Dara Puspita ("Flower Girls" in English) were the first Indonesian group of women to pick up instruments and play rock music on their own, without the assistance of any men. Up through the '60s, many Indonesian women had found musical success singing for bands with only dudes, but Dara Puspita decided to cut to the chase and write, perform, and play their own songs. The four jet-setters played in clubs around the world to critical oohs and ahs, but more importantly, they paved the way in their own country for Indonesian women in rock.
"The average farmworker lived 49 years—compared to 70 years for the white majority in the United States. A migrant worker's baby was twice as likely to die as babies of other people. Farmworkers were three times as likely as other people to get tuberculosis, three times as likely to get hurt on the job, and were the lowest-paid workers in the country."
Jessie de la Cruz grew up in these conditions, and as one of the first female organizers of the United Farmworkers of America, devoted her life to make sure that others wouldn't have to.
Imagine, if you will, that you are living in Missouri at the end of the Civil War (1864 or thereabouts). Imagine also that you are a woman without a ton of moneymaking options who is in need of a job ASAP. Oh, and you are also a recently freed slave living in a place and time where people are still getting used to the idea that you aren't a piece of property. (And we thought it was tough to find a job in this economy.) What on earth will you do to support yourself?
Well, if you are a feisty entrepeneuse with a working knowledge of military life like Ms. Cathay Williams, what you will do is dress in drag and join the U.S. Army.
I used to live in a neighborhood boasting several martial-arts schools, and always liked walking by at night to see them all lit up and peopled with serious-looking little girls and boys in their crisp white gis. But it wasn't until recently that I heard about the woman who was partially responsible for making sure that girls got an equal shake in martial-arts training and competition. Rusty Kanokogi, who died in November, 2009 at the age of 74, was the first woman to earn a seventh-degree black belt in judo. But perhaps more important, she was a pioneer in making the sport accessible to women in a time before Title IX.
Former First Lady Betty Ford passed away on Friday. She was 93 years old—the same age her late husband was when he passed five years ago. The mega media outlets are doing a decent albeit routine job in acknowledging Betty Ford's contributions to women's issues, health & social issues, and addiction issues. This entry, though, highlights her love of dance.
Space may be the final frontier for many of us, but it's familiar territory for Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. In June of 1963, Tereshkova was chosen—out of more than 400 applicants—to be the first woman to fly in space.