A Tribute to Women In American Politics & History

By Shara Krough

Our nation was established by men. Our founding documents were written by men. The battle for our independence was fought by men. So what have women contributed to American politics and history? More than most people realize! This article will give a brief overview of selected women who have influenced our nation, along with inspirational quotes attributed to them. The wisdom imparted by these women still holds significant meaning today, even decades after their deaths. Read along and absorb their empowering messages. Happy 4th of July!

Abigail Adams (1744–1818) was the wife of John Adams (2nd President of the U.S.) and the mother of John Quincy Adams (6th President of U.S.). She fought for property rights for women and publicly repudiated slavery. She encouraged women to perfect their intellect by educating themselves, instead of being satisfied with wife and motherly roles. In March 1776, she wrote a letter to her husband and the Continental Congress, where she stated:
“Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation.“

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896) was a famous American author who fought to end slavery. In 1850, she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which depicted the harsh realities of slavery and inspired the anti-slavery movement in the north.
“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

Maria Mitchell (1818–1889) was the first American female astronomer. She received the gold medal prize for her discovery of “Miss Mitchell’s Comet” and was the 1st woman elected to the American Philosophical Society. A crater on the moon was named after her and she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
“Do not look at stars as bright spots only. Try to take in the vastness of the universe.”

Biddy Mason (1818–1891) was an African American nurse and real estate businesswoman. She was one of the first blacks to purchase land in Los Angeles. She generously gave to charities and founded various programs for the poor. For her philanthropy, she was known as “Grandma Mason.” In her honor, November 16th is deemed Biddy Mason Day.
“If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.”

Susan Brownell Anthony (1820–1906) was a civil rights leader who played a primary role in the women’s suffrage movement. She dedicated her life to “the cause” and laid the groundwork for passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote (14 years after her death). She was the co-founder of The Revolution, a women’s rights publication. In 1869, she founded the National Woman Suffrage Association with her life-long friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In 1872, she was fined and put on trial for voting. Susan B. Anthony traveled across America, giving close to 100 speeches per year on various topics effecting women. Her 50-year crusade paved the way for women’s rights to be integrated into American government.
“Woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.”
“Independence is happiness.”
“Failure is impossible.”

Clarissa Harlowe Barton (1821–1912) was an activist for black civil rights and the primary organizer for the American Red Cross during the Civil War. She aided soldiers in battle before women were officially allowed near battlefields and eventually became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield.” After the Civil War, she began a letter-writing campaign to find missing soldiers. She served as President of the American Red Cross for over 20 years and founded the National First Aid Society before she retired at the age of 83. She also fought for women’s suffrage alongside Susan B. Anthony. Her two “rules of action” were “unconcern for what cannot be helped” and “control under pressure.”
“I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.”

Mary Ann Shad Cary (1823–1893) was the first female African American lawyer in the United States. She advocated self-reliance, fought for the right to vote and criticized slavery. Through writing and speaking, she attempted to teach freed slaves how to be independent. She was one of the few women to receive the right to vote in national elections. She published a weekly newspaper called Provincial Freeman, which was dedicated to self-education for blacks.
“Self-reliance is the Fine Road to Independence.”

Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) was an American author, most famous for her novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo’s Boys.
“I like to help women help themselves, as that is, in my opinion, the best way to settle the woman question. Whatever we can do and do well we have a right to, and I don’t think anyone will deny us.”
Mary Edwards Walker (1832–1919) was the only female to receive the Medal of Honor. She was a doctor and prisoner of war during the Civil War, a feminist and an abolitionist. She volunteered to be a surgeon for the Union, but was captured by the Confederacy after crossing enemy lines to tend to wounded civilians. She was later released as part of a prisoner exchange program. After the war, she was awarded the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest decoration for gallantry. She vigorously supported the women’s suffrage movement until her death in 1919.
“Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom.”

“Mother” Mary Harris Jones (1837–1930) was an American school teacher who co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World and organized principal strikes across America. In 1902, she successfully organized mine workers against mine companies. In 1903, she arranged a Children’s March from Philadelphia to New York to support the enforcement of child labor laws. The magazine Mother Jones is named after her.
“No matter what the fight, don’t be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.”
“I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth wherever I please.”

Victoria Woodhull (1838–1927) was a leader in the American women’s suffrage movement and the first female candidate for the Presidency of the United States. She ran in 1872 from the Equal Rights Party. She did not receive any electoral votes.
“I shall not change my course because those who assume to be better than I desire “[On prejudice]: Sometimes, it’s like a hair across your cheek. You can’t see it, you can’t find it with your fingers, but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating.”

Rachel Carson(1907–1964) was an American conservationist, marine biologist and author who won the U.S. National Book Award for The Sea Around Us. Her early writings explored ocean life, while her later writings examined environmental issues related to synthetic pesticides. Her 1962 book, Silent Spring ignited a controversial debate over use of the pesticide DDT and launched environmental concerns regarding pesticides.
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

Rosetta Wakeman (1843–1864) disguised herself as a man in order to fight for the Union during the Civil War. She served in the 153rd regiment of the New York State Volunteers. She died while still enlisted, so no one knew she was a female until long after her death.
“I don’t know how long before I shall have to go into the field of battle. For my part, I don’t care. I don’t feel afraid to go. I don’t believe there are any Rebel’s bullet[s] made for me yet.”

Edmonia Lewis (1844–1907) was the first Native American and African American woman to become a famous international sculptor. In 1877, she sculpted a portrait of President Ulysses S. Grant.
“Some praise me because I am a colored girl, and I don’t want that kind of praise. I had rather you would point out my defects, for that will teach me something.”

Susie King Taylor (1848–1912) was the first African American U.S. Army nurse and the only black female to publish writings about her experiences during the Civil War.
“There are many people who do not know what some of the colored women did during the war. There were hundreds of them who assisted the Union soldiers by hiding them and helping them to escape.”

Carrie Chapman Catt (1859–1947) was elected President of the National Woman Suffrage Association after Susan B. Anthony retired. She campaigned heavily for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote in 1920.
“Roll up your sleeves, set your mind to making history, and wage such a fight for liberty that the whole world will respect our sex.”

Annie Oakley (1860–1926) was an American markswoman and famous sharpshooter. She starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, entertaining national audiences with her firearms tricks. With her .22 caliber rifle, at 90 feet away, she could repeatedly split a playing card before it could touch the ground.
“Aim at a high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally you’ll hit the bull’s-eye of success.

Juliette Gordon Low (1860–1927) founded the Girl Scouts of America in 1912.
“The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”
Jane Addams (1860–1935) was an advocate for world peace and a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. She supported labor reform to improve working conditions for women and children. In 1931, she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I am not one of those who believe – broadly speaking – that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.”

Ida B. Wells Barnett (1862–1931) was an African American journalist, an active participant in the women’s suffrage movement and a leader in the civil rights movement. She published Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases and A Red Record, which documented lynching in America. She was also a member of the “Committee of 40,” the civil rights organization that preceded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“One had better die fighting against injustice than die like a dog or a rat in a trap.”

Annie Sullivan (1866–1936) was an American teacher who is famous for her instruction of Helen Keller. The two traveled across the country together, giving lectures for the American Foundation for the Blind.
“The truth is not wonderful enough to suit the newspapers; so they enlarge upon it, and invent ridiculous embellishments.”

Isadora Duncan (1877–1927) invented modern dance in America, which was a rebellion of sorts against classical ballet.
“People do not live nowadays. They get about ten percent out of life.”

Alice Paul (1885–1977) was a female activist who led a strong campaign preceding the passage of the 19th Amendment. In 1923, she wrote the original version of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The ERA was not considered by Senate until 1972, when it was approved, but never ratified by 38 states (as is required by our Constitution). Only 35 states voted in favor of ratification.
“There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”

Bessie Coleman (1892–1926) was the 1st African American pilot to obtain an international pilot license. She performed as a stunt flier and was nicknamed “Queen Bess.”
“The air is the only place free from prejudices.”

Dorothy Fuldheim (1893–1989) was the first female in America to host her own television show and anchor a news broadcast show. She was designated, “First Lady of Television News.”
“This is a youth-oriented society, and the joke is on them because youth is a disease from which we all recover.”

Marian Anderson (1897–1993) was an African American singer who performed in recitals and concerts with principal orchestras in the United States and Europe during the 20th century.
“[On prejudice]: Sometimes, it’s like a hair across your cheek. You can’t see it, you can’t find it with your fingers, but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating.”

Rachel Carson (1907–1964) was an American conservationist, marine biologist and author who won the U.S. National Book Award for The Sea Around Us. Her early writings explored ocean life, while her later writings examined environmental issues related to synthetic pesticides. Her 1962 book, Silent Spring ignited a controversial debate over use of the pesticide DDT and launched environmental concerns regarding pesticides.
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

Dearest Readers – May 2012

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Hello and happy May!  Big news this month…

Welcome to what will be the final monthly issue of See Magazine!  Henceforth we will publish quarterly, and in this blog-based format.

Yes, lots of change for See Magazine since last we’ve spoken.  It’s been an emotionally tumultuous and challenging month-long journey which you can read about in agonizing detail, if you like.  The end result – the magazine is going to be better than ever and we’re incredibly excited to be moving forward with our amazing contributors, in this new format – reborn.

Speaking of being born – it’s May, the month we honor our Moms for the myriad gifts they provide.  No matter the nature of your relationship with your mother, one thing cannot be denied – you are here because of her, because she carried and nurtured you inside her own body and birthed you into the world.  That alone deserves honor and gratitude.  Those of us with wonderful Moms are blessed beyond measure, and so this issue celebrates Moms – how they’ve taught us to – and about – love, how some of the particularly Badass Moms courageously protect the lives they helped create.  Ciao Bella brings us a blast from the past with a look at forgiving yourself – and your Mom – for being imperfect, despite best efforts.  Yes – Moms rock!

Not all “babies” are in flesh and blood – some are digital; made of code, picture and words.  This month we begin our new series, Women Wielding Web, wherein we talk to female founders/owners of major web businesses, getting a snapshot of their success. First up:  Angie’s List and BlogHer.

Not enough fabulous female entrepreneurs for ya?  Never fear – Monica Birdsong is back this month, examining the merits of helping those in business who help themselves.

Shara Krogh analyzes the precarious future of the women of Afghanistan and how the withdrawal of U.S. presence could compromise already limited women’s rights there.

Profiled last month as our feature story, life coach Deanne Mathews returns with thoughts to help us progress down the path of compassionate healing.

And we review the PERFECT Mother’s Day gift – “Miss Representation” on DVD.

Our monthly columns round out this issue – A+ Ads examines how the “Got Milk?” campaign’s got empowerment – and we share shareable and don’t-miss web goodies in Viralize This and The Goods.

Thanks for reading – have a beautiful, powerful month!

Love always,

Lori Lewis
Founder/Editor
See Magazine

See Magazine – Contributors, May 2012

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“Heads Up: Politics” Columnist Shara Krogh is an attorney and mother of two young children. Born in New York, Shara attended law school in Los Angeles and served in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She is also a former prosecutor in Sex Crimes Special Victims.


“Diary of a Tech Startup Gal” Columnist Monica Birdsong is a software developer turning into an entrepreneur. She’s written software for several Fortune 500 companies and dot coms. She recently left the corporate world to pursue her dream of being an internet entrepreneur. She loves her family, friends, traveling, and food. She also loves that her internet businesses give her the freedom of working from home or wherever her and her laptop land.


Deanne Mathews offers her wealth of life experience and her passionate pursuit of meaning and accomplishment through self-inspiration to others as a life, executive and business coach. Deanne is also committed to helping women move through deeper issues through her Woman to Woman Coaching Program. She is working on her first book dealing with the adversities we face in life and strategies in how they can be overcome. It’s scheduled for publication in the near future.


Linda Spinelli-Lewis is Editorial Advisor, friend and mother to Lori. Born and raised in Manhattan, migrated to Brooklyn and eventually Staten Island, NY. Loves to read and dabble in writing while holding an addiction to television, theater and movies. Presently retired and loving it.


Editorial Advisor Melissa Algaze is a native Angelino with deep family roots in NY (which is why she and Lori get along like a house on fire). After graduating from Syracuse University, she moved back to sunny LA and works in Advertising and Publishing fields. Her life motto is “when the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object” and she is vastly inspired by Lori’s vision and dedication to See Magazine.

Rise, Fall, and Rise Again

by Lori Lewis

What a month it’s been!

In the spirit of authenticity, I’m going to pull back the curtain (such as it is) and reveal what I’ve been going through over the past month.  It’s been QUITE a ride…

After six months of working tirelessly on See Magazine, I finally hit a wall.

And what a thick, sticky, and spiky wall it was.

I was thrown against it by a perfect storm of chronic exhaustion, lack of social contact with friends (and potential dates…), guilt (when I DID allow myself to indulge in those things vs. working on the magazine)  a dearth of inspiration, and no shortage of frustration from various aspects of running a monthly magazine mostly on my own.  Life had become an endless cycle of get up, go to work, come home, work, go to bed…repeat. And repeat.  And repeat. Weekends were spent inside working instead of out and about, enjoying the people, environments and opportunities that vibrant Los Angeles has to offer.  The things that have always lit up my life.

What had once been a joy for me became an instrument of resentment, burden, and angst.

AND, I felt that nobody but me and the people I worked with even cared about the magazine.  Despite my efforts, readership wasn’t growing.  I felt that I could skip a month of publishing and (almost) no one would notice (except for our writers, of course!).

Add to that the fact that circumstances in my personal life were leaving me feeling VERY unhappy, profoundly unfulfilled and deeply sad.  I was struggling with being a feminist (a label that is fraught with problems for me for a HUGE list of reasons) being single, being overweight (and even worse, treating myself cruelly over it – at one point I even found myself longing for the “willpower” to become anorexic – WHAT?!?!?!?!), and feeling profoundly ashamed of myself and disempowered.

NOT the best way for someone who’s running a magazine around empowerment to be feeling.

I was talking the talk but not walking the walk.  I felt like an imposter, a fraud.  I was no longer fooling myself – so how much longer before everyone around me could see that I was not what I was pushing?  That piled fear onto the mound of negative energies that I felt was beginning to engulf me.  All because I wanted to do something good for the world (and for myself in the process – oh, the irony!)

And so, after much consideration and soul searching, I decided to quit.  It was NOT a decision I reached lightly.  And, after I reached that decision, I thought it over for another week, just to be sure.

Still feeling the same way, I told my best friend, my Mom and the first columnist we signed onto the magazine (who is a childhood friend) about my decision.  After I hit “send” on the email, I immediately dreaded their responses – but of course received nothing but support. Not sure why that would surprise me, except to say that of COURSE they would be supportive of me – they could not help but be – I was the only one regarding myself so critically and unforgivingly – more so than ANY other person ever would.

Sensing my ambivalence, my Mom suggested I take the magazine quarterly, but I told her “no REAL magazines publish quarterly”.  I had an all or nothing mentality about the magazine – there was no middle ground.

I expected to feel a weight lifting from my shoulders – but I didn’t.  I felt like a quitter.  I’d promised myself that no matter what, I’d give the magazine a year.  I was breaking my promise to myself, and it HURT.

So, I stewed in my own juices for a few days. All this time, unable to bring myself to do any work on what I had declared to be my last issue – this one. I even watched “Miss Representation”, the film that had started it all for me, again in the hopes it would reignite my passion.  Nada.

Suddenly, the universe started to whisper to me.  I heard from some friends who I hadn’t even known had been reading the magazine about how a feature or column touched them.  I had a good and affirming meeting with one of my collaborators.  Someone I had found, admired greatly and featured in the magazine expressed a desire to become a longer term collaborator. These things reaffirmed the value of the magazine beyond the boundaries of my own life, and made me stop and consider what I was giving up, and whether I really wanted to let it all go.

Then, Oprah’s Next Chapter aired an interview with Gloria Steinem.   In it, Gloria revealed that she lived out of boxes in her brownstone for years, feeling as if she couldn’t really settle in without a husband.  There she was, the strong and vibrant mother of feminism — longing for a husband?!  Feeling somehow incomplete without one?!  “Yes, it took me a while to really get it myself,” she admitted to Oprah.  Suddenly it made my own struggles, and sense of being an imposter, seem much less drastic and tragic and more human.  Gloria went through that too, and LOOK at what she went on to do. I felt inspired as Gloria talked about how she and a group of dedicated feminists started Ms. Magazine and published it right there, from her apartment.  A magazine that’s been published for forty years.  Since just after I was born.  A magazine that used to be published bimonthly, but now it’s quarterly.  They had scaled back as well.

Another lightning bolt went off, similar to the one that brought the magazine into my life in the first place.

I would keep on doing See.  Quarterly.  I get to do something creative and affirmative and still have a life and the energy to enjoy it.  Win / Win.

May will be the last monthly issue of See Magazine.   The five months we’ve already published have brought us through Winter and Spring.  The summer issue will release in July, followed by Fall in October.

Also, (as you may have noticed!) we’ve switched to blog format.  In addition to saving a considerable amount of time and effort in production, this change will make our content easier to find via web searches and easier to share.  Win / Win / Win.

I’m thrilled to have come to a solution that will allow me to continue working on this project I love without feeling as if I’m surrendering my entire life to it.  That may sound selfish, but frankly one of the most profound lessons this experience has taught me is that self-preservation is not just a right, it’s a duty.  If my cup does not runneth over, I have nothing for anyone else.   It’s such a joy to watch it slowly begin to fill back up…

Mom = Love

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May brings Mother’s Day, on which many people buy gifts, cards, & flowers to express their love and appreciation to their Moms.  Although “Hallmark holidays” tend to be a sore spot for many people (myself included), I think that Mother’s Day in particular is a critical one, because it reminds us to show love, praise and gratitude to the woman in all of our lives who at the very least GIVES us life and at the very most, teaches us how to live it, and to love it.

In observance of Mother’s Day and in honor of Mom’s and all they teach us, we asked the following question of the women in our social circles:

What has having a Mom, or being a Mom, taught you about love?

Here are the answers we received…

Lauren says,
“Having a mom has taught me that being a mom isn’t always about showing your children the right way to live.  It’s about showing your children enough love, respect, and support so that they feel that, despite what they’ve seen you do, they can have the courage and confidence to pave their own way.  People say that you get to a point in life where you inevitably become your mother.  Having a mom has shown me that the real challenge isn’t figuring out who you want to be.  It’s figuring out who you don’t want to be and the rest simply falls into place.”

Laura says,
“Being a mom has taught me what unconditional love truly is about.  No joy of your own, no pain of your own, no pride of your own could amount to what you feel for your child.  I was not prepared for the strength of such love- makes me appreciate my mom even more- especially knowing what I have put my mother through!”

Priya says,
“Being a mom has taught me that love is about trying to better another person’s life. Whether that’s through teachings (“Do the right thing, not just what everyone else is doing!” is one we’re dealing with right now), through things (buying the girls Kindles has increased the amount they read because it’s easier to carry around everywhere), or through experiences (I’d rather take them on a trip or to a show that they’ll remember), I’m finding that I just want to make my girls’ lives better. Easier to live, happier to experience, more comfortable in their own skin.”

Shannon says,
“It’s fierce, selfless, consuming, maddening, constant, wild, soft, and pure.  Nothing is more powerful than my love for my children.  No matter what happens in life with anyone else, this never changes.  It takes unconditional and forever to a new level.”

Veronica says,
“Being a Mom has taught me…that love is no longer just a word to fill me with romantic butterflies. Love now is an action word and I can describe it by seeing those kids. The feeling of belonging to someone, even as a single woman, is comforting. Knowing those little beings are there for me and I for them (and that we are “stuck” with each other, hahahah) I truly am in awe of them and I am very humbled to have the honor of being their mother. You can look at it from a religious, spiritual or whatever point of view, but the fact that being a parent to the kids we have is a grand responsibility….a wonderful one though.”

Lori says,
“Having a Mom has taught me that no matter how affirming, comforting, intense, enjoyable, and all-encompassing other forms of love are, that there is nothing like the love of a mother for her child. Even when I don’t deserve it – even when I do or say things to my Mom that should invoke anger, disappointment, frustration – and even when she clearly feels those things, I know that my Mom’s love flows freely to me.  The other key thing that having a Mom has taught me is that loving someone isn’t about holding on and using your will to shape how your experience with them will be…it’s about relinquishing any attachment to how someone is, and wishing only for their happiness.”

Badass Moms – Portraits of Heroism

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by Lori Lewis

We’ve all heard amazing stories of Moms who seem to gain superhuman strength when their children are in danger:  a Mom can lift a car off a trapped child; can break down a door between them and their endangered child’ even a Mom’s intuition is said to be strengthened when the stakes are high, giving her a sense of certainty when her child’s been hurt.

Indeed there seems to be no bounds to the dedication and strength of motherly love.  Here’s a roundup of moving, amazing stories of Moms who heroically preserve their children’s well being – even at the cost of their own lives.  Although some of these stories do not have happy endings for the courageous women, they leave behind a legacy of life and love in the form of those whose lives they saved.

Sometimes, an act of heroism can be deceptively small – like Tiffany Hyink-Browne’s calm resolve to keep her son from panicking during a terrifying four minutes of shaking in the Japanese earthquake of March 2011.  As literally everything violently shakes around them, Tiffany remains steady and sure, holding her son in her arms, keeping his gaze and calmly stating, “Ya, the ground is shaking”.   While it may not seem like much – Tiffany herself brushes off praise dubbing her “Mother of the Year” – anyone who’s lived through a strong quake can tell you it’s a horrifying experience even for adults.  Imagine the post-traumatic stress that boy would have endured were it not for his mother’s resolve to keep him calmly engaged during the quake.

Indeed, human Moms do not hesitate to take on Mother Nature when it comes to protecting their children.  Indiana Mom of two Stephanie Decker used her own body to shield her son and daughter from a tornado that was bearing down on the family’s home.  After the tornado moved on, the children were unscathed but Decker sustained severe injuries to her legs which later led to a dual amputation.   Since heroic fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, 8 year old Dominic then ran for help, saving his mother’s life, keeping her from bleeding out.

Joanna Krzysztonek had already lost one of her unborn triplets when she was positioned almost upside down in a hospital bed to hold off another premature delivery.  She hung that way – in labor – for 75 days to ensure the healthy birth of her son and daughter.

Stephanie Hines receives a hero award for saving a young boy’s life. Credit: Chuck Schechner/KRLD NewsRadio 1080

Stephanie Hines took action to save a stranger’s child, an autistic boy who had wandered out of his family’s motel room and onto a freeway, headed for busy traffic lanes.  When she saw the barefoot boy walking up the on ramp. Stephanie called 911 and ran onto the highway to bring the child to safety – placing her own well-being at risk in the process.  She was later given a community hero award by local emergency rescuers.

Sadly, there is no shortage of stories who gave their lives to save a child – even other people’s children.   34 year old Zurana Horton, who was 5 months pregnant, was killed when she used her own body to shield schoolchildren after a gunman opened fire on a Brooklyn, New York school playground.

Kala Golden fought valiantly to keep a stranger from kidnapping her newborn daughter.  The kidnapper had miscarried – a pain Kala herself was familiar with – and was trying to cover it up.  She shot Kala several times and ran her over with her car as the terrified mother tried desperately to stop her.

Stacie Crimm was overjoyed to learn she was pregnant at age 41, after years of trying.  When she was diagnosed with neck cancer, she refused treatment in order to protect her unborn child from the harmful effects of chemotherapy.   She lived just long enough to deliver and hold her baby before the cancer took her.

As Sharrie Shelton Duncan, her son and a friend stood on a piling on the coast of Positano, Italy, a rogue wave smashed into the trio.  Sharrie pushed her son toward shore and rescuers before being swept out to sea herself.

This last story may or may not be true – extensive research reveals nothing but ambiguity as to the veracity of the tale – but it is still so moving a concept, and so perfect an illustration of motherly love and dedication that we felt this tribute to heroic Moms wouldn’t be complete without it.  In the rubble of the 2011 Japan earthquake, rescuers reportedly discovered the body of a young woman.  Further digging revealed that her body had been shielding her baby, who, miraculously was still alive.  In her hand was a cell phone which allegedly contained a text message on the screen: “If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.”

Indeed, it would seem that a mother’s love can withstand any force of man or nature if their child’s life lies in the balance.   Though their heroism and courage they reaffirm the gift of life they gave their children at birth – and that is the gift that truly keeps on giving in every sense of the word.

Steps on the Path To Compassionate Healing

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By Deanne Mathews

As a follow-up to our profile of her inspirational story of compassion and self-healing in our April 2012 issue, here are some more thoughts from life coach Deanne Mathews on compassionate healing – detailing some additional ways to reach a more peaceful point of view about yourself, your past and your future.

  1. Time alone:  Personal/Sacred space with our self is an important process for healing.  It helps us to be still and truly feel what is happening within the body, mind and heart.  Through this we are able to connect fully, accept, and then respond from the most truthful part of ourselves.

    Photo: Jami Dwyer

  2. Be with Nature – Nature is filled with balance and harmony.  It has great truth and radiates beauty.  Nature heals. Think of a beautiful flower and our heart opens and softens.  Hear a bird’s tune and our being comes alive. This is a place where we can be receptive to healing and nurturing.  The quietness of nature helps to still our mind so that we can access our inner self to hear what’s going on and what we require in the moment. Listen to nature and it will reveal the essence of what you need to know in order to heal yourself.
  3. Choose your company wisely: So important!  Choose friends that love you and support you.  Invite people in who value your journey and want to champion you along the way. Avoid people who are addicted to their own pain as this will keep you stuck and disconnected from who you are.
  4. Keep your body moving: Make time to care for your body.  Gently exercising helps the body to process feelings and emotions.  Body movement allows for feelings to come in and make themselves known and then leave when they’ve finished speaking. From this place, we become a lot more clearer which gives us the opportunity to make wiser decisions.  We learn how to respond, not react.
  5. Feel into your vulnerability:  We’ve been taught from society that being vulnerable is being weak.  In my opinion, there is nothing further from the truth. When we are vulnerable, we  become intimate with ourselves and move into the soft core of who we are which provides a healthy environment for healing. We remove all facades when we are vulnerable – this allows for our darkness to be embraced, received, loved and healed. When we are intimate with ourselves, we are able to connect with others and the world. We learn what it’s like to claim our fragmented selves and become whole. This is where life becomes alive.

Women Wielding Web – Smash Internet Successes, A-Z

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by Linda Spinelli Lewis

We’re fascinated with empowered women entrepreneurs online – who isn’t, right?  We surf and share their sites, see their ads on television – they’re part of the fiber of our lives, online and off.

Each issue we’ll feature a Q & A with the female founder(s) of prominent web businesses.  This month we’re thrilled to feature Angie Hicks of Angie’s List, and Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins of BlogHer.  We hope that the insight into how their businesses began, the challenges and rewards that have come with their success and their words of wise advise to other up-and-coming web-rocking businesswomen.

AngiesList.com


A Membership service that compiles consumer ratings of local service companies and contractors in multiple cities across the United States, Angie’s List was founded by Angie Hicks.  I found this site most helpful in renovating my own home!

See Magazine – Angie, what gave you the business idea?

Angie Hicks – “It all began when Bill Oesterle called asking me to launch the business in suburban Columbus, Ohio.  He had recently moved there and was having trouble finding reliable contractors for his home repair.  He’d used a similar service in Indianapolis, Ind. for a home renovation and found there wasn’t anything like it in Ohio.   He called me because I had interned for him the prior year, when he was still living in Indianapolis, and I had proven to be a hard worker who never backed down from a challenge.”

SM – Did you have all of the knowledge/skills you needed to start when you started?  If not, how did you handle that?

AL – “I was fresh out of college and hadn’t planned on launching the business, so no.  Luckily, I  had Bill as my co-founder and mentor, and we spoke often.  But, I did the majority of the heavy lifting, if you will.  Going door-to-door to sign up members, doing research and putting the business together.”

SM – How has your business journey been for you – more, or less challenging than you expected?  Any examples?

AH – “Challenges are part of what makes the experience worthwhile.  In the early days, my biggest challenge was working up the enthusiasm for keeping at it.  I’m a naturally shy person, and approaching strangers was a real challenge for me.  Also in those early days, I didn’t have professional PR help.  My first newspaper interview resulted from seeing a piece in the local business paper about another woman leading a business.  I called the reporter up, said something about seeing that article, described myself and invited the reporter to write about me.  Today, I’m the star of television commercials that air nationwide, I do hundreds of news interviews every year and appear live on national news shows.

Other challenges involved strategic decisions about how to expand and grow the business.  How to add categories like health care so consumers have even more information about the important hiring decisions before them.
And there’s the challenge of balancing a professional and personal life.  Like other working mothers know, that’s one of the more challenging issues.”

SM – What’s your advice for other women who are toying with the idea of starting their own business?

AH – “My standard answer here is to objectively analyze your idea.  Is it sound?  Does it fill a need? Do the groundwork research necessary to develop a business plan and attract supporters.  Then, if you’re sure your idea is a good one and that you have something valuable to offer, go after it and don’t give up!

The biggest reward is knowing that Angie’s List is filling a real consumer need and helping its members get the best value for their hard-earned dollars.”

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BlogHer.com

Founded by Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer is an online network of thousands of blogs which collectively reach an audience of nearly 40 million women.   As such it’s an invaluable platform and voice for women as well as a source for information, inspiration and celebration of all things female.

See Magazine – What gave the three of you the business idea?

BlogHer – “We launched the first BlogHer Conference in 2005 to answer a question that needed to die.  Namely “Where are all the women who blog?”  There was this assumption that women weren’t blogging, or would never adopt social media in large numbers.  Of course now everyone knows that was a total fallacy…women are the drivers behind most social media engagement today.  But in 2005, it was still radical to champion women as early adopters of technology.  We like to say that when we started BlogHer we weren’t a for-profit;  we weren’t a non-profit;  we were just “three chicks with credit cards” who had an idea for a conference to bring together, and make visible, women who blog.  After the first sold-out conference, we asked the community where they wanted us to go next.  The feedback was pretty clear:  We want more events;  we want a place to find each other every day online;  we want a business model.  That’s when we decided to form the company with a mission to create opportunities for exactly that.”

SM – Did you have all of the knowledge/skills you needed to start when you stareted?  If not, how did you handle that?

BH – “Luckily we came from very different backgrounds and brought highly complimentary skills to the partnership.  Elisa Camahort Page came from the world of high tech, and had managed large P&Ls and operational processes.  Jory Des Jardins was a writer who came from publishing, with a focus on business development.  Lisa Stone was a journalist and editorial mastermind who had been in on the early days of developing and forming business models around online community for women.  We had each been involved with early stage companies, but that being said, we certainly didn’t know it all.  Seeking mentorship and knowing when to hire outside resources was key.  We worked with lawyers from the time we formed our initial LLC;  hired a part-time contract CFO almost immediately after starting to generate revenues;  and we invested early in sales leaders who had grown revenues far beyond where we were.  When we were ready to raise funding, our buttoned-up processes and practices gave us added credibility and value.”

SM – What’s your advice for other women who are toying with the idea of starting their own business?

BH – “First, DO IT.  Whether you start by doing it on the side, or dedicating yourself to it full-time.  You owe it to yourself to pursue your idea.  Sometimes the biggest risk is not taking a risk.  Starting and running a business delivers the kind of experience that usually enhances your credibility, even if your idea ends up not working!  Second, as a company formed and still managed by three partners, our second piece of advice is always find great partners!

Entrepreneuship can be a lonely business.  It’s invaluable to have partners with whom you can test ideas, share the load and celebrate the victories.”

Diary Of A Tech Startup Gal by Monica Birdsong

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Help Or The Liberty Bell?

“I’m working on a blog,” my I-haven’t-seen-you-in-three-years-but-I’m-in-your-city-so-let’s-get-dinner-friend, Jess*, mentioned casually.

Ah, the pitch. I wasn’t expecting this from her but it seems that all my friends are doing this to me lately.

The internet has opened up so many ways to make money that everyone thinks it is easy. You can start your own blog, create an ecommerce site to sell products, build software, write and sell books on Amazon, video your way to YouTube fame, sell your pictures on stock photo sites, build iPhone apps, freelance using one of the many services, scam young innocent people out of their money, and about a billion other things.

As an internet entrepreneur, people ask me for help. I get it. I’ve experimented with most of these ideas and have become an expert on a couple of them. If I were someone else, I’d ask me too.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

So I try to help. When people say things like “I’m working on a blog” I ask about 100 questions. Mostly marketing questions because that’s what people don’t consider. They are so daunted by the technology of the web, they never stop to consider basic questions. Why would someone read your blog instead of a competitor? How much time do you want to spend working on it? What do you want the site to look like? Is it blue? Purple? Have videos?How will you get eyeballs on your site? Have you written anything yet?

Most of the responses are “I hadn’t thought of that”. During those questions, I’m really watching to see how you react to see if I will offer help. The person is either firing up to learn or wilting back into the dark shadows of nothingville.

Jess continued, “I stared a blog on XYZ site and am really confused. I tried setting up Google AdWords too but I don’t think I did it right.”

“Have you written any posts?”

“I’ve written about 70 articles so far,” Jess replied. She could answer most of my other questions too and I could see the drive in her eyes.

Nice! Here’s a fired up girl. She’s started on her own, written a lot of content, and is trying to make sense of stuff. She’s taking actions and is lost in the big, bad internet overwhelm.

My response now? “Let me help you! If you want to monetize your site, you really should own your own domain,” I reply.

“How do I do that?” Jen inquired.

“You just have to buy it. They’re about $20 a year if you want a private one. Then you’ll need hosting.”

“Hosting?” Jen looked confused.

I explained, “Yes, hosting is where the files that make up your website live. It’s almost just like your computer but it has special software so that it can share files on the web.”

“Got it. Where do I get that?”

“The same place you get your domain. Don’t worry, I’ll help you get all set up and you’ll be publishing those articles in no time. You’ll need to learn about search engine optimization, called SEO, and some other stuff but just take it one step at a time and you’ll do great.”

So, I helped her buy her first domain name and get a WordPress blog installed with a pretty theme. I also helped her think of different ways to monetize that would be more effective than AdWords. For me, that didn’t take much time but for her, it was a HUGE help.

I love helping people that help themselves. However, I politely say no to anyone that isn’t taking action on their own or can’t come up with intelligent answers to basic business questions. This can be tricky… some people appear to be in action but they really are just fakers. They talk a good game but never take meaningful action. These people make me want to smack them upside the head with the Liberty Bell.

But for the few that get it, I always offer help. It’s overwhelming and scary to start something new. Anything new. From salsa dancing to guitar playing, to the next step in a business. To succeed you must TAKE ACTION.I’ve learned that when I take action towards a goal, help appears in the most mysterious ways. When I’m helping others, sometimes I’m that mysterious way.

*Name changed

Heads Up: Politics by Shara Krogh

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The Uncertain Fate of Women In Afghanistan

American troops are rapidly exiting the Middle East, with all combat troops scheduled to withdraw by the end of 2014. What effect will this withdrawal have on women in Afghanistan? This article will provide an overview of women’s rights in Afghanistan since the rise and fall of the Taliban.*

The history of Afghanistan is vast and complex. Traditionally it was a nation ruled by tribes, which were predominantly controlled by men. Women had very few opportunities to publicly express themselves and were submissive in society. Throughout the 20th century, Afghanistan made great strides in terms of rights for women. The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) was founded by Meena Keshwar Kamal in 1977. Tragically, she was assassinated in 1987. RAWA still operates in the Afghan region today and describes itself as, “the oldest political/social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy and women’s rights in fundamentalism-blighted Afghanistan.”

The Soviet Union had a long history of aiding Afghanistan by supporting communist regimes that controlled the nation. During the 1970s and 1980s, the nation was ruled by a communist group called the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. During this period, some women were afforded the opportunity to seek higher education and pursue careers. However, as this elite group of women gained noticeable freedoms, the majority of Afghan women were excluded from such opportunities and lived in deplorable conditions. From 1979-1988, the Soviet Union aided the communist group in a quest to maintain control of the region and annihilate the Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen (groups of Sunni Muslims who joined together to fight against the Soviets). The Soviets withdrew military forces by 1989, but warring continued between Afghan factions and an exceptionally bloody civil war ensued. After an attempted overthrow by the Mujahideen in 1992, multiple Afghan factions battled continuously for power and control of the nation. During that time, the Mujahideen forced women to wear veils in public. Many women were raped and publicly beaten. Ultimately, an extremist Islamic faction called the Taliban was victorious. Upon taking control of Afghanistan in 1996, women’s rights were completely suppressed and they lost many of the privileges they had gained during previous decades. The Taliban ruled by militant force and imposed an exceptionally strict version of Sharia law on Afghan citizens, which many Muslims claim is a perversion of Islam. Women could not travel in public without being escorted by a male relative. They were banned from driving cars and beaten if their attire violated the Taliban dress-code. This meant that women were required to cover their bodies with a burqa at all times in public. Women were also forbidden to work and were denied schooling, education and healthcare.

In September 2001, shortly after the terrorist attack on The World Trade Center, former President George Bush launched his military objectives for “Operation Enduring Freedom.” One of his stated objectives was to expel the Taliban regime and annihilate the terrorist Al Qaeda organization, which operated from Afghanistan. The United States was joined in this effort by the armed forces of the United Kingdom, Australia and the United Islamic Front (an Afghan coalition aimed at fighting against the Taliban). The invasion began on October 7, 2001 and the Taliban was successfully removed from power within a few short months.

Photo: The Advocacy Project

Since that time, Afghan women have made tremendous strides. In 2004, Hamid Karzai was elected President of Afghanistan and a Constitution was adopted which established important rights for women. Chapter 2 states, “The citizens of Afghanistan – whether man or woman – have equal rights and duties before the law.” However, Chapter 1 of the Constitution states, “In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.” Thus, depending on which “interpretation” of Islamic law is adhered to by government officials and which laws are enforced by Afghan police, women could easily be deprived of basic human rights.

Oxfam, an international organization dedicated to human rights, outlined some “key gains” for Afghan women that occurred since the 2001 U.S. led invasion. Specifically, the first female Governor and first female Mayor were appointed to the Bamiyan and Nili Daikundi provinces, respectively. In addition, Afghan women are now afforded the opportunity to participate in Community Development Councils, which provide them with a formal voice at the community level. In 2008, the Afghan government developed a National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan (NAPWA), which outlined a plan to accomplish gender equality. However, according to Oxfam, in spite of women gaining much ground since the Taliban was removed, there has been a recent decline in overall advances. Oxfam found that 87% of Afghan women have reported experiencing physical, sexual or psychological violence, including forced marriages. Oxfam also reported that although multiple laws have been passed to address abuses against women, they are seldom enforced. For example, the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act (EVAW) was passed in 2010, but statistics indicate that the law has only been used to prosecute less than 10% of reported gender-based crimes. Even worse, many Afghan women are simply unaware that laws exist to protect them. According to Oxfam, mistreatment of women is common in Afghanistan and could be rooted in long established customs and traditions. Recent acts of violence against women include:

In the province of Kunduz, an Afghan man allegedly murdered his wife for giving birth to a third daughter, instead of a son. The man, who was a member of the local Afghan militia, was allegedly assisted by his mother in choking his wife to death.

In the same region, one Afghan woman, along with her parents and siblings, was doused with acid because her parents refused to agree to her marrying a certain Afghan man.

In the province of Baghlan, a young Afghan bride reported that she was beaten and tortured by her mother-in-law. She claims that her in-laws tried to force her into prostitution and when she refused, she was locked in a bathroom for 6 months and subjected to mental and physical torture.

Photo: DVDISHUB

Oxfam also reported that there are fewer women in public jobs and political positions now than in 2004. Moreover, the current Afghan government is unstable and local law enforcement may not view women’s rights as a priority. Although the Taliban publicly claims that it is interested in supporting women’s rights, Oxfam reported that most Afghans have doubts about the Taliban’s sincerity. According to Oxfam, the Taliban has traditionally been a religious power, seemingly incapable of respecting the rights of women. Additionally, the Afghan government has a history of placing political objectives above women’s rights. If the Taliban is given a portion of authority, or exercises strong influence over the government, the progress women have made during the past 10 years could be abrogated.

On a positive note, the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council celebrated its 10th anniversary last month. The organization was created by President Bush in 2002 and is homed at Georgetown University. Its purpose is to support Afghan women and children. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former First Lady Laura Bush attended the celebration and voiced their concerns for Afghan women. Ms. Clinton said, “We will not waiver on this point — any peace that is attempted to be made by excluding more than half the population is no peace at all. It is a figment that will not last.” In spite of Ms. Clinton’s strong public statement of support, this pressing question remains: which interpretation of Islamic law will prevail once western forces evacuate the territory?

Most Americans are so far removed from brutal regimes such as the Taliban, it is difficult to comprehend the concept of a chaotic, militant government, where citizens are publicly oppressed by fear and violence. American women are fortunate to live in a nation where they possess defined rights that are staunchly protected by the law. Unlike Afghanistan, and many foreign nations around the globe, women’s rights in America are not easily surrendered to brute force.

Photo: US Embassy, Kabul Afghanistan

 

With privilege comes responsibility. In order to develop a full appreciation for the stability of our system of government, American women should take the time to understand other systems and grasp world affairs. In 2001, American-led forces ousted a fierce regime in Afghanistan that treated women in a barbaric fashion. Now those same women face an uncertain future. As western troops withdraw and extremist regimes vie for power, the fate of Afghan women hangs in the balance.

To learn more about the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council and what you can do to help, visit: http://gucchd.georgetown.edu/76315.html. For more information about the plight of women in Afghanistan, visit: http://www.afghan-web.com/woman/

 

* Some of the information contained in this article was obtained from the 2011 Oxfam Briefing Paper entitled, “A Place at the Table, Safeguarding Women’s Rights in Afghanistan.” See www.oxfam.org

 

Next month’s article will analyze the constitutional challenges to the Arizona Immigration Law.