All Women Everywhere

HuffPost UK leading and changing conversations about women in the 21st Century

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today.  Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity.

Ten Things You Should Know About Anti-Abortion Protestors Before You Go for an Abortion

Genevieve Edwards - Director of Policy for Marie Stopes UK

I wish I didn't have to write this piece, I really do. I wish you could walk into your appointment without hassle from people who don't want you to have an abortion, but the truth is, you probably won't.

Let's get this straight: you have the right to use legal abortion services free from harassment or intimidation. And while not everyone who sees the protesters is upset by them, we know that their activities can add to the stress some women feel about having an abortion, and that's just not on.

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Women's Rights in 2016: The Power Dynamics That Drive Inequality Haven't Gone Away

Sally Airey - Communications manager, Womankind Worldwide

The good news is that there is a strong, global will to turn the tables for women's rights. Gender equality is now a central part of the global development framework as the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pay much greater attention to gender equality and women's rights than previous goals, opening new doors for those advocating and campaigning on these issues.

However, progress on women's rights is largely driven by feminist activists and women's rights organisations...

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Mother, Teacher, Prisoner: Shining a Light on Women in Prisons

Nina Champion - Head of Policy at Prisoners Education Trust

At this time of significant policy interest in prison education, we need to focus on all these groups of women; the families, the women prisoners and the staff, in order to improve its impact in order to reduce re-offending, meaning fewer victims and safer communities for all.

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Cancer Is Rarely Your Main Concern as an Average Sixteen-Year-Old Girl

Louise Thomas - Supporter, Ovarian Cancer Action

At sixteen, your health isn't necessarily the first thing on your mind. Exams, revision, friend drama, boys and the thought of a long hot Summer ahead are probably the main concerns of your average sixteen year old girl. So it's almost understandable that when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer mid-way through my GCSEs, that it came as a complete and utter shock.

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Tackling the Exploitation of Deaf Women in Uganda

Rehema Namarome - Executive director of United Deaf Women Organisation

I'm glad to say I've witnessed positive progress in the last few years. As an educated and successful deaf woman, I enjoy meeting parents and challenging the stereotype that all deaf women are stupid, or kasiru as we are still called in Uganda.

I'm living proof that deaf women can go to school and achieve - and with more support from organisations like Deaf Child Worldwide, I'm looking forward to being part of a world where women aren't discriminated against, whether they are deaf or not.

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Girls Need More Grit to Thrive and Succeed

Masha Gordon - Explorer, businesswoman and mother-of-two

My passion for mountaineering was ignited when a friend invited me to join her on a climb during a trip to France while I was on maternity leave. It was love at first site - a sport that was as much mental as physical. For someone who had spent her life behind a desk as an investment fund manager, climbing helped me detox from my day-to-day. I started out extremely unsure of my abilities, but was then given great advice by someone who trained women athletes: focus on intermediate objectives, not the big prize.

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The Unsung Heroes of Domestic Abuse

Polly Neate - Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Women's Aid

In my three years at Women's Aid I have been astonished by the stories of what women have been through to set up these services. I've met refuge managers who originally only got a building to work in by squatting it until the local council gave way. I've met many women who themselves fled abuse to the refuge they now run, and I've met the women they now support, for whom this example of empowerment and commitment gives them a kind of hope that is unique. 

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What I Wish I'd Known in My Twenties About My Friends Having Kids

Isy Suttie - Award-winning comedian, writer, songwriter and actress

Your relationship with your friends changes when they have children. I felt left out, as if they were in a club that I wasn't. At times I even felt that I, childless and often single, cavorting about in a precarious profession, sleeping on other comics' floors in Edinburgh and living mainly off vodka and milk - was lumped in with the kids themselves, like I wasn't a responsible human in their eyes. 

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How to Spot an Autistic Woman

Robyn Steward - Speaker, artist, musician and broadcaster on the autism spectrum

Society needs to recognise that autism looks different in different people because it's a spectrum which is wide, with people like myself able to live independently (but consider what might of happened if I had not had a friend to go to ask for advice and information which is the situation many are in), to people who do not speak, have a learning disability and/or need 24/7 care.

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Losing My Mum Changed Me for the Better

Jenny Mullinder - Mental health and wellbeing blogger

Five days after my 21st birthday my entire world changed. My mum; the strongest, most vulnerable, most important woman I'd known, was dead. It was the worst day of my life, but it also caused me to finally confront all my demons, and start moving forward from them.

It wasn't until much later I learned the name for what I experienced during my childhood. Emotional neglect isn't something a teenager knows how to articulate. It wasn't deliberate, my mum never meant to hurt me. She was very ill, and the result is that I grew up pretty much raising myself. By the time I was 15 I was regularly alone in our flat whilst she was in hospital.

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Learning to Be Unapologetic About My Beauty

Tasha Okeke - Youtuber, lifestyle blogger and journalism student

You can still beautiful and feminine when wearing a glamorous ball gown or go for pinks and like Hello Kitty, have a soft and sensitive character just as much if you also have red dreads, an undercut, tattoos and piercings. As long as you do what makes you feel beautiful and is representative of your true, authentic self then remain unapologetic of your beauty. Do what makes you feel beautiful in yourself, for yourself.

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Black Women's Voices and the Permission to Speak

Jendella Benson - Photographer, writer and filmmaker

Black women are more vocal than ever. We no longer bat an eyelid at the "angry black woman" cliché that haunted our mothers, or the "aggressive" label that was tacked onto any black schoolgirl who was insolent enough to do anything but sit silently. We say what we want, and we won't suffer fools gladly, and at some point the rest of the world will learn to deal with that.

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We Must Address the Lack of Visible Older Women in Public Life

Marion Fellows - SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw

As a women who entered politics later in life I want to encourage other women to realise their full potential and help others to get involved in public life. Women have a wealth of experience and expertise but unfortunately we are less likely to put our head above the parapet.

Women over 50 make up 19% of society but this isn't reflected in public life - there is a dearth of older women on TV and radio and we are under-represented on local authorities, in Parliament and in other public arenas. The life skills older women have to offer greatly enrich public life and helping more women into these areas of influence will help to truly reflect our society.

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Dirty Talk? Why We Need to Start Listening to Women in the Bedroom

Christina Vasiliou - Experience designer at OMGYes

When people ask me why I think women's sexual pleasure is so important to focus on, especially when "there are so many more important things to be focusing on and trying to change," I think back to that moment in a cramped dorm room - a moment I know many other women also have to look back to - where I felt so much shame for knowing my own body and, despite being told by society not to, trying my best to ask for what I wanted.

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How Do You Know That You Hadn't Driven Faster on a Different Day?

Angela Samata - Merseyside Woman of the Year 2015, arts professional and presenter of BBC1 'Life After Suicide'

In the early days I'd find myself lying in bed at 4am imagining scenarios where the traffic lights weren't on red or I hadn't been stuck behind a learner driver, or where I'd put my foot down just a little bit more. I'd arrive home to find Mark standing in our hallway and we'd bring the children in from the car and talk about school and he'd explain to me how he was feeling and it would all turn out differently.

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The Importance of Investing in Girls' Education

Sarah Brown - President of Theirworld

A new Donor Scorecard published by Theirworld has revealed that 80million children had their education affected by conflicts and natural disasters in 2015. Girls are particularly disadvantaged being 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys in countries affected by conflict.

Alas, the devastating news does not stop there: the situation is getting worse instead of better due to increasingly dangerous geopolitics around the globe. Conflict in the Middle East, the threat of terror attacks in Africa, and the risks posed by natural disasters like Nepal's 2015 earthquake, only look set to grow. We need to act urgently to ensure that girls are protected and don't become the immediate casualties each time a new crisis unfolds.

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How This Government's Austerity Is Making Women Pay the Price

Yvette Cooper - Labour MP for Castleford, Normanton and Pontefract

Behind all the sugary headlines the news is grim. After six years of the Tories, our economy is far weaker than they claimed, public services will be cut some more, inequality is getting worse. And once again women are being harder hit. George Osborne's plan is failing to meet his own targets, failing to deliver for Britain and he's making women pay the price.

The Chancellor had the gall to revive his claim, "we are all in this together". Rubbish. Time and again, as the IFS have shown, those on low pay are hardest hit while top earners get most back.

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I'm Running for WE Because I Want a Better Deal for Women AND Men

Isabelle Parasram - Women's Equality Party candidate for the Greater London Assembly

Last year, I asked what I thought was a fairly unamusing question of a male professional who had had an operation and, whilst immobile, would have been perfectly able to get work done just about anywhere with a laptop and a cup of tea: "Why don't you just work from home whilst you recover," I asked.

He laughed... no, he belly-laughed at me.

"I can't do that, I need to be seen in the office for the boss to believe I'm working," he exclaimed.

"If there's no flexibility with an employee who's ill," I thought, "women (and men!) with caring responsibilities have got no hope!" Bemused, yet frustrated, I vowed to change those bits of the world that I could, but didn't really know how I could achieve this.

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How Technology Helps Us to Give Access to Medical Abortion Without Borders

Julia Ellis-Kahana - Women on Waves

Since 2008, Women on Waves has also initiated safe abortion hotlines and has trained women's rights organizations in South America, Africa, and Asia. These grassroots women's groups provide local women information about the most effective use of misoprostol to induce a safe abortion.

Research has shown that the administration of misoprostol by women themselves in settings with restrictive abortion laws has led to decreased morbidity and mortality. The freedom of information guaranteed by Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the sharing of information about misoprostol for safe medical abortion.

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Why Our Cities Need a Fem-Over

Bee Rowlatt - Journalist and writer

For the record I'm not remotely interested in taking anyone's statue down. It's just high time we got some new ones. So that school kids in Hackney, Liverpool and Manchester can look up to people who look a bit more like them; people who achieved great things and are finally recognised as having done so.

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Opportunity Over Hopelessness: Syrian Women's Impact on Peace

Brita Fernandez Schmidt - Executive Director of Women for Women International UK

Syrian women's participation in building peace is not just about seats in Geneva but must reach out to a broad and diverse range of women's groups working with Syrian women affected by the conflict, providing both humanitarian assistance and long-term support to help women's economic and social participation. Simply put, stronger women build stronger nations.

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How Women and Those on Low Incomes Have Borne the Brunt of Austerity

Eva Neitzert - Head of development, Women's Budget Group

On Wednesday George Osborne will deliver his Budget speech in the Commons for the seventh year running. Over that time, the rhetoric that 'we are all in this together' has faded and evidence has mounted that women and those on low incomes have borne the brunt of austerity policies.

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Keeping It Casual - Dating After Breast Cancer

Penny Rutterford - Blogger, slow runner, birder and writer

Don't tell my Mum but I have had casual sex, not recently but I have done it. And don't get me wrong (for any potential suitors out there) I have put my all into these encounters, there was nothing casual in terms of effort. It would be true to say that many of my longer term relationships, including my marriage, kicked off with what was only intended to be a casual skirmish between the sheets.

So now that I find myself single, the wrong side of 50 and in possession of just one tit I am understandably anxious about future encounters. Can anyone tell me when is the best time for the big one tit reveal?

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Time for Ireland to Change Its Abortion Laws

Kate Allen - Director of Amnesty UK

Clearly, Irish law is massively out of step with majority opinion. So, what if the Irish government offered the chance to vote on this in the same way they did with same sex marriage? If these poll results are anything to go by, then the current Irish abortion laws would be torn up and thrown into the rubbish bin, where they belong.

At the root of all of this is the basic human right to control and make decisions about one's own body. Whichever party, or coalition, governs Ireland following recent elections, one thing is clear: amending the abortion laws in that country must be the absolute first priority.

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I Found Out I Was Pregnant on My Way to Glastonbury

Hollie McNish - Poet

It's very hard to not feel like you are constantly apologising for the existence of this small person: for feeling sick, for being tired, for having to bring the baby, or now, for needing to arrange meetings and gigs and tours and life around the school runs, especially tricky since the new barbed wire legislation out-ruling those in state schools from any more cheap holidays, family visits or non-illness related absences.

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I Got Cancer at 24 And I Wouldn't Change It

Karen Hobbs - Writer, performer and funny female

Tuesday 4 November 2014 was the worst day of my life so far. I had been bleeding in between periods and after sex for a few weeks prior to this, and after looking up these symptoms on Google, which was not a good idea, I went to see the nurse at my GP surgery. She immediately could see that something fishy was going on down there, and referred me to the local hospital. Here I would have a colposcopy, which means a little camera going up your vagina. Yep, there was the tumour. 

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How Drawing Taught Me to Love My Body

Frances Cannon - Multidisciplinary artist

My drawings recently started to become popular on social media, as they resonated with a lot of other women who struggle with body image. This surge of popularity has also helped me realise that my work is not only important to my own struggle, but is important to others as well.

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Lack of Education Around Consent Culture Meant I Didn't Even Know I'd Been Sexually Assaulted

Amber Amour - Artist and founder of Stop Rape Educate

The more I learned about consent culture, the more I realized that I had been in many situations what were indeed sexual assault- without even knowing it. I always imagined rape to be a masked man jumping out of bushes attacking a female night runner. Never did I imagine it could happen to me by a friend, a family member, or a lesbian lover. Since I started #StopRapeEducate in 2014, thousands of beautiful souls that have reached out to me. Their survival stories have impacted my self-awareness and growth profoundly. 

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Life After Tragedy

Victoria Milligan - Personal Trainer, mentor and writer

Eventually this period of detachment and numbness comes to an end and in its place came the acute pain of grief, deep, searing, gouging pain is the only way I can describe it. It would knife through me, pulling away only to let me recover from the last round before it stuck again. I was terrified of my grief as surely no one could cope with this level of loss. How was I going to carry on living without Nicko and Emily? The fact is that time doesn't stop.

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Why We Need to Save the Feminist Library

Caroline Smith - Writer-in-Residence at the Feminist Library in London

This is the fight and we are doing well. We presented a petition at the Council during their budget meeting with nearly £15,000 signatories from around the world. That number is going up every single day. We have messages of support from high profilers: the novelists Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood and feminist icon Gloria Steinem, as well as messages of support from the thousands who have used the Library or taken part in events and meetings there over the years. 

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Why There Is a Long Way to Go for Black Women

Charlene Flash - Food, Fashion and Travel Blogger

If you visit your local newsagents, all those beautiful glossy magazines with stunning women on the front cover, how many black faces do you see gracing the covers? Being specific, how many Black British female cover models do you see? They are few and far between, with the usual Caucasian and European features being the ideal standard of beauty.

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Let's Get Girls Active to Grow Confidence and Life Skills as They Journey Towards Gender Parity

Kimberly Wyatt - Singer, dancer, choreographer and television personality

Sport and physical activity - dance in particular - has given me the confidence to be the best person I can be and I know it helps girls, in particular, to aim high and learn about themselves. This is what I hope to support and campaign for in my role as ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust, an independent charity which is devoted to changing young people's lives through sport.

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I Talk Honestly to My Kids About Being a Working Mum

Edith Bowman - Scottish Radio DJ

Life is a huge juggling act really and I can't be one of those mums, and I don't mean it in any derogatory manor, but I'm not one to get someone else to do everything for me, which means that the structure of our lives and childcare is maybe more flexible and erratic than others. But I want to spend as much time with my kids as I can, but I also want to work as I absolutely love what I do and it then allows me to do things with the kids that otherwise, I wouldn't be able to do.

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Catalysing Growth for Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs

Cherie Blair - Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Chair of Omnia Strategy LLP

Today Udoka will be one of the 500 Nigerian women who are celebrating International Women's Day by graduating from the first stage of the project - and I am honoured to be hosting a special event in Lagos to mark this achievement. Over the last three months women across the country have undergone rigorous training to develop the business management and financial literacy skills they need to take their businesses to the next level.

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What I've Learned Being a Working Mum

Kay Burley - Author and broadcaster

I've been a news presenter all of his life. Does he think his childhood suffered? Well, over supper he reminded me how I'd left him and his friends celebrating his birthday while I jetted to Spain on a last-minute assignment. He's mentioned it every birthday since. He also highlighted how I wasn't always at home to cook supper. Or sometimes went to dangerous places including Libya where he could hear gunfire in the background as I reassured him on a satellite phone that all was well. Oh.

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Transforming the Lives of Women in Trouble

Jenny Earle - Programme Director, Reducing Women's Imprisonment at the Prison Reform Trust

For 85% of mothers in custody, this is the first time they have been separated from their child. The anxiety and guilt this provokes is a major factor in women's high rates of self-harm in prison and makes prison a double punishment - with the 'collateral damage' of long-term impacts on children. As one woman said to me - "for a mother, even a short prison term is a life sentence".

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Why I'll Find it Hard to Be Interested in Cards and Flowers This Mother's Day

Rebecca Schiller - Director of Birthrights, freelance writer and doula

The work that brought me along these dusty roads is vocational. It leaves me struggling to know which box to tick on the 'occupation' section of every form I ever fill in. I'm yet to think of a snappy way to say that I am a reproductive rights campaigner who believes that promoting a human rights agenda will improve women's experiences of pregnancy and birth - and through that advance the women's rights movement more broadly.

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No Woman Should Have to Go Through What I Went Through Just to Get a Diagnosis

Anna Davies - Long-term Endometriosis sufferer and campaigner

"You are a god," I said to the gynaecologist, and hugged him. After thirteen years of being misdiagnosed by various GPs, consultants and specialists through the NHS, I was overjoyed to find out what was actually wrong with me. I hugged him some more and cried. He looked a little taken aback. 

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Is Parity for Women in the City a Pipe Dream?

Sophia Morrell - Vice Chair of the Young Fabians Finance Network

Will we ever have gender equality in financial services? Genuine equality - parity of earnings, representation on boards and recognition of women's talent, merit and contribution, in exactly the same way men have enjoyed since the City began?

The figures speak for themselves: only an estimated 2% of fund managers in the US are female, women only make up 16% of executive committees in European capital markets, and in 2013, out of 150 financial institutions globally, only 4% had a female CEO.

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We Walk in Solidarity With Women and Girls Across the Developing World

Dr. Helen Pankhurst - CARE International UK’s campaign ambassador

What's the best way to get involved in international development from the UK - both to make a difference in developing countries and at the same time involve supporters in the UK? How do we do this without sounding cringingly paternalistic? How in one initiative can you combine raising awareness amongst the general public, lobbying for policy change amongst influencers, and raising money?  

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Kesha's Is a Sad, Familiar Story

Mia Doring - Writer, activist and psychotherapist

When I was in first year in college, I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew, a fourth year student, at a small party. Seeing him around college for the remainder of his final year was difficult. I didn't make a complaint about him. I didn't contact the police. I didn't realise that what he had done was an actual crime, such is how sexual violence is woven into the tapestry of our culture. When I did tell a few friends about it, none of them mentioned reporting him either.  

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Why I Am Embracing, Not Erasing, Experience

Laura Dodsworth - Photographer and author of 'Bare Reality: 100 Women, Their Breasts, Their Stories'

I'm in my 40s and I wouldn't trade this decade for any other. Age and experience, which for me includes motherhood with all the body changes that confers, are sources of creative inspiration and power. If that shows in the lines on my face and white hair in my hair, then so be it. I'm not a Maiden anymore, I'm a Mother. I'm not a Princess, I'm a Queen. I guess one day, if I'm lucky to live that long, I'll be an Old Crone. I will not erase my experience, but embrace it.

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Cancer's Emotional Legacy Is Cruel - But We Aren't Meant to Talk About It

Felicity Gibson - Writer and cancer survivor

The black dogs came for me again last night; I wasn't prepared for them. They clawed, scratched and bit at my tired out brain, relentlessly gnawing until I gave in and listened. They always demand surrender. Since being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in November 2014 I have had the phrase think yourself lucky thrown at me over and over again. You only have to have one breast removed? Think yourself lucky.

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How Women Make Front Pages in the UK's Media

Georgia Bea Edkins - BA Journalism student at City University

The 2016 Press Awards, to be announced in London on 22 March, are causing quite a stir. Only 20 of the 114 journalists nominated are women, suggesting that that gender inequality in newspapers still remains an innate problem. One of the UK's largest training, networking and campaigning organisations for women working in media, Women in Journalism (WIJ), published research into the question of how women are represented in newspapers...

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The UK Is Pro-Choice - Time for a Law That Reflects That

Ann Furedi - Chief executive of British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)

As the celebrated US feminist Gloria Steinem said on a trip to the UK last week - that "the state stops at our skins". Without the ability to make reproductive choices, we lose the ability to make decisions about our lives... Why in 2016 can a woman be sent to prison for trying to end her own pregnancy‎, and a nurse or midwife for helping her?

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An Open Letter to All Women Everywhere

Poorna Bell - Executive editor, Huffington Post UK

You have a voice. You may not have felt like you did, when someone said you were disgusting for breastfeeding in a public place, when you were catcalled in the street for wearing something as sexy as a baggy t-shirt or when you found out you were paid less than your male colleague for doing the same job. Perhaps you felt your voice was too tiny, too small to accomplish anything. But there is one thing that you can always rely on. It's our voice. We've got your back, and always have.

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