International Women’s Day

Today, March 8, 2016, marked the celebration of International Women’s Day. I don’t remember a celebration for this day before. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. But I believe it certainly is worth taking a moment to reflect on the powerful women who have made their marks on our world.

One could go back to Old Testament times and mark the courage of Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Or how about the New Testament women of Mary, mother of Jesus, or Mary Magdalene who was faithful to the end and beyond. The Bible stories tell about the heroism, courage and intelligence of many women. Christian feminists before feminism became a nasty word.

Then there was of course Joan of Arc. Talk about putting your feet to the fire! And France can also claim Marie Curie who discovered the x-ray and died as a result of exposure to radiation while carrying test tubes in her apron while doing research.  She also won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 and was the first woman professor of University of Paris.

The US mint has even attempted to honor American women by placing their images on our currency. There’s  Sacagawea, the Shoshone interpreter, and the only female member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. And of course Susan B. Anthony.

What about the  courage of Harriet Tubman – leader of the Underground Railroad?

There were other American women who fought for women’s rights, too. There were all the suffragettes fighting for women’s rights: Cady Stanton in the 1800’s and Margaret Sanger in the earl 1900’s. Then Gloria Steinem came along in the 70’s and 80’s.

At one time women weren’t even allowed to publish novels. Many Ann Evans wrote under the pseudonym of George Eliot when she wrote Adam Bede.
Novelists – Jane Austen brought women’s rights and thoughts to the forefront.  Virginia Woolf proved that women had another voice. (Perhaps it was a darker voice.) Now, women novelists abound!

Some women had great success as leaders of countries. Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister of Great Britain In the 80’s & 90’s Great Britain.
Indira Ghandi became the third Prime Minister of India.

Music has had its share of outstanding women, too, but perhaps the first that comes to my mind is Billie Holiday. She brought a new voice to  jazz  in 40’s.
In the art world, Rosie the Riveter became well known in 1940’s. There was even a song about her. The campaign with Rosie encouraged with the slogan “You Can Do It.”

And today the women of Islam are speaking out. Shirin Ebadi  is the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel PeacePrize. She explains the plight of the Muslim woman,
“Whenever women protest and ask for their rights, they are silenced with the argument that the laws are justified under Islam. It is an unfounded argument. It is not Islam at fault, but rather the patriarchal culture that uses its own interpretations to justify whatever it wants.”

Then there is the Pakistani teen shot for backing girls’ education. She was awarded EU human rights prize .
And of course there is the courageous activist, Malala Yousafzai who received the Sakharov Prize after a member of the Taliban shot her in the face on her school bus in October 2012 for ‘Western thinking.’

In Asia:
Opposition parliamentarian Mu Sochua, a delegate of this year’s Women Leaders of New Asia summit, saw her brave countrywomen standing up to corruption and demanding change during the country’s most recent election.

These strong women are merely the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the centuries women have spoken out and made a difference in their world, our world.  International Women’s Day recognizes them and all women.

There is also a need to acknowledge the silent majority of women. Mothers, teachers, nurses, business women, and all women who made a difference in the past and today in our daily lives with their actions, intelligence, and voices.

Happy International Women’s Day, ladies! You are celebrated!!!

Gail

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