8 March is International Women's Day. It's a holiday here in Laos, where the men are supposed to cook and clean and take care of the women for the day. Today many of the hospitals and school have programs about the rights of women, with skits and music followed by lunch.
In honor of the day for remembering famous women, I wrote up this list of known and lesser known women - politicians, diplomats, scientists, artists and authors. Some are famous; some I have never heard of, but it's a day to research and think about how the rights of women had to be fought for. For many of these women, being your own person was way ahead of its time.
1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author now living in the US. Her book Half of a Yellow Sun starts just before the Biafran conflict and follows the lives of three characters as their lives and ideals are touched by the war. This book won the Orange Award for first novel. Her original short story is here
2. Zora Neale Hurston
Raised in Florida, Hurston later moved to NYC to study anthropology under Franz Boaz and Ruth Benedict. Doing field work in African-American folk lore, she later became a writer exploring these themes in fiction. Her most famous work was Their Eyes were Watching God. As a black woman, she herself was between worlds. Her writing did not appeal to whites but her African-American objected to her accepting assistance from outside the community. She returned to Florida and died in poverty. The author Alice Walker rediscovered her works.
Philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, living in Alexandria, Egypt between 370 to 415 AD. She was the first known woman involved in the sciences, and believed that scientific principles rather than mysticism explained the natural world. Because of her radical views which offended the church, she was killed by a mob while driving her chariot. Not much is known about her because her written works were destroyed with the library in Alexandria.
4. Pauline Kael
Famous film critic for the New Yorker magazine.
5. Sofia Kovalevskaya
(1850 - 1891) While many women take it for granted that they can study and attend university, this was not the cultural norm in Sofia's Kovalevskaya's early life. Her father allowed her to study math but when he refused to allow her to study abroad (at that time Russian universities denied admission to women), she married to be allowed to travel to Germany with her husband. Studying abroad was still difficult, but she eventually became the first woman to teach in a European University and the first woman to be on the editorial board of a mathematical journal.
6. Doris Lessing
Writer, social critic, and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. Although her most famous work was The Golden Notebook, she also wrote short stories and science fiction. Her work explores contemporary life and transitions. I remember seeing a YouTube video of her being told she had won the Nobel Prize - like "so what?" Trying to write more about this amazing woman and author would be too difficult - so I won't try. Look her up on the web and read her works. Doris LessingQuotes
A mystery woman, who married the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) and started the cult of sun worship. I think most people know her name more than that of her husbands, from the art that survives of her image. She lived at the time of the Eighteen Dynasty, about 1400 BC.
8. Cixi (or Tz'u-hsi or Hsiao-ch'in)
(1835 - 1908) The minor concubine of the Chinese emperor Hsien-feng. The bio on the about.com site is very exciting and full of intrigue.
9. Wangari Maathai
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Born in 1940, she has been a major figure in Kenyan environmental movement, forming the 'Green Belt' movement to plant trees to deal withKenya's deforestation. She fought hard all her life to study - first to even get through school, then to study in the US and finally to receive her PhD in Kenya. She was impressed for her views in 1991 and suffered head injuries while taking part in a demonstration. In 2002, she was finally elected to the Kenyan Parliament.
10. Olga of Kiev
890 - 969 and known as the founder of Russian Christianity.
11. Eudora Welty
Somehow I have never read anything by Eudora Welty. Her entry here is to remind me that I should.
12. Kiran Desai is an Indian author now living in the US. Her first book, Hullaballoo in the Guava Orchard established her reputation as an author. Her second book, The Inheritance of Loss, set in the hills of northern India is a meditation on change and loss and won the Booker Prize.
13. Emma Goldman
Anarchist, women's rights advocate and writer, Emma Goldman was born in Lithuania and migrated to the US to work in the textile trade. She became an outspoken member of the anarchist movement and served time in jail for resistance against the draft laws. After WWI and the Russian revolution, she moved to Russia but became disillusioned with the Soviet system. She remained in Europe.
Links about famous women:
about.com has a nice women's biographies page.
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
View More Thursday Thirteen Participants