Women Wednesday #42
Posted on 16 August 2017
A Canadian soldier has become the first female infantry officer to command troops guarding the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Capt Megan Couto led about 40 Canadian soldiers through the changing of the guard ceremony at the palace on Monday morning, watched by the usual throng of tourists who saw history being made. As captain of the guard, she took up a position at nearby St James’s Palace after the ceremony. Couto’s Canadian unit, the Second Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry were invited to the UK to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary this year. The role of mounting the Queen’s Guard usually falls to the British army’s household division, which is largely made up of male troops. Women in the British Army have served on frontline duties in a variety of roles but until July last year they were banned from close-combat ground roles, so no female officer has previously served as captain of the Queen’s Guard. By contrast, Canada’s military has allowed women to serve in nearly all roles since 1989. The UK government is opening up combat roles to women over a phased three-year term. Since November last year, some units of the Royal Armoured Corps have been open to women. The Queen’s foot guards will be open to women by the end of next year so let’s hope we see some more ladies in this role!
Dr. Carla Diane Hayden is the fourteenth librarian of the U.S. Library of Congress. Hayden’s swearing in as librarian was the first time a woman and an African American was appointed to the position. Double Whammy for Carla! This is also the first time in more than sixty years that a professional librarian was confirmed to the post. President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Hayden for the position of Librarian of Congress on February 24, 2016. The United States Senate confirmed her nomination of July 13, 2016. She was sworn in on September 14, 2016. President Abraham Lincoln’s Bible was used for the ceremony, and Dr. Hayden’s mom was the person holding it during her swearing in. Speaking on the significance of her historic feat during the swearing in ceremony, Dr. Hayden said: “People of my race were once punished and worse for learning to read, and as a descendant of people who were denied the right to read, and now have the opportunity to serve the institution that is now the symbol of knowledge is a historic moment.” Her appointment was preceded by the retirement of Dr. James H. Billington, a historian. We’re very proud of Carla for reaching such an impressive high in her career, certainly one that’ll make history.
The Cym Van Dyke clinic in Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa, whose target is providing healthcare for sex workers, finally commenced operations over the weekend to much acclaim. Sex workers in South Africa, along with the general public, will be offered drug counselling, cervical cancer screening, access to condoms and lubricants, legal services, as well as pregnancy, Tuberculosis, STI, and HIV testing at the clinic. The clinic is the first of its kind in South Africa. A key vision of the clinic is to help 20 million people benefit from HIV treatment by 2020. Presently, the clinic provides sex workers with a safe haven in terms of sexual healthcare services and support. Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) and Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) – both leading advocates for sex workers – partnered to establish the clinic which is named after popular South African transgender sex worker, Cym Van Dyke. Providing sex workers with access to adequate healthcare is a delicate issue across Africa where the profession continues to be criminalised and stigmatised in society. Due to this, initiatives such as the Cym Van Dyke clinic which cater to this class of marginalised individuals are welcome with open arms and gratitude. We’re over the moon that such a progressive and life-saving scheme has been launched for the sex workers of South Africa!
Have a positive week,
Love Neon Moon x
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