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IWW - Women for Change

E James Todd

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Hello all!  Welcome to International Women's Week and the discussion on women who worked for positive change throughout history!  This is meant to be a place where all walks of life are celebrated, from the most awe-inspiring and death-defying heroines to the quieter and lesser-known workers behind the scenes.


Primarily we'll be trying to draw attention to people you may have heard of, or maybe they'll be completely new to you.  This is meant just to bring an increased awareness to the many amazing things that make up our patchwork human history.  If we go over someone you think deserves more attention, or if you have your own example of someone you want to share, then share away!  We welcome contributions.


Each day will have a loose theme, but don't let that stop you from posting on either a previous topic or just in general.  All participants are awesome people!

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For today's theme, we have women in the suffragette movement.  This occurred at various different times and stretches as far back as the 1700s, but was most prominent around the beginning of the 20th century.  There is a whole cavalcade of notable persons, from the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who supported a host of human rights in general to Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst who focused exclusively on reaching the milestone of letting women vote and engage in politics.


It is incredibly important to remember that there is a great deal of gray with many of these figures.  For instance, while Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton did eventually see the beginnings of the women's rights take hold in the United States, they both refused to support the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment (concerning citizenship and voting rights for African Americans) until such time as all women were granted the same rights.  Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst, for all they did in furthering women's right to vote in the United Kingdom, also engaged and encouraged in destructive practices that spread chaos.


And yet, without these figures there would not have been as much progress.  Without the bold acts from those such as Esther Morris (who also served as the first female justice of the peace in the United States) and Kate Sheppard (leading the charge to catapult New Zealand as the first self-governing colony in the world to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections), going all the way back to Lydia Taft (first woman to cast a legal vote in 1756 in a state where the right was never rescinded), the conversations would never have started.  It is because of these remarkable women and their peers, all people to study and learn about in their own right, that we came to the progress we have today.


But what do you guys think?  Feel free to discuss or add in your own examples of women who led the charge in the suffrage movement.

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Well, I knew nothing about Alice Paul.


She was reportedly the leader of the most militant wing of the women's suffrage movement. She was well educated. She earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Swarthmore College and a PhD in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and was determined to win the vote by any means necessary. While in graduate school, she spent time in London and learned from suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst’s radical, confrontational Women’s Social and Political Union and learned how to use civil disobedience.


On March 3, 1913, Paul and her colleagues coordinated an enormous suffrage parade to coincide with–and distract from–President Wilson’s inauguration.


She was ahead of her time.   :biggrin:



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In the UK I learned a lot about the British suffragettes during History Class.


So originally there was the non militant arm for woman's suffrage, called the suffragists and they believed in changing people's mind by logical arguments and other lawful means.


Emmeline Pankhurst was originally a member of this group and left in the early 1900s and formed what we call the suffragettes and all hell kicked off.


The suffragists were more formed of well off women from good families and several had many ties with the men in government. In fact there is evidence to suggest that they almost had the votes secured in parliament to pass law for a woman's right to vote just before WW1 started in 1914 when the suffrage movement was tabled for the war effort. 


When I was younger I used to think that the suffragists were clearly the more clever ones and the suffragettes were misguided and uppity.


Then I realised that horrible sneaky misogyny.That I was thinking that woman have to proper and polite and lady like. 


The suffragettes were militant yes, but all the violence was done to property and disrupting the government, not against British citizens.The only violence in the suffragette movement were done to the women themselves. When they were arrested for protesting they used to go on hunger strikes and to stop them from becoming martyrs they were force fed by shoving a tube down their throat. There is a lot of evidence to suggest they were treated violently within the prisons as well.


They did all this to get the news out, to spread word of the cause. The suffragists did everything behind closed doors and in upper and middle class circles. The suffragettes behaving as they did got the news out. Working class women for the first time heard about someone protesting the horrendous and sexist way that they were expected to live their lives and realised that just maybe that was wrong. 


I know that until I started educating myself about feminism I realised a few ways in which the odds were still stacked against women and the insidious way sexism creeps into my life. 


There were millions of women working their fingers to the bone, having children after children, doing what their husbands told them too and not having any say in anything - not even being able to vote. And they didn't realise this was wrong. 


Until someone spoke up. Loudly. 


I love the suffragettes.

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There were millions of women working their fingers to the bone, having children after children, doing what their husbands told them too and not having any say in anything - not even being able to vote. And they didn't realise this was wrong. 


The most horrific thing is that, for millions of women worldwide, this is still the case.

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Monday's theme: Women in politics


There are so many women who deserve a place here, and I would love to hear about the women you think have made a political difference in your country, or anywhere in the world for that matter. Don't worry about overlapping into categories we might run later in the week. The categories are more to keep the discussion popping than anything else.


I chose today to stay fairly close to home, with a woman I grew up hearing lots about. 



Gro Harlem Brundland (born 1939)


She was the Norwegian Prime Minister in three periods, first for less than a year in 1981, then 1986-1989 and 1990-1996 for the Norwegian Labour Party. During this time she also lead the Brundtland commission (Formally known as the World Commission on Environment and Development) for the UN between 1984 and 1987.


In 1998 she became the Director-General of the WHO, a position in which she was the prime coordinator in the efforts against the SARS breakout in 2003. She left that position later that year, and was named a a UN Special Envoy on Climate Change in 2007. She is the current deputy chair of The Elders, a group of elder statesmen, peace activists and human rights advocates. 


I simply can't express in words how much I admire this woman, her values and her accomplishments, and I've been lucky enough to hear about her all my life. 

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Thought this was a good political role model. 

Bíawacheeitchish - "Woman Chief"

A famous woman chieftain among the Crow native americans (Apsáaloke). She was originally one of the A'ani people (Gros Ventre), but she was captured when she was 10 years old in a raiding part by the Crow, and she was adopted by a Crow warrior and raised as his own daughter. Bíawacheeitchish was interested in a lot of traditionally male activities, like horseback riding, hunting, and fighting, which her adopted father did not discourage and which she was admired by other men for, and when her father died, she became leader of her band/lodge.


She became reknown for fighting and raiding/taking many scalps against the Blackfoot, one of the Crow's traditional enemy, and for her deeds and prestige, she was chosen to represent her band at the Council of Chieftains, when she received her name "Woman Chief," and eventually rose to third in terms of honour out of the 160 members. Like male chieftains, she had multiple wives. She helped negotiate the terms of the first Fort Laramie treaty of 1851, and she negotiated a temporary peace between the Crow and the people of her birth, the Gros Ventre. However, and maybe ironically (or fatefully), she was killed around 1854 by an ambush by the Gros Ventre. 

She was often a fascinating subject for typical Westerners, some of whom characterised many Native tribes as highly patiarchal, and so they marked Bíawacheeitchish as particularly exceptional. However, women chieftains weren't entirely unheard of among the Crow, as among other Plains Indians, and a paucity of female chieftains might best be characterised as due to a lack of female interest in the skills rather than being barred from it or oppression, as women were instead considered the owners of the household and everything in it, they could divorce their husband at will, and they practiced matrilineage and matrilocal residency, in which descent is traced through the mother and the husband goes to live with his wife's family upon marriage.


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-emerges from the electrical smoke of blown-up PC and scattered parts-


Wow.  These people are just all kinds of cool.  I have a catastrophic crash for one day and come back to these amazing things.

I should have my computer have more hardware failures if this is what I come back to.






No wait...

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Anyway, this post brought to you by My Smart Phone©: Currently more reliable than My Computer, and therefore better in every way.™


Today we get to talk about:


Women in Medicine


There's a lot of great examples here, but there's also a lot of names that go unknown or unrecognized.  Two of the most prominent examples are Elizabeth Blackwell and Rebecca Lee Crumpler, two of the first recognized female physicians.  Crumpler had the honor of also being the first African American woman to be recognized in the field, and also one of the first African Americans to publish a book on medicine - a book she dedicated to nurses and mothers, and focusing on the care of mothers and children.


Another wonderful addition that has to be mentioned is Mary Seacole, a Jamaican nurse who served in the Crimean War.  While she also ran a business at the same time, her knowledge of traditional herbal medicine saved countless British lives, and she treated those in her care so well that they took to calling her "Mother Seacole."  In fact, so beloved was she by the wounded she had cared for, that by the end of the war when she faced financial ruin after having given up everything to take care of the soldiers, they massed together to care for her "as she had done for us."


There is an excellent series of videos that talks about her life which can be found here:

Edited by E James Todd
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When I was little I loved reading The Story of Florence Nightingale.



(In Norwegian translation)


It told a wonderful story about a woman who was born into privilege, but who enjoyed helping other people, and watching her actions make them well from illnesses. It was a very inspirational book to me as a child, both because of her selfless acts, but also because of the largely male-dominated world she navigated in and how she was able to bring positive change to so many. 



Clara Barton


Before working on this, I had not heard of Clara Barton. However, I would say her story definitely is worth reading, as she lived a very eventful life, constantly working against the odds to pave the way for women. (Click the picture to read more)


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In a lot of cultures, some of the most visible being East Asian and Slavic ones, women were or still often are responsible for administering medicine, and of course theres many others, like cultures through the Middle Ages, that had a tradition of "cunning women" (and also men) who would practice an indigenous form of medicine for their village, right up to the witch craze and a few still beyond. My sister, for example, knows a lot about herbs and healing with plants, and most in my family are more likely to turn to her and others like her when they are sick than a modern doctor.


Most such people obviously don't have names to mention, but thought they deserved some sort of recognition. 



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Today we will talk about 


Women in social development


(but please keep bringing up more great examples for the previous categories as well!)





Eleanor Roosevelt


First Lady, Diplomat, Activist and well ahead of her time in so many ways. I can't possibly do her justice without studying her for days, but her Wikipedia article does a great job outlining all the amazing and impressive achievements of this woman in her lifetime. 


I picked out a snipped just from the introduction to share with you:


Following her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt remained active in politics for the rest of her life. She pressed the United States to join and support the United Nations and became its first delegate. She served as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Later she chaired the John F. Kennedy administration's Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.


Any one of these things would be a great achievement, but she did them all!  


From another article:


Ten major achievements of Eleanor Roosevelt


1. She worked with the Red Cross during the First World War.

2. She was actively involved in the activities of WTUL and LWV.

3. Eleanor established the Val-Kill industries in 1927

4. Eleanor Roosevelt transformed the role of the First Lady.

5. She was the first First Lady to write a daily newspaper column.

6. Eleanor played a key role in the formation of National Youth Administration

7. She was a leading activist for the rights of women and African Americans

8. She played an active role during WWII including chairing the OCD

9. Eleanor oversaw the drafting and passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

10. She is ranked among the most influential people of the 20th century.

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Not to be overly politcal, but a gentle reminder that the canidate in the US 2016 election who won the most votes was one of the most qualified people to ever run for the job:


First female class president in college

Yale Law school

Children's Defense fund laywer in Massachusetts and Arkansas

First lady of Arkansas (where she took an active role in shaping policy)

First lady of the US (where she took an active role in shaping policy)

Senator from New York (where she led efforts to rebuild after 9/11)

Secratary of State (where she over opening dipolamtic relations with mayanmar, and vietnam and worked to get punishing sanctions on iran to drive them to the negotiating table)

First female nominee of a major political party.


But, you know, e-mails.

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Women’s participation in the development process has been recognized not only as an issue of human rights and social justice, but also as a crucial contribution to solving the pressing needs of important and often-exclud- ed segments of society. I will list the women who I think play a significant role in filling the gaps where most women are absent:


Michelle Obama

Oprah Winfey

Yoani Sanchez

Indra Nooyi

Edited by Aradin
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Sorry for the disappearance guys, unexpected life change happened yesterday.  But I'm sort of here!


Today we get to talk about


Women in Academics and Sciences


There's just so many to choose from and talk about.  Maria Gaetana Agnesi both wrote the book on mathematics and then proceeded to teach it.  Grace Hopper was another famous mathematician and focused on codes and cryptography.  She helped develop the first computers, and is the reason why we have the saying "bug in the system." (More on that here: http://www.computerworld.com/article/2515435/app-development/moth-in-the-machine--debugging-the-origins-of--bug-.html )  Sally Ride not only was one of the first women to travel in space, she was the youngest and studied astrophysics as almost a side interest (she later jokingly said that she took up science as a career because it "was a better long-term career than tennis.")


What other women do you guys know about in the sciences and the academic world?

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My grandmother was the first female neuro-surgon to graduate from the univeristy of iowa medical school...i guess there are 50 women with that claim, but still pretty cool!


She faced harassment her entire career because of it.

Edited by Tyzack
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My grandmother was the first neuro-surgon to graduate from the univeristy of iowa medical school...i guess there are 50 women with that claim, but still pretty cool!


She faced harassment her entire career because of it.

Omg that's amazing! What an incredible accomplishment!

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One of my sisters is studying to become a bio-engineer. I am very proud of her.


I found this one, a pity it's so small but there are a couple of interesting ladies there



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Women in Social Development


Jane Addams


Born on September 6, 1860, in Cedarville, Illinois, Jane Addams co-founded one of the first settlements in the United States, the Hull House in Chicago, Illinois, in 1889, and was named a co-winner of the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize. Addams also served as the first female president of the National Conference of Social Work, established the National Federation of Settlements and served as president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. 


In 1889, Addams and Starr opened one of the first settlements in both the United States and North America, and the first in the city of Chicago: Hull House, which was named after the building's original owner. The house provided services for the immigrant and poor population living in the Chicago area. Over the years, the organization grew to include more than 10 buildings and extended its services to include child care, educational courses, an art gallery, a public kitchen and several other social programs.


e41c9d6a1f56acb121bc171e999fb56b.jpg             jane-addams-9176298-1-402.jpg

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