CNN is marking the 70th anniversary of India’s and Pakistan’s independence from Britain this week (India observes it today; Pakistan did so yesterday) by profiling some of the nations’ female freedom fighters, recalling the stories of their contributions that are often left untold. Mahatma Gandhi is the most famous face of the liberation movement, but there was also an army of prominent women who fought fiercely for the same cause.
Gandhi’s wife Kasturba, for one, is credited with influencing her husband’s renowned peaceful movement by passively disobeying him. Her activism in India led to her repeated arrest and imprisonment, including in 1942, when she was jailed alongside her husband and other pro-independence leaders for participating in Gandhi’s Quit India movement that encouraged the British to let India rule itself. Kasturba Gandhi died in prison in 1944 without seeing a free India.
“It is the women whose task it becomes to encourage the men, in our fight for freedom,” she said. “Women have better understood the spirit of the fight than men.”
Fatima Jinnah, meanwhile, lived to see her efforts to fruition. She’s the sister of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah and remembered as “Madar-i Millat,” the mother of the nation. The English-educated dentist’s active role in politics and women’s rights even before Pakistan’s founding was considered a step forward for women there. Her crusade continued after Pakistan’s independence when she ran for president in the mid-1960s when she was in her 70s. She lost the race, but her pursuit of a role considered unacceptable for women was another bold move praised by Pakistanis.
Jinnah’s brother aptly stated women’s role in the push for independence: “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.” The best tribute to these women would be more countries adhering to that sentiment.
Six weeks ahead of Germany’s federal election, Chancellor Angela Merkel took aim at an unlikely target: the nation’s car industry. Merkel accused large sections of the sector of having “gambled away unbelievable amounts of trust” by manipulating emissions data. Merkel is on track to easily win her fourth term in September, giving her leeway to criticize the vital cog in Germany’s economic engine.
The U.K. Home Office has granted refugee status to Aderonke Apata, a prominent Nigerian LGBT activist. The decision ends Apata’s 13-year battle over her right to remain in the U.K. that was marked by the Home Office’s assertion in 2012 that she was lying about being a lesbian in a “cynical” scheme to gain status in the U.K.
A woman named Seyran Ates has founded a first-of-its-kind liberal mosque in Berlin that she says will give moderate Muslims in Germany a voice and a safe space to practice their religion. Ates, who doesn’t wear a headscarf and isn’t trained as a cleric, argues that only large conservative Muslim organizations determine how Islam is practiced in Germany. But not everyone is happy with her efforts.
A jury ruled in Taylor Swift’s favor yesterday, awarding her the symbolic $1 she had sought from the Colorado DJ she accused of grabbing her bare bottom during a photo shoot. In closing arguments, Swift’s attorney said his client was asking for only $1 in damages because she had no desire to bankrupt the DJ, only to send a message. “It means ‘no means no’ and it tells every woman they will decide what will be tolerated with their body,” he said.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland yesterday laid out the broad outlines for how Canada will approach talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. She wants a more progressive pact.
Argentina’s former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, claimed victory in Sunday’s senatorial primary in Buenos Aires province as she tries to stage a political comeback. She appears to be neck-and-neck with the candidate backed by President Mauricio Macri. Sunday’s vote leads up to an October midterm election; if Fernández wins that, she’ll gain immunity from a barrage of corruption charges against her, all of which she denies.
The last surviving Chinese woman to sue the Japanese government for sex slavery during WWII died this weekend. Huang Youliang, 90, was 15 in 1941 when she was allegedly raped by Japanese troops invading her hometown and forced to spend two years as a sex slave for Japanese soldiers. Huang and seven other “comfort women” sued Japan in 2011 over their enslavement, but a Japanese court ruled that as individuals, they had no right to sue the state and that their right to pursue compensation had expired.
The Christian Science Monitor has the story of Japanese women who’ve become entrepreneurs in their 50s and 60s after struggling to find regular work after their children left the house. Turning a profit isn’t necessarily their top priority.