Female pilots who flew planes during World War II got long-overdue recognition March 10 when they received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by Congress, in a ceremony on Capitol Hill, The Kansas City Star reported March 10. About 200 women who served as Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, were on hand. Most of the women are now in their late 80s and early 90s.
The WASP were the first women to fly American military aircraft. However, though they flew planes during World War II, they weren’t considered "real" military pilots. No flags were draped over their coffins if they died on duty and when their service ended, they had to pay their own bus fare home, the article reported.
"Women Airforce Service Pilots, we are all your daughters; you taught us how to fly," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She said the pilots went unrecognized for too long, even though their service blazed a trail for other women in the U.S. military.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- Virginia is hosting more than 5,000 art performances, exhibitions and events in celebration of women and their contributions to the field of art, according to a March 11 press release by Virginia’s Tourism Corporation. The arts initiative "Minds Wide Open" will showcase these works from March to June 2010.
- The International Herald Tribune launched a viral campaign March 9 to raise awareness of its new editorial series, The Female Factor, according to a press release. The viral, entitled It’s a Girl, tells the stories of three women across the globe, highlighting their contrasting experiences. The campaign highlights The Female Factor, a year-long series that examines the most recent shifts in women’s power, prominence and impact on societies around the world and assesses how women are influencing early 21st century development.
- India’s upper house of parliament voted for a bill on March 9 that would reserve a third of all legislative seats in national parliament and state assemblies for women, Al Jazeera reported. The vote, which saw 186 of 248 members back the draft law, came after socialist politicians blocked the parliamentary debate on March 8 and later boycotted the voting. The bill will now pass to the lower house of parliament, where it will have to be approved by 15 of India’s 28 states and require presidential consent to become a law, the article reported.
- More women in the Republic of Korea are pursuing higher education and achieving financial independence, reported The Korea Times on March 7. A larger portion of female high school students went on to universities than their male counterparts last year for the first time in history, reported the article.
- Around 158 women in the Punjab province of Pakistan who were recruited for security jobs passed their exams, and received job offers for private sector jobs, reported Calcutta Tube online on March 7.
- Over 2,000 Canadians marched in Toronto on March 6 to raise awareness for job equality, an end to violence against women and the exploitation of women, reported CBC News online on March 7. "Organizers said the purpose of the rally was to bring women of all backgrounds together to celebrate how far they’ve come and recognize that there’s more to be done for the status of women," stated the article.
- Dr. Marci Bowers of Trinidad, Colo., is providing women who have undergone female genital mutilation with reconstructive surgery at Trinidad’s Mount San Rafael Hospital, reported The Denver Post on March 7.
Women and young girls in Cambodia are being systemically raped with impunity for the perpetrators and rape rates are rising, said Amnesty International when launching a new report on their Web site on March 8.
The report includes 30 interviews with women from all walks of life in Cambodia, ages 10 to 40. Entitled "Breaking the silence: Sexual violence in Cambodia," the report was published on International Women’s Day to spread awareness about women who are victims of sex crimes.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed into law a new anti-abortion measure that could punish women for having a miscarriage, reported Democracy Now March 10. The Republican-backed bill would allow women to be charged with murder if they commit "an intentional or knowing act" that causes a miscarriage. The bill initially included language that would have also punished women for "reckless" acts, but that language was removed. Despite the revision, however, critics still say the measure could target women for all kinds of actions, including staying with an abusive partner, the article reported.
- Female human rights defenders in Afghanistan say they are being intimidated and harassed for speaking out against violence against women and gender discrimination, the international organization Amnesty International reported on their Web site March 8. The organization interviewed four Afghan women who are risking their lives for the rights of women and posted their stories as part of International Women’s Day.
- The humanitarian organization CARE has released a study ranking countries around the world by how much danger they pose to women, reported Afrol News on March 8. Seven of the top 10 countries were in Africa, though Afghanistan ranked the worst for its high maternal death rates. Somalia ranked second for its high rates of marriage of girls, female genital mutilation, gender discrimination and widespread violence against women. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea-Bissau were the other six African nations in the top 10.
- UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, launched an ongoing annual campaign that occurs every March asking media organizations to run more stories about women, reported the U.N. agency on its Web site on March 8.
- The Senate version of the U.S. health care reform bill hangs in the balance over abortion issues, The Financial Times reported March 7. President Barack Obama has given Democrats a March 18 deadline for the House to pass the Senate version of the bill. The House is shaping up to be a key battlefield in the health care fight after Democrats lost their 60-seat super-majority in the Senate, the article reported. Since not a single Republican supports the reform effort, the only option for Democrats now is to have the House pass the Senate version of the bill, then for both chambers to pass a series of fixes to take into consideration the demands of House lawmakers. Democratic leaders in the House are struggling to get the 216 votes they need to pass the Senate bill and as many as 12 conservative Democrats who voted in favor of the House bill because it included tough new restrictions on abortion funding are now threatening to vote against the Senate version, which is less restrictive.
- A global poll finds 1 out of 4 respondents say a woman’s job should be performed at home, Reuters reported on March 7. The poll sampled 24,000 people in 23 countries and found a majority of young people supported the idea of women staying home.