Sunday, 5 March 2017

International Women's Day: Women In History

by Katie Sharpe

In honour of International Women's Day on the 8th March and the release of Hidden Figures (which definitely deserved to win at least one Oscar) last month, I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of some influential women from recent history.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain't I A Woman?

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Sojourner Truth was an African-American abolitionist, and also a women's rights activist. Truth escaped from slavery in 1926 and became the first black woman to win a court case against a white man. Her most famous speech, Ain't I A Woman, was delivered at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928)

Men make the moral code and they expect women to accept it. They have decided that it is entirely right and proper for men to fight for their liberties and their rights, but that it is not right and proper for women to fight for theirs.

Emmeline Pankhurst was the leader of the British Suffragette movement, which fought to win women the right to vote. In 1903, Pankhurst founded the WSPU, a suffrage organisation that ran on “deeds, not words” and was often criticised for the militant approach the women took. She saw imprisonment as a way to increase publicity of the fight for women's suffrage, and was arrested seven times before women received the vote, where she took part in the hunger strikes to protest being denied political prisoner status.

Rosa Parks (1913-2005): Rosa Parks: My Story

People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

Rosa Parks was an American civil rights activist, who was arrested after refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus in 1955. This led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted 381 days in protest of racial segregation on public transport, and succeeded in desegregating the buses.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014): Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou was an American poet and civil rights activist. Her works often focused on identity and prejudice, and Angelou was often called a spokesperson for black people and women, with her poetry which continually inspires people to never give up.

Malala Yousafzai (1997-): United Nations Youth Assembly

Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child’s bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education for everyone. No one can stop us. We will speak for our rights and we will bring change through our voice. We must believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the world.

Because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty, injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright peaceful future.

So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.

One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.

Education is the only solution. Education First.

Malala Yousafzai is Pakistani activist for the right to (particularly female) education. Malala first blogged about her life under Taliban occupation in Swat, Pakistan, on BBC Urdu at the age of 11, including when girls were banned from education in early 2009. She then began appearing on television to advocate for the right for females to receive education. As a result of her rising prominence, the Taliban leaders agreed to kill her, and she was shot in the head on her way home from school. Luckily, Malala survived, and became an even more famous activist for female education. Now, Malala is the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 and she continues to campaign for worldwide education, often speaking for the United Nations.

To watch Malala Yousafzai’s full UN Youth Assembly speech,

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