A glimpse at the many women fearlessly forging ahead whose courage to stand up empowered so many more to do the same.
Throughout history, progress for women has occurred because so many before us have paved the way. In order to do that, many women had to risk life and reputation, status and security. From sports icons to female activists whose names may or may not be familiar, these women have shaken things up and changed history for the better.
This series shines a spotlight on different women who have been categorized as those misbehaving by their male counterparts and those threatened by their tenacity. The women and movements below have, and will continue to, shed some positivity, strength and change into the world by making a massive impact on society through real action.
These women, like many of us, were “well-behaved” at one time, but then found their voice and got loud (and maybe a bit unruly), and honestly, that’s what we love most about them.
Amanda Gorman | Changemaker 1
By Amy B Wang and Stephanie Merry in Washington Post, Lifestyles
Yes, we have a new president, but the real news is that America has fallen in love with a poet named Amanda Gorman. The 22-year-old Harvard graduate, who describes herself as “a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,” captivated the nation on Wednesday when she stood on the inauguration dais and recited her poem “The Hill We Climb”.
Accolades poured in from millions of new fans, including Barack Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hillary Clinton, who tweeted that she can’t wait for the young poet to run for president in 2036. Gorman was wearing jewelry from Oprah: a pair of earrings and a birdcage ring, an allusion to “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou, who performed at the 1993 inauguration.
When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
We the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes we are far from polished.
Far from pristine.
But that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,
that even as we grieved, we grew,
that even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried,
that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade.
But in all the bridges we’ve made,
that is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb.
If only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth,
in this faith we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption
we feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter.
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert,
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was,
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation,
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain,
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy,
and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.
We will rise from the windswept northeast,
where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
If only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
Shared by our syndication partner, Shiner Antiorio
Abby Wambach is a soccer legend, a speaker, an activist, and a New York Times best-selling author of the books Forward, A Memoir, and Wolfpack.
After literally shattering every soccer goal-scoring record, held by a man or woman on the planet, Abby Wambach retired at the age of 32. She was honored for her retirement at a glittering Los Angeles banquet where she shared the stage with sports icons, Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning. It was just the three of them! She said she was over the moon—so grateful to be recognized and sharing the stage with such incredible sports legends.
But then, as she left the stage she came to the stark realization that the three of them were leaving to very, very different retirements. Kobe and Peyton were thinking about how they’d spend their millions, and yet Abby was wondering how she would pay her mortgage. It occurred to her then that while she was better off than many, she simply hadn’t been paid what she was worth. And she felt she had herself to blame.
Women must stop accepting failure as our destruction and start using failure as our fuel.
– Abby Wambach
As the highest goal scorer of all times (again, for both men and women) she had been offered a seat at the table, but she didn’t do much with it. She didn’t say enough. She didn’t demand enough. And now she was left to fend for herself.
After that experience, she dedicated her life to making sure that wouldn’t happen to any other woman again.
YWCA 21 Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge
What is the 21 Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge?
Many people are becoming newly aware of how systemic racism and violence are impacting people of color. Even if you are new to the conversation, that is OK. Our 21 Day Challenge is designed to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership.
Participants who sign up for the Challenge will receive daily tasks via email to help foster their understanding and awareness, with activities such as reading an article, listening to a podcast, or reflecting on personal experience. If you’ve already completed this challenge with us in the past please know that our challenge is designed to be taken multiple times by selecting different daily challenges in order to expand what you have previously learned.
Our challenge began on March 1.
Join our newsletter to learn about the next round and the most up-to-date happenings of our organization.
Racial equity work is consistently underfunded. In order for organizations like ours to continue to provide high-quality programming like our 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge, please consider contributing $21 to sustain this work. Your help towards the cost of creating and hosting the challenge assures that resources like this are widely accessible to all, and helps advance our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.
ERA Redux: Will It Pass in 2021? Only a constitutional amendment can truly protect women’s rights
With the election of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, we enter into a critical time for the achievable passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). With the House controlled by Democrats and the Senate split with a tie-breaking vote by VP Harris, the ERA can finally have its day for consideration. However, the long overdue passage of an amendment that would write women’s equal rights into the Constitution has some hurdles to leap before becoming law.
During the Trump administration, first Nevada in 2017, then Illinois in 2018, and then Virginia in 2020 all ratified the ERA, giving the amendment the 38 states needed for becoming the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. Normally, once ratification is attained, the National Archivist then publishes the new amendment. However, Congress had placed a timeline for passage of the amendment that expired in 1982. The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) directed the National Archivist to not publish the amendment because the OLC had determined that the amendment was dead due to the expired deadline. Additionally, five of the states that had ratified the amendment have decided that they want to rescind their ratification, although there are legal questions around whether or not this is allowed. READ MORE HERE
Notes from the Field: Intimidation, creativity and determination in a time of transition
By Maddie Thompson in GLOBAL SISTERS REPORT
“Down the hill” is a phrase I frequently use to distinguish my work as a volunteer in Collier High School and in the Collier Transition Program.
Collier High School is a state-approved, private, nonprofit school for students with disabilities whose needs cannot be met within the public school system. A strong academic program and social services department work together to provide students with an environment for social and emotional growth. Collier provides small classes, serving students of all levels of academic ability and a wide range of IQs. Students with symptoms of depression, anxiety, isolation, defiant behavior, low motivation and school refusal as well as mood, attention or adjustment difficulties have all flourished in Collier’s programming.
Pioneering Journalist Betsy Wade Remembered as ‘a No-Nonsense Heroine’
The Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), the networking and professional organization for women journalists, was on the eve of its first virtual national conference in early December when news broke of the death of Betsy Wade.
JAWS leaders went into action. Chicago-based writer and editor Suzy Schultz began scouring print and broadcast interviews with and about Betsy. JAWS President Mira Lowe urged former JAWS presidents and board members to send in videos of their own memories. Dozens did.
By the second day, an appreciation of Betsy went live for the more than 200 journalists attending the JAWS camp, as the annual conference is known.
Gladys West: The Hidden Figure Who Helped Invent GPS
Growing up on a farm in Virginia during segregation, West knew education would be her means of escape. But she didn’t know her quiet work on a naval base would change lives around the world
by Aamna Mohdin
Gladys West knew from a young age that she didn’t want to be a farmer. But the mathematician, born in 1930 in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, still had to help harvest crops on her family’s small farm. The hard work started before daybreak and lasted well into the blistering heat of the afternoon. She hated the dirt but, while she worked, she kept her mind on the building behind the trees at the end of the farm. It was her school, and even then she knew it would be her ticket to freedom.