In today’s WDD, civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond becomes the first Canadian women on the country’s currency. Plus: women in Saudi Arabia win the right to the custody of their children after divorce, Gina Haspel has been nominated to be the first woman to ever run the CIA, and the President of Nigeria starts negotiations for the release of 110 kidnapped girls.
Civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond is the first Canadian woman on the country’s currency
Viola Desmond, a black woman who refused to leave the whites-only section of a Canadian movie theatre in 1946, has been honoured on the country’s newest $10 note.
Desmond, who was selected from over 26,000 submissions after the Bank of Canada announced plans to put a woman on its currency, is not only the first woman (apart from a British royal) to be featured on the country’s currency, but also the first black woman.
Born in 1914, Desmond was a businesswoman who sold her own line of hair and beauty products. After her car broke down during a business trip in New Glasgow, she went to the theatre to see a film to kill time. Being short-sighted she tried to buy a ticket for a floor seat, but it was a whites-only section. Desmond was then prosecuted for trying to defraud the provincial government of one cent – the difference in sales tax between a balcony seat (where black people sat) compared to a floor ticket. She was convicted and fined 26 Canadian dollars – including court costs – even though she offered to pay the difference.
Her sister, Wanda Robson, submitted Desmond’s story and unveiled the new note as Desmond died in 1965.
With Desmond on its $10 note, Canada will join several other countries that have made a move toward portraying women on their currency.
You can read more on this story at NYT.
Women in Saudi Arabia win the right to the custody of their children after divorce
Women in Saudi Arabia will now be able to retain the custody of their children after a divorce without having to file a lawsuit.
The move, announced by the Saudi Information Ministry, comes six months after the kingdom declared that women would be able to drive for the first time.
Previously, women would have to petition courts (sometimes for years) to gain such legal rights. However, custodianship will still be granted to the father by default.
“This is something that I’ve wanted every day. The progress that has happened at the Ministry of Justice when it comes to personal status issues, especially regarding women and children, has been amazing,” said Saudi domestic-abuse activist Samira AlGhamdi. “It used to be that a woman would spend years in court just so she could see her children,” she added.
The governmental changes are part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic and social series, Vision 2030.
You can read more on the story at CNN.
Gina Haspel has been nominated to be the first woman to ever run the CIA
American Intelligence officer, Gina Haspel, has been nominated by Donald Trump to become the Director of the CIA. This is a pretty huge deal because, if Haspel is successful, she would be the first woman to ever hold this incredibly high-profile position.
Haspel has been working as part of the intelligence service since 1985, in a mostly undercover capacity. Her career as a CIA agent has led to her be given several awards including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counter-terrorism and the Presidential Rank Award, which is the highest award in the federal civil service.
However, she has also been the subject of some controversy after it was revealed that she played a leading role in the running of a torture scheme in a secret prison in Thailand, where she oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects.
Because of this it’s expected that there will be some resistance around her promotion. Senator Ron Wyden voiced his opinion that her background makes her an “unsuitable” candidate for the position. He said: “If Ms. Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from her past.”
You can read more on this story at Fortune.
President of Nigeria starts negotiations for the release of 110 kidnapped girls
Nigeria’s presidency has announced that it will be making plans to negotiate for the release of the 110 girls abducted last month.
The young girls were taken from their school in the north-eastern town of Dapchi by jihadist group Boko Haram, who are also responsible for the abduction of more than 270 schoolgirls from the north-eastern town of Chibok in 2014. Since then, 100 of the teenagers involved in the Chibok kidnapping have been released, but many are still being held captive.
The recent attack happened on the 19 February and so far, the girls have still not been found.
It was thought that Nigeria’s government would use military force to free the girls, but now President Muhammadu Buhari has made a statement about the situation and expressed his plans to use negotiation tactics instead.
“We are trying to be careful. It is better to get our daughters back alive,” Buhari said in a statement. He also expressed plans to work with international organisations and negotiators to ensure the girls safe release, including the remaining Chibok victims.
You can read more on this story at CNN.