“I decided blacks should not have to
experience the difficulties I had faced,
so I decided to open a flying school
and teach other black women to fly.”
– Bessie Coleman,
first black woman to earn an
international pilot’s license
WOW2 is a four-times-a-month sister blog to This Week in the War on Women.
Reconciliation should be
accompanied by justice,
otherwise it will not last.
While we all hope for peace
it shouldn't be peace at any
cost but peace based on
principle, on justice.
– Corazon Aquino,
first woman President
of the Philippines
To understand how any
society functions you
must understand the
the men and the women.
– Angela Davis,
civil rights activist, and
Women’s Studies professor
The purpose of WOW2 is to learn about and honor women of achievement, including many who’ve been ignored or marginalized in most of the history books.
These trailblazers have a lot to teach us about persistence in the face of overwhelming odds. I hope you will find reclaiming our past as much of an inspiration as I do.
WOW2 began as a once-a-month post, then as more and more trailblazing women were added to the lists, it expanded until it became a four-times-a-month post. The lists became so long that I’m switching to posting only a selection of these amazing trailblazers — for those who want to see the glorious and much more complete list of outstanding women for this week, click:
THIS WEEK IN THE WAR ON WOMEN
will post shortly, so be sure to go there next, and
catch up on the latest dispatches from the frontlines.
Many, many thanks to libera nos, intrepid Assistant Editor of WOW2. Any remaining mistakes are either mine, or uncaught computer glitches in transferring the data from his emails to DK5. And much thanks to wow2lib, WOW2’s Librarian Emeritus.
Trailblazing Women and Events in Our History
Note: All images and audios are below the person or event to which they refer.
- January 25, 1816 – Anna Gardner born, American abolitionist, reformer, women’s rights activist, teacher, and author; in 1841, she published the call for the first antislavery meeting in Nantucket, where Frederick Douglass made his first public speech, electrifying the audience. She delivered many lectures in the years leading up to the American Civil War, and after the war, she taught in freedmen’s schools in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina (1865-1878). When she returned to the North, she was severely injured in a carriage accident in New York, and after weeks of suffering made a partial recovery, and returned home, where she lectured at the Nantucket Athenaeum about her experiences, and for the cause of women’s rights. She wrote prose and poetry, and published a collection of her best work, Harvest Gleanings, in 1881.
- January 25, 1882 – Virginia Woolf born, leading English modernist fiction author, essayist, critic, and feminist; noted for A Room of One’s Own, Mrs. Dalloway, and To the Lighthouse.
- January 25, 1890 – Nellie Bly, intrepid American newspaperwoman, completes her around-the-world journey in 72 days, beating the fictitious record in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.
- January 25, 1896 – Florence Mills born as Florence Winfrey, daughter of former slaves, American cabaret singer, dancer, and comedian, billed as the “Queen of Happiness.” Mills was an outspoken advocate for civil rights, who broke many color barriers, and whose signature song “I’m a Little Blackbird” was a plea for racial equality. She first became known when she appeared in the hit musical Shuffle Along in 1921, then had a successful career in vaudeville, playing the Palace Theatre as a headliner, and touring Europe. In 1926, exhausted after more than 300 performances in the hit show Blackbirds in London, she contracted tuberculosis. In November 1927, she died at age 31 of infection after an operation in New York City. 10,000 people visited the funeral home to pay their respects, including James Weldon Johnson, president of the NAACP, and Ethel Waters was an honorary pall bearer. Duke Ellington dedicated his 1928 jazz composition Black Beauty to her memory.
- January 25, 1923 – Sally Starr born as Alleen Mae Beller, pioneer in radio and television, performer, DJ, announcer, writer, and producer. Her broadcast and entertainment career began with creation of the character of a blonde cowgirl who hosted an afternoon children's program for Philadelphia station WFIL-TV from the 1950s to 1971. Her program was usually known as Popeye Theater or a variation, which presented Popeye cartoons and Three Stooges shorts. She was also briefly the host of Starr Theater, which followed after Popeye Theater, and presented a cowboy movie. She was known for her flashy, often red, cowgirl outfits, including guns and holsters, embellished with fringe and silver stars. In 1958, she recorded “Our Gal Sal,” backed by Bill Haley & His Comets. Starr was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 1995. She died two days after her 90th birthday in 2013.
- January 25, 1933 – Corazon Aquino born, Filipino activist and politician; the first woman President of the Philippines; after her husband, Senator Benigno Aquino, was assassinated, she became the leader of the 1986 People Power Movement which toppled Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy.
- January 25, 1937 – The Guiding Light, a soap opera co-created by “Queen of the Soaps” Irna Phillips (who was also the show’s head writer from 1937 to 1958), debuted on NBC radio in 15 minute episodes. In 1950, it also became a television program on CBS, and the actors recorded their performances twice each day for both mediums until 1956. It ran on CBS television until 2009, making it the longest-running drama on U.S. television. Lucy Ferri Rittenberg was its Executive Producer from 1952 to 1975, and Agnes Nixon took over from Phillips as head writer from 1958 to 1966.
- January 25, 1948 – Roslyn “Ros” Kelly born, Australian Labor politician, member for Canberra of the House of Representatives (1980-1995); first Australian federal MP to give birth while in office; first woman Minister for Defense, Science and Personnel (1987-1989); Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women (1993-1994).
- January 25, 1950 – Gloria Naylor born, African-American novelist; her books include The Women of Brewster Place, which won a National Book Award for First Novel; Bailey’s Café; Mama Day; and The Men of Brewster Place.
- January 25, 1952 – Asma Khader born, Jordanian lawyer, advocate for human rights, politician, and a leading campaigner in her country for the rights of women and girls, especially victims of domestic violence. Khader was elected to the Permanent Arab Court on Violence against Women in 1995 and served as a judge in the court's public hearings in Lebanon in 1997. In 1998, she established and served as the executive director of the Solidarity is Global Institute in Jordan to provide women with legal services and educational programs, and to campaign for legislative and policy reforms. She was also a leader of the Mizan Law Group for Human Rights, and the Jordanian branch of the International Commission of Jurists, a global rights organization. She campaigned against capital punishment, pushed for women’s shelters for victims of violence, and spearheaded a successful campaign leading to abolishing a law allowing rapists to avoid punishment by marrying their victims. She was the first woman to be appointed as a government spokesperson (2003-2004), served as minister of culture (2004-2005) and as a senator (2014-2015). Khader died at age 69 of pancreatic cancer in December 2021.
- January 25, 1954 – Kay Cottee born, Australian sailor and boat builder; in 1988, she became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe single-handed, non-stop, and unassisted in a 37-foot yacht, taking 189 days. In the Southern Ocean, Cottee's boat was knocked down continuously and she was washed overboard. Cottee and her major sponsor Blackmores Limited used the voyage to raise over $1M (Australian) for the Reverend Ted Noffs' Life Education Program for disadvantaged young people. Cottee also undertook an 18-month national schools tour, speaking to over 40,000 senior high school students, imparting the message you can achieve your dreams if you work steadily towards them. She is now an international motivational speaker, boat builder, writer, painter, and sculptor. First Lady is her memoir about her solo voyage.
- January 25, 1954 – Renate Dorrestein born, Dutch author, journalist, and feminist; recipient of the 1993 Annie Romein prize for body of work; Verborgen gebreken (Crying Shame).
- January 25, 1963 – Molly Holzschlag born, American computer scientist and author; advocate for the Open Web; Color for Websites: Digital Media Design; her focus changed when she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Holzschlag began working for Knowbility, using inclusive design to overcome accessibility barriers. She is an outspoken advocate for ending racial, religious, and gender prejudice. She has written or co-authored 35 books, including Web by Design: The Complete Guide.
- January 25, 1971 – Ana Ortiz born in New York, of Puerto Rican and Irish descent; American actress and singer, known for playing Hilda in TV’s Ugly Betty (2006-2010), and Marisol Suarez in Devious Maids (2013-2016). She is active in raising awareness toward ending domestic abuse and violence, citing her own experience in her 20s when a romantic relationship turned abusive.
- January 25, 1981 – Alicia Keys born as Alicia Augello Cook; American singer-songwriter, classically trained pianist, actress, philanthropist, and activist. Keys began composing songs by age 12, and was signed at age 15 by Columbia Records. After disputes with the label, she left Columbia, and later released her debut album, Songs in A Minor, with J Records in 2001. The album included her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "Fallin'" and sold over 12 million copies worldwide. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002. In all, she has won 15 Grammys. In 2003, Keys co-founded and became Global Ambassador of Keep a Child Alive, a non-profit organization that provides medicine, orphan care, and social support to families with HIV and AIDS in Africa and India. She hosts and is the music director of Keep a Child Alive’s annual fundraising gala, the Black Ball. In September 2012, she was featured in a campaign called "30 Songs / 30 Days" to support Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book. In December 2012, Keys performed alongside many other native New Yorkers in 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. In July 2016, Keys participated in a video on taking action against systemic racism in the United States titled, "23 Ways You Could Be Killed if You are Black in America." In January 2017, Keys was a speaker at the Women's March on Washington saying, "We want the best for all Americans. No hate, no bigotry, no Muslim registry. We value education, health care, equality." She added that she cares about women's equal pay, war, women's rights, and environmental protection. Keys also sang a version of her hit song "Girl on Fire." In 2018, she spoke at the Families Belong Together protest.
- January 25, 2016 – A Texas grand jury clears Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, and indicts two anti-abortionists who assumed false identities while secretly making videos inside Planned Parenthood, then edited the videos to make it appear that the organization was violating the law, charging them with tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison. It also charged David Daleiden, the leader of the videographers, with the same misdemeanor he had alleged – the purchase or sale of human organs, presumably because he had offered to buy organs in an attempt to provoke Planned Parenthood employees into saying they would sell.
- January 25, 2021 – A mural in Madrid celebrating a diverse array of notable women became the latest target in Spain’s culture war after the far-right Vox party led efforts to have it removed because of its “political message.” The 60-metre (197 ft) mural, which bears the slogan “Your ability doesn’t depend on your gender,” was commissioned by the local council in the Ciudad Lineal neighbourhood and painted on the wall outside a sports centre in 2018. Famous faces depicted include Nina Simone, Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, Billie Jean King, Angela Davis, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshovka, and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Vox councillors told a council meeting that the mural contained “a political message” and should be replaced with one related to sport. Vox’s efforts, which have been backed by the conservative People’s party (PP) and the centre-right Citizens party, were successful, and the council voted to replace the women’s faces with a mural honouring male and female Paralympians. The decision prompted protests outside the sports centre as residents turned out to show their support for the artwork, and an online petition to save the mural had attracted almost 50,000 signatures in four days. Spain’s socialist prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, also weighed in, tweeting: “The feminist struggle for equality has left an indelible mark on our history. It’s a battle we’ll keep fighting across all areas until we ensure that women can live freely and equally.” But Madrid’s conservative People’s Party Mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, claimed the decision to remove the mural was not an attack on feminism, but “democracy in action” because the council voted on both the decision to install the mural, and the one to remove it. Jorge Nuño, a member of the Unlogic collective that created the mural, said the work was simply a recognition of the achievements of the 15 women it featured. He was struggling to understand the controversy, and why “in the middle of a pandemic and following an awful snowstorm, councillors are debating a mural that’s been on the wall of a sports centre for three years.” He added: “Art doesn’t create problems – petty thinking does.” After very vocal protests by local residents, the mural was saved in a second vote when members of the centre-right party Ciudadanos (Citizens) changed their votes to oppose the removal.
- January 26, 1892 – Bessie Coleman born, first African-American woman to fly a plane and earn an international pilot’s license. She went to France to learn to fly, and in 1921 was issued an international aviation license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. She was sponsored by Robert Abbott, publisher of the Chicago Defender, the nation’s largest African-American weekly, and the wealthy real estate dealer, Jessie Binga. Coleman learned aerobatics to make a living at air shows, and became known as “Queen Bell.” In 1923, she was hospitalized for three months after a crash. She returned to flying and speaking engagements, and hoped to open a school for flyers. In 1926, her life ended at age 34 in a flying accident.
- January 26, 1924 – Annette Strauss born, American philanthropist and politician; a tireless fundraiser and major supporter of the arts and hospitals, especially pediatric sections, in the Dallas TX area; city councilwoman (1983-1984); second woman and second Jewish mayor of Dallas (1987-1991); during her tenure as mayor, Dallas was in an economic downturn, and she spearheaded building Family Gateway, a refuge for families who had lost their homes, where they could stay together as a family, also providing food, clothing, childcare, and employment resources to help them get back on their feet. Family Gateway, now the Annette Strauss Family Gateway Center, has continued to expand and assist families to transition out of homelessness. The Annette Strauss Artist Square in downtown Dallas was also named for her. She died of cancer at age 74 in 1998.
- January 26, 1944 – Angela Davis born, American Black feminist, campaigner for abolishing prisons, and civil rights activist; Communist Party member; professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, now Distinguished Professor Emerita, in the Feminist Studies and History of Consciousness Departments. Davis was an honorary co-chair of the 2017 Women's March, and a featured speaker in Washington, DC.
- January 26, 1946 – Susan Friedlander born, American mathematician; known for mathematical fluid dynamics, the Euler equations, and Navier-Stokes equations. Since 2012, a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. In 2005, she became the first woman editor- in-chief of the prestigious Bulletin of the AMS.
- January 26, 1948 – Alda Facio born, Costa Rican jurist, author, feminist, and international expert in gender and human rights in Latin America. She was a founding member of Ventana, one of the first feminist organizations in Costa Rica, and co-founder of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court.
- January 26, 1951 – Dame Anne Mills born, British authority on health economics; since 2011, has served as Vice Director and Professor of Health Economics and Policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; member of the Disease Control Priority Project; Fellow of the Royal Society (2009); has worked on cost-effective interventions for malaria and other diseases in Africa and Asia.
- January 26, 1961 – Dr. Janet G. Travell was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to be his physician, the first woman to be appointed as Physician to the President, because of her expertise in treating skeletal muscle pain. As a medical researcher, she pioneered techniques to treat Myofascial pain, developing the concept of trigger points as a cause of musculoskeletal pain. She co-authored Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual with Dr David G. Simons.
- January 26, 1986 –Kizzmekia Corbett born, American viral immunologist and microbiologist; since 2014, she has been at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (NIAID NIH), and is currently the scientific lead of the VRC’s Coronavirus Team, with research efforts aimed at propelling novel coronavirus vaccines, including a COVID-19 vaccine. In December 2020, the Institute's Director Anthony Fauci, praised her as “an African American scientist who is right at the forefront of the development of the vaccine." She was part of the NIH team that helped solve the cryogenic electron microscopy (CryoEM) structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Her prior research suggested that messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding S protein could be used to excite the immune response to produce protective antibodies against coronavirus disease 2019. To manufacture and test the COVID-19 vaccine, Corbett's team partnered with Moderna, a biotechnology company, to rapidly enter animal studies. Subsequently, the vaccine entered Phase 1 clinical trial only 66 days after the virus sequence was released. Corbett has worked to rebuild trust with vaccine hesitant populations such as the Black community, making presentations about the COVID-19 vaccine development to Black Health Matters in October 2020. Her race has been a focus of government outreach; after a study released by the NAACP and others revealed that only 14% of black Americans believe a COVID-19 vaccine will be safe, NIAID Director Fauci was explicit: ". . . the first thing you might want to say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you're going to be taking was developed by an African American woman."
- January 26, 2015 – Libby Lane is ordained as the first woman bishop of the Church of England.
- January 26, 2020 – Billie Eilish, age 18, made Grammy Awards history when she became the second artist and first woman to win in all four major categories: Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year (for "Bad Guy"), and Album of the Year for When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Eilish was nominated in seven categories, and won six awards. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? was produced and co-written by Eilish's brother, Finneas O'Connell. She is also known for her advocacy of animal rights and veganism, and her involvement in 2020’s Get Out the Vote, suggesting to her fans that they pick a voter registration group to support, and endorsing Joe Biden when he became the Democratic nominee.
- January 26, 2021 – Kaja Kallas, Estonia’s first woman prime minister, promised to restore the Baltic nation’s reputation, after two turbulent years in which a far-right party was part of Estonia’s government. “We will again build our relations with our allies, our neighbours, and we will try to restore our name as a good country to invest in,” she told reporters after taking her oath of office. Kallas is Estonia’s first woman prime minister since it regained its independence in 1991. The Reform Party, which she leads, won the most votes in a 2019 general election, but was unable to form a government. The rival Centre Party instead joined with the far-right EKRE and another right-wing party to form a controversial coalition, with Centre’s Juri Ratas as prime minister. That coalition was always fragile, and was repeatedly rocked by far-right rhetoric used by EKRE government members. In 2019, EKRE MP Ruuben Kaalep declared the party’s agenda was to fight against “native replacement,” “the LGBT agenda” and “leftist global ideological hegemony.” In December, 2019, Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid had to apologise to Finland, after interior minister Mart Helme, the EKRE leader, mocked Finland’s newly elected prime minister Sanna Marin as a “sales girl.” In 2020, Kaljulaid convened the country’s security council to discuss remarks by Helme calling the then-US presidential nominee Joe Biden “corrupt.” She said the remarks could put Estonia’s alliances under threat. However, what finally felled the Ratas government wasn’t EKRE’s rhetoric but a corruption scandal. Juri Ratas resigned earlier in January, and a new coalition was formed between the Centre and Reform parties, with seven cabinet posts each and Kallas as prime minister. The new cabinet will be in office for two years before a new election is due in spring 2023. Kallas, a lawyer and former Member of the European Parliament, is the daughter of Sim Kallas, who founded the Reform Party and was prime minister in 2002-2003. She said gender balance was an important factor in the new cabinet, with numerous women appointed to key positions, including the finance and foreign ministers. In 2017, Estonia had the second-highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the EU. Her new coalition government has pledged to create strategies to stop producing shale oil in Estonia by 2035 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
- January 27, 1805 – Maria Anna of Bavaria born, she became Queen consort of Saxony (1836-1854); noted for organizing the first women’s committees, Frauenvereinsanstalt der obererzgebirgischen und vogtländischen Frauenvereine, to help during the great famine of Erzgebirge and Vogtland in Saxony in 1836. The committees remained in existence under various names until 1932.
- January 27, 1853 – Ella Weed born, American educator; attended Vassar College, where she wrote for the Vassar Miscellany, helping to establish the publication’s superior reputation, and after graduating with honors, she taught at girls’ schools for secondary education (1873-1883); in 1884, she became head of the day school at the Anne Brown School in New York City. Annie Nathan Meyer sought Weed’s assistance when she wanted to establish an annex to Columbia for women. She hoped to replace the existing Collegiate Course for Women, which did not allow women to attend lectures but required that they complete the same work at the same standards as the male students who did go to lectures. Weed’s contacts at the Anne Brown School were socially prominent, and she was able to get the signatures of significant New Yorkers on a petition to Columbia University trustees. This greatly helped in the founding of Barnard College in 1889. Weed was a member of the first Board of Trustees as chairman of the academic committee, performing the academic duties of dean, even as she continued as head of the Brown day school. She recruited other Vassar graduates for the Barnard’s Board of Trustees, and helped with fundraising and public relations. She was very influential in establishing the high standards for Barnard’s admission exams and the school’s curriculum, with an emphasis on the excellence on the sciences. Weed died in 1894.
- January 27, 1878 – Dorothy Scarborough born, American novelist, non-fiction author, and folklorist; she wrote mainly about women in the South and the plains states; best known for her controversial novel The Wind, which was made into the celebrated 1928 silent film starring Lillian Gish.
- January 27, 1898 – Georgia Clark born, American bank president; Kansas Democratic National Committee member (1936-1964); President Truman appointed her as the first woman U.S. Treasurer (1949-1953).
- January 27, 1914 – Black African women in South Africa’s Free State begin a campaign to protest their inclusion in the Pass Laws, which previously only applied to Black African men.
- January 27, 1921 – Donna Reed born as Donna Mullenger, American film, radio, and television actress. She is best known for playing Mary Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, and as the star of the TV series The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966), but she won 1954’s Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a much tougher character in From Here to Eternity. She was a registered Republican, but during the Vietnam War, she became a peace activist, and co-chair of Another Mother for Peace. She also opposed nuclear power plants. Reed supported Democrat Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 presidential campaign because of his strong opposition to the war. She died at age 64 of pancreatic cancer in 1986.
- January 27, 1934 – Édith Cresson born, French politician and diplomat; European Commissioner for Research, Science and Technology (1995-1999); first woman Prime Minister of France (1991-1992).
- January 27, 1937 – Nancy Dickerson born, pioneer in American radio and TV journalism; first woman reporter at CBS; associate producer of “Face the Nation” (1960); NBC’s first woman correspondent on the floor of a political convention and their first woman on international assignment (1986-1991).
- January 27, 1941 – Beatrice Tinsley born, New Zealand astronomer-cosmologist, revolutionary pioneer in theoretical studies of how galaxies evolve, relation of stars aging to galaxies, and the discovery young galaxies are brighter and bluer. After coming to the U.S. for better opportunities in her field, Tinsley wrote to her father: “The University of Texas in Dallas has kept me at the nearest possible level to nothing.” She was asked to design an astronomy department at Dallas for the University of Texas, yet in spite of her ground-breaking scientific achievements, her application for the job as head of the university’s astronomy department was not even answered; she eventually left her husband and children to become the first woman appointed to a professorship in astronomy at Yale. She published over 100 research papers there, and was honored in 1974 with the Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy. She died of cancer at age 40 in 1981. The Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize, established by the American Astronomical Society in 1986, recognizes outstanding research contributions to astronomy of an exceptionally creative or innovative character.
- January 27, 1944 – Mairéad Maguire born, Northern Irish peace activist; co-founder with Betty Williams of the Women for Peace, now the Community for Peace People; she and Williams were awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.
- January 27, 1961 – Leontyne Price makes her debut at NY’s Metropolitan Opera House as Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore. She was the first African American to become an opera prima donna.
- January 27, 1976 – Danielle George born, British professor at the University of Manchester, of radio frequency engineering in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE), and Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning. In 2020, she became the president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution which has the authority to establish professional registration for the titles of Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer, Engineering Technician, and ICT Technician, as a licensed member institution of the Engineering Council. George was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to engineering through public engagement. She was awarded the Michael Faraday Prize by the Royal Society in 2018.
- January 27, 2002 – Bessie Smith, Rosa Parks, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, and Bethany Beardslee are among the first inductees to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, established in 2000 to preserve America’s culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant sound recordings. Inductees are chosen annually to be added to the registry’s archives.
- January 27, 2020 – British theatre has an institutional problem with sexism and gender inequality, according to the authors of a study who say Arts Council England (ACE) is ignoring the issue and failing to help redress the balance. The research, conducted by the playwright Jennifer Tuckett and the Sphinx Theatre Company compared their findings for the 2018-2019 theatre season to research in 2012 by the Guardian newspaper in collaboration with Elizabeth Freestone, then artistic director of Pentabus theatre, which showed that women were vastly underrepresented, with a persistent 2:1 male-to-female ratio in British theatre roles. Tuckett’s latest research has found that in some cases the situation has worsened – for instance, only 31% of artistic directors are women, compared with 36% in the 2012 study. The new study found only 0.64% of national portfolio theatre (NPO) funding from 2015-2018 went to women’s theatre companies (defined as those whose aim is to work with women), such as Clean Break. As two of the best-funded institutions in the UK, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company were singled out in the new report. The RSC featured no productions by female writers between December 2018 and September 2019, while 25% of the National’s plays produced from November 2018 to April 2019 were written by women. The 2012 research had found 29% of new plays at the RSC were written by women, while 18% of plays at the National were by woman playwrights. In addition, no new writing prizes were awarded to women playwrights in 2018-2019. In 2017, 90% of theatre critics in the UK were men, and 73% of UK university professors teaching theatre and drama were male. In the ACE 10-year strategic plan for the arts also published in January 2020, “persistent and widespread lack of diversity across the creative industries and in publicly funded cultural organisations” was listed as a key issue that needed to be addressed, but gender bias and sexual discrimination were not. Sue Parrish, artistic director of Sphinx Theatre Company, said, “Despite our efforts and reassurances that representation was being taken seriously, it clearly is not. We are not listed in priorities or outcomes at all, there’s no separate reference made to 51% of the population. It’s extraordinary. I’m stunned.”
- January 27, 2021 – The near-total abortion ban in Poland took legal effect, in spite of a huge public backlash and ongoing mass protest demonstrations throughout the country.
- January 27, 2022 – Lewis & Clark College in Portland Oregon named Dr. Robin Holmes-Sullivan as the school’s new president, effective July, 2022. She is the first woman and the first person of color to serve as Lewis & Clark’s president in the college’s 155-year history. Holmes-Sullivan had been the college’s Vice President for Student Life since February, 2018.
- January 28, 1591 – Agnes Sampson, a healer and midwife in Nether Keith, East Lothian, Scotland, who was known as “the Wise Wife of Keith” had been accused of witchcraft in the North Berwick witch trials, but steadfastly denied all the charges against her until she finally broke under torture. Among other torture devices, a Scottish invention called “the witch’s bridle” was used, which had a plate that went into the mouth and pressed a spike unto the tongue, so the woman could not cry out without adding to her pain. On this day, she was taken to the scaffold on Castlehill in Edinburgh, where she was garroted, then burned at the stake.
- January 28, 1813 – Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is first published anonymously. Her identity as the author was revealed by her brother after her death. It has since become a literary classic, and remains immensely popular.
- January 28, 1862 – Hannah Bachman Einstein born, pioneering American social worker and activist; through her sustained efforts, New York state passed the Child Welfare Law of 1915, which established local child welfare boards to oversee public aid to widows, their children, and orphans. Einstein was chair of New York City’s board from its establishment in 1915 until her death in 1929, which was a model for similar boards throughout the nation. Einstein also became head of the New York State Association of Child Welfare Boards, and founded the National Union of Public Child Welfare Officers.
- January 28, 1873 – Colette born as Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, French novelist and journalist, author of Gigi and the Claudine series. Her 1910 novel, La Vagabonde, the story of the struggles of a woman who becomes a music hall dancer after being divorced, is based on her own experiences.
- January 28, 1900 – Alice Neel born, American expressionistic painter, known for portraits, particularly of women; in the 1960s, she became an icon of the women’s movement, and was commissioned in 1970 to paint Kate Millet for the cover of TIME magazine. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1976. In 1984, she died of colon cancer.
- January 28, 1903 – Kathleen Lonsdale born, Irish scientist and crystallographer; she developed several X-ray techniques for the study of crystal structure. She was able to determine the structure of the benzene ring by x-ray diffraction, which showed that all the ring C-C bonds were of the same length and all the internal C-C-C bond angles were 120 degrees, had an enormous impact on organic chemistry. Lonsdale was the first woman to be elected to the Royal Society of London in 1945, the first woman president of the International Union of Crystallography, and the first woman president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
- January 28, 1908 – Julia Ward Howe, best known for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” becomes the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, at the age of 89. She was an abolitionist, a pacifist, and was co-leader with Lucy Stone of the American Woman Suffrage Association. She died at age 91 in 1910.
- January 28, 1913 – Hazel Garland born, journalist, first African American woman to serve as editor-in-chief of a nationally circulated newspaper, The Pittsburgh Courier (1974-1977).
- January 28, 1922 – Anna Gordy Gaye born, American R&B composer, songwriter, and record producer; founder of the Anna Label.
- January 28, 1929 – Edith Marie Flanigen born, American chemist, noted for work on synthesis of emeralds, and of zeolites for molecular sieves; she invented more than 200 different synthetic substances, authored or co-authored over 36 publications, and was awarded at least 109 patents. In. 2014, she was honored with the National Medal of Technology.
- January 28, 1935 – Iceland becomes the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion, making it legal within 22 weeks of pregnancy, but with the decision to terminate the pregnancy after the 16th week requiring approval by a committee. In 2019, the Icelandic parliament passed a bill putting the decision to terminate a pregnancy solely in the hands of the pregnant woman.
- January 28, 1945 – Marthe Keller born, Swiss actress, noted as a director of opera since 1999, at the Opéra National du Rhin in Alsace, and for the Washington (DC) National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and in 2004, a production of Don Giovanni at the Metropolitan Opera.
- January 28, 1947 – Jeanne Shaheen born, American Democratic politician, first woman U.S. senator from New Hampshire (2009 to present), and first woman governor of New Hampshire (1997-2003).
- January 28, 1950 – Naila Kabeer born in India; Bangladeshi social economist and author; current president of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) through 2019; expert on South and South East Asian gender, poverty, and labor markets; The Quest for National Identity: Women, Islam and the state in Bangladesh (1989).
- January 28, 1960 – Loren Legarda born, Filipina politician, former journalist, and environmentalist; Senator (2007-2019, 1998-2004, and since 2022); President Pro Tempore of the Senate since July 2022; Senate Majority Leader (2002-2004); Chair of the Philippines Senate Foreign Relations Committee (2017-2019), Chair of the Senate Climate Change Committee (2009-2019), and Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee (2013-2016). She has originated bills on indigenous people’s rights, women’s rights, and against child trafficking.
- January 28, 1968 – Sarah McLachlan born, Canadian singer-songwriter, two-time Grammy winner, and founder of the Lilith Fair tours, the most successful all-women music festival ever, showcasing women musicians on an unprecedented scale, launching several women artists’ careers, and raising millions for charity (1997-1999). Lilith Fair briefly resumed in 2010, but ran into financial problems, and was not repeated.
- January 28, 1969 – Linda Sánchez born, American Democratic politician; U.S. Representative from California (2013 to present), currently serving on the House Ways and Means Committee, and a ranking member on the Ethics Committee; previous Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, current Vice Chair of the House Democratic Conference (fifth-ranking position in House Democratic leadership), the first Hispanic and first woman of color elected to this level of leadership in the House.
- January 28, 2019 – The United Arab Emirates was ridiculed after it emerged that all of the winners of an initiative designed to foster gender equality in the workplace were men. Certificates and medals were awarded by Sheik Moammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the vice-president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, in the categories of “best government entity supporting gender balance”, “best federal authority supporting gender balance” and “best gender balance initiative” at a ceremony. The awards went to the finance ministry, the federal competitiveness and statistics authority, and ministry of human resources respectively, which were all represented by male awardees. The deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, Lt Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al-Nahyan, was recognised as the “best personality supporting gender balance” for his efforts to implement maternity leave in the UAE’s military. “We are proud of the success of Emirati women and their role is central to shaping the future of the country,” a tweet from the official Dubai media office said. “Gender balance has become a pillar in our government institutions.” The tweet was met with mockery, with comments such as: “Wow really nailed the diversity there. One of those dudes was wearing gray.” While more Emirati women are now part of the work force and have access to higher education, the UAE legal system still favors men’s rights in family and personal status matters such as marriage, divorce, and custody of children. UAE law also permits domestic violence as long as the assault does not exceed the limits set by Islamic law. In one case, the husband was prosecuted and convicted, but the wife was also prosecuted and convicted – for damaging the door of his house when he threw her at it. The court fined them both the same amount.
- January 28, 2020 – In the UK, three judges of the court of appeal ruled that anyone who films a partner during sex without their consent is committing the criminal offence of voyeurism. The case involved a man who was convicted of filming himself having sex with prostitutes. His lawyers had argued that the voyeurism law allowed him to do so since even a bedroom is not a private place if he was there legitimately. The judges agreed with John Price, QC for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), that consent should be the primary issue when considering cases under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act. Surely any consenting partner, he argued, would have a “reasonable expectation to not being filmed so as to enable another person to view it afterwards or make it available to others?” Lord Justice Fulford said in dismissing the appeal, “A defendant can be guilty of an offence of voyeurism in relation [to having sex] even when he is a participant … section 67 of the act which protects individuals against the recording of any person involved in a private act is not limited to protecting the complainant from someone not present during the act.” This ruling will have an impact on the case of Emily Hunt, who said she had been sleeping naked in a hotel bed when she had been raped and filmed by a man. The man claimed the sex was consensual, and she was told by the CPS that they would not take up her case because, “if you consent to being seen, you consent to being videoed.”
- January 28, 2021 – President Joe Biden signed an executive order to rescind the Mexico City Policy, ending the Trump administration’s expansion of the policy, which requires foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to certify that they would not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” using funds from any source (including non-U.S. funds) as a condition of receiving U.S. government global family planning funding. President Trump reinstated the policy but also significantly expanded it to encompass the vast majority of U.S. bilateral global health assistance. The policy was first imposed during the Reagan Administration in 1984, and has since been a political football, being rescinded by Democratic administrations and reinstated by Republicans.
- January 29, 1850 – Sarah Marinda Loguen Fraser born, the first African American woman to graduate from the Syracuse University College of Medicine, and the fourth black woman doctor licensed in the U.S. Her parents were abolitionists, and their home in Syracuse, NY, was an important station on the underground railroad, giving shelter to about 1,500 escaped slaves on their way to Canada. Sarah often helped in treating the injuries and sicknesses of the fugitives, learning from her family’s doctor, Michael Benedict, who encouraged her to pursue medicine. When she was admitted to Syracuse University’s School of Medicine in 1873, a local paper wrote, "This is women’s rights in the right direction, and we cordially wish the estimable young lady every success in the pursuit of the profession of her choice." She interned in pediatrics and obstetrics at the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, then continued on to the New England Hospital for Women and Children to complete her internship in 1878. New England Hospital was had an all-woman staff, unique at the time. In 1879, she went into private practice in Washington DC, and was dubbed “Miss Doc” by her patients. She married chemist Charles Fraser, a Dominican man who owned and ran a pharmacy, and in 1884 by special license, she became the first woman authorized to practice medicine in the Dominican Republic. However, she was only permitted to treat women and children due to her gender. In addition, since the income from their drug store was sufficient for the family, she was able to offer free treatment to the poor. After her husband died in 1894, Sarah ended her practice, so that she could run the pharmacy. She sold the pharmacy in 1896 and used the profits to move back to Washington. By 1907, she was practicing pediatric medicine in Syracuse NY, and mentoring black midwives. She died at age 83 in 1933 from kidney disease.
- January 29, 1861 – Florida Ruffin Ridley born, African-American civil rights activist, suffragist, teacher, writer, and editor. She was born into a distinguished family: her father, George Lewis Ruffin was the first black graduate of Harvard Law School, and the first African-American judge in the U.S., and her mother, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, was a notable black writer, civil rights leader, and suffragist. Florida graduated from Boston Teachers’ College in 1882, and became the second black public schoolteacher (after Elizabeth Smith) in Boston, and edited the Woman's Era, the country's first newspaper published by and for African-American women. She was an advocate for women’s suffrage and campaigned against lynching. In 1894, with her mother and Maria Louis Baldwin, Ridley co-founded a black women’s advocacy group, the Women’s Era Club (later the New Era Club), and they also started in 1885 what became the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, which hosted meetings where notable black women speakers drew audiences. In 1918, the three women founded the League of Women for Community Service in Boston, which originally offered aid and comfort to African American soldiers. The league evolved after WWI to provide social, educational, and charitable services for the black community. When many city theatres and other venues were off-limits for people of African descent, the league offered art exhibits, literary study groups, plays, concerts and lectures at its headquarters, formerly a large brownstone residence, which is still in use by the league today. As a writer, Ridley wrote articles about black history and race relations in New England which appeared in the Journal of Negro History, The Boston Globe, and other periodicals. She also wrote short stories, and belonged to the Saturday Evening Quill, a literary group which published an annual journal of work by its members, including African-American women authors and artists like Helene Johnson, Lois Mailou Jones, and Ridley. Ridley co-founded the Society for the Collection of Negro Folklore in 1890, and founded the Society of the Descendants of Early New England Negroes in the 1920s. In 1923, Ridley conceived and directed an exhibit for the League of Women for Community Service, “Negro Achievement and Abolition Memorials” at the Boston Public Library. She died at age 82 in 1943. Her home now is a stop on the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail, and in September 2020, the Florida Ruffin Ridley School in the Coolidge Corner neighborhood of Brookline, Massachusetts, was named in her honor.
- January 29, 1881 – Alice C. Evans born, American microbiologist, the first woman scientist to hold a permanent position as a USDA bacteriologist, and a civil servant protected by law. She was a researcher at the Dairy Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Her early work was on refining the process of manufacturing cheese and butter for improved flavor, but she also investigated the sources of bacterial contamination in milk products. Her work demonstrated that the Bacillus abortus bacteria in milk caused Brucellosis, a highly contagious disease which affects both animals and humans, and was also a cause of miscarriages in cows. When her findings were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in 1918, they were met with skepticism, because she was a woman and did not have a PhD, but other scientists around the world also found raw milk was a source of the bacteria of several diseases. In 1924, spurred in part by Evans's findings, the U.S. Public Health Service drafted a model ordinance for states and localities to implement pasteurization requirements for milk meant to be consumed by humans, but the practice didn't become common across the country until the 1930s, and the first federal pasteurization law wasn’t passed until 1947.
- January 29, 1891 – Liliuokalani is proclaimed as ruler; she is the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii – American planters and U.S. Marines will overthrow the monarchy two years later.
- January 29, 1895 – Muna Lee born, American poet, mystery novelist, translator, and feminist; she was one of the founders of the Inter-American Commission of Women, and also worked for the U.S. State Department, primarily on cultural exchanges with Latin America. Lee lived the last 25 years of her life in Puerto Rico.
- January 29, 1903 – Viña Delmar born into a vaudevillian family; American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and screenwriter. Her novel, Bad Girl, became a best-seller after it was banned in Boston because she wrote about premarital sex, pregnancy, and childbirth. Her screenplay for the screwball comedy, The Awful Truth, was nominated for an Oscar in 1937. Many of Delmar’s characters were working-class women who cursed, had sex, and thought independently. A critic of her novel Bad Girl complained that “A novel is not the place for obstetrics.”
- January 29, 1921 – Geraldine Pittman Woods born, African American science administrator who established programs that encourage and facilitate minority careers in STEM fields; served on the Personnel Board of the California Department of Employment, and as a member of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS); first black woman appointed to the National Advisory General Medical Services (NAGMS) Council; appointed in 1969 as a special consultant to the NIGMS; helped launch the Head Start Program in 1965; appointed in 1968 as Chair of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.
- January 29, 1926 – Violette Neatly Anderson became the first black woman admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court. She also campaigned for passage of the Bankhead-Jones Act, which provided low-interest loans to sharecroppers so they could buy land of their own, and was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937.
- January 29, 1927 – Amelita Ramos born, First Lady of the Philippines (1992-1998); she was the first Filipina First Lady to continue to work, as registrar at the International School in Manila, refusing to resign, and juggling her work duties with her official duties as First Lady. During her tenure as First Lady, she was an advocate for sports programs, having previously served as president of the Philippine Badminton Association, and also campaigned for the rehabilitation and conservation of the Pasig River. After her husband left office, she continued to be an advocate for clearing the Pasig of pollution.
- January 29, 1939 – Germaine Greer born, Australian journalist and controversial feminist author of The Female Eunuch, The Obstacle Race, Sex and Destiny, and The Whole Woman.
- January 29, 1941 – Robin Morgan born, American feminist, political theorist, and poet; co-founder of the Women’s Media Center, author of over 20 books; editor of the trailblazing anthology Sisterhood is Powerful; founder of The Sisterhood Is Powerful Fund; noted for her essay “Goodbye to All That.”
- January 29, 1947 – Linda B. Buck born, American biologist and rhinologist; co-recipient with Richard Axel of 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for their work on olfactory receptors, studying the olfactory process at the molecular level, and tracing the travel of odors through the cells of the nose to the brain. She is currently on the faculty of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
- January 29, 1949 – Doris Davenport born, American writer poet and performance artist who uses doris davenport as her pen name. She identifies as African American, Appalachian, Feminist, and LGBTQ. She has published eight poetry collections, and written articles and essays for Appalachian Heritage and other periodicals and journals.
- January 29, 1954 – Oprah Winfrey born, African American talk show host, actress, television and film producer, media mogul, and philanthropist; noted for The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated TV program of its kind from 1986 to 2011; Chair and CEO of Harpo Productions since 1986, and publisher of O magazine (in print 2000-2020).
- January 29, 2000 – In Egypt, a 32-year-old woman becomes the first to file for a divorce under a new law that does not require that a woman prove she is suffering from physical or psychological abuse. Under Egypt’s Islamic law, Wafa Mosaad Gabr could not divorce her husband simply because she didn’t want to be married to him anymore. So, for four years she begged him to grant her a divorce and he refused. With the help of a Women’s Legal Aid Centre, Gabr was finally able to divorce her husband and become the first woman to do so on grounds of incompatibility. The new law, which was approved by Hosni Mubarak when he was still president, was welcomed by women’s rights activists who had campaigned for years to change the 1929 law allowing women to file for divorce only on grounds of physical or psychological abuse. Prior to 1929, Egyptian women could not divorce their husbands for any reason. While a woman can now file for divorce on grounds of incompatibility, she is required to return the dowry that he paid for her and give up all financial rights. Women’s rights activists feel that the latter part of the law still needs to be amended because it will be difficult for poor women to return the dowry and also relinquish all financial rights.
- January 29, 2020 – When 23-year-old Ugandan environmental activist Vanessa Nakate saw she was missing from an Associated Press photograph of environmental activists at the World Economic Forum 2020 meeting at Davos, she addressed a tweet to AP asking why she had been cropped out. She was on the far left in the photo with white activists Greta Thunberg, Loukina Tille, Luisa Neubauer and Isabelle Axelsson. “When I saw the photo, I only saw part of my jacket. I was not on the list of participants. None of my comments from the press conference were included,” she said. “It was like I wasn’t even there.” Nakate is the founder of the climate action groups Youth for Future Africa and the Rise Up Movement, and led a strike outside the Ugandan parliament to protest against climate inaction and rising temperatures. Her tweet to AP set off an international conversation on erasure and diversity in the environmental movement. Nakate reported, “Climate activists of color are erased. I [had] activists who messaged me to tell me that the same thing happened to them before but they didn’t have the courage to say anything.” After the outcry, the cropped photo was replaced on the AP wire, and the agency apologized to Nakate, both publicly and in person. “We train our journalists to be sensitive to issues of inclusion and omission. We have spoken internally with our journalists and we will learn from this error in judgment,” said Sally Buzbee, the AP’s executive editor. The agency said that the crop was an honest mistake with no ill intent, but Nakate said what some dismiss as an error reflects the constant silencing of diverse voices in climate action groups. Jamie Margolin, founder of the climate action group Zero Hero, said, “Racism, classism and the erasure of marginalized voices isn’t new. A photo crop-out is an easy way to describe it but it’s really a metaphorical crop-out from the narrative of climate science in general.” She recalled other instances when activists of color were left out of clips, transcripts, and other coverage of events – even those they had organized.
- January 29, 2021 – UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the Biden administration’s announcement it was restoring funding to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA): “The decision will transform and save women’s and girls’ lives across the world, from the most pressing humanitarian emergencies to the most remote and hard-to-reach communities, and everywhere in between ... [it also sends] a powerful message to women and girls around the world that their rights matter.” U.S. funding had been stopped in 2017 by Donald Trump, who claimed, without evidence, that the agency supported coercive abortions and forced sterilization programmes in China. UNFPA refuted the “erroneous” claim, stressing that “all of its work promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination.” The U.S. was one of the founding members of UNFPA. In 2016, the U.S. had provided approximately $69 million to the UN agency, supporting critical response in crisis-affected communities. UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem said the renewal of partnership between the U.S. Government and UNFPA is “a ray of hope” for millions of people.
- January 30, 1590 – Lady Anne Clifford born, English peeress, heiress and diarist; daughter of the 4th Earl of Cumberland. In 1605, when her father died, she was his only living child, and he left her ₤15,000 pounds, but willed his estate to his younger brother, who also became the 5th Earl of Cumberland. She inherited her father’s ancient barony by writ, becoming the suo jure (“in one’s own right”) 14th Baroness de Clifford. She went to court over the family estates, because they had been granted by King Edward II under absolute cognatic primogeniture (through either the male or female line). Her suit was unsuccessful until the 5th Earl died without male progeny, and she finally gained possession, but not until six years after his death. She held the hereditary office High Sheriff of Westmorland from 1653 to 1676. Lady Anne was a notable patron of literature, and kept up a considerable correspondence. The diary she kept from 1603 to 1616 has been published.
- January 30, 1912 – Barbara Tuchman born, American historian and author; she won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction twice, for The Guns of August, and Stilwell and the American Experience in China. Among her other notable works are A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century; The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam; and The Zimmerman Telegram.
- January 30, 1923 – Marianne Ferber born, American feminist economist and author; co-author of The Economics of Women, Men and Work, often used as a textbook and reference; member of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession, and a founding member and president (1995-1996) of the International Association of Feminist Economics (IAFFE).
- January 30, 1929 – Lucille Teasdale-Corti born, Canadian physician and pediatric surgeon who worked in Uganda from 1961 to 1996, developing medical services in Northern Uganda; unable to secure an internship in the U.S. in 1960 (several rejections specifically because she was a woman), her final internship was at the Hôpital de la Conception in Marseille, France. During her internship, she was asked by Piero Corti to help set up a surgery at a mission hospital near Gulu in Northern Uganda, “just for a couple of months” at no pay, except for travel expenses and cigarettes. She and Piero were married in 1961, and they put many newly graduated Italian doctors through three month of hands-on training as part of an Italian government aid project, and a civil service alternative for the doctors in lieu of compulsory military service; during Idi Amin’s dictatorship, they chose to remain, one of the few hospitals still operating throughout the Uganda-Tanzania War, but she became HIV-positive from performing surgeries on war casualties, often cutting herself on bone fragments; diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, she continued her work, in spite of the devastating illness, almost to her death in 1996, because she was the only experienced surgeon available.
- January 30, 1931 – Shirley Hazzard born in Australia, Aussie-American short story writer, essayist, and author of We Need Silence to Find Out What We Think; Transit of Venus; and The Great Fire, for which she won the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction. She also wrote two nonfiction books based on her experiences working at the United Nations Secretariat, which are highly critical of the United Nations: Defeat of an Ideal (1973) and Countenance of Truth (1990). She died at age 85 in 2016.
- January 30, 1959 – Cynthia Carter born, journalist, academic, and feminist; senior lecturer, Cardiff School of Journalism; co-founder and editor of the journal Feminist Media Studies.
- January 30, 1974 – Olivia Colman born, English stage, television, and film actress; in 2019, she won both the Oscar and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for The Favourite, and has won three BAFTA Television Awards for her performances in Twenty Twelve, Accused, and Broadchurch. In 2014, inspired by her research for the film Tyrannosaur, she became a patron of the UK Charity Tender, which uses theatre and the arts to educate young people about how to prevent violence and sexual abuse. She is also a patron of the Anthony Nolan blood cancer charity. Other charity work includes participating in the Alzheimer's Society's Holkham Hall Memory Walk, and charity campaigns for the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal (care for the terminally ill).
- January 30, 1997 – A New Jersey judge ruled that the unborn child of a woman prisoner must have legal representation, and denied the prisoner bail reduction so she was unable to leave the jail and obtain an abortion. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment bans abortion coverage for women insured through Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and has been used as a model for limiting abortion access for women in federal prisons or detention centers. A number of states have passed similar legislation.
- January 30, 2017 – Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama administration holdover, for refusing to defend his executive order on immigration in court. Trump's order temporarily banned entry into the U.S. by people from seven predominantly Muslim nations. Yates said it was probably unlawful. Trump appointed Dana Boente, a Virginia federal prosecutor, to replace her until his nominee for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, was confirmed. In another gesture of defiance, 100 State Department officials signed a dissent memo warning that barring millions of refugees to find a small number of would-be terrorists could increase the terrorist threat, instead of diminishing it. The White House told the diplomats to "get with the program" or leave.
- January 30, 2019 – Mrs Justice Siobhan Keegan, a Belfast high court judge, heard testimony by Sara Ewart, who was refused an abortion in 2013, after receiving a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality, because of Northern Ireland’s near-blanket ban on terminations. She was harangued by anti-abortion protesters, refused advice on how to seek a termination, and her medical records were not sent to the clinic in London where she went to end her pregnancy. Ewart said she was left feeling “vulnerable and humiliated.” In 2018, the UK supreme court said Northern Ireland’s abortion laws breached human rights laws. But the ruling also stated that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), which brought that case, did not have the power to bring forward proceedings because it was not a victim of an unlawful act, so Ewart brought an individual case to the high court in hope of securing a formal declaration that Northern Ireland is violating the European convention on human rights. Professor James Dornan, the director of foetal medicine at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Service in Belfast, gave evidence that a pregnancy with fatal foetal abnormalities created a risk of sepsis to the mother and also “significant risks” to the mental health of a woman continuing a pregnancy knowing that the foetus could die at any moment.
- January 31, 1785 – Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová born, Czech writer, and activist in the Czech National Revival movement; also helped to found a school for girls; best known for her cookbook, Domácí kuchařka aneb Pojednání o masitých a postních pokrmech pro dcerky české a moravské (Household Cookery Book, or A Treatise on Meat and Fasting Dishes for Bohemian and Moravian Lasses).
- January 31, 1881 – Anna Pavlova born, Russian prima ballerina and choreographer. She was a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev. Pavlova is most recognized for her creation of the role of The Dying Swan. With her own company, she became the first ballerina to tour around the world, including South America, India, and Australia.
- January 31, 1896 – Sofya Yanovskaya born, Russian mathematician and historian, best known for her efforts in revivifying research in mathematical logic in the Soviet Union, influencing studies of non-standard analysis, as well as editing and publishing the mathematical works of Karl Marx. She was honored with the Order of Lenin.
- January 31, 1900 – Betty Parsons born, American artist and art dealer; opened The Betty Parsons Gallery in 1946, one of the few galleries that exhibited work by Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Hedda Sterne and Judith Godwin; she later exhibited Agnes Martin, Jasper Johns, and Olive Steindecker. Her own paintings were exhibited in solo shows at a number of important New York galleries.
- January 31, 1902 – Tallulah Bankhead born, American actress, known for her flamboyant style, husky voice, and razor wit; supporter of liberal causes, from helping Spanish Civil War and WWII refugees, to the Civil Rights Movement, putting her at frequent odds with her prominent conservative Alabama family, which boasted two U.S. Senators and a Speaker of the House.
- January 31, 1902 – Alva Myrdal born, Swedish sociologist, politician, disarmament movement leader; co-recipient of the 1982 Nobel Peace Prize; Swedish delegate to 1962 UN disarmament conference in Geneva; UNESCO Social Science chair (1950-1955); helped create the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
- January 31, 1916 – Diana Rowden born, British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent; after her parents divorced, her mother moved Diana and her two younger brothers to Southern France, where they had their early education, but then attended English schools. In 1933, Rowden returned to France and enrolled in the Sorbonne. When Germany invaded France in 1940, she volunteered with the French Red Cross, and was assigned to the Anglo-American Ambulance Unit. The Allied collapse in May 1940 prevented her evacuation from France and she remained until 1941 when she escaped to England via Spain and Portugal. In September 1941, she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), and was shortly promoted to Section officer. While recuperating from minor surgery, she met a convalescing pilot assigned to the French Section of the SOE. Rowden told him she wanted to return to France and become part of the resistance. The pilot passed word on to his colleagues, and in 1943, she had a preliminary interview with an officer of SOE F Section, was recruited, and immediately sent off to training. Her training report said one of her best subjects was fieldcraft, in which she "did some excellent stalks." She was also "a very good shot, not at all gun-shy. Grenade throwing, very good." Her commandant's report described her as a "strange mixture. Very intelligent in many ways but very slow in learning any new subject." She had trouble with technical details and her signalling was described as “a grief to herself and others, not worth while persevering with …” She was flown into France with agents Cecily Lefort and Noor Inayat Khan in June 1943. They were to be couriers between the SOE networks. Rowden was assigned to the Acrobat network in the Jura Mountains near Dijon and the Swiss border. She traveled mostly by bicycle. She also went out at night with local resistance members to set flares and shine flashlights in fields to guide Allied planes parachuting in arms, ammunition, and explosives. When Acrobat was infiltrated by a double agent, Rowden and the others went on the run. Her description had likely been distributed, so she dyed her hair and styled it differently, got rid of her clothes, and borrowed others. In November, the German military police raided the house where she and two others were hiding – one of them was the double agent who betrayed them. Rowden was taken to Gestapo Headquarters in Paris, then sent to Fresnes Prison outside Paris. In May 1944, Rowden and three other captured women SOE agents were moved again, and sent with other women prisoners to German prison. In July, 1944, Rowden and three others were moved to the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in France. Albert Guérisse, a Belgian army doctor who was also a prisoner, witnessed the women being taken one by one to the building housing the crematorium. At the post-war trial of the men charged with the execution of the four women, he testified that the German prisoner in charge of the building told him that each woman was told to undress for a medical check and a doctor gave her an injection for what he told one of them was a vaccination against typhus, but was in fact a 10 cc dose of phenol. When a woman became unconscious, she was inserted into the crematorium oven. One of the women, never identified, regained consciousness as she was being shoved into the oven feet first, and fought her killers, severely scratching the face of the camp executioner before she was overpowered and forced in. Posthumously, Rowden was Mentioned in Dispatches by the British government, and awarded the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 by the French government. The concentration camp where she died is now a French government historical site: a plaque to Rowden and the three women who died with her is part of the Deportation Memorial on the site.
- January 31, 1928 – Irma M. Wyman born, pioneer in computer engineering; first woman Vice President, and first woman CIO, of Honeywell Inc.
- January 31, 1940 – Sabrina Paluga Jackintell born, American women’s Aeronautics record holder, and former women’s Land Speed record holder. In 1965, she was the first woman to drive a land vehicle over 300 miles per hour, and in 1979, set the women’s world altitude record for gliders, 41,460 feet (12,637 meters). She logged over 4,000 hours in gliders. Jackintell died in 2012, just two weeks before her 72nd birthday.
- January 31, 1945 – Brenda M. Hale born, Baroness Hale of Richmond, British judge; since 2017, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom; the first woman appointed as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary when she joined the House of Lords in 2004.
- January 31, 1961 – Elizabeth Barker born, Baroness Barker, British Liberal Democrat politician; became a Life Peer in 1999; Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the Voluntary Sector and Social Enterprise, and a Patron of Opening Doors London, a charity providing support for older LGBTQ people.
- January 31, 1963 – Gwen Graham born, American Democratic politician; U.S. Representative from Florida’s 2nd District (2015-2017); lost to Republican Neal Dunn after redistricting reassigned most of her African American constituents to another district. In 2021, she became Assistant Secretary of Education for Legislation and Congressional Affairs in the Biden administration.
- January 31, 1964 – Dawn Prince-Hughes born, American primatologist, anthropologist, and ethologist; associated with ApeNet Inc, the Institute for Cognitive Archaeological Research, and the Jane Goodall Institute. Author of Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism; Gorillas Among Us: A Primate Ethnographer's Book of Days; Expecting Teryk: An Exceptional Path to Parenthood; The Archetype of the Ape-man: The Phenomenological Archaeology of a Relic Hominid Ancestor; and Adam. Prince-Hughes challenges the predominant scientific paradigm, which says the nature of mankind's cognitive processes is clearly distinct from that of other primates. She has formulated several contrarian scientific conclusions, including her assertion that Bonobo chimpanzees can speak English if one just learns to understand their accent.
- January 31, 1975 – Preity Zinta born, Indian actress and star of Hindi cinema, social activist, columnist for BBC News Online, and founder of the production company PZNZ Media. She was the only witness not to retract her statement in court against the India mafia during the 2003 case in which film financier Bharat Shah was convicted of failure to disclose ties to the Indian mafia, and attempts to extort Indian film personalities. She is an active supporter of AIDS awareness, campaigns to clean up Mumbai, and against female infanticide, and has raised funds for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. In 2009, she adopted 34 girls from the Mother Miracle orphanage, taking responsibility for financially supporting their education, food, and clothing.
- January 31, 1986 – Megan Ellison born, American film producer, and founder in 2011 of Annapurna Pictures; producer of Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Her (2013), American Hustle (2013), and Phantom Thread (2017), all of which have earned Oscar nominations.
- January 31, 1986 – Zubeia Jaffer, South African journalist, author, and former reporter for the Cape Times, was detained by the security police, with her husband. 335 other people, including her attorney, were also being detained under the ‘State of Emergency’ regulations. She was three months pregnant, and held incommunicado, with no access to her doctor or her lawyer. Shortly after she joined the Cape Times daily newspaper, she wrote an article exposing police brutality on the Cape Flats in July, 1980. The security police picked her up. She was detained, tortured, and poisoned by the notorious ‘Spyker’ van Wyk, known for his involvement in torture over a 30-year period beginning in the early 1960s. She was held in police custody again between August and October in 1980, in solitary confinement, charged with possession of banned books. After she was released on bail, she was acquitted of the charge in February 1981. She left the Cape Times later in 1981, due to her frustration with the constant political interference in her work. In 1988, she was charged and convicted for obstructing the police, but was acquitted on appeal. In 1994, she was honored with the Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist Award presented by the US-based National Association of Black Journalists, the first woman on the African continent to receive the award. Her recent book, Beauty of the Heart, is a biography of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke.
- January 31, 2007 – In Tampa, Florida, police faced a major controversy for jailing a 21-year-old pre-med college student after she reported she was raped. The unidentified woman was kept behind bars for two days. She was also denied a second dose of the morning-after contraceptive pill because of a prison worker’s religious beliefs, according to Vic Moore, the woman’s attorney. She was released from jail only after Moore reported her plight to local media. Police say they made the arrest after discovering a four-year-old warrant for failure to pay restitution for a 2003 theft arrest when the woman was a juvenile. The warrant was discovered as police were accompanying the woman to the crime scene. They immediately stopped the investigation and put her in handcuffs. Tampa police announced they were changing their policy to give officers “more discretion” on when to arrest a crime victim who has an outstanding warrant. "Obviously, any policy that allows a sexual battery victim to spend a night in jail is a flawed policy,'' police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. "So our city attorney is writing a new policy right now."
- January 31, 2020 –The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2020 season, which was scheduled to begin in February, was to make it the first classical company in the world to perform an entire year of works choreographed solely by women – a move that is, shockingly, considered radical. “Why not? There’s been all-men years for the past 150 years where only men choreograph,” said Patricia Barker, the company’s artistic director, who has scheduled works by the legendary American choreographer Twyla Tharp and established New Zealand names, along with shows by up-and-coming creators. “I hate that I have to advertise it as an all-women year,” she added. But Barker, who had a history of encouraging women dance creators in her previous post as artistic director of Grand Rapids Ballet in Michigan, wanted to bring awareness to the issue. In the U.S., 79% of shows programmed by the 50 largest American ballet companies during the 2019-2020 performance season were choreographed by men, according to figures from the Dance Data Project; it had been 81% male in 2018-2019. This is in spite of girls in ballet classes outnumbering boys by about 20:1, and women making up over half of audiences and donors to companies. Most of the season had to be canceled because of the pandemic, but three of the ballets were announced in November 2021 to be part of the 2022 season.
- January 31, 2021 – Women, Business, and the Law, a World Bank report shows that on average globally, women have just three-quarters of the legal rights afforded to men. The report measures the laws and regulations across eight areas that affect women’s economic opportunities in 190 countries, covering the period from September 2019-October 2020. From the basics of movement in the community to the challenges of working, parenting, and retiring, the data offers objective and measurable benchmarks for global progress toward gender equality. Following the outbreak of the pandemic, this report also looks at government responses to the COVID-19 crisis and how the pandemic has impacted women at work and at home, focusing on childcare, access to justice, and health and safety. The pandemic has also contributed to a rise in both the severity and frequency of gender-based violence. Preliminary research shows that since early 2020, governments introduced about 120 new measures including hotlines, psychological assistance, and shelters to protect women from violence. Some governments also took steps to provide access to justice in several ways, including declaring family cases urgent during lockdown and allowing remote court proceedings for family matters. “While it is encouraging that many countries have proactively taken steps to help women navigate the pandemic, it’s clear that more work is needed, especially in improving parental leave and equalizing pay,” said Mari Pangestu, Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships, The World Bank. “Countries need to create a legal environment that enhances women’s economic inclusion, so that they can make the best choices for themselves and their families.”
The Feminist Cats Launch
A New Campaign!
For those of you who want to dive deeper,
the rest of the list of this week’s Women
Trailblazers and Events in Women’s History
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