Patty Craig: A Slice of Time
I totally overlooked International Women’s Day on March 8th. It’s not a holiday or a celebration that is on my radar. However, I do respect the accomplishments of many people. Among those are seven women who have lived a part of their lives during my lifetime. Their accomplishments (information from Wikipedia) have in some ways improved life outside their personal circles.
Mother Teresa (Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, 1910-1997) was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. In 1950, Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity. The congregation manages homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. It also runs soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children's and family counselling programs, as well as orphanages and schools. Members take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and also profess a fourth vow to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor." Mary Teresa received a number of honors, including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She was canonized in 2016, and the anniversary of her death (September 5th) is her feast day. A controversial figure during her life and after her death, Mother Teresa was admired by many for her charitable work. Like many church leaders, she was praised and criticized on various counts.
Irena Sendler (Irena Stanislawa Sendler, 1910-2008) was a Polish humanitarian, social worker, and nurse who served in the Polish Underground Resistance during World War II in German-occupied Warsaw. With dozens of others, Sendler assisted in smuggling Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and saving them from the Holocaust. In October 1943, she was arrested, but managed to hide the list of the names and locations of the rescued Jewish children. Withstanding torture and imprisonment, Sendler never revealed anything about her work or the location of the saved children. In post-war communist Poland, Sendler continued her social activism but also pursued a government career. In 1965, she was recognized by the State of Israel as Righteous Among the Nations. Among the many honors Sendler received were the Gold Cross of Merit granted her in 1946 for the saving of Jews and the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest honor, awarded late in Sendler's life for her wartime humanitarian efforts.
Rosa Parks (Rosa Louise McCauley, 1913-2005) was a prominent female in the civil rights movement. In December 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat in the “colored section” of a bus to a white man and was charged with civil disobedience. Her case became bogged down in the state courts, but the federal Montgomery bus lawsuit Browder v. Gayle resulted in a November 1956 decision that bus segregation was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although Parks was widely honored in later years, she suffered for her action: she was fired from her job and received death threats for years afterwards. Parks received national recognition, including the NAACP's 1979 Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. Upon her death in 2005, she was the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.
Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) was the British Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979-1990, Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975-1990. She was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and the first woman to hold that office. She was first elected Member of Parliament for Finchley in 1959. Thatcher served as Secretary of State for Education and Science from 1970-1974. In 1975, she become Leader of the Opposition, the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom. Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasized deregulation (particularly of the financial sector), the privatization of state-owned companies, and reducing the power and influence of trade unions. After retiring from the Commons in 1992, she was given a life peerage as Baroness Thatcher which entitled her to sit in the House of Lords. Though a controversial figure in British politics, Thatcher is viewed favorably in historical rankings of British prime ministers.
Sandra Day O’Connor (1930-Present) was a lawyer, a celebrated judge and eventually the first female justice on the Supreme Court, serving from 1981-2006. She most frequently sided with the Court's conservative bloc. She often wrote concurring opinions that limited the reach of the majority holding. O’Connor faced some practical concerns, including the lack of a woman's restroom near the Courtroom. In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second female Supreme Court justice. O'Connor said she felt relief from the media clamor when she was no longer the only woman on the court. In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Melinda Gates (1964-Present) is a philanthropist and a former general manager at Microsoft, the world’s largest computer software company. In 2000, she and her husband Bill Gates co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates' experience in a male-dominated workplace at Microsoft inspired her to encourage more women in the computing field. As of 2014, Bill and Melinda had donated $28 billion to the Foundation. In 2015, Gates founded Pivotal Ventures as a separate, independent organization to identify, help develop and implement innovative solutions to problems affecting U.S. women and families. A Pivotal Ventures statement: “We believe that removing the barriers that hold people back improves life for all.” Gates uses family resources to improve lives.
Inna Braverman (1986-Present) is an Israeli entrepreneur and businesswoman. She was born in Ukraine just two weeks before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and suffered respiratory arrest due to the pollution in the region. Her mother, a nurse, came to her crib and gave her a mouth to mouth resuscitation, saving her life. Braverman is the Co-Founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power, a renewable energy company with a patented technology for the generation of clean electricity from ocean and sea waves. Braverman established Eco Wave Power at the age of 24, and under her leadership, Eco Wave Power installed its first grid-connected wave energy array in Gibraltar, secured a projects pipeline of 254MW, and became the first Israeli company to ever list on Nasdaq Stockholm. Braverman has been recognized by many and is the winner of the United Nations “Global Climate Action Award.” Braverman is still young; it will be interesting to follow her career.
International Women's Day is a celebration of the achievements of women around the world. Interestingly, Mother Teresa said, “God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.” These seven women were faithful – doing their part – to improve life outside their personal circles.