Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ugandan Women Rescued

From New Vision Online:
A GROUP of Ugandan women who travelled to Iraq in the hope of finding jobs but ended up in exploitation have been rescued and returned to the country by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

An IOM official in Kampala said 14 Ugandans have been rescued from exploitation in Iraq and returned to Kampala between September and October this year.

The rescued Ugandans, all women, have also been given assistance to reintegrate into the community and assisted to start businesses to generate incomes. The identities of the women were not revealed.

The official said Ugandan women travel to Iraq under the understanding that they would work as supermarket attendants but they end up working as servants in homes, often working long hours without remuneration.

An unspecified number of other Ugandans are still under exploitative conditions in Iraq, according to the Geneva-based organisation.

The stranded Ugandans are part of hundreds of African and Asian migrants lured to Iraq by recruitment agencies who promise them jobs in supermarkets, construction sites and domestic labour.

The migrants are coerced to sign false employment contracts, and their passports are confiscated and they become victims of exploitation, according to IOM.

Mid this year, Makindye West MP Hussein Kyanjo told Parliament that Ugandan women taken to Iraq with promises of lucrative jobs ended up trapped in slavery and forced sex.

The MP reported that the stranded girls were taken to Iraq by a company, which has offices in Muyenga, a Kampala suburb.

Antarctica: Journey of Seven Women

From FOX News:
Seven women on a 562-mile Antarctic ski trek reached the South Pole Thursday, 38 days after they began their adventure to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth.

Skiing six to 10 hours a day, the Commonwealth Women's Antarctic Expedition trekked an average of 15 miles a day, each hauling a 176-pound sled of provisions and shelter to reach the United States-operated Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station science base.

The expedition comprised women from Brunei, Cyprus, Ghana, India, New Zealand, Singapore and Britain.

Frostbite blackened the fingers of one of the original team of eight, Kim-Marie Spence, from Kingston, Jamaica, just three days into the journey which began Nov. 23, forcing her to leave the expedition.

The group faced blinding blizzards, winds in excess of 80 miles an hour, hidden crevasses and temperatures that plummeted to minus 42 degrees Fahrenheit, its Web site said.

The expedition had an inauspicious start when new tents were damaged by a roaring gale at Patriot Hills base camp in an area of Antarctica overseen by Argentina. The women had to borrow tents while they sewed patches on their own.

Maryam Babangida

From This Day Online, Chidi Amuta interviews Nigeria's Maryam Babangida.

An excerpt:
In a sense then, Maryam Babangida was largely the force behind the awesome power of the great General. And yet hers was the soft kind of power; subtle, unabrasive and without the usual pomposity of the moneyed class. She was sophisticated without being over adorned, elegant in simple ankara outfits and no make up and yet stylish without the kind of deliberate adornment that transforms otherwise beautiful women into mannequins and painted idols.

Between the late First Lady and the General, there was a certain utopian love that still defies precise characterisation. Each time I have stepped into the general’s office, I have never failed to take another count of the number of portraits of Hajia in that single room. At the last count there were four. Sometimes, it grows to six. Every bathroom in the guest wing of the house has towels with ‘Maryam Babangida’ monograms. This almost totemic devotion becomes more significant when we realise that General Babangida is unquestionably a devout Muslim.

As we pay our last respects to Mrs. Babangida, here is a hope that Nigerian womanhood will come to treasure her landmark strides in reminding us all of the vast humanity that lies locked away by poverty in the rural areas. But most importantly, we are celebrating the life of a woman that married power and privilege with responsibility and commitment to the cause of those that may never taste either power or privilege.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tanzania: High Cost of Beauty

From This Day:
THE zeal to look beautiful and a colonial mentality that white skin is superior is fast driving Tanzanian women into their graves as they risk their lives by using skin lightening creams that in the end turn lethal.

The problem is not only confined to Tanzania as selling of whitening creams is a lucrative business in Africa worth millions of US dollars a year. In some countries that allow the use of these lethal substances, shelves in pharmacies are stacked high with lotions, creams and soaps all promising to make women whiter and supposedly more beautiful.

But, in countries like Tanzania, where the use and importation of skin lightening creams is banned, the business is thriving as these dangerous creams are smuggled into the country while dealers on the other hand are discrete.

So many women in Tanzania are regretting the days they laid hands on these creams as instead of attracting men, they are now scaring them away as they look like monsters with a lot of scratch marks and black dots on their skin after getting burnt by the creams. Some of them have been unlucky and had to pay the price the rest of their lives as they contracted skin cancers.

China: Women & Shopping

From USA Today:
A Chinese provincial shopping center is opening a special parking lot soon exclusively for women drivers that will include extra lighting and wider spaces to keep down the number of collisions, the Global Times reports.

The newspaper, quoting Hebei Youth Daily, says the underground lot will be located at the Wanxiang Tiancheng shopping center in Shijiazhuang, a provincial capital.

The parking area, which will be free for several months, will also feature colored lights (pink and purple) and "cute cartoon pictures" for decoration, the paper promises.

To improve visibility, it will feature three lights in every parking space, the newspaper says.

"The lot offers wider parking spaces especially designed for female drivers, who tend to cause twice as many collisions in parking lots than in other places, according to insurance company data," the Global Times says.

Specially trained female parking guides will also be on hand to direct the drivers when they pull in, the Global Times says.

Israel: Transportation Segredation

From JTA:
Three years ago, a 57-year-old grandmother got on a bus in Israel departing Rechovot for Givat Shmuel and sat in a vacant seat in the front.

Shortly after taking her seat, the woman was approached by a fervently Orthodox man who demanded she move to the back of the bus with the rest of the women.

Unbeknownst to the woman, who asked JTA to be identified only as H., she had boarded one of the so-called mehadrin (super kosher) bus lines, on which the predominantly ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, ridership imposes sex-segregated seating. The man told H. that segregated seating had been sanctioned by the rabbis and by Egged, the state-owned bus company that operates the line.

H., who is herself religious, refused, prompting a barrage of verbal abuse from the man.

The man harassed her for the entire ride. Nobody, including the driver, came to her aid.

H. is among a group of women who filed affidavits as part of a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court to ban gender-based segregation on Israeli public buses. The petition was filed by the Israel Religious Action Center, which is associated with the Reform movement.

Before issuing any ruling, the court referred the matter to Israel’s Transportation Ministry. In January, more than three years since the IRAC petition was filed, Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is expected to issue the government's official position.

Some haredi passengers defend sex segregation, saying it upholds Jewish rules concerning sexual modesty. On mehadrin lines, women sit in the back and men in the front in order to avoid physical contact. Drivers do not enforce this code, but the IRAC considers such practices on public buses to be a fundamental violation of women's rights. It also says the practice has no basis in Jewish law, or halachah.

Bahrain: Women & Divorce

From Gulf Daily News:
A CAMPAIGN is being stepped up to ensure that women in Bahrain emerge from divorce with alimony, rightful custody of their children and a roof over their heads.

A Bahrain society is calling for law reforms and practical strategies to ensure divorced women their rights, without agonising court battles.

Bahrain Women's Association for Human Development wants legislation and society to reflect the Quranic concept of divorce, which states a wife either be returned to her husband or "released (divorced) in kindness".

It says that far from being "released in kindness", many women suffer long court battles trying to secure custody, alimony and a place to live.

"Cases of divorce are increasing in courts and women suffer because they have to go to the court and it takes a long time to be resolved and they might not have money or a home," association board member Ebtisam Zaid told the GDN.

"They are not doing what the Quran says. It says let her return to her husband or be released in kindness, but a lot of women suffer.

Louisa May Alcott

From The LA Times Guide:
For those who know Louisa May Alcott only as the author of some of the most enduring classics of children's literature, "Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind 'Little Women' " will be a revelation. For those already familiar with Alcott's Transcendentalist-boho childhood, her sensational tales of love and horror under the pen name A.M. Barnard and her refusal to diminish her personal and economic freedom by marrying, the dramatically reenacted documentary gives life and texture to a woman of extraordinary talent and determination who became as great a celebrity in her day as J.K. Rowling is in ours.

With Elizabeth Marvel as Alcott and Jane Alexander playing a family friend and early biographer, the film relies on the copious correspondence from the writer and her family, most notably her father, Bronson Alcott, with commentary from Alcott scholars including novelist Geraldine Brooks, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2006 for "March," a fictional imagining of what happened to Mr. March, the father of all those little women, during his stint as a minister in the Civil War.

Iran: No Single Women In Oil & Gas

From AFP:
Iran has barred single women from working for a state firm that operates a huge gas field and petrochemical plants on the shores of the Gulf, the Fars news agency reported on Monday.

"Oil Minister (Masoud Mirkazemi) has emphasised that single women should not be present in Assalouyeh," the deputy director of the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone Company, Pirouz Mousavi, said.

Mousavi did not elaborate on whether any women had yet been laid off as a result of the order.

More than 18 months ago, Iranian newspapers carried an instruction by the company requiring that "single employees start creating a family."

"As being married is one of the criteria of employment, we are announcing for the last time that all female and male colleagues have until September 21 to go ahead with this important and moral religious duty," the instruction said.

History Making News

From BBC News: Turkey demands the return of the bones of St Nicholas.
A Turkish archaeologist has called on his government to demand that Italy return the bones of St Nicholas to their original resting place.

The 3rd Century saint - on whom Santa Claus was modelled - was buried in the modern-day town of Demre in Turkey.

But in the Middle Ages his bones were taken by Italian sailors and re-interred in the port of Bari.

The Turkish government said it was considering making a request to Rome for the return of the saint's remains.

From BBC News: 15th Century Papal Bull
Work to preserve a 15th Century letter from the Pope founding the University of St Andrews has been completed.

The Bull of Foundation is one of a series of six letters from the Pope, sent in 1413, which brought the institution into existence.

It took experts three weeks to restore the Papal Bull, including surface cleaning, repairing edge tears and the realignment of the document's silk tag.

The document will now be able to be displayed to the public.

From the Telegraph: Tomb of 3rd Cent Notorious General
Chinese archaeologists have unearthed a large third-century tomb which they say could be that of Cao Cao, the politician and general infamous in East Asia for his Machiavellian tactics.

The tomb, discovered in Xigaoxue village near the ancient city of Anyang in Henan Province, has an epitaph and inscription that appear to refer to Cao Cao, Central China Television said on Sunday.

A Chinese proverb, "speak of Cao Cao and he appears", is the the equivalent of "speak of the devil" in English.

Historic Women in Film - Part VI

Ok this is one must see film:

Three Suns (2004) - (Lena Endre, Kjell Bergqvist, Maria Bonnevie, Natalie Minnevik) [Swedish] - Set in the time of the Crusades, tells the story of a woman traveling through the plague ridden countryside in search of her husband. The psychological drama of everyday life in the time of the plague is played out well - so not for the faint hearted.

Now, this movie is actually on in Melbourne, SBS Two on Monday 4th Jan at @ 11.00pm.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Historic Women in Film - Part V

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) [Alt: La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc] – (Renée Maria Falconetti)

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) – Elizabeth I (Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Vincent Price)

The Spirit of Sacajawea - Native American Sacajawea

The Story of Adele H (1975) - Adele Hugo (- Isabelle Adjani, Bruce Robinson, Sylvia Marriott, Joseph Blatchley, Ivry Gitlis) [French]

The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962) [Alt: Procès De Jeanne D'arc] – (Florence Delay as Joan)

The Virgin Queen (1955) – Elizabeth I – (Bette Davis, Richard Todd, Joan Collins)

The Viking Queen (1967) – Boudicca

Theodora, Imperatice Di Bizanzio (1909) [Alt: Theodora Empress Of Byzantium] – Empress Theodora [Also: Theodora (1912), Teodora (1913), Theodora (1919) [Alt: Theodora, the Slave Princess] , Teodora (1921/23)]

Teodora Imperatice Di Bisanzio (1954) [Alt: Theodora Slave Empress\ Theodora Queen Of Byzantium \Theodora] – Empress Theodora (Gianna Maria Canal, George Marchal, Irene Pappas)

Thérèse (2004) - Saint Therese of Lisieux (Lindsay Younce, Leonardo Defilippis, Maggie Rose Fleck, Susan Funk, Brian Shields, Melissa Sumpter, Linda Hayden)

Tudor Rose (1936) - AKA Lady Jane Grey – Nine Days A Queen (Nova Pilbeam as LJG, John Mills as Guildford Dudley)

Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1957) - The Saga of The Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of The Great Sea Serpent.

Viridiana (1961) – religious novite (Silvia Pinal as Viridiana)

Waiting for the Moon (1987) - Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (Linda Hunt, Linda Bassett, Bernadette Lafont, Bruce McGill, Jacques Boudet, Andrew McCarthy)

Warrior Queen (2003) - Queen Boadicea (Alex Kingston, Steven Waddington, Jack Shepherd, Hugo Speer)

Young Bess (1953) – Elizabeth I (Jean Simmons – Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, Charles Laughton)

Zora Is My Name! (1990) - Zora Neale Hurston (Ruby Dee, Louis Gossett, Jr., Flip Wilson, Oscar Brown, Jr., Paula Kelly, Beah Richards, Roger E. Mosley)

Justify FullNote: I have tended only to feature those films in which the lead roles were women - I know there are literally a ton of movies out there featuring historical women in minor roles. However, if I have missed any - please feel free to add to the list.

Historic Women in Film - Part IV

Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999) – Joan of Arc (Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman)

Miss Potter (2006) - Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Barbara Flynn, Bill Paterson, Matyelok Gibbs, Lloyd Owen, Anton Lesser, David Bamber)

Mrs. Brown (1997) - Queen Victoria (Judi Dench, Billy Connolly, Antony Sher, Geoffrey Palmer, Richard Pasco, David Westhead)

Nora (1999) - Nora Barnacle (Ewan McGregor, Susan Lynch, Peter McDonald, Roberto Citran)

Norma Rae - Chrystal Lee Jordan (Sally Field)

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Stanton & Anthony - Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (see also the fictionalized "Iron-Jawed Angels)

Out of Africa (1985) - Karen Blixen (Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Klaus Maria Brandauer)

Pope Joan (1972) – Pope Joan (Liv Ullman)

Queen Christina (1933) – Christina, Queen of Sweden (Greta Grabo)

Queen Margot (1954) – Princess Margot de Valois (Jeanne Moreau)

Queen Margot (1994) – Princess Margot de Vlois (Isabelle Adjani as as Marguerite de Valois) [French]

Saint Joan (1957) – Joan of Arc (Jean Seberg, Richard Widmark)

Silkwood (1983) - Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep)

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2001) - Sophie Scholl – The White Rose (Ju;ia Jentsch, Alexander Held, Fabian Hinrichs, Johanna Gastdorf, Andre Hennicke, Florian Stetter, Petra Kelling, Jorg Hube)[German]

Stealing Heaven (1988) – Aberlard & Heloise

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) - Anne Frank (Millie Perkins as Anne, Joseph Schildkraut as Otto Frank, Gusti Huber as Edith Frank, and Shelley Winters as Petronella Van Dean)

The Diary of Anne Frank (1986) - Anne Frank (Katharine Schlesinger, Emrys James, Nigel Anthony)

The Devil’s Crown (1978) – Eleanor of Aquitaine & her Sons (Jane Lapotaire)

The Duchess (2008) - Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper)

The Hours (2002) - Virginia Woolf (Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Toni Collette, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Stephen Dillane, Allison Janney, John C. Reilly, Miranda Richardson)

The Josephine Baker Story (1991) - Josephine Baker (Lynn Whitfield, Rubén Blades, David Dukes, Craig T. Nelson)

The King's Whore (1990) [Alt: The King's Mistress] (La putain du roi) - Set in court of Piedmont of King Victor Amadeo (18th Cent) (Timothy Dalton & Valeria Golino)

The Lady and the Duke (Australia) (USA) - L'anglaise & le duc (France) (2001) - French Revolution (Lucy Russell as Grace Elliott)

The Lion in Winter (1968) - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn as Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Peter O’Toole as Henry II, Jane Merrow, John Castle, Timothy Dalton, Anthony Hopkins, Nigel Stock, Nigel Terry)

The Lion in Winter (2003) - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Glenn Close as Eleanor, Patrick Stewart as Henry II, Andrew Howard, John Light, Rafe Spall, Julia Vysotsky, Clive Wood, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers)

The Miracle Worker (1962) - Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan (Patty Duke as Helen, Anne Bancroft as Anne, Victor Jory as Captain Arthur Keller, and Inga Swenson as Kate Keller)

The Miracle Worker (1979) - Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan (Patty Duke, Melissa Gilbert )

The Miracle Worker (2000) - Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan (Alison Elliott, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Lucas Black, Kate Greenhouse, David Strathairn)

The Other Boleyn Girl (2003) – Mary Boleyn (Jodhi May as Anne Boleyn, Natascha McElhone as Mary, Steven Mackintosh as George, Jared Harris as Henry VIII, and Philip Glenister as Stafford)

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) – Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson as Mary, Natalie Portman as Anne, and Eric Bana as Henry VIII)

Historic Women in Film - Part III

Jeanne D'Arc (1899) – by Georges Melies'

Jeanne la Pucelle 1. Les Batailles (1993) [Alt: Joan the Maid 1.: The Battles] (Olivier Cruveiller, André Marcon, Sandrine Bonnaire as Jeanne d'Arc)

Jeanne la Pucelle 2. Les Prisons (1993) [Alt: Joan the Maid 1.: The Prisons] (Sandrine Bonnaire as Jeanne d'Arc)

Joan of Arc (1999) – Joan of Arc (Leelee Sobieski, Jacqueline Bisset, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Peter O'Toole)

Joan of Arc (1948) – Joan of Arc (Ingrid Bergman as Joan, Francis L. Sullivan as Pierre Cauchon, Jose Ferrer as Charles VII, and J. Carrol Naish as the Count of Luxembourg)

Joan of Arc: The Virgin Warrior (in process)
Director: Ronald F. Maxwell(See

Joan the Woman (1916) - Joan of Arc (Geraldine Farrar as Joan)

Judith of Bethulia (1914) - by D.W. Griffith

Julia (1977) - Lillian Hellman (Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook, Rosemary Murphy, Maximilian Schell)

Kristin Lavransdatter (1995). [Alt: Kransen, Kristin Lavransdotter] (Eliazbeth Matheson as Kristin)

La Vie en Rose (2007) - Edith Piaf (Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Emmanuelle Seigner, Jean-Paul Rouve, Gérard Depardieu, Clotilde Courau, Jean-Pierre Martins, Catherine Allégret, Marc Barbé) [French]

Lady Godiva (1955) – Lady Godiva of Coventry (Maureen O'Hara as Godiva, George Nader as Lord Leofric, Rex Reason as Harold, and Torin Thatcher as Lord Godwin)

Lady Jane (1985) – Lady Jane Grey (Helena Bonham Carter & Cary Elwes)

Lady Sings the Blues (1972) - Billie Holiday (Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor)

Leonor (1975) - Mistress of the Devil (USA) (Liv Ullman)

Le moine et la sorcière [Alt: The Sorceress] France (1987) – Cult of St Guinefort (Tchéky Karyo and Christine Boisson)

Life of Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman? - Sorjourner Truth

Madam Curie (1943) – Marie Curie (Greer Garson as Marie, Walter Pidgeon as Pierre, and Henry Travers as Eugene Curie)

Magnificat (1993) – medieval monasticism [Italian]

Marie Antoinette (1938) – Marie Antoinette (Norma Shearer as Marie, Tyrone Power as Count Axel de Fersen, John Barrymore as Louis XV, and Robert Morley as Louis XVI)

Marie Antoinette (2006) - Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst, Marianne Faithfull, Steve Coogan, Judy Davis, Jason Schwartzman, Rose Byrne, Al Weaver, Shirley Henderson, Molly Shannon, Rip Torn)

Mary of Scotland (1936) – Mary Queen of Scots (Katharine Hepburn, Frederic March)

Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) – Mary Queen of Scots (Vanessa Redgrave as Mary, Queen of Scots, Glenda Jackson as Queen Elizabeth, Patrick McGoohan as James Stuart, Timothy Dalton as Henry, Lord Darnley, Nigel Davenport, Trevor Howard, Daniel Massey, Robert Dudley, Ian Holm)

Mata Hari (1931) - Mata Hari (Greta Garbo, Ramon Novarro, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone)

Historic Women in Film - Part II

Dangerous Beauty (1998) - Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack, Rufus Sewell, Oliver Platt, Moira Kelly, Fred Ward, Jacqueline Bisset)

Diane (1956) - Diane de Poitiers (Lana Turner as Diane, Pedro Armendariz as King Francis I, Roger Moore as Prince Henri, and Torin Thatcher as Louis, The Count de Breze).

Elizabeth (1998) – Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett)

Elizabeth, The Golden Age (2007) - Queen Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Jordi Mollà, Samantha Morton, Eddie Redmayne, Clive Owen)

Elizabeth R (1971) - Queen Elizabeth I (Glenda Jackson)

Erin Brockovich (2000) - Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts)

Evita (1996) - Eva Peron (Madonna)

Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey (1988) - Dian Fossey (Sigourney Weaver)

Fire Over England (1937) - Elizabeth I (Laurence Olivier, Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth, Leslie Banks as Earl of Leicester, Raymond Massey as Philip of Spain, Vivien Leigh)

Following Amelia Earhart: Heroines of the Sky - Amelia Earhart

Frida (2002) - Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Valeria Golino)

Funny Girl - Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand).

Greek Fire (2011) – Maria Callas (Eva Mendes as Callas)

Haunted Summer (1988) - Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Laura Dern, Eric Stoltz, Philip Anglim, Alice Krige, Alex Winter)

Helen of Troy (1956) – Helen of Troy ( Rossana Podesta as Helen, Jacques Sernas as Paris, Cedric Hardwicke as Priam, and Torin Thatcher as Ulysses)

Impromptu (1991) - George Sand (Judy Davis, Hugh Grant, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Julian Sands, Ralph Brown, Georges Corraface, Anton Rodgers, Emma Thompson)

Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999) - Dorothy Dandridge (Halle Berry, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Brent Spiner, Obba Babatunde, Loretta Devine, Cynda Williams, Latanya Richardson, Tamara Taylor, Alexis Carrington)

Iron Jawed Angels (2004) - Alice Paul and Lucy Burns (Hilary Swank, Frances O'Connor, Julia Ormond, Anjelica Huston, Molly Parker, Patrick Dempsey, Laura Fraser, Brooke Smith, Vera Farmiga, Lois Smith, Bob Gunton)

Isadora (1968) - Isadora Duncan (Vanessa Redgrave)

Historic Women in Film - Part I

Again, as the holiday season gets underway, here's a list of films that feature some historic women - some films may be familiar - others not so. Enjoy!

A League of Their Own - women's professional baseball league (Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, and Madonna)

A Mighty Heart (2007) - Mariane Pearl (2007) (Angelina Jolie & Dan Futterman)

A Woman Called Moses (1978) - Harriet Tubman (Cicely Tyson)

Agatha (1979) – Agatha Christie (Vanessa Redgrave)

Agatha Christie, A Life in Pictures (2004) – Agatha Christie (Olivia Williams & Anna Massey)

Agnes of God (1985) - Quebecker nun (Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly)

American Experience - Eleanor Roosevelt - Eleanor Roosevelt (David McCullough & Alfre Woodard)

Anastasia (1956) -Anastasia Nikolaevna (Ingrid Bergman & Yul Brynner)

Anchoress (1993) – medieval monasticism (Natalie Morse as Christine Carpenter)
Anna and the King (1999) - Anna Leonowens (Jodie Foster & Chow Yun-fat)

Anna Boleyn (1920) - Anne Boleyn (Henny Porten)

Anne Frank (2001) - Anne Frank (Ben Kingsley, Brenda Blethyn, Hannah Taylor Gordon, Tatjana Blancher, Joachim Krol, Jessica Manley, Nick Audsley, Jan Niklas, Lili Taylor)

Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) – Anne Boleyn (Richard Burton as King Henry VIII, Geneviève Bujold as Anne Boleyn, Irene Papas as Queen Katherine, Anthony Quayle as Wolsey)

Annie Get Your Gun (1950) – Annie Oakley (Betty Hutton)

Antony & Cleopatra (1951) – Cleopatra (Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh)

Artemisia (1997) - Artemisia Gentileschi (Michel Serrault, Valentina Cervi, Miki Manojlovic, Brigitte Catillon, Maurice Garrel, Emmanuelle Devos) [French]

Barbara (1997) – 17th Century Faroese Woman (Anneke von der Lippe) [Faroese / Danish]

Beatrice (1988) – 100 Years War (Julie Delpy)
[Also: Beatrice (USA) - Quarto comandamento (Italy) - The Passion of Beatrice (USA)]

Bride of Vengeance (1949) – Lucretia Borgia (Paulette Goddard as Lucretia Borgia and John Lund as Alfonso d’Este)

Becoming Jane (2007) - Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, Maggie Smith)

Bride of the Wind (2001) - Alma Mahler (Sarah Wynter, Jonathan Pryce, Vincent Perez, August Schmölzer, Simon Verhoeven, Dagmar Schwarz, Wolfgang Hübsch, Reneé Fleming)

Calamity Jane (1953) - Calamity Jane (Doris Day)

Callas Forever (2002) – Maria Callas (Fanny Ardant)

Catherine the Great (1934) – Catherine the Great (Flora Robson)

Camille Claudel (1989) - Camille Claudel ( Isabelle Adjani, Gerard Depardieu, Madeleine Robinson, Laurent Grevill, Philippe Clevenot, Katrine Boorman, Maxime Leroux, Roger Planchon, Jean-Pierre Sentier, Alain Cuny) [French]

Carrington (1995) - Dora Carrington (Emma Thompson, Jonathan Pryce, Steven Waddington, Rufus Sewell, Samuel West, Penelope Wilton)

Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1967) - Anna Magdalena Bach (Gustav Leonhardt, Christiane Lang, Paolo Carlini, Ernst Castelli, Hans-Peter Boye, Joachim Wolf)

Cleopatra (1963) – Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton as Antony, Rex Harrison as Caesar, Roddy McDowell as Octavian Caesar Augustus)

Coal Miner's Daughter (1980) – Loretta Lynn (Sissy Spacek)

Cross Creak (1983) - Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Mary Steenburgen, Rip Torn, Peter Coyote, Dana Hill)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Summer Reading

Well, with Summer under way here in the southern hemisphere, it's time to spend lazy days on the beach with a good book. Here are a few:
  • The Drowning Girl by Margaret Leroy
  • Straight On Till Morning: The Life of Beryl Markham by Mary S Lovell
  • Too Many Murders by Colleen McCullough
  • Memoirs of a Master Forger by William Heaney
  • How to be a Movie Star by William J Mann (Elizabeth Taylor)
  • The Ides of March by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
  • The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwall

Hint: it has been hinted that Angelina Jolie could play the role of Kay Scarpetta in a soon-to-be-released movie.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Australian Women 2009 Highlights

From the Herald Sun:
MARY MacKILLOP: The Roman Catholic Church recognised her as a saint after the Vatican accepted that two medical miracles in the 1990s were attributable to her. Born in Melbourne in 1842, she dedicated her life to social work and educating the poor. She was once excommunicated for insubordination.

ANNA BLIGH: Labor's successor to Peter Beattie had something to thank for the Bjelke-Petersen years. She was first drawn to politics as a uni student watching police clobber right-to-march demonstrators. "I grew up in a time when people regarded Queensland as backward," she said. "Who would have thought we would be the first state in Australia to elect a female premier?"

KRISTINA KENEALLY: The first female premier in NSW also became part of the first all-female leadership team in Australian political history, with CARMEL TEBBUTT remaining as deputy premier. But she was installed by the party power brokers, not the voters, and has inherited a government in serious if not terminal decline. Defeated premier Nathan Rees said whoever replaced him would be a "puppet" of the back-room power brokers.

ELIZABETH BLACKBURN: Deserves more fame than she is likely to get in an age of short attention spans and reality TV, though her work may help unravel the mysteries of ageing and cancer. She is examining how genes remain intact through repeated cell division, thanks to things called telomeres. They're the end caps on DNA which prevent fraying, as she says, a bit like plastic tips on shoelaces.

JULIE GOODWIN: NSW mother of four Julie Goodwin became Australia's first MasterChef. Everyone fond of eating - that's most of us - should hope she achieves her ambition to serve good, unpretentious food in a cosy little restaurant. "I just want it to be a warm and welcoming place that people love to be in," she said. "And when they leave, I want them to feel like they've been loved."

JUDY MORAN: The woman whose husband and two sons were murdered in Melbourne's gangland wars was herself charged with murdering her brother-in-law, Desmond "Tuppence" Moran.

Diane de Poitiers

From the Telegraph:
The mistress of France's 16th century King Henry II was poisoned by a gold elixir she drank to keep herself looking young, scientists have discovered.

Diane de Poitiers was renowned for her youthful looks and porcelain skin and thought the concoction preserved her youth.

Experts say she was up to 20 years older than the king but her appearance made them look the same age. One courtier said she was "as fresh and lovable" in her final years as when aged 30 and had skin "of great whiteness".

But her secret was the elixir she drunk every day made up of gold chloride and diethyl ether.

The breakthrough came when they [the scientists] studied locks of her hair kept at the chateau d'Anet: these were found to contain gold 500 times above normal levels, as well as mercury – used as a "purifier" in the elixir.

Cleopatra's Mausoleum

From the Guardian:
They were one of the world's most famous couples, who lived lives of power and glory – but who spent their last hours in despair and confusion. Now, more than 2,000 years since Antony and Cleopatra walked the earth, historians believe they may finally have solved the riddle of their last hours together.

A team of Greek marine archaeologists who have spent years conducting underwater excavations off the coast of Alexandria in Egypt have unearthed a giant granite threshold to a door that they believe was once the entrance to a magnificent mausoleum that Cleopatra VII, queen of the Egyptians, had built for herself shortly before her death.

They believe the 15-tonne antiquity would have held a seven metre-high door so heavy that it would have prevented the queen from consoling her Roman lover before he died, reputedly in 30BC.

The threshold, part of the sunken palace complex in which Cleopatra is believed to have died, was discovered recently at a depth of eight metres but only revealed this week. It has yet to be brought to the surface.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

India's "Night Witches"

From Thaindian News:
As India hotly debates whether to induct women fighter pilots, a look around the world reveals they have been so fearsome in some places that they came to be branded “nigh witches”. Pakistan and China already have them, but they have never faced direct combat.

“If women are trained in the same manner, then you cannot discriminate against them for just being women. China has inducted them, the US Air Force has women fighter pilots; then how can one say that India cannot have women fighter pilots?” Ranjana Kumari, chairperson of the Centre for Social Research, told IANS.

This month, Defence Minister A.K. Antony told parliament, “It has to be a conscious decision. Earlier we did not have women officers, but now we have women officers and we are thinking of expanding their roles.”

At present, the IAF has 748 women officers in all arms, barring the fighter stream.

This year Pakistan commissioned seven women fighter pilots, breaking into another male bastion. The women fly F-7s, a Chinese version of the Russian MiG-21.

China’s first batch of 16 women fighter pilots debuted during its National Day parade this year. They too are yet to see combat.

The erstwhile Soviet Union, which formed three regiments of women combat pilots who flew night missions and were so successful that the Germans feared them, calling them “Nachthexen” or night witches. Present-day Russia, however, has no woman fighter pilots.

The US Air Force allowed women to fly jets way back in 1993. According to information in the open domain, of the more than 14,000 pilots in the US Air Force, around 3,700 are fighter pilots. And of them, 70 are women. Many of the women fighter pilots of the US Air Force have flown bombing missions over Afghanistan after 2001.

The IAF has a good number of women military aviators flying helicopters and transport aircraft. But the issue of inducting women fighter pilots remains unresolved.

Emirates Women's Award

From Gulf News:
The Dubai Quality Group yesterday launched the seventh Emirates Businesswomen's Award under the new name of Emirates Women's Award during a press conference at the Raffles Hotel.

The award, launched in 2003, is held annually under the patronage of Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group and honorary patron of the Dubai Quality Group.

The award is meant to honour outstanding business and professional women in the UAE and to encourage women to achieve their full potential and maximise their contribution to the country's economic growth.

"I truly believe that the level of development and great achievements made by women in the UAE in different fields over the past years must be praised and appreciated," said Osama Al Rahma, Vice-Chairman of DQG, in his speech.

Award Criteria
Participation is open to both nationals and expatriate women in two main categories: business owners and professionals.

For business owners, the applicant should have established and run a private business in the UAE for not less than three years.

For professionals, the applicant must be working in a professional sector in the UAE for a minimum of three years.

Winners will be selected according to their leadership skills, future goals, financial performance, level of professionalism and innovation. The deadline for applications is April 15, 2010.

US: Women in the CIA

From the Atlantic:
CIA Director Leon Panetta is taking steps to increase the number of women at the highest levels of the nation's most fabled spy agency.

Today, Panetta announced that Stephanie O'Sullivan, formerly the head of the Science and Technology Directorate, has been promoted to the position of Associate Deputy Director --effectively, the agency's third in command. She replaces Scott White, a long-time CIA manager who has decided to retire. Earlier this year, Panetta promoted Sue Bromley to Chief Financial Officer.

The position of Associate Deputy Director replaced the position of "executive director," which has been held by a woman before: Nora Slatkin, who served in the Clinton administration. During the Bush administration, Jami Miscik held the position of Deputy Director, Intelligence. Human intelligence remains a male-dominated enterprise, though the CIA has strenuously increased the number of women it recruits, particularly for the directorate of operations. At the Office of the Director for National Intelligence, one of the six top positions is held by a woman: Dawn Meyerriecks, the deputy DNI for acquisition and technology. Both the DNI's CIO and CFO are women; Priscilla Guthrie was brought to the CIO's job by Blair and Marilyn Vacca was promoted internally.

The U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to promoting women to the top ranks of intelligence services. Britain's Security Service, MI-5, bears the distinction of having fielded the first woman director, Stella Rimmington.

India: Women's Prison

From the Indian Express:
Prison authorities are all set for the inauguration of Maharashtra’s first open jail for women at Yerawada Central Prison in Pune. The open jail is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 26, 2010.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Inspector General of Police (Prisons) Uddhav Kamble appreciated the state government for approving their proposal for an open jail for women.

“The main benefit is that women prisoners will now get remission in their punishment. So far, this facility was only for male prisoners as the state has four open jails for men,” Kamble said.

“Besides reduction in prison term, the open jail will also help in improving the living condition of women prisoners. Those eligible for open jail will be given training in farming, painting, weaving and other skills. The women prisoners will also be given remuneration for their work. They will be equipped with new skills and knowledge which will also improve their physical and mental conditions,” he said.

Sister Ann Halpin

From the Star News Group:
CITIZEN of the Year for 2009 and a ‘Living Treasure of Greater Dandenong’ Sister Ann Halpin died on Thursday at the age of 60.

Sister Halpin was born on 15 May 1939 in St Kilda and was the eldest and only girl of six children.

In 1974, she became the principal of St Mary’s Primary School in Dandenong. After finishing more study, Sister Halpin started helping in parish pastoral work in the Dandenong area.

She worked closely with refugees and migrants and found that many women felt isolated and lonely due to language and cultural barriers.

She approached her colleagues about her findings and the Presentation Sisters vacated their house in Langbourne St to develop it into a drop-in centre for isolated women and named the home Wellsprings.

In 1995, Wellsprings opened on Friday mornings for two hours, with 10 women attending. In 2000, Wellsprings opened 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with more than 90 women attending. Currently, more than 200 people attend.

Her ongoing commitment to the community led to her involvement in International Women’s Day, World Refugee Day, Seniors Week and Poverty Week.

India: Women in Science

From the Times of India:
How many of us know that many Indian women had wonderful scientific achievements during the time of Marie Curie? Noted scientists Rohini Godbole and Ramakrishna Ramaswamy from IISc and JNU have put together a book on the work of many women scientists who were brilliant thinkers in their own right, but went unrecognized.

Speaking at the National Institute of Advanced Studies on Wednesday, Ramaswamy, who spoke on the book `Lilavati's Daughters: The Women Scientists of India,' published recently, said they had worked towards retrieving Indian women's contributions to science in the book. The book is a unique collection of biographical and autobiographical sketches and is part of an initiative of the Women in Science panel of the Indian Academy of Sciences.

"Covering a range of disciplines, almost 100 women scientists talk of what brought them to science, what kept their interest alive and what has helped them achieve some measure of distinction in their careers," Ramaswamy observed.

Lilavati is actually a 12th-century treatise in which the mathematician Bhaskaracharya addresses a number of math problems to his daughter, Lilavati. Although legend has it that Lilavati never got married, her intellectual legacy lives on in the form of her daughters -- the women scientists of India, the writers point out in the book.

The under-representation of women in science is seen with great concern the world over. Several programmes and initiatives are being undertaken to tackle this, and, in 2005, the Indian Academy of Sciences set up the Women in Science panel to address women's concerns in science. It is this panel that has published a one-of-its kind biographical and autobiographical account of women scientists from India.

US: Women and Warfare

From the Baxter Bulletin:
No longer are our veterans just the men who went to war but among them are the women who have heard shots fired in anger, and have fired back. Reportedly, nearly a quarter-million American women are recent war veterans.

Women have served in all branches of the service for generations and through America's wars. But today's military no longer is strictly all-male on the front line with woman serving in support roles in the safety of the rear echelon. That's because in today's war fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is no "front line" and "safe" area behind the lines.

According to the AP series, many women veterans are returning with the same experiences, and the same problems, as their male counterparts, yet contend they haven't been treated the same. In a flashback to the Vietnam era, these women veterans say they're ignored and overlooked on their return home, even by their comrades in arms.

Warrior Women of Wharram Percy

From the Guardian:
The fearsome northern woman of legend and cliche, broadchested and with a frying pan poised to whack sense into her man, has proved to have genuine historic origins.

Analysis of bones from Britain's biggest medieval excavation has unearthed a race of real-life Nora Battys, ruling a Yorkshire roost nearly 1,000 years ago.

Skeletons from Wharram Percy, a village on the Yorkshire Wolds abandoned after the 14th century Black Death, have much larger bones than those of contemporaries elsewhere.

Wharram's insights on the state of medieval Britain are set to continue, as work continues on hundreds of thousands of remains excavated between 1950 and 1990. The site, surrounding a lonely church in a remote grassy valley, is the best-preserved of Britain's 3,500 abandoned villages.

Dictionary of Irish Biography

From BBC News:
The biggest work ever published about the lives of famous Irish men and women has been launched in Belfast by poet Seamus Heaney. The nine-volume Dictionary of Irish Biography features more than 9,700 entries and spans 2,000 years of the island's history.

Described by Mr Heaney as "an epoch-making event in the history of Irish scholarship", it is a joint project between the Royal Irish Academy and Cambridge University Press. Alongside Northern Ireland luminaries from Joey Dunlop to CS Lewis, the historians and writers have profiled some of the more unusual figures from the past. Here are some abridged versions of just few of them.

Mother Mary McKillop

Well, the wait is nearly over. All of Australia holds its breath as we wait for the news that Pope Benedict XVI will announce the canonisation of Mother Mary McKillop.

This week, the Vatican team of bishops and cardinals "cleared" her second miracle - which took place 14 years ago. She was beautified by Pope John Paul II in 1995 after being credited with one miracle - which occurred in 1961 and was recognised and approved in 1971.

Mary McKillop, founder of the Sister of St Joseph, was a Melbourne born woman who dedicated her life to establishing schools and refuges for orphans and the needy Australia wide. Her work was extensively in South Australia, and she died and was buried in North Sydney (1909).

There is a wonderful write-up in todays, Melbourne Herald Sun - Blessed Mary's Melbourne.

More on Mother Mary McKillop

Colleen McCullough

For those of you not already aware, renown Australian author, Colleen McCullough, underwent brain surgery on 11th December 2009. It was greatly feared that the surgery would render the author incapable of continuing her writing career. At this stage, Colleen is recovering slowly in Sydney - and time will tell if this surgery will impact her writing.

Colleen is the author of "The Thorn Birds", the "Masters of Rome" series, and numerous other books. Her latest book, "Too Many Murders" has just been released, and her 22nd book is near completion.

Our wishes extend to both Colleen, her husband Ric and their family.

Get well soon Colleen!

Colleen McCullough on wikipedia

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Exhibition: The Land Girls

From Culture 24:
Wartime history plays host to a wealth of untold tales and forgotten histories. The case of the Land Girls is one such story, whose efforts were overshadowed by tales of military heroism in post-World War II Britain.

An exhibition at Brighton Museum documents the work, uniforms and accounts of the Women’s Land Army (WLA) in a new show, The Land Girls: Cinderellas of the Soil.

Land Girls worked in agriculture, farming and forestry in the UK during WWI and II, taking the place of 250,000 men who had been called to fight. The exhibition is laid out over three rooms and is illustrated with a plethora of photographs, diary accounts, propaganda posters, manuals, paintings, dolls and uniforms.

What makes the show unique is that it has been hosted while many of its subjects are still alive, so the viewer is interacting with living history. Throughout we see photographs of the women now and then together with video accounts of their experiences.

The first gallery tells of how the women were drafted across the country, first in WWI with 23,000 recruits and later in WWII, when the organisation had 200,000 members.

There are posters showing enlistment campaigns and photographs of volunteers at work in the fields and despite the media’s representation of the work it was far from glamorous.

Exhibition: The Land Girls, Brighton Museum, Brighton, until March 14 2010

Scotland: Medieval Celtic Psalter

From the Telegraph:
The pocket-sized book of psalms dates from the 11th century and has been described as Scotland's version of the celebrated Book of Kells in Dublin.

It contains hand-written psalms in Latin, with Celtic and Pictish illustrations of dragons and other “beasts” and is normally only available to scholars, although it was exhibited in 1967.

t is thought to have been produced at the monastery on the island of Iona and although the original binding has been lost, the script is clear and the text can still be read today.

The psalter will go on display in the main library at the University of Edinburgh for the next three months, with other items including an edition of Romeo and Juliet that was published during Shakespeare's lifetime.

Irene Juergens

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
WHEN Irene Juergens became the 88th woman to join the NSW Police, she had pigtails, wore seamed stockings and wasn't allowed to carry a gun. It was 1966.

For the first six years she lectured school children about road safety - one of the few jobs female police were allowed to do.

Next week, Inspector Juergens, 63, will leave NSW Police as the longest-serving female officer after nearly 44 years of service.

She is embarrassed by the attention, saying: ''I truly don't believe that I've done anything extraordinary … all I've done is stay a long time.''

Kenya: Women Say No To Local Brew

From Capital FM:
Kenyan women have taken issue with recent plans by government to legalise local brews saying it will facilitate moral decay.

Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation(MYWO) chairperson Rukia Subow said it would increase violence against women and their children and that it would also derail the youth from development activities.

Ms Subow said the government should instead focus on eradicating drug abuse in the country.

“I think they shouldn’t (legalise these brews); local brews are wrong. There are many unemployed young people in this country and they indulge in these cheap brews which is bad for their health and their minds. The police, the people themselves and the community policing programme should be strengthened so that people can fight it (local brews),” she said.

She also said MYWO was concerned with the recent killings of women by their husbands in various parts of Kenya that had so far seen three women killed in the past 11 days.

Malaysia: Women & Taxi Industry

From The Star Online:
Women will get 900 or 30% of the 3,000 new individual taxi licences in the Klang Valley, said Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board chairman Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique.

The allocation of extra licences was one of the 11 “goodies” in conjunction with Najib’s 100th day as Prime Minister in July.

In a statement she said that the move was to encourage more women to venture into the taxi industry.

The application for the licences is open to Malaysians aged not more than 60 years with priority given to those who have five years experience driving a taxi.

As for applications for town taxi service, she said they would be closed on Jan 1.

Women - Victims of Mugabe

From Associated Press:
Supporters of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe used rape to terrorize the political opposition during last year's contested elections, international human rights activists said Thursday.

AIDS-Free World, led by former UNAIDS envoy Stephen Lewis, released a 64-page report that documents 380 rapes it said were committed by Mugabe loyalists.

Some 70 women linked to Zimbabwe's opposition detailed to the group how they were raped, kept as sex slaves and even forced to watch their daughters being raped. Ten became pregnant following the attacks and many believe they were infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

"These women were raped because they were politically defiant," said Betsy Apple, the organization's legal director. "It was meant to punish them and their communities."

Efforts to get comment from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party on the report were not successful Thursday.

The majority were abducted and taken to camps where they were gang-raped by five or more men. Ten of the women were pregnant at the time they were attacked. More than half of the women said they were beaten with fists, sticks, electric cords or metal rods before or after they were raped. Six women said they had to be taken to hospital in wheelbarrows or carts.

Just over half of the women reported their rapes to police and few of the perpetrators have been prosecuted, enjoying protection by police who have long been aligned to Mugabe. Few of the women have had access to medical treatment or counseling.

The Ladyguards

From the Tehran Times:
The blackclad “ladyguards” provide a niche service to women who have broken through the Arab world's glass ceiling and achieved fame and fortune, but who feel they cannot resort to male protection out of deference to the region's conservative mores.

The leader of neighbouring Libya, Moamer Gathafi, is famous for his female bodyguards, dubbed Amazons.

But clients of the “ladyguards” include Egyptian actresses and pop divas, as well as princesses and wealthy businesswomen from the oil-rich Gulf.

“We were the first to create a service of ladyguards, for several reasons,” said Cherif Khaled, managing director of Falcon group which first launched the service three years ago.

“Women in Egypt now have been able to break into different fields. They have become businesswomen, lawyers, judges, even marriage officials,” he said. “When given the opportunity, Egyptian women are able to succeed.”

A Nobel Year For Women

From Associated Press:
A record five women were among the 13 people awarded Nobel Prizes on Thursday, including a writer who depicted life behind the Iron Curtain and two American researchers who showed how chromosomes protect themselves from degrading.

The prizes were created in Alfred Nobel's 1895 will, which stipulated that they be granted to those who "have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind." They were first awarded in 1901.

Only 40 women have won the prestigious awards, including Marie Curie who was given the 1903 physics prize and the chemistry prize eight years later. In all, 802 individuals and 20 organizations have received Nobel Prizes over the years.

* Romanian-born author Herta Mueller accepted the Nobel literature award for her critical depiction of life behind the Iron Curtain — work drawn largely from her personal experiences.

* Elinor Ostrom, 76, made history by being the first woman to receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, sharing it with fellow American Oliver Williamson for their work in economic governance.

* Americans Elizabeth H. Blackburn, 61, and Carol W. Greider, 48, shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with countryman Jack W. Szostak for their work in solving the mystery of how chromosomes protect themselves from degrading when cells divide.

* The chemistry award was shared by 70-year-old Ada Yonath of Israel and Americans Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz for their atom-by-atom description of ribosomes, the protein-making machinery within cells. Their research is being used to develop new antibiotics.

Cherie Blair Foundation

From the Times of India:
The Cherie Blair Foundation For Women on Friday made its debut in India with a conference called Women Mean Business, which saw a rainbow coalition of women entrepreneurs, professionals and NGOs pledge their support to women empowerment.

Corporates such as Infosys will aid the foundation in identifying barriers that prevent Indian women from doing business.

"We're not calling for any gender to dominate the other. We're looking to create greater partnership,'' said Cherie Blair, wife of former UK prime minister Tony Blair. She was in Mumbai for the conference. Successful women, including HSBC India country head Naina Lal Kidwai, MD of ICICI bank Chanda Kochhar, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi and designer Ritu Kumar, attended the meet.

Eritrea: Praying Women Banned

From BBC News:
Thirty elderly women have been arrested in Eritrea while praying together, one of their relatives living in the United States has told the BBC.

Requesting anonymity, she said she only found out about her mother when she phoned to speak to her this week.

Most of the women belonged to an outlawed evangelical group.

The government recognises only four faiths - Islam, Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran - and bans gatherings of more than five people.

Human Rights groups regard Eritrea as one of the world's most repressive states.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Conjugal Wrongs"

"Conjugal Wrongs" is an insightful article by Kiera Lindsay (University of Melbourne) which appeared in Saturday's A2 section of The Age.

Briefly, the article dealt with the Irish "practice" of noble - yet often totally broke - men carrying off eligible heiresses and forcing them into marriage, all to gain their inheritance. Ten times out of ten, the bride was most unwilling - as were her family!

Apparently, approximately 200 "noblemen" were transported to Australia between 1797 to 1849 for the crime of "bride theft".

Kiera gives the example of Miss Mary Pike who was "abducted" on the night of 22nd July 1797 - yet she would not yield - and a reward was posted for the capture of one Sir Henry Browne Hayes of Cork.

It is a shame that I cannot re-direct you to an online version of this article as I know many would have love to read it.

Flora Robson

The other night I watched "Fire over England" - which is essentially the story of the lead up to the Spanish Armada episode in English History.

Well ..... I said essentially. There was quite a bit of "artistic licence" in the whole movie. However, I still loved it.

Particularly Flora Robson - what an exceptional actress! Her Elizabeth I was, I must say, brilliant. And again, her role as the Empress of Russia in "Catherine the Great" was also notable.

Anyway, for those not familiar with this remarkable woman, here are a few web-links for you:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Balibo: An Australian Tragedy

From BBC News:
Indonesia has banned the film Balibo, which depicts the deaths of six foreign journalists in East Timor, the head of the foreign correspondents club said.

The club cancelled a screening of the film on legal advice that they could face charges.

The journalists died as Indonesian troops invaded East Timor in 1975.

Jakarta maintains they were killed accidentally in cross-fire. But an Australian coroner found in 2007 that the journalists had been executed.

The journalists - two Australians, two Britons and a New Zealander - were killed in the border town of Balibo as Indonesian forces entered East Timor.

A sixth Australian journalist was killed in Dili shortly after when Indonesian troops entered the city.

Web Links:

A Little Bit of History

Just a few snippets of what's making news in the world of history:

From the Times Online:
A medieval book is to become the first item from a British national museum to be returned to its rightful owners under a new law governing looted artefacts.

The Benevento Missal, which was stolen from a cathedral in southern Italy soon after the Allies bombed the city during the Second World War, has been in the collection of the British Library (formerly the British Museum Library) since 1947. After a change in the law, it could be back in Italy within months, according to The Art Newspaper.

From BBC News:
A hoard of silver coins hidden in a Northamptonshire field during the Wars of the Roses has fetched more than £29,000 at auction.

The 186 coins, found in Brackley in 2005, were sold at Morton and Eden by the metal detector enthusiast who found them and the owner of the field.

It is thought they were hidden in the summer of 1465 by someone who went into hiding during the dynastic civil war.

From the Telegraph:
A copy of Edgar Allan Poe's first book fetched $662,500 at a Christie's auction in New York, smashing the previous record price for American literature.

The copy of "Tamerlane and Other Poems", published by Poe anonymously in 1827 when he was just 13, had been estimated to sell for between $500,000 and $700,000 (£ 302,000 to £442,000).

Death of Jane Austin

From CNN News:
It is a truth universally acknowledged -- or nearly so -- that Jane Austen, the author of "Pride and Prejudice," died of a rare illness called Addison's disease, which robs the body of the ability to make critical hormones.

Katherine White doesn't believe it. White, herself a sufferer of Addison's disease, has studied Austen's own letters and those of her family and friends, and concluded that key symptoms just don't match what's known about the illness.

The disease -- a failure of the adrenal glands -- was unknown in Austen's day, first having been identified nearly 40 years after she died in 1817 at the age of 41.

White is not the first to dispute the theory that Addison's disease killed Austen. British biographer Claire Tomalin suggested in a 1997 book that lymphoma was the culprit.

White finds that, too, unlikely. She suspects the answer is much simpler: tuberculosis.

Books: Yes More!

As Christmas is upon us - way too soon I might add - here are some more books of interest - at least to me - that you might like to add to your Santa's List:
  • Lustrum by Robert Harris
  • The Australian Light Horse by Roland Perry
  • Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
  • Mr Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
  • The Pocket Book of Boosh by Julian Barrett & Noel Fielding (I love the Mighty Boosh!)
  • Rebels & Traitors by Lindsay Davis
  • Legionary by Philip Matyszak
  • The Book Theif by Markus Zusak
  • Tell It To The Squirrels by Judy Kolt
  • Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith

And a copy of reviews that might also interest:
  • Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath by Caribousmom
  • Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin by Khanya