Women’s History Month - Margaret Chan
Margaret Chan is known throughout the world for her efforts to increase global health. During her 9 years as Director of Health in Hong Kong she implemented new services to combat the spread of disease. Margaret Chan gained recognition for handling many different health issues including the avian influenza outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997 and the SARs outbreak in 2003. Chan is the World Health Organization’s current Director General for Pandemic Influenza and Communicable Diseases. Her current efforts lie with helping “people in the greatest need”, focusing on the health of people in Africa and the health of women. She has been recognized globally for her achievements and has received several awards. In 1997 she was awarded by the Royal Colleges of Physicians in the United Kingdom and was declared an Office of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. In 1999 she was awarded the Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health in Thailand. Margaret Chan’s strides toward global health make her a leading figure in the health community.
Meet Elsie MacGill, a legend in aircraft design and production and the first female aircraft designer in the world. In 1938 she became Chief Aeronautical Engineer at Canadian Car and Foundry where she led the production and redesign of several planes including the Hawker Hurricane – the plane responsible for the most British victories in WWII. Most of the employees in the factory were women and by the wars end they had produced 1,400 aircraft, a massive feat. Elsie had forged new techniques for aeroplane production and mass production and won the Gzowski Medal for this work.
Elsie insisted on being the first one to test each and every one of her designs, a dangerous practice that gained her much respect amongst the pilots. She had a disability that virtually paralysed her from the waist down so she couldn’t ever pilot a plane herself. She would be carried into the planes by her colleagues and test the flights as a passenger recording changes and observations. By the wars end Elsie was a national hero and became known as the Hurricane Queen.
Elsie went on to become Chair of a UN aviation committee and led the drafting of the first International Airworthiness Regulations. She is the first woman to chair a UN committee. The daughter and granddaughter of feminist activist Elsie was heavily involved in the suffrage movement. Her accomplishments for women’s rights are almost as impressive as her accomplishments in the air. She campaigned for equal pay, the decriminalisation of abortion, justice for native women, and so much more. She is a legend of women’s rights and aviation.
Part 2 Tomorrow: Sex, Bling and Gliders the story of Barbara Cartland
Black women in the United States Army Nurse Corps were assigned to Tuskegee Army Air Field Hospital (C. 1943) to assist pilots and cadets with physical and psychological problems. Part of their training included ground school instruction.