- The word “woman” is believed to have derived from the Middle English term “wyfman”, broken down simply as the wife (wyf) of man. In Old English, women were described simply as wyf, while the term “man” was used to describe a human person, regardless of gender.
- The English word “girl” was initially used to describe a young person of either sex. It was not until the beginning of the sixteenth century that the term was used specifically to describe a female child.
- The biological sign for the female sex, a circle placed on top of a small cross, is also the symbol for the planet Venus. The symbol is believed to be a stylized representation of the Roman goddess Venus’ hand mirror.
- While many stars and moons are christened with female names, Venus is the only planet in our solar system given the name of a female goddess.
- The English language originally delineated between women in different stages of life with the terms “maiden”, “mother”, and “crone”. A maiden referred to a young girl who was unmarried, a mother referred to a woman in her child-bearing years, and a crone described a post-menopausal woman. (I’m quite sensitive to this terminology – please note.)
- The average height of a woman in the U.S. is approximately 5 feet 4 inches, and the average weight is about 163 pounds. These figures vary greatly throughout the world, due to differences in nutrition and prenatal care.
- In almost every country worldwide, the life expectancy for women is higher than for men.
- While the population of males is slightly greater than females worldwide (98.6 women for every 100 men), there are roughly four million more women than men in the U.S.
- Worldwide, women are nearly twice as likely to be blind or visually impaired as men. Experts attribute this difference to the greater longevity of women (leading to more age-related visual impairment) and specific eye diseases that are intrinsically more common in women such as dry eye syndrome and Fuch’s Dystrophy (yes, that’s a real condition).
- Depression is the most common cause of disability in women, and approximately 25% of all women will experience severe depression at some point in their lives.
- Approximately one in five women worldwide reports being sexually abused before the age of 15.
- About 14 million adolescent girls become pregnant each year, with over 90% of those girls living in developing countries.
- Each day 1,600 women die as result of pregnancy or childbirth complications. Nearly 99% of these deaths occur in developing nations.
- The probability of a woman giving birth to a baby girl instead of a baby boy increases significantly the nearer the mother lives to the equator. While the cause of this gender selection is unknown, scientists believe the constant sunlight hours and abundant food supply in tropical regions may favor female births.
- International Women’s Day is held each year on March 8. The annual event was first observed worldwide in 1909.
- The first country to grant women the right to vote in the modern era was New Zealand in 1893.
- The first woman to rule a country as an elected leader in the modern era was Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, who was elected as prime minister of the island nation in 1960 and later re-elected in 1970.
- According to an ancient Sumerian legend, the universe was created by a female, the goddess Tiamat. This role of a female creator is not unique, as the Australian Aboriginal creation myth also credits the creation of life to a woman.
- The earliest recorded female physician was Merit Ptah, a doctor in ancient Egypt who lived around 2700 B.C. Many historians believe she is the first woman recorded by name in the history of all of the sciences.
- The world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji, was published in Japan around A.D. 1000 by female author Murasaki Shikibu.
Thursday, 12 March 2015
International Women's Day - March 8
In honour of this auspicious occasion, my blog this month is dedicated to 20 facts about women.