(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

British sailor Ellen MacArthur has broken the record for sailing around the world solo.

MacArthur completed the 26,000-mile circumnavigation Monday night, crossing an imaginary finish line between France and the southwest coast of England. She completed her journey in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes, 33 seconds, beating the existing record of Francis Joyon of France by over one day.

MacArthur was emotional when she spoke to the press. “There were some times out there that were excruciatingly difficult,” she said. “There were more lows than highs, no doubt about it”

“It is exceptionally difficult to communicate how tough this was,” she added.

MacArthur never slept for more than 30 minutes at a stretch, totaling only four hours a day.

In recognition of MacArthur’s remarkable achievements, Queen Elizabeth II has approved a damehood (the female equivalent of a knighthood) for her. The 28-year-old MacArthur is the youngest person to receive this honor.

In addition, the Royal Navy said MacArthur would be made an honorary naval officer, holding the title of Lt. Commander in the Royal Navy Reserve.

MacArthur told the press that her next challenge may be toppling the west-to-east solo trans-Atlantic record, which she missed by 75 minutes last year.

Another reason to Cheer:

–Researchers have focused attention on a little known and poorly understood health phenomenon that primarily affects women. Sudden emotional stress–from grief, fear, anger or shock–can cause heart failure, according to a study published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study has conferred new legitimacy upon the idea of “broken heart syndrome,” what doctors have dubbed this condition (the technical name “stress cardiomyopathy”). Unlike a heart attack, the condition is reversible and is not usually fatal.


Jeers

Saudi women were shut out of the kingdom’s first experiment in democratic voting. Only men were allowed to participate in Thursday’s municipal election in the capital of Riyadh.

Officials initially told women activists they had the right to vote and run for office but that there were logistical difficulties, including the idea of women and men mingling at polling centers. Another obstacle raised was that the majority of women did not have identity cards.

Activists told the press that it is impossible to imagine how women could campaign for election when they are not allowed to have their photos in newspapers or hold public debates or appear on TV.

The landmark vote has sparked unprecedented debate on the role of women in Saudi Arabia.

“An all-male election is a lopsided one. When you exclude 50 percent of the society and allow criminal prisoners to vote this is an insult to 9 million women,” historian and women’s campaigner Hatoon Fassi told Reuters. “Their message to us is that we’re not citizens; we’re not worthy; that we don’t exist.”

In Memoriam:

The British Broadcasting Corporation confirmed Wednesday that British journalist Kate Peyton, 39, was killed in Mogadishu, Somalia. Witnesses said a militiaman shot Peyton outside the Sahafi Hotel. Peyton, an Africa producer for the broadcaster, was accompanied by another BBC journalist who was not injured. Peyton underwent surgery at a Mogadishu hospital. The BBC said “it was later reported that she died from internal bleeding.”

Peyton had arrived in Mogadishu Wednesday morning on assignment from South Africa, where she is based.

The assailant was chased by other militiamen who were guarding Peyton, but got away in a car, witnesses said.

The reason for the shooting was not immediately clear. The Associated Press reports that militiamen were around the Sahafi Hotel because Somali lawmakers were staying there while assessing conditions for relocating the government from neighboring Kenya, where it is currently based.

In a statement released in London, BBC Director of News Helen Boaden said, “Kate was one of our most experienced and respected foreign affairs producers who had worked all over Africa and all over the world. She will be greatly missed, both professionally and personally.”