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3/5/1997 - Domestic Violence Affects Two-Thirds of Welfare Recipients

A study conducted by the McCormack Institute and the Center for Survey Research has found that two-thirds of welfare recipients have been victims of domestic violence. Approximately one fifth of welfare recipients have been victims of domestic violence within the past twelve months. Seven hundred thirty-four women participated in the first scientific study of its kind conducted in the United States at the Department of Assistance in Massachusetts. The director of the study, Dr. Mary Ann Allard commented, "Domestic violence is more the rule than the exception in the lives of TAFDC recipients in Massachusetts. Our data confirm what has long been described anecdotally. We now have overwhelming evidence that the issue of domestic violence will be hard to ignore in discussions of welfare reform at the state and federal level." The study also found that over 80% of the women had worked at a full-time job and over 90% wanted to work, be in training or attending school.


3/4/1997 - 1997 Women's NCAA Automatic Bid Teams Announced

The following teams have received an automatic bid to play in the 1997 women's NCAA tournament: Liberty (22-7), Harvard (19-6), Eastern Kentucky (24-5), Old Dominion (29-1), Marshall (18-11), St. Peter's (25-3), North Carolina (27-2), and San Francisco (25-5). Each team received its bid for winning its regional conference tournament.


3/4/1997 - Women Become Larger Force in Movie Industry

While many of the women nominated for Oscar's this year participated in films created by small, independent studios, mainstream Hollywood has also included a variety of women in films and women-oriented films during the past year. In 1994, the "Year of the Woman" in Oscars ironically exposed Hollywood's tendency to shut women out of executive roles and serious acting roles and showed that most women actresses were left to play girlfriends, wives, sex vixens and prostitutes. This year, however, a variety of women actors and executives have created such films as "Marvin's Room" (starring Diane Keaton as a cancer patient), "Fargo" (starring Frances McDormand as a pregnant police chief), "The First Wives Club" (an unexpected box-office smash oriented towards a female audience), and "Courage Under Fire" (starring Meg Ryan as a soldier posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor). Movies like "Waiting to Exhale" led to other female audience-oriented movies such as "Set It Off" and "The Preacher's Wife."

Most agree that the key to the shift has occurred because women are breaking through the ranks of movie studio executives. Paramount, Columbia-Tristar, Fox 2000, United Artists, and Fine Line Features all include either a female president or prominent board members. At Paramount, for example, 44% of the top creative executives are women, and 35% of 20th Century Fox creative executives are women. Lynda Obst, who is currently producer of "One Fine Day", and an upcoming movie starring Jodie Foster, commented, "There's a direct relationship there. That is the beginning of our seeing movies that would not have been made if women were not involved at the critical stage of development." Cynthia Leverhand, executive director of Women in Film, agrees but also points out that women are still underrepresented, especially in director's, writer's and editing roles, "Have we really broadened the base, or are we just more vertically visible? Can you really name more than 10 women directors? My perception is that the quality of women coming forth is so outstanding that you can't ignore them anymore. And it's these women who will truly broaden the base."


3/4/1997 - T.V.'s "Ellen" to Come Out

ABC has given the t.v. sitcom Ellen the go ahead to have its lead character come out as a lesbian on an April 30th show. Ellen will reveal to Oprah Winfrey, playing her therapist, that she is attracted to a lesbian. Ellen will be the first show to have a gay or lesbian lead character. A later episode will feature Ellen talking to her parents about her sexual


3/4/1997 - Hearings Finally Scheduled for Herman

After delaying Alexis Herman's Secretary of Labor confirmation hearings for weeks, Senator James Jeffords has finally scheduled the hearings. Commenting that he found her responses concerning questions about her private finances and conduct as a White House aide to be "adequate", the Chair of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Comittee scheduled the hearings for March 18th. A spokesperson for the White House commented, "We think when the full committee has a chance to hear from Alexis Herman, they'll agree that she'll be an outstanding secretary of labor."


3/3/1997 - United Nations Recognizes Top Women Environmental Leaders

Anita Roddick, Bette Midler and Bella Abzug were some of the twenty-five women recognized by the United Nations as world environmental leaders. On March 6th, the United Nations will host "Eyes on the Environment: 25 Women Leaders in Action" during which the women will receive the awards. Anita Roddick, CEO of The Body Shop, commented, "As leaders, we’ve got to lead by example. That’s why I’m more than happy to be included in this collection of women leaders to mark the UNEP 25th Anniversary. That’s a quarter of a century of achievement and we’ve only just begun." Other leaders honored include scientists, journalists, a nun, a queen and a politician.


3/3/1997 - United Nations Recognizes Top Women Environmental Leaders

Anita Roddick, Bette Midler and Bella Abzug were some of the twenty-five women recognized by the United Nations as world environmental leaders. On March 6th, the United Nations will host "Eyes on the Environment: 25 Women Leaders in Action" during which the women will receive the awards. Anita Roddick, CEO of The Body Shop, commented, "As leaders, we’ve got to lead by example. That’s why I’m more than happy to be included in this collection of women leaders to mark the UNEP 25th Anniversary. That’s a quarter of a century of achievement and we’ve only just begun." Other leaders honored include scientists, journalists, a nun, a queen and a politician.


3/3/1997 - Former McCall’s Editor Lerone Hershey Dies at 78

The former editor of McCall’s and Ladies’ Home Journal magazines died on February 27th due to complications resulting from Parkison’s disease at age 78. Hershey began her career by working at the promotion department of The New York Herald Tribune. In 1968 she left the position of executive director of McCall’s magazine to become the managing editor of The Ladies’ Home Journal. Three years after feminists staged a one-day sit-in demanding that the journal have a female editor, she became the magazine’s executive editor. In 1972, Hershey’s seminars on the role of women in the economy led to the creation of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Economic Role of Women, on which she served. In 1982, Hershey became the president and editorial director of a new multimedia subsidiary of the Journal’s parent company, Charter Publishing Co.


3/3/1997 - Women Successfully Integrated into Military

Among calls by some members of Congress for segregating the military after widespread allegations of sexual harassment have emerged, a reporter from The Washington Post spent a week with integrated troops in Bosnia and found that women and men worked together easily and for the benefit of the entire operation. Dana Priest found that there was much less sexual harassment when the troops were involved in a purposeful mission. Furthermore, the supposed problems involved in women and men living together (sleeping space, bathroom use, privacy, etc.) were easily resolved and did not amount into any barriers to effective work. More importantly, from serving as lawyers interpreting the Dayton Peace accords to working as military police protecting high ranking officials, from shooting machine guns to driving tanks and inspecting weapons sites, women have successfully undertaken the responsibilities of protecting the nation’s interests abroad and at home. Speaking of one female lieutenant, Captain Zane Jones recalled, "I had heard about Lt. Armendariz and had done some politicking to get her. I think there’s a fantasy among some guys that maybe women can’t do this. But then they get around them and find out they can."


3/3/1997 - Abortion Foes to Picket at High Schools

So-called Operation Rescue plans to begin targeting high schools starting March 3 through the end of the 1997 school year in order to harass young men and women. The group says it wants to "educate" women on the abortion issue. Critics of the campaign believe that the picketing is a scare tactic also being used to incite more people to commit violence against abortion providers and clinics. Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, commented "These kinds of offensive, almost intimidating tactics will not be successful with young people any more than with adults."


2/28/1997 - Defense Secretary Sees No Reason to Segregate Military Training

U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said on February 26th that he saw no reason to segregate military training on the basis of sex. He said he was still open to comments regarding the issue, but that any changes must not cause women to lose any gains they have made in the military. After a series of sex scandals, some conservative legislators have asked for the segregation, saying that the co-ed training led to rape, sexual harassment and other types of abuses against women. Cohen commented after touring Lackland Air Force Base, "Based upon my observations here today, one would have to come up with some very compelling evidence why (training) should be handled differently."


2/28/1997 - Bowing to Pressure from Feminist Groups, Vienna Philharmonic Agrees to Admit Women

An all-male institution since its foundation 155 years ago, the Vienna Philharmonic has agreed to admit women as players. In a vote which passed with a two-thirds margin, the group responded to pressures of feminist groups to boycott the Philharmonic's upcoming U.S. tour if it did not agree to admit women. Elena Osteleitner, an assistant professor at the University of Music in Vienna commented, "They were quite frightened by the feminist movements in the United States, and they realized it was no fun and no joking."

The group voted to admit Anna Lelkes, a harpist who had long played with the group, as an official member, thus granting her full payment and privileges after 26 years of service. In June, women will be able to audition for the positions available; the group needs a violist, tuba player and trumpet player. Last week, the new Austrian chancellor, Viktor Klima publicly told the group that there was, "creative potential in the other half of humanity and this should be used."


2/28/1997 - Amelia Earhart Flight to be Recreated

A Texan woman, Linda Finch, is planning to recreate Amelia Earhart’s last and most perplexing around the world. Finch found one of only two twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10E’s, the type Earhart used, known to exist and will fly it around the same path with many of the same stops as did Earhart. Pratt & Whitney is financing the $4.5 million project: $1.5 million was used to restore the plane and finance the project and another $3 million was used to create and distribute educational packets about Earhart, science, flight and geography. Finch commented that she will make many of the same stops along the way and hopes to "teach children they can and should dream big dreams."

Earhart, born in 1897, was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and across the United States. On March 17, 1937 she attempted to become the first person to fly around the world at the equator. She made it three fourths of the way but then failed to arrive at a scheduled stop at Howland Island. They left absolutely no trace, and speculation remains to this day as to what happened to her and her navigator Fred Noonan.

Updates of the flight will be provided at http:/www.worldflight.org


2/28/1997 - Women's History Month Begins

The first International Women’s Day was March 8, 1911. In 1981, Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) cosponsored a Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming the week of March 8 National Women’s History Week. In 1986, the National Women’s History Project (founded in 1979 by Molly MacGregor) helped expand the celebration to the entire month of March. In 1987 and subsequent years, the National Women’s History Month Resolutions have been approved with broad-based, bipartisan support in both the Senate and House, and signed by the President.

Today, schools and communities celebrate the month with special curriculum and events, and many states and cities have extended the observance year-round by creating Women’s Halls of Fame.

For women's history calendar events, a quiz, links, and facts about the last 25 years of the women's movement, see our special section on Women's History Month 1997.


2/28/1997 - Defense Secretary Sees No Reason to Segregate Military Training

U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said on February 26th that he saw no reason to segregate military training on the basis of sex. He said he was still open to comments regarding the issue, but that any changes must not cause women to lose any gains they have made in the military. After a series of sex scandals, some conservative legislators have asked for the segregation, saying that the co-ed training led to rape, sexual harassment and other types of abuses against women. Cohen commented after touring Lackland Air Force Base, "Based upon my observations here today, one would have to come up with some very compelling evidence why (training) should be handled differently."


2/28/1997 - Bowing to Pressure from Feminist Groups, Vienna Philharmonic Agrees to Admit Women

An all-male institution since its foundation 155 years ago, the Vienna Philharmonic has agreed to admit women as players. In a vote which passed with a two-thirds margin, the group responded to pressures of feminist groups to boycott the Philharmonic's upcoming U.S. tour if it did not agree to admit women. Elena Osteleitner, an assistant professor at the University of Music in Vienna commented, "They were quite frightened by the feminist movements in the United States, and they realized it was no fun and no joking."

The group voted to admit Anna Lelkes, a harpist who had long played with the group, as an official member, thus granting her full payment and privileges after 26 years of service. In June, women will be able to audition for the positions available; the group needs a violist, tuba player and trumpet player. Last week, the new Austrian chancellor, Viktor Klima publicly told the group that there was, "creative potential in the other half of humanity and this should be used."


2/28/1997 - Amelia Earhart Flight to be Recreated

A Texan woman, Linda Finch, is planning to recreate Amelia Earhart’s last and most perplexing around the world. Finch found one of only two twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10E’s, the type Earhart used, known to exist and will fly it around the same path with many of the same stops as did Earhart. Pratt & Whitney is financing the $4.5 million project: $1.5 million was used to restore the plane and finance the project and another $3 million was used to create and distribute educational packets about Earhart, science, flight and geography. Finch commented that she will make many of the same stops along the way and hopes to "teach children they can and should dream big dreams."

Earhart, born in 1897, was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and across the United States. On March 17, 1937 she attempted to become the first person to fly around the world at the equator. She made it three fourths of the way but then failed to arrive at a scheduled stop at Howland Island. They left absolutely no trace, and speculation remains to this day as to what happened to her and her navigator Fred Noonan.


2/28/1997 - Women's History Month Begins

The first International Women’s Day was March 8, 1911. In 1981, Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) cosponsored a Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming the week of March 8 National Women’s History Week. In 1986, the National Women’s History Project (founded in 1979 by Molly MacGregor) helped expand the celebration to the entire month of March. In 1987 and subsequent years, the National Women’s History Month Resolutions have been approved with broad-based, bipartisan support in both the Senate and House, and signed by the President.

Today, schools and communities celebrate the month with special curriculum and events, and many states and cities have extended the observance year-round by creating Women’s Halls of Fame.

For women's history calendar events, a quiz, links, and facts about the last 25 years of the women's movement, see our special section on Women's History Month 1997.


2/27/1997 - Vast Majority of British Support Abortion Rights

A recent MORI poll has found that 64 percent of British women and men support "legal abortion for all who want it." This number represents a ten percent increase in support of abortion rights over the past 17 years; an even larger number of persons approve the right for an abortion in cases of rape and incest, or when the woman's life is at stake. The poll found that 50 percent of Roman Catholics also approve the right to an abortion. David Paintin, Chair of the Birth Control Trust commented, "Politicians and policy-makers need to be aware that the option of abortion is essential for women's health and well-being in many circumstances and that there is support from a majority of people in this country for this."


2/27/1997 - Ireland Permits Divorce for First Time in 76 Years

For the first time since 1921, Ireland has made divorce permissible by a Constitutional amendment. The predominately Roman Catholic country had banned divorce when Ireland gained independence from England. A similar attempt to legalize divorce was defeated in a 1986, but in a stunning blow to a scandal-ridden Church, the referendum passed in 1995. The procedure will be fairly complicated, involving a four year separation, filling out multiple forms and disclosing financial and other information before a hearing is set. Of the country's 3.5 million citizens, approximately 90,000 couples are currently separated.


2/27/1997 - Japan to Approve Use of Birth Control Pill

A Japanese government report unveiled on February 25th reported that contraceptive pills are safe and effective. The endorsement has paved the way for government approval of the pill's use. So far, nine pharmaceutical companies have submitted applications for approval of the pill. With its expected approval within the year, North Korea remains the only country where low-dose hormone pills are illegal.


2/27/1997 - More African-American Women Enter College Than African-American Men

A progress report on the status of African-Americans in higher education has shown that fifty percent more African-American women than men enroll in college. Since the mid-1970's, the number of African-American women entering college has increased by 55 percent; the rate of African-American men enrolled has increased by only 20 percent. In the areas of law and medicine, the number of African-American women entering graduate schools has increased by 219 percent, but only 5 percent for African-American men. While gender gaps in enrollment also occur among the overall population, they are not nearly as large. Overall, enrollment of African-Americans has increased, but African-Americans are still underrepresented in colleges and universities in proportion to their overall population.


2/27/1997 - Vast Majority of British Support Abortion Rights

A recent MORI poll has found that 64 percent of British women and men support "legal abortion for all who want it." This number represents a ten percent increase in support of abortion rights over the past 17 years; an even larger number of persons approve the right for an abortion in cases of rape and incest, or when the woman's life is at stake. The poll found that 50 percent of Roman Catholics also approve the right to an abortion. David Paintin, Chair of the Birth Control Trust commented, "Politicians and policy-makers need to be aware that the option of abortion is essential for women's health and well-being in many circumstances and that there is support from a majority of people in this country for this."


2/27/1997 - Groups Urge Confirmation Hearing for Herman

Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, together with other national women's leaders launched a campaign for the confirmation of Alexis Herman, nominee for U.S. Secretary of Labor at a press conference on February 26. Smeal said, "Although Senator Jeffords (R-Vermont) has made public his intention to schedule the hearing, we urge him do so quickly and cast aside any more lingering political hoops. Thus far in the nominating process Herman has faced the 'trial of a thousand leaks.' The Herman appointment must not be held hostage to current investigations of White House political fund-raising. We believe it is all the more disturbing that the only African-American woman nominated to the Cabinet has been held up in an unprecedented process."

As former Director of the Women's Bureau and as co-chair of a Presidential Task Force to promote business ownership for women under President Carter, Herman is uniquely qualified for this position. Herman has led the fight for equal employment opportunities for women and people of color as head of the Minority Women Employment Program and has had a lifetime of preparation for the position of Secretary of Labor.

Last week, the AFL-CIO’s executive council approved a resolution in support of Herman. The executive council resolution said, "The AFL-CIO calls for immediate hearings on the nomination of this African American Woman. It is time for Alexis Herman to be able to stand in an open forum and have her nomination considered by the United States Senate.


2/27/1997 - Ireland Permits Divorce for First Time in 76 Years

For the first time since 1921, Ireland has made divorce permissible by a Constitutional amendment. The predominately Roman Catholic country had banned divorce when Ireland gained independence from England. A similar attempt to legalize divorce was defeated in a 1986, but in a stunning blow to a scandal-ridden Church, the referendum passed in 1995. The procedure will be fairly complicated, involving a four year separation, filling out multiple forms and disclosing financial and other information before a hearing is set. Of the country's 3.5 million citizens, approximately 90,000 couples are currently separated.