Follow-up on International Women’s Day

Tuesday 22nd March 2011

Thanks for all the amazing responses! I’ve had loads of suggestions for women who deserve honourable mention, – a truly wide and fascinating range, so I will try to share them all with you! I have tried to include some of your comments along with them. I was surprised to discover how many of these women I hadn’t heard of before, so where no description was given I have tried to give a short bio of them (mainly cut and pasted from wikipedia for time-saving purposes!).

Here is a fantastic presentation I saw at work that I found really inspiring:

Int Women’s Day pres

And here are a few of the women who have inspired you:

1) Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer
“It’s a shame that (women’s) participation in software engineering has been tailing off since then.”

2) Josephine Butler, Social reformer of the 19C. “Not well known but a champion of and for women, in particular prostitutes”.

3) John Stuart Mill “would have to be the most important early thinker who advocated women’s rights” (1806-1873)

4) English philosopher – Bertrand Russell, “who was very important in the women’s sufferage movement in the U.S”

5) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “Somali writer and advocate for women’s rights in the Muslim world. She has to travel with armed guards everywhere she goes (and will have to for the rest of her life) for being honest about the plight of women in large swaths of the Muslim world. Here are her books: The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam, Infidel, and Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations.”

6) Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged”

7) Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring”

8) Patricia Grimshaw, PhD supervisor at Melbourne University, and a Professor of History. “She was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2008 in recognition of her substantial contribution as an academic, writer, supervisor and mentor etc and as a pioneer in the study of women’s history. This last is the most crucial I think, because attention to women’s history – social history really – has been of such importance in the reassessment of the place and contribution of women, and how we should order society, in the present”.

9) Pandita Ramabai – “Indian humanitarian and founder of a school and shelter for child widows in Bombay”.

10) Ruth First – “wife of Joe Slovo – South African anti apartheid activist”.

11) Elizabeth 1 – (1533–1603) was Queen regnant of England and Queen regnant of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty, and daughter of Henry VIII. (wikipedia)

12) Helen Keller – (1880–1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. A member of the Socialist Party of America, she campaigned for women’s suffrage, workers’ rights, and socialism, as well as many other leftist causes. (Wikipedia)

13) Rosa Parkes – (1913–2005) was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called “the first lady of civil rights”, and “the mother of the freedom movement”. (wikipedia)

14) Aun San Suu Kyi – Burmese opposition politician and a former General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% (392 of 485) of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained under house arrest before the elections. She remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from July 20, 1989 until her release on 13 November 2010. (wikipedia)

15) Germaine Greer – (born 29 January 1939) is an Australian writer, academic, journalist and scholar of early modern English literature, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the later 20th century. (wikipedia)

16) Eleanor Roosevelt – (1884–1962) was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband’s death in 1945, she continued to be an international author, speaker, politician, and activist for the New Deal coalition. She worked to enhance the status of working women, although she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment because she believed it would adversely affect women. (wikipedia)

17) Hillary Clinton – (born October 26, 1947) is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. In the 2008 election, Clinton was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Wikipedia)

18) Oprah Winfrey – (born January 29, 1954) is an American television host, actress, producer, and philanthropist, best known for her self-titled, multi-award winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history. She has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and was once the world’s only black billionaire. She is also, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world. (Wikipedia)

19) Golda Meir, Israeli Prime Minister, 1969-1974 . “Meir was one of only 2 women to sign the Israeli declaration of Independence in 1948, and was given the first Israeli-issued passport. She was also the 3rd woman in the world to ever hold such a high political office.”

20) J.K. Rowling – author of the Harry Potter series of books. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies. Forbes ranked Rowling as the forty-eighth most powerful celebrity of 2007,and Time magazine named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fandom. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named ‘Most Influential Woman in Britain’ by leading magazine editors. (Wikipedia)

21) Louisa May Alcott – (1832–1888) was an American novelist. She is best known for the novel Little Women, set in the Alcott family home. Alcott became an advocate for women’s suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts, in a school board election. Alcott, along with Elizabeth Stoddard, Rebecca Harding Davis, Anne Moncure Crane, and others, were part of a group of female authors during the Gilded Age who addressed women’s issues in a modern and candid manner. (Wikipedia)

22) Mary Seacole – (1805–1881), was a Jamaican nurse best known for her involvement in the Crimean War. Confident that her knowledge of tropical medicine could be useful, and after hearing of poor medical provisions for wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, she travelled to London to volunteer as a nurse. Relying on her experience in the Caribbean, she applied to the War Office and asked to be sent as an army assistant to the Crimea. She was refused, mainly because of prejudice against women’s involvement in medicine at the time. The British Government later decided to permit women to travel to the affected area, but she was not included in the party of 38 nurses chosen by Florence Nightingale. Instead, she borrowed money to make the 4,000-mile (about 6500 km) journey by herself. She distinguished herself treating battlefield wounded, often nursing wounded soldiers from both sides while under fire.
Today, she is noted for her bravery and medical skills and as “a woman who succeeded despite the racial prejudice of influential sections of Victorian society”. Her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), is one of the earliest autobiographies of a mixed-race woman. (Wikipedia)

23) Florence Nightingale – (1820-1910) was a celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician. A Christian universalist, Nightingale believed that God had called her to be a nurse. She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. (Wikipedia)

24) Marie Curie – (1867–1934) was a Polish-born French physicist and chemist famous for her work on radioactivity. She was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity and the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes – in physics and chemistry. She was also the first female professor at the University of Paris. (Wikipedia)

25) Julian of Norwich – (c. 1342– c.1416) is thought of as one of the greatest English mystics. She is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches, but has never been canonized, or officially beatified, by the Catholic Church probably because so little is known of her life aside from her writings, including the date of her death. She was last known to be alive in 1416 when she was 73 years old. Her birth name is uncertain; the name “Julian” comes from the Church of St Julian in Norwich, where she was an anchoress (a type of hermit who lives in a cell attached to the church and engages in contemplative prayer).
At the age of 30, Julian had a series of intense visions of Jesus Christ. She wrote down a narration of the visions immediately following them, which is known as The Short Text. Twenty years later she wrote a theological exploration of the meaning of the visions, known as The Long Text. These visions are the source of her major work, called Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (circa 1393). This is believed to be the first book written in the English language by a woman. (Wikipedia)

26) Michelle Bachelet – (born September 29, 1951) is a moderate socialist politician who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010—the first woman president in the country’s history. She campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the gap between rich and poor. Bachelet, a pediatrician and epidemiologist with studies in military strategy, served as Health Minister and Defense Minister under President Ricardo Lagos. In 2009 Forbes magazine ranked her as the 22nd in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the world (she was #25 in 2008, #27 in 2007, and #17 in 2006). In 2008, TIME magazine ranked her 15 on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people. (Wikipedia)

27) Michelle Obama – (born January 17, 1964) is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. She has become a fashion icon and role model for women, and a notable advocate for poverty awareness and healthy eating. (Wikipedia)

28) Simone Weil – (1909-1943) was a French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist. Her brilliance, ascetic lifestyle, introversion, and eccentricity limited her ability to mix with others, but not to teach and participate in political movements of her time. She wrote extensively with both insight and breadth about political movements of which she was a part and later about spiritual mysticism. Weil biographer Gabriella Fiori writes that Weil was “a moral genius in the orbit of ethics, a genius of immense revolutionary range.” (Wikipedia)

29) Mary Woolstonecraft – (1759–1797) was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children’s book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason. (Wikipedia)

30) Wasfi Kan – Recognised today as a force to be reckoned with in the world of opera, Kani was born in London’s East End in 1956 after her parents left India at the time of partition. At the age of 14, Kani won a place in the National Youth Orchestra where she was the only non-white member. At 18, she auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music and was accepted but turned this down for an offer from Oxford University where she read music. In recognition of her contribution, she received an OBE for services to music in the New Year’s Honour’s List 2002.

31) Arundhati Roy – (born 24 November 1961) is an Indian novelist. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things, and has also written two screenplays and several collections of essays. Her writings on various social, environmental and political issues have been a subject of major controversy in India. (Wikipedia)

32) Ingrid Betancourt – (born 25 December 1961) is a French-Colombian politician, former senator and anti-corruption activist. Betancourt was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on 23 February 2002 and was rescued by Colombian security forces six and a half years later on 2 July 2008. She has received multiple international awards, such as the Légion d’honneur. In 2008 she received the Concord Prince of Asturias Award. She was also nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008. (Wikipedia)

33) Kelly Holmes – (born 19 April 1970) is a retired British middle distance athlete. She specialised in the 800 metres and 1500 metres events and won a gold medal for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She set British records in numerous events and still holds the records over the 600, 800, 1000, and 1500 metres distances.She was appointed a dame by HM The Queen in 2005. (Wikipedia)

34) Souad Massi – born August 23, 1972, is an Algerian singer, songwriter and guitarist. She began her career performing in the Kabyle political rock band Atakor, before leaving the country following a series of death threats. In 1999, Massi performed at the Femmes d’Algerie concert in Paris, which led to a recording contract with Island Records. (Wikipedia)

35) Heidi Stern (a.k.a. Jennifer Rush) – (born September 28, 1960) is an American/German-based pop/rock singer, best known for the million-selling single “The Power of Love”, which she co-wrote and which went on to be covered by Laura Branigan and Celine Dion. (Wikipedia)

36) Elizabeth Fry: “a fine Quaker social reformer”

37) Indira Gandhi: “first woman prime minister of that male dominated society, India – though I was not keen on her compulsory sterilization policy…”

38) Emily (Emmeline) Pankhurst:Suffragette/UK votes for women

Well done everyone for those fine contributions – I learnt a lot, so hopefully you will too! Feel free to keep on sending them in if you want to.

And lastly here’s a couple of nice quotes for you:
In words of the migrant worker, social philosopher and writer Eric Hoffer:

“In times of change, learners will inherit the earth, while the learned will find themselves well-equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

And one more, from Tom Stoppard:

“It is the very best time to be alive, when almost everything you believed is wrong.”

tons of love



1 thought on “Follow-up on International Women’s Day

  1. Pingback: International Women’s Day – Who inspires you? | Had we but world enough and time…

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