Older Women Rock; Maternal Peril Remains High

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(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

May is Older Americans Month and some women are finding that age is no deterrent to making the news.

At 95, Nola Ochs of Hays, Kan., will become the oldest person in the world to earn a college degree when she graduates from Fort Hays State University today. Ochs began taking college courses after her husband died in 1972. “I don’t dwell on my age,” Ochs told the Associated Press. “It might limit what I can do. As long as I have my mind and health, it’s just a number.”

Barbara Hillary became the first black woman to reach the North Pole when she skied to the top of the world from a base camp in Norway on April 23, the AP reported. At 75, Hillary is also believed to be among the oldest people to reach the pole. The New Yorker is a survivor of lung cancer and, despite never having skied before, she made the trek because she heard that a black woman had never done it. She plans next to become a global warming activist.

In Shelbyville, Ind., the world’s second oldest woman–Edna Parker, who is 114–and the world’s tallest woman–Sandy Allen, who is 7 feet, 7 inches–celebrated Parker’s birthday together on April 20, the AP reported. The two women live at the same convalescent center near Indianapolis, and know how to party: They shared some carrot cake and released balloons into the sky for the occasion.

Verna Naylor, at 91, still goes to work every day in Bentonville, Ohio, as the nation’s oldest postmaster. She’s had the job since 1968, taking over after her husband, Harry, died. “These walls are made from solid timbers,” she told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, describing her one-room post office. Naylor has no plans to retire.

Vera Curioli, 68, received an honorary baseball bat from the New York Yankees in a May 6 ceremony, the Journal News (of White Plains, N.Y.) reported. Curioli was honored for foiling a robbery attempt at the sandwich shop where she works; the robber came in and she whacked him with a bat twice on his head before he fled the scene.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Heading into the weekend of Mother’s Day, lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to combat maternal depression. The bill, known as the Mothers Act, would set aside federal funds for education and treatment programs for postpartum depression. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House.
  • A group of mothers, one adult child and a coalition of national organizations filed suit Friday against the United States in an international human rights court. Plaintiffs claim that U.S. courts have abused the human rights of mothers and children by frequently awarding child custody to abusive fathers. Plaintiffs also claim that mothers have been unfairly jailed after attempts to protect their children from abuse. They want the court to issue a set of steps to be taken by the United States to comply with its human rights obligations.
  • Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, said that a woman who has been raped or whose health is threatened by pregnancy should have the right to a safe abortion, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported May 10. Amnesty’s new policy is part of its global campaign to stop violence against women and plans to call for the decriminalization of abortion procedures. Annually, an estimated 68,000 women die from unsafe abortions.
  • Mozambique Prime Minister Lusia Diogo has launched the Network of Women Ministers and Parliamentarians, comprised of women who are current or former members of the government. The aim of the new organization is to advocate and lobby for gender equity and women’s empowerment. Thirty-seven percent of the parliament seats are held by women and the government currently has seven female ministers, including Diogo.


Jeers

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