Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Purest Choice: the Egyptian mothers standing up to female genital mutilation - Equal Times

From Equal Times
According to the World Health Organization, Female genital mutilation (FGM) “includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. Although often associated with the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, some evidence suggests that the practice originated in Ancient Egypt and then spread to the south of the continent. Exactly when it emerged is hard to say, but reference to it is made on papyrus dating back to the 2nd century BC, indicating that it already existed at the time of the Pharaohs.

Today, around 90 per cent of Egypt’s female population aged between 15 and 65 have undergone FGM, a practice that is referred to as “purification” in Arabic and that is deeply woven into the country’s social fabric. Although religious grounds are untiringly used to justify it, both within Christian and Muslim communities, there is no real mention of FGM in sacred texts. In 2008, the Egyptian government passed a law prohibiting the practice, but only three members of the medical profession have since been prosecuted – including one who is still known to be performing FGM today. The weight of tradition and the political instability in the country are hindering any real action, based on concrete initiatives, to tackle the problem.

The idea behind this photo report is to give a voice to the women who, in spite of social pressure, have decided to say “no”. The Purest Choice is a portrait series of women who have suffered FGM, each photographed next to their daughters, who they have refused to subject to genital cutting, giving new meaning to the idea of “purification”. Far from being passive victims, as they are all too often depicted, these survivors have managed to take their own traumatic experience and turn it into a source of positive change. By choosing not to perpetuate this practice, each of these women has become an activist in her own way.

read more here @ Equal Times

Trinity College’s new sculpture: 30 women to put on a pedestal

It has been more than 200 years coming, but better late than never: the provost of Trinity College Dublin wants the first woman to join the 40 men memorialised in marble busts in the Long Room of the Old Library. 


Worthy of honour:  all of these women, from Thekla Beere (top left) to Lillian Bland (bottom right), are ideal candidates for Trinity College Dublin's Long Room bust

Patrick Prendergast has asked for nominations for who should sit alongside Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Edmund Burke and Jonathan Swift, among others. The woman needn’t have a Trinity connection nor be Irish, just be a scholar who is no longer alive. 

To get the ball rolling, here are 30 Irish scholars, writers and thinkers worth considering for the honour. 

read more here @ Irish Times

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Bangladesh bride walks to groom's home in stand for women's rights

From BBC News
When 19-year-old Khadiza Akter Khushi led hundreds of people to the home of her soon-to-be husband, she didn't do it for her guests.

She did it for all the Bangladeshi women she hoped would follow in her footsteps.

The walk is thought to be a first in a country where, for centuries, the opposite has happened: men have walked to the homes of their brides on their wedding day.

Tariqul Islam (right) and bride Khadiza Akter Khushi pose for a photo during their wedding in Meherpur

"If boys can bring girls to marriage, why can't girls?" she asked BBC Bengali in the days after her wedding to Tariqul Islam had gone viral.

But it has both inspired and horrified. One man suggested the couple and their families should be beaten with slippers.

read more here @  BBC News

Mexico’s women protest violent status quo in a ‘feminist earthquake’

They were called vandals and provocateurs.

But Irinea Buendia didn’t mind. She was thinking of Mariana, chanting for an end to gender violence in Mexico, a photo of her murdered daughter hanging by a string around her neck.

This latest demonstration of women was organized under the hashtag #terremotofeminista (feminist earthquake) and controversially called on Sept. 19, the day the city marks two of its deadliest quakes. But it was just one that has gained force – and backlash – here in recent weeks.hey were called vandals and provocateurs.

But Irinea Buendia didn’t mind. She was thinking of Mariana, chanting for an end to gender violence in Mexico, a photo of her murdered daughter hanging by a string around her neck.

This latest demonstration of women was organized under the hashtag #terremotofeminista (feminist earthquake) and controversially called on Sept. 19, the day the city marks two of its deadliest quakes. But it was just one that has gained force – and backlash – here in recent weeks.

In a country where 41% of women say they’ve experienced sexual violence – and nine are killed each day, according to the United Nations – female anger is mounting. But with it has come even greater outrage directed back at them, with critics lobbing sexist slurs. Others support their goals, but not their methods. Yet far from viewing it as a step back, many of these women say the rejection of their movement is a sign that a paradigm shift is underway.

read more here @ Christian Science Monitor

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Frances Willard: Armenia’s Angel on Capitol Hill

Inside the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., each state is represented by a statue of its most honored citizen. While most of the 50 states have chosen men to represent them, it was Illinois, the land of Abraham Lincoln, which became the first state to select a woman. Her name is Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard.

When she died in 1898, flags flew at half-mast in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Her body was transported by rail from New York to Chicago, pausing along the way for services like a presidential funeral train. In Chicago, tens of thousands of people passed by her casket in one day alone. Biographer Ruth Bordin wrote, “The nation mourned her with grief, admiration, and respect it would have bestowed on a great national hero or martyred president. No woman before or since was so clearly on the day of her death this country’s most honored woman.” The New York Independent wrote, “No woman’s name is better known in the English speaking world than that of Miss Willard, save that of England’s great queen.” Another declared that she was the most influential woman of the age and that her name would become more and more revered in ages to come.” Prominent British newspaper editor, W.T. Stead, went as far as calling her “the uncrowned Queen of American Democracy.”

read more here @ The Armenian Weekly

Medieval 'queen's head' carving discovered

From Fox News
A medieval stone carving of a 12th-century queen has been discovered at an Abbey in southern England. Local officials in Milton Keynes unveiled the stone carving on Monday, explaining that it was found during conservation work at Bradwell Abbey, which dates back to the 12th century.  The carving depicts Eleanor of Aquitaine, a key figure in medieval history who was queen consort of France and, later, queen consort of England.

read more here @ Fox News

The stone carving discovered at Bradwell Abbey.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Student reveals the face of Iron Age female druid

Student reveals the face of Iron Age female druidFrom Phys Org News
A University of Dundee student has revealed the face of one of Scotland's oldest druids, believed to have been more than 60 years old when she died during the Iron Age.

Karen Fleming, an MSc Forensic Art & Facial Identification student, has recreated the head of a woman believed to have been from Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis.

The 3-D wax reconstruction depicts a toothless female, nicknamed "Hilda," believed to have been well into her 60s, an impressive feat itself. Karen says Hilda, although thousands of years old, displays many physical attributes that remain recognizable today.

read more here @ Phys Org News

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Meet Whang-Od, the Oldest Tattoo Artist in the Philippines

At 102 years old, Whang-Od Oggay (who also goes by Whang-od or Maria Oggay) is helping to keep an ancient tradition alive in the Kalinga province of the Philippines. She’s the country’s oldest mambabatok, a traditional Kalinga tattooist. Each morning at dawn, Whang-Od wakes to craft a mixture of ink from pine soot and water in preparation to apply hand-tapped tattoos on the bodies of people from around the world. Although many come to see her, their journey is no small feat. Visitors make a 15-hour drive north of Manila to the mountain village of Buscalan, which is only accessible by hiking a mile from the nearest dirt road through a forest and rice terraces.

Whang-Od inks multiple tattoos a day using a few tools—a thorn from a pomelo tree, a foot-long bamboo stick, coal, and water. The handmade ink is tapped deep into the skin using the thorn and bamboo to push it in. The results are permanent motifs that range from lines to simple shapes to tribal prints to animals. Each carries meanings such as strength, beauty, and fertility.

read more here @ My Modern Met

How to Silence Women

When classics professor Mary Beard tells the story of Tereus who, in Greek mythology, cuts off the tongue of Philomena after raping her, it is to point to a particularly grisly example of how women were silenced in ancient culture. 

That culture persists. Evidence lies in a Delhi hospital where the Unnao rape survivor and her lawyer remain on life support after the car they were travelling in was crushed by a truck, killing two other women in it. 

In Kerala, the Franciscan Clarist Congregation of the Catholic Church has expelled Lucy Kallappura, one of the five nuns who led the protest against bishop Franco Mulakkal, on bail on charges of raping a fellow nun. Sister Lucy’s sins? Publishing poems and learning to drive. The other four nuns have already been transferred. 

From Unnao to Wayanad, the lesson is clear. Women who speak up against sexual assault are sought to be silenced by men who are backed by institutional support.

read more here @ Hindustan Times

The Secret Life of Medieval Female Artists Discovered by Accident

A religious woman living in Germany around 1100AD was likely contributing art to the richly illustrated manuscripts of the era. Analysis of her teeth plaque shows evidence of the rare and expensive lapis lazuli pigment. The research shows women may have played a bigger role in religious art than previously thought.

This may indicate the woman was a painter of these highly sought after manuscripts. The study was examining dental calculus - the plaque that fossilizes on human teeth during life - of bodies found close to the site of a women's monastery at Dalheim in Germany. 

Little is known about the monastery, but a women's exclusive community may have formed there as early as the 10th century AD. 

Written records indicate that a lively community present in 1244 AD. Researchers believe up to 14 religious women may have lived on site until its destruction in a fire in the 14th century.

How The Black Death Caused Medieval Women To Shrink

From Forbes
If people living after the Black Death were healthier than their ancestors, why did women get shorter?

In the middle of the 14th century, the Black Death swept Europe, killing millions of people, but archaeologists have recently discovered that its effects were far-ranging and surprising. People living after the plague were overall healthier than those who lived just before it, but a new study suggests that the Black Death may have caused Medieval women to shrink.

Mass burial trench from the East Smithfield Black Death cemetery from London (MIN86).Writing in the American Journal of Human Biology, bioarchaeologist Sharon DeWitte from the University of South Carolina studied more than 800 skeletons from Medieval London with the goal of investigating "stress, sex, and plague." A bit less salacious than it sounds, the main topic covered in the research is the experience of physiological stress among members of two sexes -- male and female -- before and after the Black Death.

In examining skeletons from the 11th-12th century, the first half of the 13th century, and the mid-14th through mid-16th centuries, DeWitte calculated age-at-death from the bones and also tracked changes in the canine teeth and in the length of shin bones as a way of estimating people's health.

Using a mathematical survival analysis, DeWitte found that survivorship decreased before the Black Death but increased after it, for both males and females. That is, she found a general increase in health after the plague, explaining that "the post-Black Death demographic changes might represent a 'harvesting' effect; that is, an increase in mortality among people with compromised health."

read more here @ Forbes

The Silkwomen of Medieval London

From JSTOR Daily
Two women spinning silk in the 15th centuryA group of skilled women ran the silk-making industry in 15th century London. So why didn't they protect their workers' rights by forming a guild?

Women’s paid work in medieval Europe was limited, to say the least. The options were essentially: domestic service, retail, midwifery, spinning, and sex work. None of these was considered skilled enough to be worthy of a guild. Guilds (also called gilds) were one of the most influential forms of organization and community in the Middle Ages. Organized around trades or crafts, guilds worked for the mutual benefit of their members. By controlling access to skills passed from master to apprentice, guilds could be a real economic and political force—and few of them allowed women members.

But there were some guilds for women. Historians Maryanne Kowaleski and Judith M. Bennett write that “the treatment of working women by medieval gilds is a complex and varied story.” Building on a historically significant article by one of the first women medievalists, Marian K. Dale, Kowaleski and Bennett argue that “gild membership allowed women to participate in some form of community life that offered its members economic security, spiritual comfort and social privilege.” Wives and daughters of male guild members, as well as widows of male members, were the most common female guild members.


read more here @ JSTOR Daily

Museumgoers in Germany can now see 'Snow White's' gravestone

From ABC News
Once upon a time, there was a wealthy woman named Maria Sophia von Erthal. Born in 1725 in the castle of the Medieval German town of Lohr am Main, she was a baroness and the sister of bishops.

PHOTO: The gravestone for Sophia Maria von Erthal, who is thought to be the model for Snow White is on display at the Diocesan museum in Bamberg, Germany.
But she went on to be known culturally as the possible inspiration for the fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 19th century.

Kempkens told the BBC that there are "indications" that von Erthal was the model for Snow White.

"Today when you make a film about a historic person there is also fiction in it. So in this case I think there is a historic basis, but there are also fictional elements" he told the network.

Von Erthal's life did not have an overtly romantic ending. She became blind in her youth and died at the age of 71 in a monastery in Bamberg, according to the museum.

At the time, women did not typically get their own gravestones, which makes von Erthal's historically significant, whether or not she inspired the fairy tale, points out the museum.


Marian statue may be medieval

From Church Times
The most famous Marian image in medieval England, which was believed to have been burned in the 16th century, could be safe and sound at the Victorian and Albert Museum, two historians have said.

The image of Our Lady of Walsingham — a simple wooden statue that stood beside the altar of Walsingham’s Holy House — was believed to have been burned in 1539, in London, either in the courtyard of Thomas Cromwell’s house in Chelsea, or at Smithfield.

But it has long been recognised that a 13th-century statue of the Madonna and Child at the V&A, known as the Langham Madonna, bears a striking resemblance to the image of Our Lady of Walsingham on the priory seal.

In 1931, six years after it was acquired by the museum, Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, one of the founding guardians of the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham, wrote in The Tablet of the discovery of a carved wooden figure “in an old house near Walsingham”. It could be a copy of the Walsingham image, he suggested, or even the original, “saved perhaps as other relics and holy things, by means of substitution being made for the purposes of satisfying the desecrators”.

read more here @ Church Times

The wealthy widow who made her mark in medieval England


Among the many disasters associated with the fast of Tishah b'Av is the expulsion of English Jewry.


Licoricia was a remarkable Jewess, both because of her love life and her business dealings. But whereas that may apply to many a Jewish woman today, she stands out as being one of the few of whom that could be said in medieval England.

Her story also epitomises the prosperity and gradual decline of the Jewish community, which culminated in one of her sons being hanged and the others banished in the expulsion of the Jews from England, one of the many tragedies connected with Tishah B’Av, which begins next Saturday evening.

The story of the Jews as a settled community starts after William I conquered England in 1066 and invited them over to help colonise his new kingdom.

This was the core factor behind both their rise and downfall: on the one hand they had the king’s protection; on the other hand, they were seen as interlopers, both foreign and the king’s agents. They were also of a different faith in a society where there was only one right faith.

In addition to this toxic mix, many Jews were moneylenders. This was because Christians were banned by canon law from offering loans with interest and so there was a vacuum in society. It enabled many Jews to make a living, but it came at the high cost of unpopularity when the debtors faced mounting interest, or could not repay their loans and had to forfeit their deposits.

This was the world into which Licoricia was born. We are not sure when, or where, but thanks to the painstaking research of the late Suzanne Bartlet, we know that she first appears in 1234 as a young widow, known as Licoricia of Winchester.



read more here @ The Jewish Chronicle


Monday, July 22, 2019

Polish researcher identified possible grave of Slavic warrior woman in Denmark

gróbMilitant Viking women have been popularised in recent years in mass culture by the popular TV series Vikings. Dr. Leszek Gardeła from the Department of Scandinavian Languages and Literatures at the University of Bonn decided to take a closer look at this little researched issue.

According to the researcher, both the form of the burial - a chamber grave with an additional coffin - and the discovered weapon suggest that the deceased woman could originate from the territory of present-day Poland, therefore she could be a Slav. It is known that the burial is just over a thousand years old, as evidenced by an Arab coin from the 10th century found in the grave. The scientist emphasizes that it was the only grave in this cemetery that contained weapons.

"The presence of Slavic warriors in Denmark was more significant than previously thought; this image emerges from new research" - adds Dr. Gardeła and points out that the presence of a possible Slavic woman buried in a Danish cemetery is not necessarily surprising. "During the Middle Ages, this island was a melting pot of Slavic and Scandinavian elements" - the researcher emphasises.

read more here @ Science in Poland

How the society controls a woman’s sexual, matrimonial and reproductive choices

From Daily O
View image on Twitter
Honour Killings .... Each case is telling of the severe violence and hate that emanates when a woman exercises her choice in marriage or relationship. While some of these cases had grabbed national media attention, some were just reported on a corner of the newspaper and forgotten the next day. But the fact remains that these crimes in the name of honour are rampant in India and not much efforts have been made to tackle the menace.

It wasn’t until 2014 that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) started collecting separate data on the crime. As per the 2014 NCRB report, a total of 28 cases were reported where honour was the motive of the murder. This number saw a shocking 792% jump to 251 cases in the 2015 NCRB report and then fell to 77 cases in the 2016 report. UP topped the list of states with the highest honour killings in the 2016 report with nearly 70% of all the murders in the state caused with honour as the motive.

Evidently, these data are not fully reliable due to the fact that these cases are tabooed and people don’t talk about them openly. A sudden jump in 2015 indicates a pro-active data collection but a sudden fall next year indicates a probable awareness that such crimes would no longer be taken lightly leading to aggressive attempts to hush them up. The NCRB has not published any data after 2016 — in absence of which, fully understanding the nature of these crimes is not possible.

A patriarchal and patrilineal society’s very survival depends upon controlling women’s sexual, matrimonial and reproductive choices because it is through a woman’s womb that identities are produced and reproduced, and controls over properties are maintained.

read more here @ Daily O

Friday, July 5, 2019

Sor Juana, Founding Mother of Mexican Literature

From JSTOR Daily:
Sor Juana Ines de la CruzFrom a convent in New Spain, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz became one of the leading lights of the Spanish Baroque’s golden age. A scholar, poet, playwright, philosopher, and composer, in her lifetime Sor Juana (1648-1695) was known as the Tenth Muse and the Phoenix of America. Condemned by the male hierarchy of the Catholic Church, she has since become a Hispanic/Chicana/Latina feminist icon and a founding mother of Mexican literature.

Sure, she was brilliant and multilingual, writing in Latin and Nahuatl, but how did she do all this from inside a cloister? Good prep work, evidently. Before joining the convent, she educated herself in a library inherited from her grandfather. As an adolescent, she became a lady-in-waiting to the viceroy’s wife. Her brains and wit earned her renown in the royal court; a group of forty scholars tested her and granted her the equivalent of a university degree (otherwise impossible for a woman to get). Once inside the convent—a life choice that was virtually the only alternative to marriage—Sor Juana ran a salon for the intellectual elite of Mexico City.

The Church did eventually force her to give up her library and writing in 1694. She died the following year. She had, however, already published the body of work that made her reputation. This includes poetry, particularly her masterpiece Primero sueño (The Dream), comedies, dramas, and La Respuesta (The Answer or The Reply).

read more here @ JSTOR Daily

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

How Irish was Iris? The life and times of the first Irish-born Booker Prize-winner

From the Irish Times
Iris Murdoch: ‘Being a woman is like being Irish’, one of her characters said.

The first Irish-born writer to win the Booker Prize was Iris Murdoch, the centenary of whose birth occurs on July 15th, but how Irish she was or considered herself to be has been the subject of some debate.

Nevertheless, her friend and biographer Peter Conradi argued that her Irishness was important to her and another friend, Paul Levy, wrote in the Independent last year that she “always felt passionately Irish but she also felt that it was possible at the same time to be British”.

read more here @ Irish Times

Merit-Ptah, the world's first known female physician from Egypt

Centuries before some areas in Europe would consider women in the medical field, Africa already had female medical practitioners who were doing marvellously in the field. Historians do tell the story of a woman in Athens in the 4th century BCE who travelled to Alexandria to practice medicine because she wasn’t allowed to do so in Athens.

Identified as Agnodice, she came back to Athens to practice as a doctor but had to do so disguised as a man. She would eventually be found out and be taken to court but was saved by her female patients who stormed the trial and asked that she be released. The laws in Athens were subsequently changed to enable women to practice medicine.

Interestingly, around this period, female physicians had already been known in Egypt when Merit-Ptah, who lived in Egypt during the Bronze Age, around 2,700 BC was said to be the royal court’s chief physician.

Having lived during the period of Egyptian architect Imhotep, much is not known about Ptah. Historians, however, agree that she is not only the first female doctor known by name but the first woman mentioned in the study of science.

read more here @ Face2Face Africa

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Is this Welsh princess the first British woman author?

Image result for the mabinogionBritain's earliest known woman writer is identified as a 12th century Welsh princess who died fighting the Normans. Princess Gwenllian, daughter of the King of Gwynedd, is said to be the author of the Mabinogion, the 800-year-old collection of Celtic tales of romance and adventure, whose unknown author has always been thought to be a man.

In his book to be published later this month, Dr Andrew Breeze argues that Gwenllian is the author of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, the main tales of the Mabinogion, which tells of princes and princesses and daring deeds in a Celtic world of heroism, chivalry and magic.

Dr Breeze, a Celticist and English literature lecturer, says Gwenllian is one of the greatest writers. "It is sad to think that the remains of the finest of Welsh prose writers lies in an unknown spot in the battlefield where she was killed," he said.

read more here 


Sunday, June 2, 2019

The 15th Century Royal Mistress Forced to Walk London’s Streets in her Underwear | Ancient Origins

Image result for jane shore
Elizabeth ‘Jane’ Shore was an Englishwoman who lived between the 15th and 16th centuries. She is best remembered as one the many mistresses of the English king Edward IV. Yet, in spite of Edward IV’s notoriety as a womanizer, Jane remained as the king’s mistress until his death. The king himself described Jane as being ‘Merry in company, ready and quick of answer’, and was under her influence. 

Jane used her influence over Edward IV to the good of others, by appealing to the king on behalf of those who have displeased him. She seems to have been successful in this, as many were pardoned thanks to her intercession. It is unclear, however, as to Jane’s influence in court affairs and it is unlikely that she played a major role in the politics of the time.

After Edward IV’s death, however, Jane Shore quickly fell from power. Although she too was accused of witchcraft, there was not enough evidence to convict her of this crime and she was charged with harlotry (sexual immorality or prostitution). She was sentenced to do the traditional public penance for harlotry at St. Paul’s Cathedral . Dressed only in her kirtle and carrying a taper, Jane was forced to walk through the streets of London barefooted. After Jane completed her public penance, she was sent to Ludgate Prison.

Towards the end of her life, she met Sir Thomas More, who wrote about her in his ‘History of King Richard the Third’. Jane died at the age of 82 around 1527 and was buried in Hinxworth Church, Hertfordshire.

read more here @ Ancient Origins



Henry VIII 'may have divorced Anne of Cleves because she already had a baby with someone else'

From The Telegraph
Henry VIII may have set aside his fourth wife Anne of Cleves because she had already conceived a baby with someone else, the author and historian Alison Weir has claimed.

Portrait of Anne of ClevesThe German aristocrat was Queen of England for just seven months before the marriage was declared unconsummated and annulled in July 1540.

Henry claimed he was so repulsed by Anne’s body that he could not fulfill his marital obligations, and to get out of the union, alleged she was still pre-contracted to the Duke of Lorraine’s son because no document could be produced that dissolved the betrothal.

But in her most recent new novel ‘Anna of Kleve’ Weir claims that Henry may have realised his new wife was not a virgin but did not want to cause a scandal or damage his alliance with Cleves by revealing her impropriety.

read more here @ The Telegraph

The Lioness of Brittany and her Black Fleet of Pirates

In the midst of the Hundred Years War between England and France, an enraged French woman named Jeanne de Clisson took to the sea with a fleet of warships, where she mercilessly hunted down ships of King Philip VI to avenge her husband’s death. For her ferocity, she eventually acquired the name The Lioness of Brittany. Jeanne and her crew would slaughter the crew of the King’s ships, leaving two or three sailors alive, so that the message would get back to the King that the Lioness of Brittany had struck once again.

The Lioness of Brittany

It should be noted that actual verifiable references relating to Jeanne’s life and exploits are limited, though they do exist. Historical records include a French judgement of late 1343 condemning Jeanne as a traitor and ordering the confiscation of her lands. In 1345, records from the English court indicate Edward granted her an income from lands he controlled in Brittany and she is mentioned in a truce drawn up between France and England in 1347 as a valuable English ally. There is also a 15 th century manuscript, known as the Chronographia Regnum Francorum, which confirms some of the details of her life.

read more here @ Ancient Origins

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Urdu’s Unsung First Female Poet

The first woman poetess of Deccan remains unsung and uncrowned. Not many are familiar with her name either. In fact, many think it is Mah Laqa Bai Chanda, the famous poet courtesan, who is the first woman poet. The debate persists. But, the fact remains that it is Lutfunnisa Imtiaz who is the first Sahibaan-e-Diwan (woman poetess).

Well-known scholar, Naseeruddin Hashmi, has done extensive research to show that Lutfunnisa clinches this honour by a whisker. Her book of poems was published in 1796 while Mah Laqa’s works were published a year later in 1797. The Deccan region, where Urdu took deep roots, has the distinction of being home to the first male and female poet of Urdu — Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah and Lutfunnisa Imtiaz respectively.

Sadly, not much is known about Lutfunnisa. Like many famous personalities, her life is shrouded in a veil of secrecy. The little that is known is also drawn from her poems.

read more here @ Telangana Today

Ennigaldi-Nanna, curator of the world's first museum

Ennigaldi-Nanna is largely unknown in the modern day. But in 530BC, this Mesopotamian priestess worked to arrange and label various artefacts in the world's first museum.

Ennigaldi-Nanna was the priestess of the moon deity Sin, and the daughter of the Neo-Babylonian king, Nabonidus. In the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur, around 530BCE, a small collection of antiquities was gathered, with Ennigaldi-Nanna working to arrange and label the varied artefacts.

This collection was considered by the British archaeologist, Sir Charles Leonard Woolley, to be the earliest known example of a “museum”.

The museum, over 2,500 years old, was centred on cultural heritage, and it is thought to have perhaps had an educational purpose. Along with her other roles, Ennigaldi-Nanna is believed to have run a scribal school for elite women.

Image result for Ennigaldi-Nanna

When considering the discovery, Woolley noted that the discovery of a museum associated with the priestess was not unexpected, given the close connection between religious specialists and education. He also commented on the “antiquarian piety” of the time of the museum’s construction — an interest in history was a common feature among monarchs from the Neo-Babylonian period.

read more here @ The Conversation

Malawi Chief - Theresa Kachindamoto

Female chief comes to power, annuls 850 child marriages and sends girls back to school. Theresa Kachindamoto refuses to see young girls in the district she governs in Malawi robbed of their childhoods and a chance at an education. She's made it her mission to save them from the horrors of child marriage - and she doesn't mind ruffling some feathers to make sure her laws are enforced.

Kachindamoto never expected to become chief since she lived in a different town, had so many older siblings, and had 5 of her own children to care for. But her reputation as “good with people” led to her surprise election and her people told her she would have the job “whether I liked it or not”, she recalled.

read more here @ Relieved


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Gentleman Jack | the real history behind BBC1's drama about Anne Lister

From Radio Times
Gentleman Jack
The real history behind BBC1's Gentleman Jack about Anne Lister's coded diaries starring Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle.

“Anne Lister is unique and fascinating,” Sally Wainwright begins in the foreword to Anne Choma’s biography, Gentleman Jack. “She is known primarily as a diarist, and as a great lesbian lover who recorded her adventures with other women in secret code, but there are a myriad other things to know about this extraordinary woman.”

The screenwriter’s new BBC1 drama Gentleman Jack gives us a window into a crucial moment in Anne Lister’s life, introducing us to Suranne Jones as the 19th century English landowner. But in case that leaves you hungry for more, we’ve answered some of the big questions about the true story behind the drama…

read more @ Radio Times

Ancient, Pregnant Native American Woman Who Was Shot and Killed by Arrows Discovered by Archaeologists

From Newsweek
An archaeologist in Pennsylvania is starting to unravel the mysterious burial of an ancient, pregnant Native American woman who appears to have met a violent end.

Bioarchaeologist Robyn Wakefield-Murphy found four arrowheads in the torso of a woman who hailed from Pennsylvania's Monongahela archaeological tradition. Wakefield-Murphy described her research in a poster at a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in March.

The young woman’s bones were originally uncovered in the 1950s excavation of a site in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Monongahela, who lived from about 1050 C.E. to 1635 C.E., according to Ohio History Central, built relatively large villages featuring dome-shaped houses. They cultivated crops like maize and would have traded with other Native American groups. Beyond western Pennsylvania, the Monongahela tradition spread to parts of eastern Ohio, western Maryland and West Virginia. The group is named for the Monongahela River that cuts through West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania.
Image result for Monongahela native people
read more here @ Newsweek

Bones unidentified for centuries may belong to one of England’s most historically important queens

Image result for emma of normandy
Early England’s forgotten monarchs are set for a high-profile comeback – more than 1,000 years after they died. Scientists are investigating the remains of up to 18 Anglo-Saxon kings and queens to try to determine their identities, potentially including the pivotal figure of Queen Emma. Emma of Normandy was the wife of two kings and the mother of two others, and one of the most significant figures of late Anglo-Saxon England.

The trove is believed to be the largest assemblage of medieval royal skeletal material ever scientifically analysed anywhere in the world. The detailed scientific investigation into the bones will take several years to complete and should enable scientists to determine, in some cases, which bones belonged to which kings.

read more here @ The Independent

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Minnette de Silva: Sri Lanka’s first woman architect built a lasting legacy in a man’s world

From Scroll.in

Dismissed for being a woman, Minnette de Silva still paved the way for modern Sri Lankan architecture.

A woman of many firsts, her single biggest feat is also one that has been largely forgotten: she was Sri Lanka’s very first female architect.


De Silva was also the first Asian woman to become an associate of the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects, and liked to refer to herself as “Asian Woman Architect”, for its defiant ring in a male-dominated profession.

Despite being a visionary architect, de Silva’s career was stymied by her reputation as difficult and unreliable. According to those who knew her working style, de Silva had a creative temperament but struggled with time management. Her projects would often take a lot of time to complete, making it difficult for her to retain clients.

read more here @ Scroll.in


A brief history of vaginal douching, and why women used disinfectants as a contraceptive

From Inews

According to a market research report published by Technavio, the ‘vaginal odour’ business is expected to increase by five per cent every year for the next five years, which will translate to an annual incremental growth of $1,000,000 [£764,000].

Business may be booming, but it stinks. Have you ever wondered why the vulva requires a multi-billion-dollar industry and a range of specialist cleaning equipment to stay match fit when the penis can make do with a swill in the sink? Supermarkets do not stock peen clean, bollock balm, or scrotal soap, and yet ‘feminine hygiene’ products can fill an aisle.

Dr Jennifer Gunter, gynaecologist and author of ‘The Vagina Bible’, campaigns tirelessly to dismantle myths around vulval health. When she’s not shining a light on jade love eggs, she’s calling out the quacks who believe the vagina needs steam cleaning. “The myth of the dirty vagina or rogue uterus has been around since the time of Hippocrates,” she explains. “Medicine knows the vagina does not need cleaning or steaming, but patriarchal tropes are effective. As is scaring women about their normal, healthy vulvas and vaginas.” Sadly, there is a lot of money to be made by convincing women they stink, and the ‘vaginal odour business’ has a very long history indeed.


read more here @ Inews and @ Daily Mail

Japan's shrinking royal family reignites debate on women's role

From Nikkei Asian Review:
The ascension of the new emperor has left Japan with just three eligible heirs to the throne, raising serious concerns about stable Imperial succession and likely rekindling a debate about expanding the role of royal women, including allowing female emperors.

But such a change is firmly opposed by traditionalists within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe remains reluctant to embrace the idea, making an immediate change unlikely.



The 2017 legislation that permitted now-Emperor Emeritus Akihito to abdicate called for the government to consider ways to address the succession issue "speedily" after the law's implementation and report its findings to parliament. The legislation specifically mentions the possibility of allowing women to remain in the Imperial family after marriage and form their own houses.



read more here @ Nikkei Asian Review and @ Citizen Digital

The Royal Mistress: Often the Most Powerful Person in a King’s Court

From HISTORY
It was pretty common for kings to have a mistress in those days, in part because marriages were arranged for political gain and not personal companionship. “They would often be paired with someone who they may not have known very well or they may not have liked,” says Danièle Cybulskie, author of the forthcoming book Life in Medieval Europe: Fact and Fictions. Adultery was still frowned upon, and kings could be deposed if they appeared to act too immorally, but people mostly tolerated a king having one mistress at a time.

Diane de Poitiers visiting sculptor Jean Goujon. 

read more here @ HISTORY

Examining Claims that Bring Into Question Amelia Earhart's Piloting Skills

One of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th century and beyond: What happened to Amelia Earhart?

81 years after her disappearance during a flight over the massive Pacific Ocean, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe, the legend endures. Yet many historians believe that not only was the American icon an overrated pilot, but she wasn’t in the same class as some of the other female pilots in the early days of aviation.


Simply put, Earhart’s actual skill at 10,000 feet couldn’t quite match her sheer courage and talent for creating headlines. Early on, Earhart showed an alarming propensity for wrecks, though twisted metal and bruised ego aside, the mishaps weren’t serious.

read more @ The Vintage News

Monday, April 22, 2019

How Women Are Leading the Sudanese Revolution

From Common Dreams
Since December 2018, protests in Sudan that sparked over the tripled price of bread have turned into nationwide protests against the nearly three-decade rule regime of Omar Al Bashir. 

Bashir’s government has used repressive tactics and measures to quell the protests. More than 40 protesters have been killed, hundreds detained and tortured.

The brutal response did not stop women from placing themselves firmly at the heart of the protests.
They lead the march chanting a Zagrouda, an ululation commonly used by women in the Arab world to express celebration.

During the month of March, women wore the traditional white thobe in support of the protests and women’s rights. Social media platforms filled with pictures of female protesters wearing the white robe, using the hashtag #whitemarch  (#مارس_الابيض)

Women who protest regularly face police brutality. Authorities have fired tear gas and live ammunition and have even threatened with rape. Women have also reportedly been beaten, their faces have been branded and their hair cut off inside detention centers. Every day new footage of Sudanese women getting beaten and humiliated circulates on social media.

read more here @ Common Dreams

What We Thought We Knew About Gender In Ancient Egypt Could Be Wrong

From IFLScience
According to a study published in the journal Bioarchaeology of Marginalized People, the teeth of a 4,000-year-old woman show distinct patterns suggesting she was a craftsperson. Many have assumed this profession was restricted to men at the time. 

The oddity was discovered during a routine analysis of a collection of bones held at the University of Alberta. Like others in the collection, those of the woman were excavated in Mendes, an ancient Egyptian city in what is now Tell El-Ruba. But while the others were given a burial style that suggests they were middle class, she was found in a more elaborate wooden coffin, complete with a bronze mirror, alabaster vessels, and cosmetics. 

But that was not all that was unusual.

read more here @ IFLScience

An Ancient Roman Convert to Judaism Who Became a “Mother of the Synagogues” » Mosaic

From Mosaic
In the first centuries of the Common Era, many Roman Jews buried their dead in elaborate catacombs, many of which can still be seen today. One sarcophagus bears the name of Beturia Paulina, whom the inscription—from the 1st century CE—describes as having converted to Judaism sixteen years prior to her death at age eighty-six. Carly Silver writes:

Based on her name, [Beturia Paulina] likely grew up worshiping the gods of the Roman empire. Her epitaph was written in Greek transliterated into Latin. . . . As many converts to Judaism do today, Beturia Paulina adopted a name from the Jewish tradition. The epitaph mentions her as nominae Sara, or “(going) by the name of Sara.” . . . .
Perhaps most intriguingly of all, Beturia Paulina received the title of mater synagogarum Campi et Volumni, or “mother of the synagogues of Campus and Volumnius.” This terminology is multifaceted. For one thing, it implies that the idea of the synagogue . . . as a gathering place for people of the Jewish faith existed throughout Italy. And networks of synagogues existed throughout Rome itself, creating links among communities of the faithful. Campus, or “field,” probably refers to the geographic location of one center of worship, perhaps the synagogue near the Field of Mars. [Most likely, the second] synagogue was named for an individual or family called Volumnius. . . .
So Beturia Paulina was clearly closely associated with multiple synagogues in Rome. But what does her title, “mother of the synagogues,” refer to? The late historian Louis Feldman suggested that such monikers were given to women—independently of men—who gave generously to the synagogues in question. [Another] scholar, Bernadette Brooten, posited that their contributions very well might have gone beyond the monetary. Perhaps these women worked actively in these communities as leaders.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

“A girl without education is nothing in the world”

By the time she was 13 years old, Vumilia had supported herself through primary school by collecting and selling firewood. Now she faced an even greater challenge. After weeks of anxiety, Vumilia left home at 4.30 a.m. to walk the 10 km to secondary school; she had no pencils, no uniform and no money to pay her school fees.

Twelve-year-old Husna had no choice but to leave school to work, helping to support her grandmother and siblings on her US$14 a month working as a housemaid. Husna would wonder what lay ahead of her: “I was imagining that my life would be horrible. Because even if I stopped being a maid,where would I go? What would I do?”

Catherine also saw a bleak future. After the death of her father, her uncles took her family’s land. Some days Catherine would manage to go to school; on others she would sell food by the roadside. “I would see other children studying and all the time I would just look at their exercise books and try to learn. I was imagining my future as going into a big hole where no one could help me. A girl without education is nothing in the world. Education is everything.”

Vumilia, Husna and Catherine all live in Tanzania in East Africa. With an economy based largely on agriculture, Tanzania has among the lowest rate of secondary school enrolment in Africa. Many girls from poor, rural families can’t afford the cost of going to secondary school and leave home to become ‘house girls’ in urban centres. There, they sometimes experience abuse and exploitation, returning home infected with HIV, or pregnant. Sadly, Catherine’s prediction of a desperate future is all too accurate.

Image result for camfedFortunately for Vumilia, Husna and Catherine, they are now among over 40,000 Tanzanian girls who in the past decade have been helped into secondary education by the non-profit organisation Camfed (Campaign for Female Education), with whom the REAL team has a research partnership.

read more from University of Cambridge