompt to help people combat domestic violence, Economic Times, 17.06.20

Twitter on Wednesday launched a dedicated search prompt that will direct people looking for domestic violence-related keywords towards relevant information from the Ministry of Women and Child Development and National Commission for Women. The search prompt will be available on iOS, Android, and on mobile.twitter.com in India in English and Hindi languages. "Every time someone (in India) searches for certain keywords associated with the issue of domestic violence, a prompt will direct them to the relevant information and sources of help available on Twitter," the company said in a statement. This is an expansion of Twitter's #ThereIsHelp prompt, which was specifically put in place for the public to find clear, credible information on critical issues.


The pandemic is making America rethink its shunning of midwifery, The Economist, 20th June edition

A piece taking a deep-dive into the current issues faced by midwives. It notes that even in cities at first less hard-hit than New York, many expectant mothers avoided hospitals where they could. Nancy Gaba, chair of obstetrics and gynaecology at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, dc, noticed an initial uptick in unplanned home births around the time the World Health Organisation (who) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.


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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 12 June 2020: 


Black Lives Matter

'Black Lives Matter' risks becoming an empty slogan. It's not enough to defeat racism, The Guardian, 11.06.20

An opinion piece outlining the fact that the “Black Lives Matter” slogan has become a token for those who don’t act on ending racism. The main notion of this powerful piece is that even racists hate racism, hence they’re looking for ways to excuse what they do, along the lines of “I’m not being racist it’s just that a lot of Muslims are terrorists” or “it’s not my fault – black people are just a bit more criminal than white people”. This piece also goes on to discuss the why now element of the current Black Lives Matter movement, given that institutional racism has been common knowledge for a period of time now. The key reason as to why this is happening now is because it is resulting in white guilt, as no white person can imagine going through an officer being so unconcerned for a life of a white human being. 

Development World

Study warns of global poverty surge to over 1 billion due to coronavirus, The Japan Times, 12.06.20

The Japan Times reports that global poverty is set to rise above 1 billion people once again as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which is reducing the income of the world’s poorest by $500 million a day, according to new research published Friday. The research by King’s College London and the Australian National University points to poverty increasing dramatically in middle-income developing countries, where millions of people live just above the poverty line. Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines, are considered to be particularly vulnerable to the pandemic’s economic shockwaves with lockdowns severely curtailing activity.


State of emergency declared on rape and gender violence in Nigeria, CNN World, 12.06.20

State governors in Nigeria have declared a state of emergency on rape following a spate of sexual violence against young women in the nation. The Nigerian Governor's Forum (NGF) called on authorities in all 36 states to create a sex offenders register and sign onto two federal laws with provisions that punish rape and violence against women and children. The Forum has also invited the country's police heads to brief the governors on efforts they are making to tackle sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria, NGF chair Kayode Fayemi said in the statement

Explainer: J. K. Rowling and trans women in single-sex spaces: what's the furore?, ReutersThe GuardianDaily Mail, 11.06.20

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling released a 3,600 word essay on Wednesday linking her experience of sexual assault with her concern over transgender access to women only spaces. Rowling, 54, published the essay online after being criticised on social media for making “transphobic” posts, which some said questioned trans people’s identity and excluded them from public spaces. Rowling, a domestic violence survivor, said she was worried that “the new trans activism” was eroding women and girls’ rights to single-sex spaces by “offering cover to predators”. “I believe my government is playing fast and loose with women’s and girls’ safety,” she wrote.


Concern over student placement hours lost to pandemic, Nursing Times, 10.06.20

A student nurse has raised concerns about how he and others who opted out of paid clinical placements during the coronavirus pandemic will make up the hours of practice needed to qualify. The Nursing and Midwifery Council requires students to complete 2,300 hours of clinical placement during their training in order to join the register and practise as a registered nurse.


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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 5 June 2020: 


George Floyd / Black Lives Matter

Twitter disables Trump campaign tribute to George Floyd due to copyright complaint, The Guardian, 05.06.20

Twitter has disabled a video by Donald Trump’s campaign team that pays tribute to George Floyd, saying it is the subject of a copyright complaint. The video was retweeted nearly 7,000 times by people including the US president and his son Donald Jr. In response to the video’s removal, the campaign accused the social media site and its co-founder, Jack Dorsey, of censoring an “uplifting and unifying message from President Trump” and urged its followers make a separate YouTube video go viral.

Development World

The world will starve if we keep ignoring disease outbreaks, The Hill, 04.06.20

The global coronavirus pandemic is exposing vulnerabilities in many of the systems we normally take for granted. Hospitals in New York, northern Italy and other disease epicenters have been overwhelmed with patients, putting doctors in the grim position of having to ration medical supplies and care. Food systems are also under strain, as panic buyers empty store shelves of staple products like flour and eggs, and lockdowns lead to farm labor shortages and slower international trade. In low-income countries, the situation is even more critical — business shutdowns and movement restrictions are leaving millions without any source of income, and without government safety nets, many are at risk of hunger and sliding deeper into poverty.

OPINION: End stigma and discrimination against migrant workers and their children during COVID-19 pandemic, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 05.06.20

An opinion piece by various experts of the UN, outlining the importance to include vulnerable and informal economy workers in the measures to fight COVID-19. It is outlined that in South-East Asia and the Pacific, 11.6 million people are migrant workers – 5.2 million of whom are women. Many countries in the region rely on migrant workers for the functioning of their economies to fill local labour shortages.  As of 2019, it is estimated that 2.8 million international migrant children were living in East Asia and the Pacific. Isolation and reduced mobility have increased the risk of abuse, exploitation and trafficking in persons, particularly of women migrant workers (including by employers and partners) and children.


Japan funds UN Women progs to address challenges of women, girls during COVID-19, UNB, 05.06.20

The government of Japan has contributed US$4,545,454 to UN Women programmes to protect the lives and dignity of women and girls, as well as address the challenges they face by COVID -19. With generous support from the Government of Japan, UN Women will implement its programmes aimed at supporting women and girls facing challenges in the midst of COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific, Arab States, Eastern and Southern Africa, and Europe and Central Asia.


Yemeni women will die, aid workers warn, as U.N. cuts maternity services, Thomson Reuters FoundationRelief Web, 05.06.20

Women in Yemen are already dying in childbirth and thousands more will be put at risk as U.N. funding cuts force reproductive health services to close, doctors and aid workers have warned. The United Nations is the main provider of reproductive health services in Yemen, where a long-running conflict has left 80% of people reliant on aid, but it has been forced to cut back its operations due to a funding shortfall.

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 29 May 2020: 


Development World

World Bank suggests possible extra replenishment of IDA lending arm, Reuters, 28.05.20

Reuters reports that World Bank President David Malpass on Thursday suggested the Bank and donor countries should explore a possible supplemental replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) concessional lending arm if the coronavirus crisis deepens. In a letter to U.S. and international lawmakers, Malpass said the huge scale and depth of the new coronavirus pandemic had already rendered a record $82 billion IDA19 replenishment finalized in December too small to help crisis-hit countries.

Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow will be delayed by a year, UN confirms, The GuardianBBC, 28.05.20

A number of top-tier outlets report that global talks aimed at staving off the threat of climate breakdown will be delayed by a year to November 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis, the UN has confirmed. Cop26, which 196 nations are expected to attend, will now take place in Glasgow from November 1 to 12 next year, as reports had anticipated, with the UK government acting as host and president. They were originally set to take place from 9 November this year.


'We are losers in this crisis': research finds lockdowns reinforcing gender inequality, The Guardian, 29.05.20

Another opinion piece outlining the fact that coronavirus lockdown has reinforced gender inequality across Europe with research emphasising that the economic and social consequences of the crisis are far greater for women and threaten to push them back into traditional roles in the home which they will struggle to shake off once it is over. Throughout the continent, campaign groups are warning that the burdens of the home office and home schooling together with additional household duties and extra cooking, has been unequally carried by women and that improvements made in their lives by the growth in equality over the past decades are in danger of being rolled back by the health crisis.

Covid-19 crisis could set women back decades, experts fear, The Guardian, 29.05.20

The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating effect on gender equality and could set women back decades, experts have said on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. In a week during which it was revealed that women are bearing the brunt of extra childcare and housework and are losing jobs in greater numbers than men, campaigners, politicians and work experts said a dearth of female voices at the heart of government also risks putting 50 years of progress into reverse. 

Hungary Outlaws Changing Gender on Documents After Birth, The New York Times, 28.05.20

In a law that legal observers believe is the first of its kind in Europe, Hungary will now tie an individual’s gender to the person’s sex and chromosomes at birth, restricting later modifications on official documents. The bill was signed into law this week by President Janos Ader.


This is what giving birth and prenatal appointments will look like in the future, Glamour, 29.05.20

Glamour spoke to Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife, and co-founder of My Expert Midwife to find out how much the last few months has impacted new mothers and what giving birth and prenatal appointments might look like in the future. “Some of the biggest changes that women faced during this time include being unable to take partners or family members to their ultra sound scans and not being able to have their chosen birth partner with them until they are in the active phase of labour,” said Gilchrist.


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