Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wet With Blood: The Investigation of Mary Todd Lincoln's Cloak

From the American Historical Association:
On April 14, 1865, just five days after the close of the Civil War, Elizabeth Keckly, a former slave and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln, retold the story from the night of Lincoln’s assassination, remembering how the First Lady’s cloak was wet with blood.

“The story of Lincoln’s assassination fascinated an American public steeped in the sensationalism and sentimentalism of the Civil War era,” and that fascination continues today. One of the Chicago Historical Society’s prize artifacts is Mary Todd Lincoln’s alleged cloak from the night of her husband’s death. Is it really her cloak and is it really covered in Abraham Lincoln’s blood? Together with Academic Technologies at Northwestern University the Chicago Historical Society has created Wet with Blood, an interactive website that explores the mysteries of Mary Todd Lincoln’s cloak.


From BBC News:
Scientists have identified a previously unknown type of ancient human through analysis of DNA from a finger bone unearthed in a Siberian cave.

The extinct "hominin" (human-like creature) lived in Central Asia between 48,000 and 30,000 years ago.

An international team has sequenced genetic material from the fossil showing that it is distinct from that of Neanderthals and modern humans.

Details of the find, dubbed "X-woman", have been published in Nature journal.

Ornaments were found in the same ground layer as the finger bone, including a bracelet.

Professor Chris Stringer, human origins researcher at London's Natural History Museum, called the discovery "a very exciting development".

Hatch: Ship's Dog on The Mary Rose

Courtesy of Charli Beale @ Mary Rose 500:
A 16th century sea dog, the only female crew member aboard Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose, took pride of place at DFS Crufts this year as special guest of the Kennel Club.

Visitors to the world’s largest and greatest dog show met ‘Hatch’, a two-year old mongrel lost aboard the ill-fated Tudor warship 465 years ago, and found out more about the fundraising appeal to provide her with a permanent home at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The old sea dog acquired the nickname ‘Hatch’ after divers discovered her remains near the sliding hatch door of the Mary Rose’s carpenter’s cabin, where she had lain since the ship sank in mysterious circumstances in 1545.

Hatch almost certainly earned her keep as the ship’s ratter – superstitious Tudor seafarers did not have cats on board ship as they were thought to bring bad luck. And she was probably very good at her job – only the partial remains of rats’ skeletons have been found on board the Mary Rose.

History of the Mary Rose
The Mary Rose is the only 16th century warship on display anywhere in the world. Launched in 1511, she was one of the first ships able to fire a broadside, and was a favourite of King Henry VIII.

After a long and successful career, she sank during an engagement with a French fleet in 1545. Her rediscovery and raising were seminal events in the history of maritime archaeology.

The new Mary Rose Museum will, for the first time since her sinking, re-unite the ship and her contents, fully preserved and presented in a context that portrays a time capsule of Tudor life at sea.

Finland: Women in Jazz

From Helsingin Sanomat:
Women have composed, played, and sung jazz over its entire history of a hundred years and more, and yet the gender of a musician may still make the headlines in Finland in 2010.

If the musician is a woman, that is. This was the case last week for a concert of the UMO Jazz Orchestra, with the theme ”Female Composers” - probably for the first time in the entire history of UMO (the letters stand for Uuden Musiikin Orkesteri, or ”New Music Orchestra”) since it was founded back in 1975.

Kenya: Women & Abortion

From CNN News:
Women are being forced into backstreet abortions in Kenya because of the country's restrictive abortion law, a study says.

And the law could soon get even tougher with church groups urging a ban on almost all abortions.

The U.S.-based Center for Reproductive Health, which advocates abortions rights, found that women and girls in Kenya use metal wires, knitting needles and other unsafe practices to abort tens of thousands of unwanted pregnancies.

Musya said fetuses are dumped in the sprawling Kibera slum. She said that every week they find aborted fetuses in one garbage-filled stream. They wash away or get eaten by pigs, she said.

The report says that Kenya's current confusing abortion law forces women to the backstreets.

So in Kibera, where shacks are packed together on a warren of garbage strewn streets, they search out abortionists.

Now church groups in Kenya are pushing for the new constitution, coming up for a parliamentary vote soon, to make almost all abortions illegal. The church groups want to define 'life as starting at conception,' and heavily restrict abortion except for cases where a mother's life is in immediate danger.

Australia: Sharia Law

From The Australian:
SHARIA law for Australia is being mooted again. The Australian Muslim Mission and Islamic Friendship Association of Australia are advocating its introduction, especially in relation to family and inheritance, as these would be "an advantage" for women whose civil divorce is not recognised in Muslim countries.

Arbitration courts for conferring an Islamic divorce or even settling disputes based in religion may appear innocuous and a useful option, but relevant experience outside Australia highlights some of the problems.

Reformers in many Muslim countries are battling for repeal of discriminatory sharia laws they claim are based on a narrow, patriarchal reading of the holy texts and not in keeping with the egalitarian ideals inherent in authentic Islam. On a wider level, progressive Muslims recognise that international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have precedence over religious considerations. These views were expressed in the Arab Human Development Report 2005, with the recommendation that Arab states remove sharia-related reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, particularly article two, which prescribes the principle of equality.

Quotas for women in legislative and political spheres also were advocated in the report.

These principles would appear to offer more advantages for Muslim women than traditional Islamic law and practice. In contrast, parallel sets of family law, sex discrimination in Islamic jurisprudence and growth in sharia law in neighbouring Muslim countries restrict women and could be troublesome for Australia.

Pakistan: Minority Women Used As Sex Slaves

From NDTV:
The Pakistani army is sexually assaulting minority women and using them as sex slaves, alleges the European Organization of Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), an NGO working for the rights of minorities in Pakistan.

In a prayer-cum-demonstration held at the UN, it said the Pakistani army is taking minority women away from their families, raping them and then using them as sex slaves.

Referring to the December attacks on Christians in Lahore, the organisation alleged that attacks on minorities in Pakistan were increasing.

Using a symbolic broken chair to highlight the plight of minorities in Pakistan, more than 100 women from different faiths lit candles at the prayer to highlight the plight of minority women allegedly being raped and killed by the Pakistani army.

Expressing concern over the plight of women of Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan, the organisers said army officials are taking them to torture camps, raping them and then using them as sex slaves.

Turkey: Sperm Bank Users Face Jail

From VOA News:
Couples in Turkey unable to conceive naturally face possible jail if they go abroad for artificial insemination treatment. That's according to a new regulation introduced by the country's ministry of health. Artificial insemination has been banned in Turkey for several years, but now the government appears to determined to end the practice altogether.

Artificial insemination is usually not controversial in many other countries. But in Turkey, it's a different story. A new measure makes it a crime for a Turkish woman to get pregnant with sperm from a foreign donor, punishable by one to three years in jail.

The regulation has caused shock both for couples unable to conceive naturally and the doctors who treat them.

Officials say the measure is based on a law that forbids concealing a child's paternity. Protecting the racial purity of the nation is also another reason given by health officials defending the policy.

But women's rights groups are outraged. Pinar Ilkkaracan is the head of Women for Women's Human Rights.

US: Rise in C-Sections

From the Straits Times:
BIRTHS by Caesarean section in the United States reached an all-time high in 2007 when some 1.4 million babies, or 32 per cent of births, were delivered by C-section, a study showed on Tuesday.

The rate of Caesarean sections jumped by 53 per cent between 1996 and 2007, and the number of births by C-section soared by 71 per cent during the same period, the study released by the National Centre for Health Statistics shows.

In one year during the study period, 2006, Caesarean delivery was the most frequently performed surgical procedure in US hospitals. The rate of Caesarean births - a major surgical procedure in which the infant, placenta and membranes are extracted from the womb through an incision made in the mother's abdominal and uterine walls - rose for women in all age groups and across all ethnic groups.

Women under the age of 25 saw the steepest rise, with C-sections rising by 57 per cent, from 17 per cent of births to 27 per cent between 1996 and 2007. But older women were still the most likely to have babies by Caesarean section: 48 per cent of mothers aged 40-54 years delivered their babies by C-section in 2007, compared to 23 per cent of mothers under 20.

The World Health Organisation says the optimal Caesarean birth rate is 15 per cent. Older maternal age was one reason Caesarean births are on the rise, according to the study.

That was partly because women in their 30s and 40s who interrupt their careers to have a baby, want the birth to fit around their work schedule, said Dr Judith Rossiter, head of obstetrics and gynecology at St Joseph's Medical Centre near Baltimore.

Saudi Poet Attacks Clerics

From Google News:
A Saudi housewife's bold poems which blast "evil" extremist fatwas by Muslim clerics have earned her death threats but could yet win her a 1.3-million-dollar poetry contest on Emirati television.

Ahead of Wednesday's finals of the "Million's Poet" aired weekly on Abu Dhabi state television, the poems have put Hissa Hilal, who wears a traditional head-to-toe black "abaya" cloak and veils her face, in the spotlight.

If on March 31 she is announced the winner, she will walk away with the grand prize from the competition, which draws masters of bedouin dialect poetry, known as Nabati, which is highly appreciated by Gulf Arabs.

But Hilal has drawn the wrath of Islamist conservatives in her country after criticising its strict segregation of the sexes and blasting fatwas that reject an easing to allow women to take on jobs that are currently for men only.

Women in STEM

From AOL News:
It's been five years since Lawrence Summers, then the president of Harvard, infamously suggested that "innate" differences were to blame for the lack of women in top science positions at universities. But a new report suggests that social factors play a significant role in holding women back in science, technology, engineering and math -- the so-called STEM fields.

The report, which looked at recent research on the topic, found that entrenched stereotypes and biases affect performance in both genders. The authors highlight two main stereotypes: that girls are not as good as boys at math, and that scientific careers are "masculine" in nature. Researchers found that the stereotypes can lower girls' performance in these subjects and also reduce their interest in pursuing science or engineering jobs.

Yemen: Child Bride Law

From BBC News:
Hundreds of women have rallied outside Yemen's parliament to show support for a law banning child marriages.

The law being proposed would set a minimum age for girls to be married at 17 and 18 for boys.

But some conservative Muslims are against the law being passed. The rally comes days after thousands of women protested against it. The government proposed the law after the marriage of an eight-year-old girl to a 30-year-old man was annulled.

Campaigners say young married girls having children is a factor in high maternal mortality rates.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lane Cove History Society: Do You Know These Girls

LANE Cove Historical Society is searching for the mystery women in this 78-year-old photograph, marking the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. After searching for nearly half a decade, society member Terry Eakin is now making a public appeal to find them. The colourised black and white photo shows the seven women on one of 70 floats that took part in the Harbour Bridge opening procession on March 19, 1932 - 78 years ago today. The women, or people who can name them, can contact the society on (02) 9428 1364.

Linda Matar Honored in Lebanon

From the Daily Star:
Linda Matar, one of Lebanon’s most influential women, was honored for her career of service in Lebanon and the Arab world, in a ceremony held by the League of Lebanese Women’s Rights.

Matar has been president of the LLWR since 1953, the year Lebanese women finally obtained the right to vote. She has fought for women’s rights in Lebanon and the Arab world for the past half century, dedicating her life to this uneasy struggle.

Her journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. Throughout the years, she presided over the Lebanese Council of Women from 1996 until 2000 and oversaw reforms that saw the group become a vocal element of local civil society.

She was also a member of the Social Economic Council of Lebanon, a position that allowed her to be one of the most effective advocates for women’s rights in the country. Matar was a leading campaigner for rectifying the woefully low percentage of women in Parliament, running unsuccessfully for the legislature in 1996 and 2000.

She has taken part in over 50 Arab and international conferences, including the UN conference on women in Mexico in 1975, and the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing.

Nepal Clinic For Women

From the Star:
The frail young woman looked too exhausted to nod her head when the counsellor explained the procedure to her. Behind her, perched on a slope in Nepal's high Himalayas, the medical tent beckoned. She followed a nurse inside, and was quickly scrubbed and draped for the operation that would change her life.

Waiting patiently under a tree was an emaciated elderly man cradling in his arms a year-old child. After his granddaughter's sixth baby, produced by the age of 26, he had watched her become weaker, sicker and more anemic from malnutrition and constant bleeding.

When the woman's husband refused to help, the grandfather quietly shouldered the youngest child, took the young woman's hand, and walked with her for two days over mountain passes to the internationally funded rural clinic that provided family planning, women's health care and the sterilization procedure that ensured she would not endure another debilitating birth. For Nepal's impoverished village women, with one of the world's highest maternal mortality rates and no access to birth control, it was a life-saving operation.

Women's Fiction or Chick Lit

From the Salon Broadsheet:
On Thursday, the New York Times' Idea of the Day was: "Is women's fiction plagued by 'misery lit,' obsessed with bereavement, child abuse and rape? Or 'chick lit,' obsessed with Prada handbags and landing the perfect catch? Or is it torn between the two?" Here's my idea of the day: It's both -- and much more.
Insightful article from Kate Harding.

Philippines: Most Outstanding Women

From the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation:
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday led the awarding of this year’s Most Outstanding Women, including the country’s first woman general, a diplomat and businesswomen.

In a simple ceremony, Mrs. Arroyo awarded the “Most Outstanding Woman in Entrepreneurship” to Lydia Secosana who has made Secosana bags the pioneer and leader in the bag industry.

Doris Ho-Magsaysay, president and chief executive officer of the Magsaysay Group of Companies involved in shipping, human resources and business process outsourcing, was named as the “Most Outstanding Woman in Entrepreneurship.”

Ambassador Delia Domingo Albert, the first woman who served as Foreign Affairs Secretary, is also among the awardees for her contribution to global diplomacy.

Chief Superintendent Yolanda Tanigue got a special citation for setting a record as the country’s first woman general. She is the chief of Women and Protection Center of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Mrs. Arroyo also led the awarding of the “Most Outstanding Filipino-Chinese Federation of Business and Professional Women of the Philippines (Fil-Chi) Member” to Rosalind Wee, who was the recipient of the 2009 Pearl S. Buck International Woman of the Year.

Myrna T. Yao, chairwoman of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), received the Lifetime Achievement Award for being a successful businesswoman and women leader.

She pioneered the toy distribution in the Philippines in 1982 with the introduction of worldwide known Barbie dolls.

Liberia: Rally Supporting Education of Girls

From AllAfrica:
A women group under the banner “the United Women for Peace and Reconciliation” has held a mass rally to raise funds to support Girl’s education in Monrovia and its environs.

Mrs. Wilson [President of the United Women for Peace and Reconciliation] said funds generated [from the United Women Empowerment Fund Drive] would be used for the girl’s children to go to school while they will also use some of it to buy them copybooks, pencils and do other things for people who are living in the Banjor Community. “Because we are spreading all over now to reach out to other women in Monrovia, even-though we are from Banjor, our dreams are not only limited to Banjor, we are carrying this initiative around” She said.

Giving a brief history of the United Women for Peace and Reconciliation at the fund raising rally, Mrs. Wilson said when they first started the organization, they were women who virtually gathered from nowhere, but today they can say that they have reach somewhere.

Ukraine: Govt No Place For Women

From the Ottawa Citizen:
It's not looking good for women in politics in Ukraine. First, newly sworn in Premier Mykola Azarov Mykola Azarov asked an Orthodox priest to exorcise his predecessor's spirit from his office. "It was very hard to breathe in there," he told reporters. The last occupant of the office was the glamorous Orange Revolution princess and former premier Yulia Tymoshenko, who is now in opposition. Next, Azarov said the current cabinet didn't have any women because the situation in Ukraine was too tough for any woman to handle. "People who can work 16-18 hours a day ... have been taken into the government. Conducting reforms is not women's business."

Assam Girls Rally

From SIFY News:
Female students of various schools and colleges took part in a rally here on Friday to spread mass awareness about women empowerment.

Organised under the aegis of the 9 Assam Rifles Battalion, the rally was organised by the National Cadet Corps (NCC).

The rally would cover almost all the interior areas of Jorhat.

"They will go to rural areas and spread the message of women empowerment and whatever facility is provided to women by our government they will spread this message to all of the local masses that why this rally has been organised," said Col J S Chauhan of 9 Assam Rifles Battalion.

The girl cadets of NCC were quite enthusiastic about being a part of this rally as is evident from their spirited raising of slogans and interaction with the general public.

Korea: Female Unemployed

From Asia One Business:
Almost 200,000 unemployed women have college degrees, according to a report by the state-run statistics office.

According to Statistics Korea, the number of unemployed female college graduates was 196,000 last month, the highest number since 1999, when the office started to collect data on the education level of unemployed women.

This accounts for about 40 percent of the total number of women without jobs, the report said.

The number includes 107,000 women who graduated from a four-year college. The rest were two-year college graduates, the report said.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Medieval Women, Gender & Medicine

From Women Historians of Medicine:

Bibliography on Medieval Women, Gender & Medicine

Besides medieval coverage ..... also included a few items that cross over into the early modern period since they carry forward issues that began in the late Middle Ages.

Medieval Asobi

Article from
In medieval Japan, sexual entertainers and their customers enjoyed great freedoms until a growing orthodoxy stifled their trade, Janet Goodwin tells a UCLA audience. An early Heian period painting shows three women in a boat rowing alongside a larger boat carrying male passengers, some dressed richly and some ascetically—aristocrats and monks. The kimono-clad women were asobi, or sexual entertainers, singing their siren song to lure the aristocrats to some temporary pleasure shack.

With the monks in the rear . . . the large boat was probably on its return from some chartered pilgrimage to a sacred site. The asobi knew well the sea lanes for pilgrims who were ready to unburden themselves of their journey’s abstinence. . . weaker pilgrims might have looked for the asobi even on the way to sacred sites.

Case of the Kerry Babies

From Cork University Press:
To mark International Women’s Day, this introduction from a new book by NELL MCCAFFERTY plots how the ‘medieval’ treatment of Joanne Hayes in the Kerry Babies case acted as a catalyst for change.

A group of men put a young unmarried woman on the stand and questioned her about the exact circumstances of the conception and birth and death of her newborn baby. She came from a tiny village in the west of Ireland.

It was medieval, but it happened in 1985. The probing of the woman’s sexual history brought the men gathered around her to such a fever pitch that she collapsed.

Female Spies of WWII

From the Daily Mail:
A glamorous Nazi spy became amorously entangled with two British secret agents in wartime Cairo, previously classified files show.

Sophie Kukralova - codenamed R 37 49 by her German bosses - developed a 'most undesirable familiarity' with the two intelligence officers.

One already married agent offered to leave his wife and marry the blonde while the second threatened to blow her cover unless she slept with him.

And from the Telegraph:
Andree Peel - known as Agent Rose - helped a string of British and American pilots flee occupied Europe.

Winston Churchill wrote her a personal letter of congratulation, which had to be destroyed once she had read it for security reasons. She was awarded a second Legion d'Honneur last year in recognition of her bravery.

She spent three years with the Resistance and recounted her experiences in her autobiography Miracles Do Happen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Latest Releases

Latest Literary Releases:

A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century (2008) by Upinder Singh (Review here)

Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses by David Santiuste (Pen and Sword Books Ltd) (Author interview here)

Border Watch by Helene Young (Hachette)

Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter by Lady Antonia Fraser (Hachette)

Film: Pendragon

From the LA Times comes Pendragon:
Sylvain White could be headed from black-ops agents to medieval jousters. The up-and-coming director, who was behind the camera for the April 23 hit-man action film "The Losers," is negotiating to take on "Pendragon," a story of knights and kings set in period England. (The title is a reference to the medieval English term for "chief dragon," a euphemism for leader.)

The "Pendragon" script, from Lee Shipman and Brian McGreevy, is an origin story of a sort, looking at characters like Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere as they meet at Camelot. (Hey, if Kirk and Spock could do it....) White also directed "Stomp the Yard," so he knows a little about youthful drama and romance.

Shipman and McGreevy would be adding to the rich folklore about the heroes who are reputed to have led a fight against a Saxon invasion in 6th century England...

Afghanistan: Focus on Maternal Health

From VOA News:
March 8 marks International Women's Day. Thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. The United Nations says the theme of this year's celebration is "Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all."

Four years ago on International Women's Day, the Afghan government unveiled a plan for accelerating the improvement of women's status in the country.

Today, almost one-fourth of the Afghan parliament is female. President Hamid Karzai also has selected three women as members of his new Cabinet.

And while the Afghan government expects more than 3.2 million girls to enroll in school this year, the country's acting Public Health Minister Suraya Dalil says improvements are needed to ensure their future wellbeing.

On average, an Afghan woman will get pregnant six times during her reproductive years. Dalil says officials are working to educate people on contraception, but only 15 percent of couples use one sort of family planning. Dalil says this contributes to a harsh statistic.

"Every 30 minutes one woman in Afghanistan dies from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. So that is [a] really alarming figure," she noted.

Many women around the country lack access to hospitals like the ones in the capital, Kabul. So it is up to the government to bring the medical care to them.

"One of the strategies to address maternal mortality is to increase skilled birth attendants," she added. "That means midwives, nurses and physicians to assist deliveries."

Skilled birthing attendants are present at 25 to 30 percent of births in Afghanistan. Dalil says the government hopes to expand its midwife training programs and install these professionals in local communities.

Also this year, the Afghan government, along with its international partners, is launching a new mortality study. Dalil participated in the last study in 2002, which she says uncovered some shocking results.

"It found that in Badakhshan the maternal mortality issue was 6,500 [deaths] per 100,000 live births and that is the highest ever documented in human history," she explained.

Dalil says she hopes the new study will highlight improvements that can lead to lasting achievements for women's health. But she stresses that the Afghan government needs a combination of international and public support for health advancements before the overall well-being of women in the country can show real progress.

Indigenous Women Meet

From Bigpond News:
Aboriginal women are meeting in Canberra this week to discuss ways to improve the lives of indigenous women and their communities.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce will join summit participants on Monday to hear their stories and concerns.

The group will also meet Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin at Parliament House on Tuesday.

The women will use the summit to discuss issues including domestic violence, health, drugs and alcohol, employment and education opportunities.

International aid group Oxfam, which organised the talk-fest, says Canberra needs to listen.

'Politicians need to hear them, as they make the decisions that affect these women's lives,' spokeswoman Sabina Curatolo said in a statement.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Jane Whorwood - The King's Smuggler

John Fox has written an extraordinary work on one of the most remarkable women of the English Civil War.

Few co-conspirators from Wartime were alive to notice Jane’s death. Poverty and isolation reduced her to childlike pleading with a king who either did not know, or preferred to forget that his father had once importuned her in a similar isolation. In the summer of her death the great and the good – the second Earl of Clarendon and Archbishop Sancroft – began to enquire about Jane’s and others’ role in Charles I’s final years. By then, Dugdale’s sources and memory were suspect or failing, most witnesses were dead, Jane was stilled and no one asked again for many years.

My Review of Jane Whorwood - King's Smuggler - a book you must add to your "TBR List" immediately!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Biographies of Women in the Memory of the Nation

From Khaleej Times Online:
A women’s group in Bahrain plans to highlight achievements of ordinary working women in a specially designed project.

The project is looking for midwives, saleswomen, massage therapists and those involved in the business of herbal and traditional medicines.

The project named ‘Biographies of Women in the Memory of the Nation’ will be launched by Awal Women Society on March 6 to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Fatima Shamsan, a businesswomen, will be the first person to be profiled under the project.

The biographies of these women will be printed in a book form. The society will create a database about them. Dr Al Najar said through the project the society wanted to highlight extraordinary roles of women in their neighbourhoods and their contribution to Bahrain’s development.

2010 International Women of Courage Awards

From Colombo Page:
A Sri Lankan woman activist for the displaced civilians is among the 10 winners of this year's United States Department of State International Women of Courage (IWOC) award.

Ms. Jansila Majeed, a displaced person herself for 20 years, is one of the winners announced by the U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Monday.

Secretary Clinton will present the awards to the honorees at the Department of State in Washington on March 10.

The annual International Women of Courage Award, started in March 2007 by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and advancement.

The other recipients of the award are: Shukria Asil (Afghanistan), Col. Shafiqa Quraishi (Afghanistan), Androula Henriques (Cyprus), Sonia Pierre (Dominican Republic), Shadi Sadr (Iran), Ann Njogu (Kenya), Dr. Lee Ae-ran (Republic of Korea), Sister Marie Claude Naddaf (Syria), and Jestina Mukoko (Zimbabwe).

Arab-American Women Cook Online

From the Saudi Gazette:
Justify Full
Many Arab-American women hold reputations among family and friends as great chefs of Middle Eastern food. Building on their domestic culinary success, Arab-American women for decades have opened Middle Eastern restaurants that enhanced America’s gastronomic landscape.

Today, Arab-American women are taking their culinary knowledge to a new level. Using recipes passed down through generations, these women are influencing American kitchens through the Internet.

Exemplifying this trend are two Arab-American women with roots at opposite ends of the Mediterranean - Lebanon and Morocco. Denise Hazime of and Alia Al-Kasimi of Cooking with Alia are using cyberspace savvy to promote businesses that highlight the Middle East’s rich food heritage.

Whatever the reason for an interest in Middle Eastern cuisine, both women agree it is a thriving online market. Especially for Denise Hazime, who aspires to be known as the “Queen of Hummus.”

Co-founder of, Hazime has a formidable Internet presence. With the help of co-founder Crisantos Hajibrahim, videos from her Web site are posted on YouTube and her efforts are highlighted on Facebook among other sites.

Saudi Women to Practice Law

From the Saudi Gazette:
Saudi women lawyers qualified to practice law in the Kingdom will be allowed to establish their own law firms, according to legal experts.

“Like their male counterparts, Saudi women lawyers can set up their own law offices and hire legal assistants,” said Dr. Ahmed A. Audhali, a leading lawyer in the Eastern Province. He said women lawyers can also join existing law firms managed by male legal advocates.

Mohammad Al-Issa, Justice Minister, recently announced that the ministry intends to issue a new draft law that will license women lawyers to practice their profession and represent other women in personal status cases pertaining to divorce, alimony and child custody. The new law will also allow women to perform basic procedures with notaries, such as registering and mortgaging property and authorizing corporate sponsorships and gifts.

“We in the legal profession are waiting for the minister of justice to issue the guidelines licensing women lawyers to practice. Until such time, women lawyers will continue working in jobs inside the women’s section of law and government offices,” Audhali said.

As part of ongoing judicial reforms, family courts will be established in which women lawyers will be allowed to practice.

Major General Jeanne Holm

From the Wall Street Jounral:
As a rare woman in Air Force blue, Jeanne Holm paved the way to make aerial warfare less of a boys' club.

Gen. Holm, who died Feb. 15 at age 88, rose from an Army truck driver during World War II to the Air Force's first female general.

After a pioneering career in the nation's youngest service, then-Col. Holm in 1965 was named the Air Force's director of women, and she used the office as a platform to lobby for women's inclusion in Air Force jobs that had been off-limits.

SA: Top Female Cops

Women in Western Cape showed their mettle with the command of six police stations across the province being entrusted to the fairer sex.

Margaret Dina Smith was appointed to Oudtshoorn police station, Nomteteleli Mene to Stellenbosch, Denise Brand to Elsie's River, Gerda van Niekerk to Kraaifontein, Regina Makawu to Gugulethu and Sharon Govender to Paarl.

Another feather in the female cap is the appointment of Yoliswa Matakata as head of crime intelligence in Western Cape.

Nepal: V-Day

From Republica:
In V-day ´V´ stands for Valentine, Victory and Vagina. V-day is a renowned global movement to stop violence against women and girls including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sexual slavery.

To support this movement Eve Ensler´s award-winning play ´The Vagina Monologues´ is going to be staged by V-day Nepal at Nepal Academy Hall, Kamaladi on March 7, from 6 p.m. onward.

The event is a not-for-profit charity show. The funds generated by the event will be contributed to Biswas Nepal, a strong local group working against women and girls trafficking and abuse.

Korea: The Female Factor

From the New York Times:
So many women have entered public service in recent years that, in 2003, the government revised its quota system. In 1996 it had begun mandating that at least 30 percent of new hires in all government departments except the police and military be women. Now, because so many women have succeeded in competing for these jobs, it is applying the minimum 30 percent quota for men as well.

The recent surge of women in the public sector is an outcome of government efforts to expand democracy after decades of military rule, to combat economic stagnation by bringing more well-educated women into the paid work force and to check the country’s plummeting birthrate, attributed in part to the difficulties South Korean women face trying to combine careers and motherhood.

Faced with all this, it has been the government that has led the way to expand women’s rights. Since the mid-1990s, it has enacted laws addressing issues like sexual and domestic violence.

Ripper Requests Release

Hot on the heels of an article about a new book on Peter Stucliff, the infamous Yorkshire Ripper, I came across another article (hidden in a corner of my daily newspaper, just before the Business section) in which he who took the lives of a number of women, wishes his own to be returned to him and to be released from his current locale - Broadmoor Hospital.

Now I ask - who is the insane one - the Ripper or the persons who actually considers this request. If you can't do the time - don't do the crime. This man took great delight in taking the lives of others - his is forfeit.

Oh, and here's the article for the latest Ripper Book - "Wicked Beyond Belief" by Michael Bilton.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Notable NSW Women

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
CUMNOCK is a dot on the map between Molong and Yeoval, but that didn't stop Christine Weston's scheme to regenerate the town with an influx of tree-changers.

Her plan - to rent out surplus farmhouses for $1 a week - attracted 20 new families, lifted the town's population to 295 and saved the primary school.

Mrs Weston's efforts have earned her a place among 10 finalists in the NSW Woman of the Year award, announced today by the NSW Minister for Women, Jodi McKay. The winner will be announced on International Women's Day next Monday.

The award acknowledges outstanding contributions of women in NSW, Ms McKay said. ''It recognises women who have motivated other women, made a difference for women and girls in NSW, and demonstrated excellence and success in their field.''

Indigenous Women & Cancer

From ABC News:
High rates of cervical cancer among Indigenous women should be combated with increased services, a gynaecologist who used to work in remote Northern Territory communities says.

Aboriginal women in the Territory are 10 times more likely to contract cervical cancer compared with women in the rest of the country, Dr Margaret Davy says.

The death rate is also much higher because the disease is often caught too late.

"The Indigenous women are no different from any other Australian," she said.

"But what is different is awareness of the disease, awareness of pap testing, awareness of reporting symptoms early and the ability of being able to access medical care."

The Northern Territory Health Department says the death rate from cervical cancer in the Territory has been reduced by more than 90 per cent in the past 15 years.

Germaine Greer: Lacks Female Understanding

From the Australian:
GERMAINE Greer was wrong about women: wrong about their attitude to romance, about how they would wield power, and how they would organise things, if allowed to rule to world.

Most of all, however, she was wrong about their desire for what she called "fripperies" -- shoes, pretty clothes, and make-up -- which they indulge in now more than ever.

These are the conclusions of the writer Louis Nowra in an essay in the independent The Monthly magazine marking the 40th anniversary of the publication of Dr Greer's seminal feminist text, The Female Eunuch.

The book, published in Australia in May 1970, and in London in October 1970, was a key text of the women's liberation movement. It has never been out of print, and has been translated into 11 languages. Sales figures are difficult to find, but they are in the millions. Dr Greer was in Sydney for the Writers' Festival last May and all her shows were sold out.

Nowra, an essayist and playwright, argues that Dr Greer must, however, be disappointed in the world of contemporary women, for it does not resemble the model she envisioned. Women are, for the most part, married, and have children. They live in nuclear families, in the suburbs. Their orientation is capitalist.

Nowra's critique of Dr Greer neither starts nor ends with The Female Eunuch, however. He says Dr Greer is now a "befuddled and exhausted old woman" who reminds him of his demented grandmother. "There is no doubt that fame and celebrity have seduced Greer," he writes. "She will say and do anything to get noticed."

Kerala Women Gather

From BBC News:
India's southern state of Kerala may have hosted the largest gathering of women ever seen on the planet.

Clad in traditional Kerala saris and bearing offerings of food, more than two million women - perhaps more - thronged the state capital Trivandrum on Sunday.

The women braved searing heat to offer a special meal at the Attukal temple to Hindu goddess Bhagavathy - one incarnation of the potent goddesses Kali and Saraswati.

Women howled shrilly, as is the custom at the culmination of this 10-day annual event, and they joined the chief priest in offering their earthenware pots overflowing with rice and jaggery - an unrefined sugar - to the presiding goddess.

They were seeking her blessing for the health and prosperity of their families - and the special meal, known as the pongala, was later distributed among family and friends back at home.

Women & Children First - Possibly....

As these articles imply, it's not always the case of "women and children first". Read on....

From the New York Times:
On one boat, it seems, the men thought only of themselves; on the other, they were more likely to help women and children. This occurred for one key reason, researchers said: time. The Lusitania sank in about 18 minutes, while the Titanic took nearly three hours. Women and children fared much better on the Titanic.

And from Business Week:
In a life-and-death situation, how much time people have to react has a lot to do with whether they behave selfishly or selflessly, if a new critique of the infamous Titanic and Lusitania ocean liner disasters is any indication.

The comparative look at who survived two of the 20th century's most infamous shipping calamities suggests that the so-called "economic theory" of human behavior -- namely, that in the face of disaster, rational self-preservation trumps social norms and rules -- does not always hold water.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Saint Birgitta

From Science Daily:
The putative skull of Saint Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden that has been kept in a shrine in Vadstena Abbey is probably not authentic. A new study conducted at Uppsala University reveals that the two skulls, believed to be from Saint Bridget and her daughter Catherine (Katarina), are not from maternally related individuals. Furthermore, dating shows that the skulls are not from the time period when Bridget and Catherine lived.

Vadstena parish assigned Associate Professor Marie Allen's research group at Uppsala University's Department of Genetics and Pathology the task of examining DNA from both skulls, in order to confirm kinship and authenticity. A sensitive method based on analysis of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA was used to analyse the skulls. This method makes it possible to examine very small amounts of DNA, and it is often a successful analysis on aged and degraded material.

Ivory Bangle Lady

From BBC News:
Archaeologists have revealed the remains of what they say was a "high status" woman of African origin who lived in York during Roman times.

Academics say the discovery goes against the common assumption that all Africans in Roman Britain were low status male slaves.

Remains of the Ivory Bangle Lady, as she has been named, were studied in Reading using forensic techniques.

She was first discovered in the Bootham area of York in August 1901.

Her remains were in a stone coffin near Sycamore Terrace in the city.

Her grave dates back to the second half of the 4th Century. She was buried with items including jet and elephant ivory bracelets, earrings, beads and a blue glass jug.

Killer Heels - Medieval Style

From the Telegraph:
Impractically high heels, known as chopines, were worn by upper-class women in Italy and Spain during the late Renaissance era.

The higher the heel, the longer - and therefore more expensive - the dress needed to cover them, and the more servants needed to support the wearer.

Men briefly embraced heels in the 17th century, but the fashion did not last long, she added. "Except for horseback riding and a blip in the 1970s, heels have been a woman's accessory."

Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions

From the Guardian:
A new biography of Anne Boleyn is set to claim that, far from being framed for adultery, Henry VIII's second queen may not have been innocent of the affairs for which she was sentenced to death.

Of the conclusions he draws from this latest evidence, Bernard says, "It's a hypothesis – not a proof. In a court of law you might not condemn her for the crime, but I don't think you'd acquit her either."

His biography, Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, due out from Yale University Press in April, also disputes the view that Anne held back from sexual relations with Henry until he agreed to make her his queen, claiming that it is "highly implausible". He believes that it was Henry, not Anne, who held back, on the grounds that he wanted their children to be his legitimate heirs. "He would, I suspect, have been astonished and horrified to discover that later generations have supposed he did not sleep with Anne in those years because she would not let him," Bernard says.

Gabriele Koepp: Why Did I Have To Be A Girl

From the Telegraph:
An 80-year-old German woman has broken an old taboo of silence over the rapes she endured at the hands of Soviet soldiers in the second world war with a searing book about the crimes of the Red Army as it marched towards Berlin.

"Why Did I Have To Be A Girl" by Gabriele Koepp is the first book published about the rapes under a victim's real name. Mrs Koepp was one of an estimated two million German girls and women raped by Soviet soldiers, encouraged by their leader Josef Stalin to regard the crime as a spoil of war after Hitler's invasion had left 26 million Russians dead.

"Frau. Komm," was a phrase that women dreaded hearing from Red Army soldiers. In the weeks after the city fell the rape epidemic was so bad that even the Catholic church countenanced abortion for some victims.

See also: A Woman In Berlin from 2009 and A Woman In Berlin from 2008

Vampire of Venice

From National Geographic:
A female "vampire" unearthed in a mass grave near Venice, Italy, may have been accused of wearing another evil hat: a witch's.

The 16th-century woman was discovered among medieval plague victims in 2006. Her jaw had been forced open by a brick—an exorcism technique used on suspected vampires in Europe at the time.

At the height of the European witch-hunts, between A.D. 1550 and 1650, more than 100,000 people were tried as witches and 60,000 were executed—the vast majority of them old women.