Sunday, March 31, 2019

Lucetta Scaraffia resigns from Vatican women's magazine over pressure

The founder and staff of an all-female monthly Vatican publication have stepped down en masse, citing what they call a newly difficult work environment and a Vatican attempt to undercut the women’s voices on sensitive issues, including sexual abuse of nuns.

“The whole newsroom has resigned,” Lucetta Scaraffia, who launched Women Church World seven years ago, said in a phone interview.

Scaraffia was known as a comparatively liberal voice inside the city-state’s ancient walls, advocating for a larger role for women in the church and, more recently, devoting editorial space to the long-hidden issue of the abuse of nuns by clergy members.

But Scaraffia said she perceived discomfort with her publication’s work, and she noted that the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, had been publishing pieces that contradicted the Women Church World editorial line. She said her publication’s editorial freedom had also been threatened with an “attempt” to put L’Osservatore Romano’s new top editor, Andrea Monda, in charge of Women Church World.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Shoulder bone of Scots hero St Margaret removed by archaeologists

From The Scotsman
Image result for st margaret of scotland
Part of St Margaret’s shoulder bone has been removed from its reliquary by archaeologists seeking to find out more about the life of one of Scotland’s most venerated figures.

The experts will use 3D scanning technology to try to discover more about the 11th century Queen of Scotland’s lifestyle, as well as producing an exact replica which people can hold without fear of breaking an ancient artefact. St Margaret, known as the Pearl of Scotland, led a pious lifestyle and gave much help to the poor, as well as introducing refinements to the country, such as the first use of knives and forks. Now, Lauren Gill from the University of Glasgow and Martin Lane from Cardiff Metropolitan University have had the opportunity to begin researching the holy relic which is kept in an ornate reliquary at St Margaret’s RC Memorial Church in Dunfermline.

After being made a saint by Pope Innocent IV, a shrine was built at Dunfermline where she laid intact until the 16th century when Mary, Queen of Scots asked for her head to be sent to her, to bring her help as she gave birth to her son who would become James VI. Her head was then taken to a Jesuit College in Douai, France, but was never seen again after the French Revolution. As the Reformation threatened to destroy Catholic churches and abbeys the rest of her body had been secreted away in the 16th century, ultimately being taken to Escorial Monastery by Philip II of Spain.

read more here 

One year after her assassination, Marielle Franco’s spirit energizes Rio’s struggles for justice

One year on from the brutal assassination of Rio de Janeiro city council member Marielle Franco, enduring questions about who ordered the hit have become a rallying cry for the marginalized groups she championed.

A 38-year-old black gay politician who was born in Rio’s poverty-stricken Maré favela, Franco was a tireless opponent of the city’s use of heavily armed paramilitary militias. The militias police the city’s sprawling favelas, and have often been accused of violently terrorizing and murdering the city’s poor and LGBT citizens.

This week, two former police officers with connections to President Jair Bolsonaro were charged with killing Franco. One suspect, Ronnie Lessa, lived in the same condominium where Bolsonaro owns a home. The other, Elcio Vieira de Queiroz, has a photo of himself embracing Bolsonaro on his Facebook page. And according to police, the daughter of one of the suspects had dated one of Bolsonaro’s sons, who are both politicians themselves.
Image result for marielle franco
Activists allege that the former policemen were likely employed as contract killers on behalf of the militias, which Bolsonaro and his sons strongly support. Bolsonaro’s failure to condemn Franco’s murder — as well as his numerous comments and policy decisions targeting women, gays, and black Brazilians — have infuriated the late council member’s supporters.

read more here

Monday, March 11, 2019

Russian archaeological find solves 13th-century mystery

From Phys Org News
Rescue archaeology work conducted in the city centre of Yaroslavl prior to installing a new sewer system has turned up an ancient leaden seal from the turn of the 13th century. It once belonged to the spouse of Vladimir Grand-Prince Constantine Vsevolovodich and the mother of the first Grand-Prince of Yaroslavl (Vasilij Vsevolodovich, Duke Of Yaroslavl). Thanks to this find, we finally know the name of the Grand-Duchess—her name was Maria (or quite possibly: Marina Olgovna Princess Of Kursk, 1211-1279).

"In Ancient Rus, everyone in a position of authority—Grand-Princes and Princesses, and the upper ranks of the clergy—had their own seal, which was affixed to all official documents and decrees. We have several thousand such seals from the pre-Mongolian era—but to find one with a female owner is very remarkable indeed. Scientists are only aware of a few dozen examples," said Dr. Pyotr Gaidukov, Deputy director of the Institute of Archaeology.

Dr. Gaidukov is a leading authority on stamps and seals of Ancient Rus, and is responsible for the attribution of the latest find.

Russian archaeological find solves 13th-century mystery

The seal was found in Yaroslavl during preliminary work for putting through a new sewerage system to the Metropolitan bishop Chambers (Mitropolichy Palaty)—the oldest structure in the city. Yaroslavl's city centre has only recently marked its thousandth anniversary—it is a Federal-level Heritage Site that also falls under UNESCO Heritage Protection.

This special status means that any building work in the centre of the city must first undergo archaeological inspection.

Read more 

Kenya: Married Women Get Nod to Inherit Their Fathers' Land

A court ruling asserting that married women qualify to inherit properties of their fathers and should not be excluded during distribution has stirred debate between defenders of women's and men's rights.

The ruling was made by the Environment and Land Court in Nyeri, and stopped a woman from disinheriting her step-daughters. Justice Lucy Waithaka held that married daughters are also entitled to inherit their father's estate, contrary to customary law and many traditions in the country. "Even children born out of wedlock have a right to inherit their parents' property," she added.

A feminist glossary to help you fight for equality

From USA Today
Like any "ism," feminism is rich with jargon, which can lead deeply personal conversations to turn unnecessarily dense. While some terms are entrenched, others are contemporary additions to an evolving lexicon. To help you break through, here are definitions for everything from "feminism" and "misogyny" to "bropropriated" and "feminazi."  Helping you make sense of feminist jargon so you can fight sexism and oppression - read more here @ USA Today

Note: In my day, feminists agitated for gender equality, reproductive rights, domestic violence, changes to family law.  As times changed, the whole look of feminism also drastically changed, being appropriated by others for their own ends, and at times emerging in some bastardised form, unrecognisable to those who trod the path decades ago.  Each generation must find its own way, but there is no need to be disrepectful and forgetful of who to blazed the trail before you.

Trail-blazing women of Kew

From BBC News
The first female gardeners at Kew had to garden in bloomers, but in other ways were ahead of their time.

Women gardeners were employed for the first time at Kew [1896], and on equal pay, decades before women gained the vote.

The first female gardenersMade to wear the same garb as male gardeners so as not to distract their colleagues, their brown woollen bloomers soon made the news.

As the satirical magazine, Punch, put it, "They gardened in bloomers the newspapers said. So to Kew without waiting all Londoners sped."

After a blaze of publicity, the powers that be changed their minds and skirts were reinstated.

Annie Gulvin, Alice Hutchings, Gertrude Cope and Eleanor Morland, who trained together at Swanley Horticultural College, became the first female gardeners at Kew.

Their days were long, digging in the dirt from 6am to 6pm in the summer months. They were expected to spend their evenings attending lectures or studying in the library.

"As far as we can tell, the women were employed on exactly the same terms as the men - and they appear to have been paid the same salary - it was quite a low salary for that day - but it was, as far as we can tell, exactly the same as the male gardeners," says Kiri Ross-Jones.

read more here 
@ List of Professional Gardeners
@ Great Women Gardeners
@ Gardening Women

Gardening Women: Their Stories From 1600 to the Present by Catherine Horwood
Women in Landscape Architecture: Essays on History and Practice edited by Louise A. Mozingo & Linda Jewell

Who Run the World? See All the Women Who've Made Hollywood Herstory

E! News is taking a look back at some of the most iconic and influential women in Hollywood and there are a lot. We've managed to narrow it down to just under 50 fierce females who made history in the entertainment industry and they are so impressive.

Females who took charge, broke down barriers and transformed the entertainment industry. Some risked their jobs to change the way the Hollywood studio system ran while others were trailblazers in front of the screen and were the first to win awards that men had been earning for years prior.

read more here @ E! News Australia

Kitty Marion: Radical Suffragette

Kitty Marion (Katherina Maria Schafer), by Criminal Record Office, after  Unknown photographer - NPG x45561
Criminal Records Office c.1913
Kitty Marion (1871-1944) was born Katherina Maria Schafer in Westphalia in 1871. Her mother died when she was two years old and when she was fifteen went to live with her aunt in England. She learnt English and it became clear that her ambition was to become a music hall actress, which she achieved three years later in 1889 when she was cast in a pantomime in Glasgow. 

She joined the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) in around 1908, taking part in their marches on parliament and selling copies of their journal 'Votes for Women' in the street. When the Actress' Franchise League began in 1909, she was one of the first members. That same year she was arrested for the first time. The second arrest came in Newcastle a few months later when she threw a stone through the window of a post office, an offence for which she received a month's prison sentence. In Holloway jail she was force fed and reacted by setting her cell on fire. Further attacks on property ranging from breaking windows (Mar 1912) and a fire alarm (late 1912) to burning properties (Levetleigh House in Sussex in April 1913, the Grand Stand at Hurst Park racecourse in June 1913, various houses in Liverpool in August 1913 and Manchester in November 1913). These incidents resulted in a series of further terms of imprisonment during which force-feeding occurred followed by release under the Cat and Mouse Act

Fellow WSPU workers finally took her to Paris in May 1914. At the outbreak of war in Aug 1914, Marion's position became doubly uncertain: firstly, there was some question, soon dropped, of returning the suffragette prisoners to jail to serve the rest of their term; secondly Marion was a German by birth and therefore suspect. Despite briefly resuming her career on the stage, she was finally deported, going to America in 1915 where she would spend most of her remaining years. There she quickly became active in the family planning movement and after 1917, she began working with the Birth Control Review published by New York Women's Publishing Company under Margaret Sanger. Marion, with her experience selling 'Votes for Women', became a street hawker, selling the Review in New York for 13 years. She was arrested several times for violating obscenity laws, and was imprisoned for 30 days in 1918. She was granted US citizenship in 1924. 

She returned to London in 1930 to attend the unveiling of the statue to Mrs Pankhurst and began work in the Birth Control International Centre under Edith How Martyn. However, she finally returned to New York where she worked in Sanger's office once more before retiring to the Margaret Sanger Home in New York State where she died in 1944.

read more here:
@ Time

read also:
  • Death in Ten Minutes: Kitty Marion: Activist. Arsonist. Suffragette by Fern Riddell
  • The Company She Kept: The Radical Activism of Actress Kitty Marion from Piccadilly Circus to Times Square by Christine Woodworth
  • Rise Up Women!: The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes by Diane Atkinson
  • The Suffragette Bombers: Britain's Forgotten Terrorists by Simon Webb

see also:

The Pioneering Women of the Champagne Industry, From Clicquot to Bollinger

The "merry widows" of champagne houses like Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Pommery, and Champagne Bollinger helped make bubbly the most celebrated drink in the world.

imageThe 17th century Benedictine monk Dom Perignon may get the credit for developing the methode champenoise, but when it comes to creating the iconic sparkling wines that fill our flutes, we owe the lion's share of our thanks to the ladies.

Beginning in the early 19th century it was the women running some of history's most recognizable champagne houses who pioneered the attributes we consider mainstays today. From the iconic bottle shape to the clarity of the vintage, from that crisp, brut flavor profile to the marketing of champagne as a wine of luxury, it was the so-called "merry widows" of champagne who turned bottles of bubbly into a world-famous celebratory sip.

Why widows, you ask? Unlike many women of the era, widows were allowed the independence necessary for running a business. While unmarried women were dependent on their fathers or brothers (they couldn't even get a bank account) and married women were forced to rely on their husbands's money and power, widows were allowed to own property and businesses in their own right, control their own finances, and move freely in society.

So ..... raise a glass to these "veuves" (the French word for widows), heroines of the cork and coupe.

Hidden women of history: Hsieh Hsüeh-hung, communist champion of Taiwanese self-determination

Every so often a woman takes up arms to lead a spirited struggle against invaders and occupiers of her homeland. Such women usually wind up dead at an early age, but they capture the imagination. 

The Taiwanese revolutionary Hsieh Hsüeh-hung (1901-1970) is such a figure, although like most aspects of Taiwan’s history her significance is contested. Born in Taiwan, buried in Beijing, Hsieh was a communist and also an advocate of Taiwanese self-determination. In the history of world communism, she is noted for being one of the founders of the Taiwanese Communist Party, established in 1928.

Hsieh Hsüeh-hungIn the annals of the Taiwan independence movement, Hsieh has emerged as a heroine of the 1947 uprising, and now the subject of an annual commemoration held in Taiwan on 28 February. In 1948 she founded the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government Alliance.

Hsieh Hsüeh-hung’s fate – in life and in death – was determined by the shifts in attitude towards Taiwanese independence on the part of ruling powers, and by the status of its local left-wing movements. To some degree, she is not so much a woman hidden in history as one rendered visible by it.

read more here @ Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

read more in the series "Hidden Women of History

Hong Kong’s ‘protected women’: the forgotten females of city’s patriarchal 19th-century society

Supported financially by wealthy Western men in exchange for long-term sexual relationships, the women, mostly from the Tanka ethnic minority, were integral to the city’s evolution.  Ng Akew was the most prominent among them, and what’s left of her former home in Central is threatened by development.

So who was Ng Akew??
Ng Akew (sometimes Ong Akew, Ong Mo Kew or Hung Mo Kew) was the de facto leader of Hong Kong’s “protected women”. Almost exclusively of Tanka descent (the Tanka are an ethnic minority in southern China), these young women were financially supported by male members of the Western elite and in turn provided a long-term sexual relation­ship to men who were thousands of miles from their homelands in Europe or America.

A painting of a Tanka boatwoman by George Chinnery (1774-1852). Photo: courtesy of the Hong Kong Maritime MuseumThe women were not regarded as prostitutes or courtesans. Instead, protected by eminent merchants, they achieved an elevated, yet unofficial, social status, economic independence and local influence within a patriarchal and racist society.

The history of 19th-century Hong Kong is dominated by taipans, compradors, sea captains, colonial administrators and missionaries. It’s a story about Western males written by Western males, but the small site in Central, part of which was once the home of Ng Akew, connects us to her story and the important role protected women played in the development of Hong Kong.

read more here @ South China Morning Post

First All-Female Spacewalk Is Happening During Women's History Month

NASA has officially confirmed to CNN that the very first all-female spacewalk in history will take place at the International Space Station on March 29 during Women's History Month.

The team will be comprised of NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christine Koch, who will carry out the spacewalk as part of Expedition 59. Their support on the ground in Houston, Texas, will be Kristen Facciol, a Canadian Space Agency flight controller.

In the official email statement to CNN, she continued, "It is the second in a series of three planned spacewalks. Anne also will join Nick Hague for the March 22 spacewalk. And, of course, assignments and schedules could always change."

It’s not just the astronauts and ground control who are women, either. Schierholz confirmed: "In addition to the two female spacewalkers, the Lead Flight Director is Mary Lawrence, and Jackie Kagey (also a woman), is the lead EVA (spacewalk) flight controller."

read more here @ The Things dot com

Restoration of Taramati, Premamati tombs no mean feat

Situated to the north west of Mausoleum of Muhammad Qutb Shah -- the founder of Hyderabad and patron of Charminar -- in the Qutb Shahi tombs complex at Golconda, stand a pair of tombs dedicated to two women, Premamati and Premamati . Legends have it that these two women were dancers and singers in the court of the Shahi king, Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah. But make no mistake, they were no ordinary citizens of the era.

The gravestone of Premamati reads, “From all eternity Pemmati was a flower of Paradise”. These words are said to have been inscribed on Premamati’s tomb by Abdullah Qutb Shah himself, which use ‘Pemmati’ to refer to Premamati, instead of her original name. While Taramati is said to have commissioned a mosque built within the Golconda Fort.
However, today these tombs no longer serve to commemorate the incredible lives of these politically-empowered women of the Qutb dynasty. They stand hidden behind two inches of cement from the shoddy restoration works of the last century, or marred by graffitis in poor taste. And so they are now in the crosshairs of the second phase of conservation works being taken up by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The AKTC is carrying out the works in association with the State government which is motivated by the `70 lakh funds it received from the US government for the project.

read more here @ The New Indian Express

Is The Viking Birka Warrior A Woman? Judith Jesch Examines The Evidence

From History Extra
Lagertha, portrayed by Katheryn Winnick, in season 4 of Vikings. (Credit: Jonathan Hession/History)The remains of the 'Birka Warrior', originally unearthed in the 1880s, had been long presumed to be those of a male warrior…

In 2017, a research paper made waves by claiming that the remains of a supposed professional warrior found in a 10th-century grave in Birka, Sweden, could be female. The remains, originally unearthed in the 1880s, had been long presumed to be those of a male warrior, due to their burial with weapons and other status symbols. Judith Jesch, an expert in Vikings and Norse studies, offers comment on the recent reassessment of the remains…

read more here @ History Extra

read more by Judith Jesch:
  • Women in the Viking Age
  • The Viking Diaspora
  • Viking Poetry of Love & War
  • Ships & Men in the Late Viking Age

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Four women poets who will take you on an alternative journey through Welsh history

Poetry has played an important role in the history of Wales. From the medieval courts, to the ongoing National Eisteddfod (the largest music and poetry festival in Europe), writers have used verse to document the land’s culture. But while male writers, such as the 12th century poets of the princes and more recently Dylan Thomas, have presented one perspective of Welsh history and culture, female poets have documented a very different take on Wales through the centuries. Here are four who bring a different perspective - Gwerful Mechain; Katherine Philips; Sarah Jane Rees; and Lynette Roberts.

read more here @ The Conversation