Thursday, January 29, 2009

Iceland's PM: Gay Woman

The biggest story this week is that Iceland's new PM is a gay woman!

From the Star Tribune:
"Iceland's next leader will be an openly gay former flight attendant who parlayed her experience as a union organizer into a decades-long political career. Both parties forming Iceland's new coalition government support the appointment of Johanna Sigurdardottir, the island nation's 66-year-old social affairs minister, as Iceland's interim prime minister."

From Fox News:
"Sigurdardottir was a labor organizer when she worked as a flight attendant for Loftleidir Airlines — now Icelandair — in the 1960s and 1970s. She was first elected to Iceland's parliament in 1978 and served twice as social affairs minister, from 1987-1994, and again since 2007. Despite her veteran status, many Icelanders regard her as more independent than her fellow legislators."

From CNews:
"Sigurdardottir will lead until new elections are held, likely in May. She will remain in office longer only if her centre-left Social Democratic Alliance becomes the largest group in the election - an unlikely prospect, since it trails the Left-Green movement in opinion polls. "

From News Day:

"While a woman has served in the largely symbolic role of president, Sigurdardottir will be Iceland's first female prime minister.She lives with journalist Jonina Leosdottir, who became her civil partner in 2002, and has two sons from a previous marriage.Sigurdardottir is best known for her reaction to a failed bid to lead her party in 1994. "My time will come," she predicted in her concession speech."

Iraqi Women & Politics

"Of the estimated 14,400 candidates, close to 4,000 are women. Some female candidates have had their posters splattered with mud, defaced with beards or torn up, but most have been spared the violence that has claimed the lives of two male candidates and a coalition leader since the start of the year.

For many of these women, the elections offer a chance to inject some much-needed fresh air into councils that are currently plagued by deep corruption and dominated by men and big political parties that are often ultraconservative.

But even if they win, they face numerous hurdles, particularly the entrenched attitudes of most Iraqi men, who view women as either sex objects or child bearers who have no place in the rough-and-tumble world of politics.

Despite the recent gains in security, some women continue to face threats, while others say the whole thing is a charade and not worth the effort."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cancer Vaccine

"More than 38,000 secondary school students will receive the cervical cancer vaccine in the first term this year. The vaccine, called Gardasil, is expected to cut New Zealand's cervical cancer mortality rate in half. Parents and caregivers of girls aged 12 to 18 from the 296 schools involved in the programme will be sent letters requesting consent when school resumes.

Clinical trials have involved more than 27,000 women from 33 countries, including New Zealand. More than 26 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed worldwide. The vaccine must be taken in three doses over six months in order to provide protection. It targets the human papillomavirus which causes abnormal cells to grow on the cervix and is responsible for 99 per cent of cervical cancer cases. The vaccine addresses 70 per cent of those cases."

School girls in Australia were vaccinated in 2008.

Divorce: New Study

From the Times of India:
"It seems the popular belief that men get fleeced by their divorces while women get richer is a myth, for a new study has revealed that male incomes rise by a third after a marital split their while females face financial hardships. Researchers in Britain have found that divorce makes men significantly richer because their available incomes rise by around one third, while the average woman’s income falls by more than a fifth and can remain low for many years.

When a man leaves a childless marriage, his income immediately rises by 25%, while women suffer a sharp fall in income — in fact, separated women have a poverty rate of 27%."

21st Century Feminism

From the Times of India:
"Some women adopt their husband’s name because they want to. But many elect to retain their maiden name or hyphenate it with the husband’s surname. The irony is that both decisions invite criticism. Women who change their surnames are accused of giving up a ‘feminist right’. Those who don’t change their names are criticized for departing from established practice. Clearly, several decades after feminism breached many barriers around the world, Indian women are still denied the unchallenged right to choose. Even urban educated women are plagued by self-doubt and confusion over the choices allowed to them.

So too domestic responsibilities, which remain the same for housewives and women who work outside the home. Looking after the children and the house are considered the woman’s responsibility even though she may work the same hours as her husband. It is a form of subordination.

These mixed messages add to the confusion women feel as they make personal choices. Is feminism at war with feminity? Are western clothes, for example, a sign of modernity and feminism? Or do they sexualize a woman and make her a traitor to the cause? "

Friday, January 23, 2009

Roe V Wade

Yesterday marked the 36th anniversary of the historic Roe V Wade.

From the Examiner:
"Americans have witnessed a historic week as President Barack Obama became the first African-American U.S. president, and the celebration continues as today marks 36 years of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that recognized a woman's constitutional right to abortion.

Some view this reproductive day of emancipation as an opportunity to further their agenda to impose their view that women’s bodies belong under the jurisdiction of government. Pro-choice Americans believe that abortion should be safe, legal and rare; and a private matter between a woman and her medical provider.

Over the last several years, access to abortion has been restricted or made more difficult by many new state laws. These include requiring expensive ultrasound tests; mandated waiting periods that increase the cost of the procedure; parental involvement requirements; and targeted regulation of abortion clinics that make operations costly and difficult. Other state efforts, such as those designed to establish fetal personhood, are intended to create a test case for the Supreme Court to use in overturning or further limiting Roe."

Methodist "Glass Ceiling"

From USA Today:

"The United Methodist Church, which boasts a history of ordaining women clergy, is seeking to shatter the so-called "stained-glass ceiling" blocking female pastors from its largest pulpits. The nation's second largest Protestant denomination has launched a new initiative, the Lead Women Pastor Project, to examine barriers to women being appointed pastors to Methodist churches with more than 1,000 members.

In 2006, women accounted for 34.4% of enrollment at U.S. seminaries that are open to female students — a headcount of nearly 28,000, according to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

The National Council of Churches notes, however, that it's difficult to know how many of those women go on to be pastors. Similar organizations that monitor church activities either don't track or have current data on female pastors in the U.S. About 15 Protestant denominations allow for women to be pastors.

Women and men pastors who lead large United Methodist churches are being asked to complete a survey, which includes questions about leadership styles, pastors' salaries, demographics of their church and community and what kind of challenges and conflicts they face. The results of the survey are slated to be released sometime in the spring."

State & Status of Women

Excerpts from Sarwar Bari's article for the News International:

"For many years we have been witnessing women being prevented to participate in the electoral process both as voters and candidates. Shamelessly, despite their cutthroat competition, the religious and so-called liberal parties engaged in this fraud. And the Election Commission of Pakistan has never taken any action against this clear violation of its code of conduct. In addition, the state has been ominously silent on the closure and burning of girls' schools and women's colleges in some parts of the country. It also must be noted that recently, when the Islamic Ideological Council announced some pro-women recommendations on divorce, the mullahs aggressively opposed them, while the so-called pro-women parties did not bother to defend the recommendations.

Is it not an irony, especially when the Constitution of Pakistan (Articles 25 and 34) guarantees equality between the two sexes? Let us not forget that Pakistan also signed the Convention for the Elimination of All Kinds of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In order to achieve the objectives of CEDAW, Pakistan has also launched a Gender Reform Action Plan. In short, it could be concluded that the constitutional and policy framework of the state of Pakistan is externally pro-women, but inwardly it has no shame when its own laws are violated.

As long as the state is dependent on these two retrogressive forces [mullahs and feudal/tribal sardars] we will neither see any improvement in the status of women nor in governance in Pakistan. The implementation on the Constitution of Pakistan, the CEDAW and the MDGs will remain only a dream. The unholy alliance of mullahs-feudals and the state will not let us, and the world, have peace. "

Please use the link above to read the full article.

SoS: Hilary Clinton

I think its fair to say that the appointment of Hilary as Secretary of State comes as no surprise to anyone.

From the Star Tribune:
"The Senate confirmed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state Wednesday as President Barack Obama moved to make his imprint on U.S. foreign policy, mobilizing a fresh team of veteran advisers and reaching out to world leaders. The Senate voted 94-2, with Republican Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana and Jim DeMint of South Carolina opposing."

Congratulations Hilary!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cleric: Violence Against Women OK

"A Melbourne Islamic cleric has told his male followers they can force their wives to have sex and hit them if they are disobedient.

Coburg's self-styled cleric Samir Abu Hamza said despite Australian rape laws it was impossible for a man to rape his wife even if she refused to have sex with him, the Herald Sun reports. In a recorded lecture entitled "The Keys to a Successful Marriage", delivered to his male worshippers but now broadcast on the internet and viewed by several thousand people, Mr Hamza said Islamic law allowed men to hit their wives as a last resort, but they were not to make them bleed or become bruised.

He said under Islamic law, as described in a koranic verse, it was a man's right to demand sex from his wife whenever he felt like it. He then mocked Australia's criminal laws, which required consent for sex to be lawful.

Despite concerns about his preaching being raised by female members of the Islamic community, Mr Hamza yesterday stood by his comments and blamed controversy over them on a hidden Zionist agenda run by the media."

I am sure the controversy surrounding this "man's" words will not end here. This is not the first Melbourne Cleric whose denegrating words towards and about women have made headlines - and unfortunately, I fear he will not be the last unless all women and men take a stand against this type of incitement of violence against women.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Girl Child Day 2009

From the Times of India:
"The government declared January 24 as the national girl child day, coinciding with the date of swearing in of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the first woman to occupy the post in the country.

The ministry is organising a number of activities which would culminate on March 8 coinciding with the international Women's Day. "

Jewish-Muslim Women's Club

From VOA News:
"Attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in Europe have sharply increased since the start of the Israeli offensive in Gaza. The number of incidents is particularly high in France, home to Europe's largest populations of Jews and Muslims. While prospects for a cease-fire in the Middle East seem to be improving, there are no signs the anti-Semitic attacks are abating in Europe. Now, a club of Jewish and Muslim women is trying to build peace by not talking about the conflict.

But one group of French Jewish and Muslim women is working to stop the spread of religious hatred. The group is called the Batisseuses de Paix, or Peace Builders. It is headed by Annie-Paul Derczansky, a former French Jewish journalist. She was on the phone this week with a Muslim counterpart and friend in the French city in Lyon, to see how the chapter there was going. Derczansky said she got the idea of a Jewish-Muslim women's group after reporting on a similar effort among Israeli and Palestinian women. Even if these women differed on political matters, she said, they could find solidarity around cultural and social events."

What an inspiring group of women!!!

Taliban versus Education

More and more we are hearing stories of young women being attacked on their way to school, or of schools being destroyed, all in a distorted effort to stop women living in regions dominated by the Taliban from accessing eduction. There is also an increase in attacks on professional women - again, in what surely seems to be an attempt to keep women in their place.

From the International News - ‘Crimes against women to be curbed’
"The culprits involved in throwing acid at Maria Shah, a young woman from Shikarpur, would be brought to justice and would not be allowed to go unpunished, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Sherry Rehman, said on Sunday. She was talking to the media after visiting the Burns Centre of the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK).

The minister made it clear that heinous crimes of this sort would not be tolerated. She said that the government and the civil society would work jointly so that the culprit may not get any place to hide.Rehman said that the crimes against women would be dealt with an iron hand so that no one could dare commit such a crime. She said that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had also discussed the issue with her."

"Thousands of young women living in a part of Pakistan once considered the country's most idyllic tourist destination have been prevented from going to school after an order from Taliban forces which have seized control of much of the area.

Fearful of violent attacks that have already seen the torching of over 180 schools in the Swat Valley, school administrators have announced that more than 900 private schools will remain closed until the security situation improves. Government officials, struggling to organise adequate protection, have appealed to schools to extend their winter holidays until at least March. The future education of around 125,000 young women is uncertain as a result of the order, said to come into effect on January 15. "

"As with Afghanistan's Taliban, their Pakistani counterparts oppose education for girls. The militants also see schools as symbols of government authority and they say the army posts soldiers in them. Yousufzai said the destruction of 170 government-run schools in the valley had compromised the education of some 55,000 children."

Women In India

From the Economic Times:
"Terming actor Sanjay Dutt's comments on his sister using her maiden name as "very very sad", Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhry today said the Constitution has given the right to any woman to choose her surname.

"It is very very sad. The Constitution has given a right to women. They can choose any name they want," Chowdhry told reporters here. "

Forgive my ignorance in this area, but I would be interested on any comments regarding this article. Just from reading this article alone,dame upon marriage. Is this a very irrugular occurrance or is this trend becoming more popular - though I would suspect mainly in the larger cities as opposed to the more rural areas.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Margaret Thatcher

The following is an article on Lady Margaret Thatcher, former-Prime Minister of Britain, who still today, is a much castigated figure, despite many calling her one of Britain's greatest leaders since Winston Churchill.

"She was the first woman to achieve that office. She had done so largely because of the excellent education she had received, which was crowned by a science degree.

Her tutors at Somerville College recognised that in those days the daughter of a grocer in Grantham did not get to Oxford without outstanding intelligence and a great deal of grit.

But when Margaret returned to her old college to receive an Honorary Fellowship, these same hateful old Left-wing tutors would not even consent to meet her.

Margaret Thatcher took over from him as Prime Minister to find a Britain in 1979 on the verge of bankruptcy. Britain was a by-word throughout the world for sloppy standards, economic chaos and appalling labour relations. We counted for nothing in diplomatic and international affairs.

But within a very few years, Margaret Thatcher turned that around. She brought in trades union legislation which no man would have dared to enact. She was prepared, moreover, to fight for it - and in effect waged a war against Arthur Scargill's communistic tactics.

When the Falkland Islands were invaded by a fascist dictator from Argentina, Margaret Thatcher amazed the world by having the courage to send a task force of British ships and soldiers to fight. They would never have won without her personal courage. "

Use the link above to read the full article.

BBC History - Margaret Thatcher

Hajiya Salamatu Suleiman

"The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Salamatu Suleiman, has charged the management and staff of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) to be proactive and more efficient in their programmes and projects so as to fast-track the gender imperatives of the present administration.

Hajiya Suleiman, who gave the charge during her familiarisation tour of the centre in Abuja yesterday noted that the centre had a lot of potentials yet to be explored towards meeting government's target on gender mainstreaming in the country.

Hajiya Suleiman therefore advocated Public-Private Partnership in the activities and management of the centre, saying that it was one way of making the place self-sustaining and reduces the financial burden on government."

Britain's "Most Powerful Muslim Woman"

From the Times Online:
"The search is on for the most influential Muslim women in Britain, for inclusion on the first Muslim Women Power List. It is hoped that those named will act as role models.

The Muslim Women Power List is intended as a celebration of the 100,000 Muslim women in Britain who have reached the top of their field or are on the fast track to success.

The aim is to challenge the view that Muslim women conform to a stereotype. The commission also wants to encourage mentoring and networking among Muslim women to help people fulfil their potential."

To apply or get further information visit:
The List 2009
Nominations can be submitted up until February 16, 2009.
Let's get behind this great initiative!

Katie Johnson

Who is Katie Johnson you may well ask. She's the new member of Team Obama.

"Wellesley College graduate Katie Johnson has accepted an opportunity to work with President-elect Barack Obama as his personal secretary. Katie is just 27 years old.Katie and her family moved to Brookline from the D.C. area in 1999. She enrolled in Wellesley College soon after, where she studied political science. She briefly considered going into law, but followed her heart into politics. The 27-year-old became involved in the Obama campaign early and has been one of his biggest supporters."

Mother Forced to Kill Children

The following is a heart-wrenching excerpt about war-torn Africa, and its effects on local populations, expecially women and childrem.

"SOUTH Sudan residents in the Western Equatorial state have told heart-rending ordeals of their encounters with LRA rebels who have forced them to kill their children and siblings or face death. A woman, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, explained how she lost her two children.

"They appeared in my compound carrying pangas and pieces of woods on December 29, 2008. It was around 8:00pm. They found me with my two children. They gave me a big piece of wood and told me to kill my children.

"I killed one at gunpoint. It was very painful. Instead of killing my second child, I hit one LRA bandit and another one immediately killed my child. I made an alarm and they ran away," the woman narrated in an article published by the Sudan Tribune."

We in the West do not realise how lucky we are - we aren't scavaging for scraps of food to feed our children; we don't live in fear that we or our neighbours will disappear in the middle of the night, never to be seen again; we do not live in the fear that we will be killed or forced to kill in order to survive.

The strength of these people is amazing ..... and we should be looking to do more, not turning our backs. I perosnally, cannot for one instant imaging myself in their situation not imaging what I would do just to survive.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Empowering Nigerian Women

"While many of the women in positions of power and those in the rural areas continue to hail the various empowerment initiatives of past first ladies, the initiative of the Wife of the incumbent Governor, Mrs.Alayingi Sylva has expanded the scope as she effectively engage in open advocacy and awareness campaign on health related issues, politics and participation of women in ensuring the peace process initiated by President, Alhaji Musa Yar'dua.

At the last count, in accordance with the record provided by the state ministry of health, the advocacy campaign on health and Cancer related issues have led to the treatment of over 5,000 women in various rural communities of the state.

Mrs. Alayingi however has never hidden her desire to use the stay of her husband in position as Governor for the benefit of women, youths and men equally. She told a group of women known as the Ogbia Women Forum last year that she has a burning desire to move women in the state to a greater height."

Acid Attack Fails

From the News & Observer:
"One morning two months ago, Shamsia Husseini and her sister were walking through the muddy streets to the local girls school when a man pulled alongside Shamsia on a motorcycle and posed what seemed like an ordinary question.

"Are you going to school?"

Then the man pulled Shamsia's burqa from her head and sprayed her face with burning acid. Scars, jagged and discolored, now spread across Shamsia's eyelids and most of her left cheek. These days, her vision goes blurry, making it hard for her to read.

But if the acid attack against Shamsia and 14 others -- students and teachers -- was meant to terrorize the girls into staying home, it appears to have failed.

Today, nearly all of the wounded girls are back at the Mirwais School for Girls, including Shamsia, whose face was so badly burned that she had to be sent abroad for treatment. Perhaps even more remarkable, nearly every other female student in this deeply conservative community has returned as well -- about 1,300 in all."

Continue to read the rest of the story of these amazing young women and their fight for education.

Iraqi Women: Lack Seats in Govt.

From the International Herald Tribune:
"Early versions of the law, which governs the election of Iraq's 18 provincial councils, included a firm guarantee that women would have at least 25 percent of the seats - the same percentage mandated by the Constitution for the numbers of women in Parliament.

In the male-dominated Arab culture, the framers of the Constitution and the Americans who were involved in drafting it felt the quota was necessary to ensure that women would be represented.

But the provincial election law was changed several times, and the quota language was gone by the time it went to the Presidency Council, whose approval is needed for it to become official. It went back to the Parliament with several unrelated changes and was published in early October.

The lack of a strong guarantee for women's seats has only begun to gain widespread attention in the last few days."

SA Clerics: 10yo is OK for Marriage

From the Star Tribune:
"A pan-Arab newspaper quotes Saudi Arabia's most senior Muslim cleric as saying it is OK for 10-year-old girls to marry.

The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper also quotes Sheik Abdul-Aziz bin Baz, the country's grand mufti, as saying that those who believe women should not marry before the age of 25 are following a "bad path."

His comments during a lecture Monday come as Saudi human rights groups are fighting to put an end to marriages involving the very young. The groups are pressing the government to define the minimum age for marriage."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tampon Ad "Most Hated"

I had a bit of a chuckle when I read that a tampon ad, here in Australia, topped the 2008 "most hated" list.

Women have been subjected to years and years of tampons ads - many of the earlier "works" not even made by women. But this ad, which I personally found quite humourous, has offended - wait for it - 185 people!

Here's a little snippet from the Daily Telegraph:
"A list released by the Advertising Standards Bureau found the hotly debated Kotex U tampon ad showing a woman going about daily activities with a beaver in tow was the most complained about ad in 2008."

So - how do you make a tampon ad that offends no-one, especially women. Then again, what about all those ads for panty liners, and incontinence pads / pants (always directed at older women) - I mean, lets be reasonable.

I'd like to see the creative boffins come up with an ad for male "personal hygiene" products - and lets see how many double entendre's they come up with then. It would probably star Sid James and Hattie Jacques, and feature the lines "oh nurse....."

Think I'll file this one in the top draw with my knickers ..... and assorted feminine hygiene products ...

Violence Against Pakistani Women

From The News - International:
"Aurat Foundation Tuesday presented a quarterly report on violence against women, which said that 202 such cases were reported in the last three months.

The figures showed that 80 cases of murder, which constituted 39 per cent of the total cases, 43 cases of hurt and body injuries, 16 suicide cases, 20 kidnapping cases, 28 cases of domestic violence and nine cases of honour killing were reported during the period.

The report said the motives behind the violence included family disputes, refusal to marriage proposals, elopement, choice marriages, poverty, illicit relationship, prolonged illness, property disputes, ransom, forced marriages, casting aspersions on character and petty disputes.

The data provided in the report was collected from the newspapers, electronic media and two crisis centers and included those incidents, which were reported to the police. However, the actual number of incidents of violence could be higher than provided by AF, keeping in view the security situation of the province and tribal areas."


From Gulf News:
"Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married Sawdah bint Zam’ah ..... a mature woman, around 40 years of age, and a mother of five children. This marriage gave Sawdah an uplift in her life, for she had been mourning her husband, Al-Sakran ibn Amr....... She was now married to God’s messenger, who was renowned for his fine character and compassion, in addition to the great qualities that fitted him to be the recipient of God’s final message to mankind.

Sawdah’s action speaks much about her character. She was a woman who loved to be kind to others, and enjoyed giving them what pleases them."

One of the many notable women of the early period when Islam was establishing itself. And what many may not realise is that, like Christianity, some of the very earliest supporters of Islam were women .....

Suffragettes Boycott Census

From the Times Online:
"A mass protest by women campaigning to be allowed to vote has finally come to public attention, almost a century too late to make a difference. Hundreds of suffragettes risked prosecution in 1911 by spoiling their census forms in a coordinated revolt.

But the full impact of their boycott has not emerged until today because of secrecy rules. Census information is usually kept secret for 100 years, but the 1911 documents have been released three years early because the rule was not enshrined in law until 1920.

The public protest was reported in The Times on April 3, 1911, but its full extent remained hidden to the public. "

Lorene Rogers

From the Austin American Statesman:
"As president of the University of Texas, she was the first woman to lead a major public university in the United States. Moreover, she studied biochemistry at a time when few women worked in science."

We mark the sad passing of such a remarkable woman: "If she had been born 25 years later, she might have, as a woman scientist, achieved more national distinction. She came along at a time when women were having a difficult time in science."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nancy Bird Walton

From Yahoo7 News:
"Australian aviation pioneer Nancy Bird Walton has died at her Sydney home, aged 93.

Named a Living National Treasure by the National Trust of Australia in 1997, Ms Walton died from natural causes about 2pm (AEDT) on Tuesday at Mosman on Sydney's north shore.

Ms Walton was 17 when she learned to fly in 1933, taught by Charles Kingsford Smith.

Two years later she became the first woman in Australia to obtain her commercial pilot's licence.

Ms Walton went on to pioneer an air ambulance service for outback NSW.

In October last year, she attended the inaugural Australian landing of Qantas' first super passenger jet the A380, named the Nancy Bird Walton in her honour.

She was also Commandant of the Women's Air Training Corps from 1940-45, the founder and longtime president of the Australian Women's Pilot Association and Emeritus Patron of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Awarded an OBE in 1966, Ms Walton became a Dame of the Knights of Malta in 1977 and in 1990 was awarded an AO by the Australian government."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Return of the "Pin-Up"

Its a little bit saucy and a little bit cheeky but its all for a good cause.

From Fox News:
"Pin-up art — a morale-booster for troops fighting overseas during World War II — is making a comeback, or will be if a California woman has anything to say about it.

Gina Elise, 26, is bringing retro back with her third annual "Pin-Ups for Vets" calendar, which features herself in costumes and poses that were popular among America's fighting men in the 1940s. Profits from the sales of the calendars provide assistance to U.S. military hospitals."

For more information: Pin-Up Calendars For Vets

Queen Seshestet

From Yahoo News:
"Egyptian archaeologists have found the remains of a mummy thought to be that of Queen Seshestet, the mother of a pharaoh who ruled Egypt in the 24th century BC, the government said on Thursday.

After five hours spent lifting the lid of a sarcophagus in a pyramid discovered south of Cairo last year, they found a skull, legs, pelvis, other body parts wrapped in linen, and ancient pottery, the government's antiquities department said.

They also found gold wrappings which would have been put on the fingers of the mummified person. Grave robbers ransacked the burial chamber in ancient times and stole the other objects.

"Although they did not find the name of the queen buried in the pyramid, all the signs indicate that she is Seshestet, the mother of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty," chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass said in a statement.

Teti ruled Egypt for at least 10 years around the year 2300 BC and is buried nearby. While archaeologists have found many royal mummies from ancient Egypt, most of them are from the New Kingdom, which began 500 years after Teti's time."

Bangladeshi Women In Politics

From Dawn:
"Bangladesh’s newly sworn-in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed has unveiled her cabinet team, appointing women for the first time to head the home and foreign ministries.

The 31-member cabinet comprises five women in total, including the 61-year-old prime minister herself, who is taking office of the impoverished country for the second time.

The Awami League leader was premier for five years from 1996.

Dipu Moni, a doctor and first-time MP who was active in the party’s women’s wing, was named the country’s first female foreign minister while Sahara Khatan, a lawyer, was given the home ministry portfolio.

Motia Chowdhury returned to the agriculture ministry she headed in Sheikh Hasina’s previous administration, while Munnujan Sufian, a newcomer to politics, was made a state minister.

The prime minister has appointed herself in charge of energy, defence, religion, women and works portfolios.

Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League won a clear majority in the Dec 29 vote, picking up 230 out of a possible 300 seats, but she has given two positions to coalition party members."

Modern Chinese Woman

From MSNBC News:
"It may have been a while since you heard the words “women’s lib,” but the idea has arrived with a vengeance in China, where women are becoming empowered like never before.

For centuries, Chinese women were expected to raise families and cater to their husbands, but that attitude is fading fast. In a 2004 survey by the Asian Women’s Forum and the Women’s Studies Center at Peking University, 45.3 percent of women said they did not think they should have to give up a career for a family life.

Nearly three-quarters of Chinese women want to be economically independent, a survey last year by the Institute of Marriage and Family found. This year, in the largest survey ever conducted of Chinese gender perceptions, the All-China Women’s Federation found that a similar percentage said media depictions of women as subservient to men were a major obstacle.

Money and security aren’t what attract the new generation of successful, busy young women, the All-China Women’s Federation survey found. Instead, they rate a sense of responsibility and personal integrity as the most important traits in a partner. Two-thirds, in fact, said they wouldn’t mind if their husbands brought home less money than they did."

UAE Women Leaderships Programme

From Gulf News:
"His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Tuesday urged Emirati women to employ all their capabilities and energies to develop themselves and serve their society in all fields.

The statement was made when Shaikh Mohammad attended part of the introductory day of the UAE Women Leaderships programme, organised by the Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) in cooperation with the Mohammad Bin Rashid Programme for Leadership Development."

Emily Benn

From the Times Online:
"On her selection as the Labour candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham, aged 17, her achievement was overshadowed by cries of nepotism. For, if you haven’t yet gathered, Emily Benn, now 19, is the latest member of the Benn family to enter the political fray. Her grandfather is Tony Benn, her uncle the Right Honourable Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and no fewer than four previous generations of her family have been MPs. And if Gordon Brown calls an election this year, she looks set to be the youngest ever candidate to fight for a seat in Parliament.

While studying for her A levels at St Olave’s Grammar School in Kent, Emily heard about the vacancy for a Labour candidate in East Worthing and Shoreham from a friend at the Royal College of Music, which she attended at weekends. Without consulting her family, she put down her name. Only when she was selected as a possible candidate did Emily break the news to them."

Beverly Perdue

From the News & Observer:
"Beverly Perdue became North Carolina's first female governor Saturday, completing a steady climb that began 23 years ago in New Bern overcoming presumptions about women candidates and culminating in Raleigh reaching the pinnacle of state politics.

After taking the oath of office before the female head of another branch of government - Chief Justice Sarah Parker - Perdue told more than 3,000 people at the inauguration ceremony she's ready to lead the state through a tough economy while improving education and how government operates.

But the focus was on Perdue, who rose through the good ole' boy political ranks to serve as a powerful state Senate budget-writer and a two-term lieutenant governor for the past eight years. Women from across the state brought their children - particularly daughters - to witness the event."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Opinion: Shirin Ebadi

The following are excepts from Azadeh Moaveni's opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal:

"The last time I saw Shirin Ebadi in Tehran, the government devoted at least perfunctory attention to her safety. Two state-appointed bodyguards stood watch outside her house, and even accompanied us to dinner. They carefully looked on as we ate under the stars, interrupted every few moments by effusive Iranians who recognized their country's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner and paused to press her hands in thanks.

As one of the few legitimate moral voices that command attention among Iran's disenchanted but sizable middle-class, she represents the country's silent majority. In 2005, she chose to boycott the presidential election on grounds that the regime's disqualification of candidates it disfavored denied Iranians true freedom of choice. Her stance helped convince many liberal Iranians to stay at home.

Hard-liners want to antagonize both her and the moderate Iranians she represents. In the face of such lawless and government-sanctioned attacks on her home and office, Ms. Ebadi will have little choice but to urge another boycott of the vote. The authorities know her inflexible ethics well, and know what response their mistreatment will prompt. The campaign against her also signals to moderate Iranians that their government is just as untrustworthy as they feared. A government that stands aside while the home of a Nobel Peace laureate is attacked by a mob can hardly be trusted to run a clean vote."

US Deserter Expelled

From BBC News:
"Canada has ordered the deportation of the first woman US soldier to have sought asylum in the country to avoid being deployed to Iraq.

Kimberly Rivera, a mother of three, had requested permission to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds but her appeal was rejected.

She could face up to five years in prison when she returns to the US.

Some 200 deserters from the US military are believed to have fled to Canada, some living incognito.

Mrs Rivera served in Iraq in 2006 but deserted a year later after refusing to be redeployed.

The War Resisters Supporters Campaign, who are backing Mrs Rivera, said her experience in Iraq was "a huge awakening" which convinced her that "the war was immoral and that she could not participate in it".

Mrs Rivera and her family have been told they must leave Canada by the end of January unless the court order is reversed.

Last year, the Canadian parliament passed a non-binding motion granting asylum to deserters from the Iraq war.

But correspondents say the governing Conservatives opposed the motion, not willing to risk upsetting Washington over the issue.

So far Canada has deported only one US deserter, Robin Long. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison on his return. "

"Sorceress" Burnt Alive

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
"Papua New Guinea police have branded as "barbaric" the murder of a young woman burnt alive after being blindfolded and gagged with her arms and legs lashed to a pole.

The body of the woman, believed aged between 16 and 20, was found on a rubbish tip at Mount Hagen in the notorious Highlands region yesterday. Both PNG's national daily newspapers reported the brutal killing, with witnesses telling each paper a truck with a number of men on board was seen dumping the naked body, pouring petrol on it and setting it alight."

From the Post Courier:
"The young woman, believed to be between 16 and 20 years of age, was burnt alive after being blind-folded, both her limbs and parts of the abdomen tied to a piece of log and her mouth strapped and gagged with rags.

According to eyewitnesses, a truck loaded with five used truck tyres and firewood drove into the dump site at around 2am yesterday.

Jessie James, 21, of Wabag who lives in the nearby settlement, said the suspects then lined up the tyres, poured petrol over them and the firewood with the woman lying over it and set her ablaze.

From the Nation:
"A young girl was burnt to death at Kirubuk waste dumpsite of Mt Hagen city during the early hours of yesterday morning.

It was claimed that the deceased had her legs and arms tied with ropes before the suspects put her into a bag, poured petrol and set it on fire. It was alleged that the deceased shouted for help but to no avail. There were not many people living near the dumpsite except for a few Engans living close by.

Provincial police commander Chief Supt Thomas Eluh yesterday said the police could hardly identify the deceased and took the body to the hospital. He said most of the body parts were completely burnt beyond recognition but by looking at the face, it was a girl.

Chief Supt Eluh said the motive of the killing was not known nor did they know where the deceased came from. He said police did not know the people involved but they were now working on some information they received.

Chief Supt Eluh said some people had seen a vehicle stopping at the site around 2am and police were currently working on that tip. He appealed to the people in the area to report to police if they had any information about the incident.

Chief Supt Eluh told people if one of their sisters or mothers were missing, then they should report to police as the body of the deceased was now at the morgue of the Mt Hagen hospital."

From the Times Online:
"The woman, believed to be aged between 16 and 20 years old, was stripped naked, gagged and tied to a truck loaded with firewood which was driven to a town dump and doused with petrol before being set alight, according to witnesses who saw the act near Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands.

"The girl was stripped naked and could not shout for assistance or resist as she was tightly strapped and her mouth gagged," Jessie James, who witnessed the girl's death told the local Post Courier Mail.

"I don't know the right words to describe it but it's barbaric. Can you find the best words to describe such acts that are rampant here?" said highlands police chief Simon Kauba."

From the Mail Online:
"A young woman was lashed naked to a pole and burnt to death in what authorities fear may be a sorcery killing in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. Black magic is still practised in the highlands of the country and women are often killed in such a way after being accused of witchcraft. Tribal women: Black magic is still practised and punished in the Papua New Guinea highlands Women are often killed for having extramarital affairs, accused of sorcery or blamed for spreading HIV/AIDS."

Jeanne Shaheen

"Twelve years after becoming the first woman elected New Hampshire governor, Shaheen, 61, became the state's first woman U.S. senator. She is also the first New Hampshire Democratic senator since John Durkin, who served from 1975 to 1980, and the first woman from any state to serve as both a governor and a U.S. senator."

Renaissance Capitalist

Interesting article from Science Daily concerning Lucrezia Borgia.

"In the current issue of Renaissance Quarterly, Ghirardo explains how Lucrezia turned seemingly worthless swampland into reclaimed land. The land was used to cultivate grains, barley, beans and olive trees; to grow flax for spinning into linen; to pasture livestock for milk, meat, wool and hides; and for vineyards.

Surviving documents also indicate Lucrezia's knowledge of contract terms, border disputes and even the skill of various hydraulic engineers, according to Ghirardo. Other records show her pawning an extremely valuable ruby-and-pearl piece of jewelry in order to buy more water buffaloes (especially to produce mozzarella).

Lucrezia Borgia — widely described by her contemporaries as beautiful and blond, with a sunny disposition — died at 39 following complications from the birth of her eighth child. Three decades would pass before another comparable land reclamation project emerged in northern Italy."

Tsipi Livni

Last years I published a couple of articles featuring Tsipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister:

I would like to add another piece, this one written by Mira Bar-Hillel from the Evening Standard: "The woman who stands to gain from Gaza's misery"

"The war was preceded by an explosion of advertising hoardings, set up along the roadsides, banners across motorway bridges and countless flyers. The predominant image is that of Tsipi Livni, the foreign minister who may well be Israel's leader after the 10 February election.

The only woman to lead Israel was Golda Meir, prime minister in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She was described by a previous PM as having more balls than the men in his cabinet but she never held the crucial position of defence minister.

In committing herself so uncompromisingly to the Gaza operation, Livni may have answered critics who felt she would be weak on security but her fate is now inextricably bound up with the outcome of the onslaught on Hamas and the Palestinians.

Military and security considerations aside, Livni is already a strong contender for the prime minister's job. She comes from that generation of politicians known as Princes, whose families played a role in creating Israel's independence."

US Congress: Top 10 Women

Igor Derysh of the Congress reporter for the Examiner has named his Top Ten "Most Powerful Women" in the US Congress.

You can view his list here at: Most Powerful Women in Congress.

Topping the list is, of course, Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pakistan: Girl Band

From BBC News:
"Addicted to their Bollywood movies and Pakistani pop music, many are at ease with privately imitating their idols.

But, like all other professions in the country, music remains male-dominated. For women it is another matter altogether - raised eyebrows are the least possible obstacle.

Some have broken the barrier, none more so than the late Nazia Hassan, who took the sub-continental music scene by storm with her pop music in the early 1980s.

That may account for all the hype surrounding Zeb and Haniya, Pakistan's first all-female music band."

Please continue reading the BBC article about the success of these exceptional young women.

Pakistan: Women in Media

From Dawn:
"A myriad of successful women here on Friday attended the launch of Diary 2009 produced by Uks – a research, resource and publication centre on women and media.

The diary titled Women of Pakistan: Striving for Visibility and Power in the Media focuses on women, who have featured in the media because of their respective professions and hard work.

The cover, which is in black and white, is flanked by pictures of prominent women in Pakistan’s history in chronological order, such as Maleeha Lodhi, Sherry Rehman, and many more.

At the end of the diary is a chronology of women who have featured in the media, some of whom have a unique profession such as Fareshteh Gati Aslam, a sports journalist, and Nigar Nazar, the first woman cartoonist of Pakistan."

Shirin Ebadi

So, who is this woman feared by the Iranian government?

From the International Herald Tribune:
"Ebadi, a lawyer and her country's leading human rights activist, is the first Muslim woman to have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

When she was awarded the peace prize in 2003, the Nobel committee called Ebadi "a courageous person" for standing up against Iran's bullying government. In the years since, she has endured repeated death threats from radical groups and regular government intimidation.

With presidential elections scheduled for June, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies apparently decided they could not risk letting Ebadi continue the work she has done with distinction (and without pay) for the past 15 years - exposing government violations of human rights and defending human rights and democracy activists."

Dr Who: Matt Smith

Yes, I am a Dr. Who tragic. I grew up on this show and love it today. So, who will place David Tennant as the new "Who" - Matt Smith.

From Yahoo News:
"The BBC says little-known actor Matt Smith will take over the title role in the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who. The 26-year-old is the 11th actor to star in one of Britain's most popular TV shows - and the youngest.

Smith has appeared on the London stage and starred in the political TV drama Party Animals, but is a relative unknown. The new role will make him a major star in Britain, where Doctor Who regularly draws 10 million viewers an episode.

Doctor Who was first broadcast in 1963 and centres on a time-travelling alien known only as The Doctor who can regenerate into new human bodies.

Current star David Tennant plans to leave the show after four special episodes this year. The BBC said on Saturday that Smith will take over in 2010."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dame MAC

For those with an interest in the new faces launching cosmetics this year - here's one for you.

Dame Edna Everage, Australia'a most iconic woman, has been named the new face of US cosmetics giant MAC.

Yes possums! it is most certainly true.

You can read all about it at: The Age and

Official Dame Edna website

Wikipedia: Dame Edna

Helen Suzman

Politician and anti-apartheid activist, Helen Suzman, passed away on January 1st this year.

"Helen Suzman, the internationally prominent anti-apartheid campaigner who befriended the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and offered an often lonely voice for change among South Africa's white minority, has died, South Africa's SAPA news agency reported on Thursday. She was 91.

Suzman was for many years among the most venerated of white campaigners urging an end to the injustices of racial rule. But, while she challenged apartheid, her views on the creation of a new society fell well short of demands advanced by more radical black campaigners for such measures as economic sanctions to pressure the country's white rulers toward reform.

A diminutive, spry and elegant politician, Suzman became her country's longest-serving legislator, pressing for changes from the benches of the whites-only Parliament for 36 years before she retired from the assembly in 1989 and later created a pro-democracy foundation named after her."

The Age has an article covering the career of this remarkable women: "Courageous MP who single-handedly took on apartheid"

Wajeha al-Huwaider

The following are excerpts from Helena de Bertodano's article which appeared in The Age:

"Huwaider, 47, a human rights activist and writer who has made herself a thorn in the side of the Saudi Government.

In March last year, on International Women's Day, she filmed herself driving in a remote area of Saudi Arabia (where women are allowed to drive). She was appealing to the authorities to lift the ban on female drivers in the rest of the kingdom, which follows one of the strictest interpretations of Islam.

In the past, Huwaider has been detained, interrogated for hours and forced to sign a statement agreeing to desist from all human rights activities. In 2003, she was banned from writing, after saying in an article that young Saudis were increasingly attracted to a Western way of life and would welcome an American invasion. But she continues to write online. And in 2006 she was banned from leaving the country after she stood on a bridge between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia holding a placard addressed to King Abdullah: "Give Saudi women their rights." "

Please read the rest of Helena's article about this exceptional Saudi woman: "A fighter for Saudi women"