The first Saudi Arabian citizen to work for NASA in the United States is a woman, reported the Kuwaiti paper Alseyassah July 18. Machael el-Shamemre, 22, just graduated from Florida Institute for Technology in Melbourne, Fla., with a degree in astronomical engineering. Shamemre will work in a team producing a rare and precise weather satellite for meteorological information.

"I will do my best in order to show the world that the Saudi Arabian woman is capable of doing a great job in different fields of work for her strong will and her ambition," Shamemre said. "I want the girls of my country to know that nothing can stand in front of their success as long as they want to prove themselves within their traditions and their religion."

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  • Ms. magazine launched a campaign July 20 in which women will come out publicly about their abortions. Signed petitions reading "I have had an abortion" will be sent to Congress and state legislators to pressure politicians to fight abortion bans and to support safe, legal and accessible abortion and birth control. The campaign recalls the first issue of Ms. in 1972 when 54 prominent U.S. women declared publicly they had abortions before they were legal, among them Ms. founder Gloria Steinem; singer Judy Collins; writers Nora Ephron, Anais Nin, Lillian Helman and Grace Paley; actress Lee Grant; and popular historian Barbara W. Tuchman. More than 47 million women have received legal abortions since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, according to the New York-based Guttmacher Institute.

  • El Diario-La Prensa, the Spanish-language daily newspaper in New York, broke the media silence on the problems facing Latina girls who, according to the series, attempt suicide more than any group of people in the United States. Teen pregnancy, drug abuse and pressures related to being first-generation children in the U.S. result in the high level of emotional difficulties among female teens from all Latino backgrounds, the series reported. In addition, about 25 percent of Latinas drop out of high school.

  • The Women’s National Basketball Association has received an A grade for the third year in a row from the Orlando-based Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, according to its annual racial and gender report card released July 20. This makes the WNBA the only professional U.S. sports league that has met the institute’s standards of diversity and fair hiring practices. The WNBA has the highest percentage of female assistant coaches–65 percent–and the sports world’s only female league president.


For more information:


Ms. magazine petition

"Guatemala Pressed to Investigate Surge in Killings"

Committee on Government Reform Pregnancy Resource Center report

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Muslim women in the heart of Asia are suffering new setbacks. Afghanistan’s cabinet has approved the reestablishment of the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, New York-based Human Rights Watch reported July 18. During the Taliban period from the mid 1980s to 2001, the Vice and Virtue Department was a symbol of arbitrary abuses. Women were beaten publicly for such transgressions as not wearing adequately opaque socks; showing their wrists, hands or ankles; and not being accompanied outside by a close male relative.

In neighboring Pakistan, authorities said they expect 1,300 women accused of crimes such as exposing their wrists, hands or ankles to be eligible for pretrial release under President Pervez Musharraf’s directive, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported July 18. The women will continue to face criminal charges, but will no longer be held indefinitely before trials.

In Iran, a Kurdish woman, Malak Ghorbany, who was charged with adultery last month, faces a penalty of death by stoning. In Iran, any unmarried man or woman who engages in sexual activity is guilty of adultery. Protesters and legal rights activists around the world have launched a petition drive and mass e-mail campaign to urge that Ghorbany be spared.

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