Five things Friday roundup: Women’s History Month

— Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

My calendar tells me that March is Women’s History Month. Like other oppressed and marginalized groups in society, we get a month. Yay! Hopefully our month also comes with correcting the wage gap (which is highly driven by our ability to bear and take care of children), crediting our achievements from the past and giving women and girls equal opportunity to education, among other things that women and girls currently still lack in most societies around the world. 

Despite not being convinced that “having a month” does much for the advancement of women’s rights and equality, I will take this as an opportunity to highlight some women whom I believe show resilience, strength, power and capacity, and deserve our admiration.

Now, I would never say women are better than men. We are all humans, and we all fall short of God’s and each other’s grace at times. It is important not to ever idealize anyone, but to see others’ good qualities as an example of how we want to shape ourselves.

1. Thanadelthur

She was a Dene (Indigenous Canadian) woman who helped expand the English fur trade in the early 1700s. But her greatest achievement, by many accounts, was making peace between her people, the Dene, and their tribal enemies, the Cree. According to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada: “Fluent in Cree, English, and her own Athapaskan language, she was a skilled interpreter and negotiator who helped establish trade relations between the Dene and the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC).” In one important expedition to reach Dene territory, due to severe weather conditions and lack of food, Thanadelthur was the only one to be able to continue to the final destination making the trip a success. 

2. Lili Elbe

You may have seen the movie The Danish Girl (2000), which is loosely based on Elbe’s life. Nevertheless, like most of Hollywood movies, it is not exactly how her life played out. Britannica tells us that Elbe was a “Danish painter who was assigned male at birth . . . and underwent the world’s first documented sex reassignment surger[ies].” She passed away after the fourth (or fifth) surgery due to complications in her recovery (possibly organ rejection). At the time of her death, she was engaged to a man and had been painting under her new legally recognized name.

3. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)

AOC needed to make the list! She is young: the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress. She is smart: she graduated from Boston University cum laude with a double major in international relations and economics. She is Latina: born in the Bronx, N.Y., her mom was born in Puerto Rico and her dad was from a Puerto Rican family, making her a Boricua!

4. Tarana Burke

Although her current role is as senior director of Girls for Gender Equity in Brooklyn, you may already know Burke for another one of her projects: the #MeToo movement. According to a biography, “Burke’s hashtag has been used more than 19 million times on Twitter alone . . . and was named Person of the Year by TIME magazine in 2017.” Burke is a native of Brooklyn and a survivor of child abuse and sexual assault. Despite the many hardships in her life, she has dedicated decades to educate and help others in a compassionate and empathetic way.

5. Leymah Gbowee                                                      

I feel particularly honored to have had Gbowee be my commencement speaker at Eastern Mennonite University back in 2014. She is an alumna who holds a master of arts degree from EMU in conflict transformation. She also holds a Nobel Peace Prize. Gbowee received the prestigious award in 2011 “for leading a nonviolent movement that brought together Christian and Muslim women to play a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s devastating, 14-year civil war in 2003. This historic achievement paved the way for the election of Africa’s first female head of state, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.”

Andrea De Avila

Andrea De Avila is an ordained minister with a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Canadian Mennonite University. Originally from Read More

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