Mothers Day: Strong Women Raise Strong Women
Written by Hannah Harmison
On Mother’s Day, we celebrate the incredible women who brought us into this world and shaped who we became. Moms are strong; moms are tough. Every mom is a badass! Today, let’s celebrate some strong women who are changing the world while raising the next generation of driven, world-shaking women.
Women across the globe are leading efforts to change the world for the better. From the women highlighted in 2019’s Academy Award-winning film Period. End of Sentence, who are still leading a sexual revolution around menstrual health in India, to the trans women who organized Ecuador’s first , strong women fight for intersectional feminist action in the face of violence to make the world a better place for our daughters.
Strong women come in all shapes and sizes, and there are myriad of ways a woman can be powerful. From art to science to humanitarianism to politics, influential women are all around us. Kamala Harris, our first female vice president, certainly has powerful women all around her, especially in her own family.
Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, immigrated to the United States in 1958 to pursue her master’s degree in Nutrition and Endocrinology at the University of California. After earning her PhD at UC Berkeley, Shyamala went on to serve on the President’s Special Commission on Breast Cancer as one of America’s leading biomedical researchers. Her research on breast tissue hormone responsiveness advanced our understanding of the development and treatment of breast cancer.
Happy Mother’s Day to Kamala Harris! Apart from being the first woman of color to serve as vice president, Harris is a step-mom to two kids, Ella and Cole Emhoff, who call her Momala. When a New York Times reporter asked Ella what it was like being in a room with her extended family, Ella responded, “It’s like you get the most confident, strong-personality people—a lot of them being women—and it’s like you’re layering all of them on top of each other … So, it’s a lot of really enthusiastic yelling.” In the same interview, she characterized her dad and step-mom’s strict parenting style, saying, “They’re definitely … they’re strong.”
With the nation’s eyes suddenly on her, Ella is using her newfound platform to make a difference herself. A 21-year-old art student majoring in apparel and textiles at Parsons School of Design, she’s making waves in the fashion world, where she is a vocal proponent of sustainable slow fashion and body inclusivity. Her Instagram is a colorful gallery of handmade and upcycled clothes, most of which she made herself. She sets a poignant example of how fun and fashionable sustainable clothing can be.
Strong women raise strong women by leading by example. Ilhan Omar, the first naturalized citizen, Somali-American and Muslim woman in Congress, empowered her daughter, Isra Hirsi, to become the co-founder of the US Youth Climate Strike.
Happy Mother’s Day to Ilhan Omar! A woman who knows what it means to empower other women, she was the director of policy initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network in 2015, where she advocated for women from East Africa to take on civic and political leadership roles. Today, she goes to work every day to fight for a better future for all women in the face of constant death threats. If that’s not bravery, what is?
Vogue named Omar and Isra one of “five families who are changing the world as we know it” in February 2018—and for good reason! While Omar shakes up Capitol Hill, Isra leads American youth in waking up the old folks leaving behind a dangerous climate. Hirsi coordinated the organization of hundreds of student-led strikes across the United States on March 15 and May 3, 2019. In 2020, she was named in Fortune‘s 40 Under 40 Government and Politics list and placed on BET’s “Future 40” list.
Have you seen Isra’s cute TikToks with her mom? No matter how world-changing your mom is, she’s never too cool to tease on the internet.
Every mother wants her daughter to grow into a confident, capable young lady, and Amal Clooney is no exception. In 2017, Clooney had twins, Alexander and Ella. In an interview with at the time, her husband, George Clooney, described Amal as “an Olympic athlete when she’s around Ella and Alexander because she does everything so beautifully.”
Will the next Olympic games feature juggling? Amal is a mom of 4-year-old twins juggling a career as a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and a full-time job as one of the world’s most notable humanitarians, and she hasn’t dropped a ball yet. In her nearly 20 years as a human rights lawyer, she has been awarded United Nations Correspondents Association Global Citizen of the Year (2018), the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award (2020), the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Humanitarian Award (2020), and she even had an award named in her honor by the British monarchy, the Amal Clooney Award, to celebrate “incredible young women” (2019). She also co-founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice to globally advance justice in courtrooms, communities and classrooms (2016) and served as the special envoy on media freedom by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2019).
Where did she get the drive to do all that? She got it from her mama! Amal Clooney’s mother, Baria Alamuddin, is an internationally acclaimed journalist best known for her in-depth interviews with heads of state. The lifelong champion of women’s rights has written extensively on the evolving status of women in Saudi Arabian society.
In a 2020 interview with , Alamuddin discussed her recent article “The Future is Young and Female.” She praised strong women in her home country, saying, “I’m very, very proud of the Lebanese women, especially these days when they are in the streets. They’re leading protests, organizing, writing, doing a lot of the work.” Baria told EuroNews her career was influenced by her own mother, who was an outspoken advocate for women’s education and empowerment despite the barriers at the time. Nearly 30 years ago, in an interview with Naim Attallah for the book, Alamuddin noted: “The biggest influence in my life up to now has been my mother. She’s the image I always try to follow because she was among the very few educated women of her time.”
Does little Ella come from a long line of kick-ass women or what?
Happy Mother’s Day to Amal and Alamuddin! In an interview with “At some point, I was told that I should lose the baby. I said no. I kept on having these dreams in which I would see her face and how she was going to look.” When she was born, Alamuddin said, she was “exactly as I saw her.” Her baby girl was named Amal—Arabic for “hope.” During the Lebanese Civil War, when Amal was only 2 years old, the family fled Lebanon for Britain.around the time Amal gave birth to her own children, Alamuddin discussed her own painful experience giving birth to Amal. A condition known as placenta previa caused her to be hospitalized for the last two months of pregnancy.
Our daughters embody our hope for the future, as our mothers embody the lessons in love and leadership women have learned across generations. There is strength in hope as there is strength in love, and more women are becoming leaders every day. For that, we thank our mothers.
Happy Mother’s Day to every woman out there who is empowering the next generation, proving every single day that strong women raise strong women, and they always have.
Social media links
Below are some more social media links worth exploring by Kamala, Ilhan, and Amal.