In today’s WDD, we’re swooning over Michelle Obama and an 81-year-old woman who has worked at NASA for six decades. Plus, the president of the Philippines has issued a chilling threat against female rebels - and research suggests that women may not outlive men for much longer.
Michelle Obama delivers inspiring speech as official portraits are unveiled
By now, you’ve probably seen the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, which did the rounds on social media on Monday night. The paintings, by African-American artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, will now hang permanently in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. They will be the first artworks by black artists to be displayed in the America’s presidents section of the gallery – not to mention the first artworks depicting black people.
But you might not have read the speech made by Michelle Obama after the portraits were unveiled. The former first lady has long been known for her wholehearted, articulate and powerful oration style, and this was no different.
Addressing the crowd at the Smithsonian, Obama said she was thinking of her family and “all the young people, particularly girls and girls of colour, who in years ahead will come to this place and they will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall in this great American institution.
“I know the impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls,” Obama continued. “And when I think about those future generations and generations past, I think: wow, what an incredible journey we are on together in this country.”
You can watch the speech here.
American woman celebrates 60 years of working at NASA
Sue Finley first began working at NASA in 1958, just two days before the launch of Explorer 1, the first American satellite. Now, she has celebrated her 60th anniversary of working for the US space agency – making her one of NASA’s longest-serving women employees.
Incredibly, the 81-year-old is still a member of staff at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where she has worked on missions including the Mariner satellites that visited Mars in the Seventies to Juno, the mission currently orbiting Jupiter.
Speaking to Space.com about her long career, Finley said: “I’m happy here every day. I have been extremely lucky.” She added that despite the relative lack of women at NASA when she started out, she never experienced sexism as a female programmer.
In terms of her advice for younger people, Finley said that she owes much of her success down to asking questions.
“That’s how I get things done. I have to answer questions; I have to ask a million questions. Never be afraid to say you don’t know – but then go find out.”
Read the full interview with Finley here.
Philippines president makes grim threat against women who challenge his regime
In a disturbing development, the autocratic President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has encouraged his military to use sexual violence against women rebels.
At a speech to former rebel soldiers in Malacañang, the president said that the army should shoot female guerrilla fighters “in the vagina”.
“Tell the soldiers, ‘There’s a new order coming from the mayor, ‘We will not kill you. We will just shoot you in the vagina,’” Duterte, who was previously mayor Davao City in the Philippines, said. He added that women would be “useless” without their vaginas.
Duterte, who became president of the Philippines in 2016, has long been notorious for his violent and repressive approach to tackling crime and dissent. He openly supports the extrajudicial killing of drug users and other criminals, has promised to pardon himself for mass murder at the end of his presidential term, and caused an international scandal when he told supporters that he “should have been first” to sexually assault Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian missionary who was gang-raped and killed in Davao in 1989.
Philippines congresswoman Emmi de Jesus decried Duterte’s latest comments as a sign that he was the “most dangerous macho-fascist in the government right now”.
Business Insider has more on this story here.
This is when men are expected to live as long as women
In developed countries, women have consistently outlived men for generations. But according to new research, we don’t have long to enjoy this slightly morbid edge – because men will start living as long as women in 14 years’ times.
A statistical analysis of life expectancy in England and Wales by London’s Cass Business School found that men in 2023 will be able to expect to live as long as their female counterparts, with both sexes enjoying an average life expectancy of 87.5 years.
Statistics professor Les Mayhew, who led the study, said that the closing gender mortality gap could be attributed to several factors.
“A general fall in tobacco and alcohol consumption has disproportionately benefited men, who tended to smoke and drink more than women,” he said.
“We’ve also made great strides in tackling heart disease, which is more prevalent in men.”
Read more on this story at The Guardian.
Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.
Images: Rex Features / iStock