Today’s Dame of the Day is Rawya Saud Al Busaidi. After earning a PhD in education from Oxford University, Al Busaidi worked her way up through Oman’s Department of Education. In 2004, she was appointed Minister of Higher Education and became the first Omani woman ever to be appointed to the country’s ministerial cabinet. In addition to her political position, Al Busaidi also chairs the council of Sultan Qaboos University.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (April 15, 1930-). Finnbogadóttir served as President of Iceland from 1980-1996, making her the first woman president of Iceland and all of Europe. Her sixteen year reign is the longest of any woman head of state. Following her divorce in 1963, she also became the first single woman to adopt a child.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Joênia Wapixana. As a staff attorney for Brazil’s Roraima Indigenous Council, she is the first indigenous woman to become a lawyer in the country. Through her position, Wapixana fights for indigenous land rights and against pervasive racism against indigenous peoples.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Lakshmi Sahgal (October 24, 1914 – July 23, 2012). After obtaining her medical degree, Sahgal left her native India for Singapore, where she established a free clinic for migrant laborers. During her time abroad, Sahgal became involved with the India Independence League. She established a women’s regiment, marched to Burma, and was arrested by the British army. (She was released after one year.) After India’s independence in 1947, Captain Lakshmi continued to see patients at her medical practice until she was 92 years old.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Naziha al-Dulaimi (1923-2007). As a student, al-Dulaimi was one of a few women who studied medicine at Baghdad’s Royal College of Medicine. When the government transferred her to Kurdistan, al-Dulaimi wrote about her patients’ living conditions in a pamphlet called The Iraqi Woman. Later in her career, she founded the League for Defending Iraqi Woman’s Rights and became a leader in the country’s women’s rights movement.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Hawa Abdi (May 17, 1947-). Following her high school graduation, a scholarship from the Women’s Committee of the Soviet Union allowed her to study medicine. After she became a mother, Abdi practiced medicine during the day and studied for her law degree at night. Today, Abdi puts both her credentials to use as founder of the Rural Health Development Organization and the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation. These organizations offer free and low-cost medical care to Somalian women and children.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Fawzia Koofi (1976-). As a child, Koofi’s parents were not pleased to have a daughter; she fought for the right to go to school and became the only girl in her family to obtain an education. Koofi attended college in her native Afghanistan, studied political science and worked closely with UNICEF. After the fall of the Taliban, Koofi became the first woman to be elected Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament. In spite of numerous assassination attempts, she continues her fight for women’s rights.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Princess Elizabeth of Toro (1936-). This Ugandan princess and lawyer became the first East African woman to be accepted by the English bar. Her official title, batebe, deems her the most powerful woman in the kingdom of Toro and positions her as the king’s most trusted advisor. In addition to her political work, Princess Elizabeth also built a successful modeling career and substantial track record of charity work.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Betty Reid Soskin (September 22, 1921-). Born in Detroit and raised in New Orleans near her Creole and Cajun roots, Soskin and her family later relocated to Oakland, California, after a hurricane and flood destroyed their business. Over the course of her working life, she served as a clerk during World War Two, wrote songs during the Civil Rights Movement, and worked as a field representative to California State Assemblywomen Dion Aroner and Loni Hancock. Through her efforts, Soskin and the Congresswomen were able to establish Rosie the Riveter/WWII Homefront National Historic Park in 2000. Today, she serves as Ranger at the park and, at 93 years old, is the oldest serving National Park Ranger.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Thuli Madonsela (September 28, 1962-). Born in Johannesburg, Madonsela attended the University of Swaziland and obtained a law degree. While she has been involved with the ANC for years, she respectfully declined a position in Parliament because she felt she could make more of an impact through law. In 2009, South African president Jacob Zuma appointed Madonsela to be the nation’s Public Protector.