Local nun wins national award
Minnesotan Sister Mary Madonna Ashton, former CEO of St. Mary's Hospital, was the State Commissioner of Health under Governor Perpich - who faced opposition because she was not a doctor or a man, and because she was a nun. She helped pass landmark legislation outlawing smoking in public places; her testimony for days against the tobacco industry helped start a national movement. She addressed AIDS prevention and created a free health clinic system before retiring in 2000. National Women's History Project has named her one of the year's 16 nationwide honorees for her work in public service.
Source: NWHP.org

Minnesota's 'women friendliness' rankings
Wallet Hub compared the women-friendliness of the 50 states on 15 metrics. Minnesota scored best overall with a top-rating in economic and social well-being, and fourth overall in women's health care and safety. In individual metrics, with 1 being "best" going down to 25 as "average," Minnesota was
• 1st with top-rated women's hospitals,
• 2nd in highest life expectancy,
• tied for 2nd with lowest high school dropout rate for women,
• tied for 3rd with lowest unemployment rate, and
• 4th in highest percentage of women voters in 2012.
Source: WalletHub.com

Portugal bans verbal harassment
Verbal sexual abuse now can lead to a prison sentence of up to a year in Portugal. "It is a violation that forces the victim to create a sexual intimacy that she doesn't want," said criminal attorney Ines Ferreira Leite. "Some men think that [harassment] means freedom of speech. That it is a compliment."

The law was designed to raise awareness that it is not, and to stop naturalizing the behavior. Belgium banned sexist insults in 2014. Peru has made street harassment punishable with up to 12 years in prison. Argentina is instituting a fine for catcalling.
Source: EqualTimes.org

How long does it take ...?
• The Science Museum of Minnesota has named its first female president and CEO. Alison Brown, formerly of California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, starts in May.
Source: Biz Journal
• Not since 1903 has the Metropolitan Opera staged an opera written by a woman. Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's ethereal "L'Amour de Loin" will debut this year. "It's a shock," she said of the gap. "It just shows how slowly these things evolve. But they are evolving - in all fields and also in music."
Source: The New York Times
• President Obama has nominated Dr. Carla Hayden as his choice for the new head of the Library of Congress. If confirmed she would be the first woman and the first African American to hold the position in its 214-year history.
Source: The Culture
• For the first time in 20 years of effort, the federal government has met its goal of awarding 5 percent of money spent on contractors to businesses owned at least 51 percent by women.

"Five percent is not a big goal, and it seemed like it took forever to meet it," said Ann Sullivan, the head of government relations for Women Impacting Public Policy, which lobbied for the change. "I'm hoping that agencies now won't sit back and [say], 'The women are taken care of, we don't have to worry about it anymore.' I hope this will instead show that if the government is determined, they can make it happen."
Source: The New York Times