A newly discovered painting offers a rare depiction of the most influential, avaricious and manipulative woman in 17th-century Rome. Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilj was the power behind the papal throne, and the reputed lover as well as sister-in-law of Pope Innocent X. Nicknamed Papessa – the lady pope – Donna Olimpia was an ardent feminist, championing Rome’s prostitutes and nuns alike.
“It is also unfortunate that many mosques have limited or no women present at mosque trustee or managerial level, either intentionally preventing women from taking up these roles or not sufficiently providing a welcoming atmosphere where women feel comfortable to get involved. The place and role of women in mosques is in real crisis in the UK and elsewhere, and this status quo must change.”
Mosques are traditionally seen as places where men gather for collective prayer and discussion. Many mosques in the UK and elsewhere encourage women to pray at home, and where women’s sections exist, they are often small, uninviting and accessed through back entrances. But there are growing calls from women to be included in mosques’ activity. Anita Nayyar, who launched Open My Mosque in February, told the online magazine Khouj Women: “My right as a religious minority is protected in the workplace, but how is my right as a woman protected when mosques are turning me away?"
Israel’s airports authority has refused to display adverts informing female passengers that it is illegal for airline staff to ask them to move seats at the behest of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men. The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) had planned to display the billboard ads at Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, during Passover, the Jewish holiday that ends on Saturday. IRAC’s ads, which read “Ladies, please take your seat … and keep it!”, remind passengers that requests to change seats on the grounds of gender are illegal. The organisation, which is linked to the Movement for Reform Judaism, also released a video encouraging female passengers to report any such requests.
Six in 10 women in the UK who have had a traditional Muslim wedding ceremony are not in legally recognised marriages, depriving them of rights and protection, according to a survey. It found that nearly all married Muslim women have had a nikah, a religious marriage ceremony, but 61% had not gone through a separate civil ceremony which would make the marriage legal under UK law. If the marriage breaks down, women who have only had a nikah are unable to go to the family court to seek a division of assets, such as the family home and spouse’s pension.