Are You in a Jane Austen Mood Today?

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Our dear British novelist Jane Austen would have turned 238 today, had she not died at the untimely age of 41 due to (pick your retrospective diagnosis) Addison’s disease, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bovine tuberculosis or Brill-Zinsser disease. We’ve celebrated the unforgettable Jane a number of times on the Ms. Blog. When you’re not busy reading one […]

Nelson Mandela and Women’s Rights

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South Africa’s monumental leader in the struggle against apartheid, Nelson Mandela, died today at age 95. Not only did he fight against the oppression of black Africans, but he supported the rights of women. Under his one-term presidency in the 1990s, South Africa signed and ratified the CEDAW treaty—something the U.S. has yet to do. […]

On World AIDS Day, A Reminder About Women and Children in the Epidemic

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Yesterday marked the 25th annual World AIDS Day, an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS. “We remember the friends and loved ones we have lost, stand with the estimated 35 million people living with HIV/AIDS, and renew our commitment to preventing the spread of this virus at home […]

Gloria Steinem Receives Top National Honor

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“I would be crazy,” said Ms. magazine cofounder Gloria Steinem at a National Press Club luncheon Monday in Washington, D.C., “if I didn’t understand that this was a medal for the entire women’s movement.” The medal in question is the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was bestowed by President Barack Obama on Steinem and 15 […]

Farewell to the “Golden” Doris Lessing

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We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who […]

Who’s (Miss) American?

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With the outrageous social media backlash directed at Miss America winner Nina Davuluri, you would think it was the first time a woman of color took home the tiara. But hatred directed at non-white Miss Americas is nothing new; the history of race exclusion in the contest is an ugly one. It’s just that now, […]

Happy 19th Birthday, VAWA!

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Signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994—after five years of hearings—the Violence Against Women Act—VAWA—marks the last year of its teens today. Drafted by former Sen. (now Vice President) Joe Biden’s office and approved with bipartisan support, it was designed to give better protection and recourse to women experiencing domestic violence […]

Helen Thomas, 1920 – 2013

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March 21, 2006. For the first time in 3 years, White House reporter Helen Thomas—who had been covering presidents from the time of Dwight Eisenhower—was being allowed to ask a question to Pres. George W. Bush. After quipping to Bush “You’re going to be sorry,” she launched into her take-no-prisoners query: I’d like to ask […]

South African Named New Head of U.N. Women

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Three years ago this month, the United Nations merged four offices to create the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women—UN Women—to strengthen efforts for gender equality and empowerment of girls and women worldwide. Last week, South Africa’s Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was named the new head of the organization, expected to take leadership in […]

Barbara Brenner, Breast Cancer Activist, 1951-2013

Lawyer and activist Barbara Brenner led the organization Breast Cancer Action to national prominence, demanding not just “awareness” of the disease but research into causes and prevention. Although she overcame breast cancer herself, she died last week from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at age 61. Barbara Brenner put up her final Healthy Barbs blog post […]