March, this year is celebrated as “International Women’s History Month” so here’s a post celebrating some of the great woman of this world’s women, in total; two from history, two from the present, and two+ fictional characters from the future.
Anjezē Gonxhe Bojaxhiu:
The first woman that gets my admiration and accolades is Anjezē Gonxhe Bojaxhiu better known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta or Mother Teresa. Born in Uskup, Kosovo in August 1910, Mother Teresa died on September 5th 1997, aged 87, in Calcutta (Kolkata), India where she made her mark on the world stage and was widely venerated. A consecrated Catholic nun, Mother Teresa dedicated her life to caring for the poor, the indigent and the dying of the Calcutta slums. Founding ‘’The Missionaries of Charity’’, that now has over 4,500 nuns as adherents and operates in some 130 countries; the Order is dedicated to managing homes for those dying of HIV/AIDS, Leprosy and Tuberculosis. The Order also run soup kitchens, pharmaceutical dispensaries, mobile medical clinics, children and family counselling programs, as well as orphanages and schools.
Like all her Order’s members, Mother Teresa took a vow of chastity, poverty, obedience and whole-hearted free service to the poorest of the poor. Despite being the recipient of many accolades and awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize and Canonization by the Catholic Church, Mother Teresa was a divisive figure in both life and death. To rise to such prominence and indeed power in such a patriarchal organization as the Catholic Church required great fortitude, courage, persistence and sheer-bloody-mindedness, which Mother Teresa was said to have had plenty of. Although being greatly admired by all, for her charitable works, she was both praised and criticized for her steadfast opposition to abortion. The poor conditions of some of her houses for the dying were often the butt of many of the criticisms levelled at this amazing woman.
I think, in an incredible life of 87 years, most of it spent living in the most appalling of conditions, alongside the rejects of India’s society, much as her spiritual leader, Jesus Christ had commanded, Mother (or Saint) Teresa epitomizes the strength of character and resolve that is so admirable in women who commit their lives to helping others. She was known to be a pragmatist and had little time for overarching and controlling bureaucracy – and was committed first and above all to those whose needs outweighed her own. She has left a legacy of love, compassion and understanding that we would all be wise to learn from. She wasn’t a woman to self-promote and she did not speak publicly often but when she did, she inspired people in general and women in particular. I’ll leave her today, with one of her most memorable quotes, in my mind: “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving, happier.” Mother Teresa.
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi:
I believe Indira Gandhi deserves her place in women’s history for the amazing feat of leading the world’s most populous democracy for a ten- year period, from 1966 through to 1977 and then again, from January 1980, until her assassination in October 1984. She stands alone as the first and only female Prime Minister of India and the second longest-serving Prime Minister, after her father, Jarwaharlal Nehru.
If two things described Ghandi’s influence on the massive country called India, it could be political inflexibility and her centralisation of power within the country. She was known to be tough and uncompromising as a leader and went to war with Pakistan, supporting the war of Independence by East Pakistan, which was duly won and saw the creation of Bangladesh. This desire to build up the country’s military and influence in the region saw India become the most significant political player in the South Asia region. Despite her successes, she is roundly criticised for her response to public calls for certain regions to break away from India, especially in the north of the country. She instituted a state of Emergency from 1975 to 1977, suspending basic civil liberties and censoring the press. It is now accepted that widespread human rights violations and atrocities occurred during this state of emergency. After winning office again in 1980 in free and fair elections, Ghandi was assassinated by her own bodyguards and Sikh nationalists. This followed a military operation, codenamed “Blue Star” that saw the military, storm the revered Golden Temple of Amritsar to remove the militant Sikh religious leader and his followers. She was succeeded as Prime Minister by her son, Rajiv Ghandi.
Despite the turmoil and troubled times over which Indira Gandhi ruled it is worth noting that her beloved India still came out of the twentieth century, intact, a world power, and still the world’s most populous, functioning democracy and for that alone, she deserves our plaudits and our respect, as not only an outstanding woman but also as an outstanding leader. In 1999 Indira Gandhi was chosen as “Woman of the Millennium: in an online poll run by the BBC.
I’ll leave Indira Ghandi with a quote that I believe summarises her political life. “My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people; those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.” Indira Ghandi.
Theresa Mary May:
Few could argue that this woman has not had a major influence on the future of the United Kingdom, as she has attempted to negotiate BREXIT. World focus and indeed, often ridicule has shone on her. Theresa May has stood tall and proud during these difficult times, refusing to kowtow to scathing attacks on her leadership from the opposition and indeed, it seems, at times, from all sides. She has steadfastly stuck to her belief that her role was to carry out the express wishes of the British people in the referendum and leave the EU with the best deal she could negotiate. You can argue over her negotiating strategy, you can argue over her management and leadership of her party, and of parliament but nobody can argue or deny this woman has stuck to her beliefs and her determination to carry out the wishes of her people.
What an amazing example of determination, resilience and sense of duty she has shown, as she stepped up and took the baton, in what has proven to be an arduous, long and difficult marathon. Her party, the Conservative party [broadly similar to the Republican Party in the US] has historically been split over the IN – OUT European Union issue. Theresa has a minority government so her hands are tied somewhat, whilst she has had to try to balance the opposing fractions and not only the opposing views of her own party but the entire Houses of Parliament [who are in the majority, Remainers (want Britain to stay in the EU) ] and yet deliver the democratic will of the people who voted to Leave.
For her most seemly conduct and endless patience through-out this epic struggle, the outcomes, twists and turns – of which have been described as a constitutional crisis no less, she deserves our utmost respect, admiration and support amidst the noise of personal attacks and vitriol currently circulated against her. She has held fast against all the odds
March 29th 2019 was a historic – [some would say hysterical, given the current state of political play] day in the UK, as this was the day which the UK Parliament agreed by unanimously passing Article 50, that the United Kingdom was due to leave the European Union. This was decided under a process where UK voters had a referendum two years prior to determine whether to Leave [Brexit] or Remain [Stay in as Before] in the European Union, which is a unified co-joining of some 28 countries, under the umbrella of a single trading market, freedom of movement of people and an over-arching legal system [the European Court of Justice] to oversee and harmonise laws/regulations/rights. Rather surprisingly, for some, [not me, as my prophetic instinct and strategic/visionary skills fully kicked in here] after David Cameron called the Referendum, the Leave vote won and the next day David Cameron [Call-me-Dave] an arch-Remainer and several of his key cabinet ministers quit. This left the new leader of the Conservative party, and the new Prime Minister – Theresa May, to take up the poisoned chalice and run with it. To date she has almost been run into the ground. So, regardless of the outcome, IN – OUT or still Shaking-it-All-About, in this Brexit business my heart goes out to Theresa May, who has above all done her very best for her country. Thank you!
May history be kind and may many more females achieve amazing things for us all. Theresa has insulin-dependent diabetes, yet she has shown incredible energy and such a determined spirit that she deserves a huge round of applause. At any rate, I feel she may well yet have the last laugh…
Perhaps no actress more accurately portrayed the role of the tough, independent, and fearless woman, as Sigourney Weaver did, in the Alien franchise, where she played the character of Ellen Ripley. Although Weaver has appeared in over 60 movies, numerous television shows and stage shows, to a generation of young women growing up in the 1980’s it will be as Ellen Ripley, a woman who showed these young ladies just what women were capable of, that she will be most loved, remembered and revered for.
Weaver has had a multitude of nominations and awards heaped on her, including; three Academy Award nominations; three BAFTA Award nominations, including one win, for The Ice Storm; one Critics Choice Award nomination; seven Golden Globe nominations, including two wins, for Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girls; three Emmy Award nominations; three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations; and one Tony Award Nominations. It is not, perhaps for these recognitions of her significant body of work that we should celebrate Sigourney Weaver but perhaps much more so for her longevity in an industry where women are routinely tossed aside when they reach their mid-thirties. Indeed, at age sixty-nine Weaver can still truly be called a leading lady in Hollywood. She has rarely been without work in her entire career and is currently filming or preparing for the long-awaited sequels to Avatar; Avatar 2 and 3.
As a working woman in Hollywood, Weaver has been one of those rare breeds who have been able to keep a celebrity marriage alive and going despite the intense pressures of the industry. Married to stage director, Jim Simpson, since October 1st 1984, the pair have one daughter, Charlotte Simpson. Outside of the movie industry Weaver is probably best known for her work supporting the Dian Fossey Gorilla fund. After making the movie, Gorillas in the Mist which celebrated Fossey’s life’s work, Weaver became involved with the fund, as a fervent environmentalist and is now the fund’s Honorary Chairperson.
She has also used her celebrity to further her belief in other environmental causes. In 2006, at the start of a United Nations General Assembly, she called a news conference to outline the widespread threat to ocean habitats posed by deep-sea trawling. In addition to this she has hosted the annual Gala of the Trickle-Up Program that focuses on those in extreme poverty, mainly women and disabled persons.
In the tough, image-focused industry Sigourney Weaver stands out, as a shining light to us all of what is possible when you have grit and a determination to succeed, without having to surrender your basic principles and humanity on the throne of populism. I salute her as an example to women everywhere.
I recently watched the Imax 3D version of Captain Marvel co-directed by Anna Boden, which was released on International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March 2019, during Woman’s History month which we are celebrating here. This is a great movie which doesn’t rely on romance, but demonstrates diversity of career and race with strong, smart and bold female characters that we get behind. Talk about girl power!
On that note I’d like to introduce my two women of the future – who are fictional characters from my “whodunit” mystery novel, Spirit of Prophecy which is set in 2021. They are Juliet Jermaine and Detective Sergeant Rosetta Barrett.
Juliet Jermaine, it seems, has it all; a beautiful, young, wealthy American woman, living her dream, in the rural English heartland. Juliet has a dashingly handsome fiancée/business partner in Matt Lebaine and is the current Olympic 3-Day-Event champion, with her world-beating horse, Gothic. She is laser-focused on defending her crown at the next Olympics, but it all begins to unravel one typically frosty English morning when Juliet and her teenage stable-hand are out hacking in the country lanes around their stable. What initially appears to be a random road-rage incident has catastrophic consequences. Juliet’s life is flipped upside down in an instant, and how will she cope with the tragedy?
What readers and reviewers particularly like about this character is she is a fiercely determined young lady who knows what she wants from life and is prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve her goals. She is loyal and trusting, but recoils from blow after blow as she subsequently discovers that her trust has been profoundly betrayed. Her loyalties will also be tested when it becomes apparent that in order to pursue her Olympic dream, with her beloved Gothic now gone, she is going to have to hurt and betray a very dear friend in the equestrian community to gain a horse of Olympic stature. Juliet is now in a battle of conscience that must see her decide what her most important priorities are; her success or her values.
To me, Juliet epitomizes the struggle many women daily, perhaps not over life and death issues, as she must, but over choices between good and bad, morality and immorality. As women, we want to succeed, especially in this man’s world we have inherited, but is success to be had at all costs, flinging away those qualities of care, understanding and concern for others? Should we give up those special qualities we possess to compete on an equal footing with the men? Juliet’s sport is one of the very few that allow men and women to compete equally on the international stage, so in that respect Juliet is already at the forefront of women’s equity. She has to make that ultimate decision as to what is more important to her; love and justice or winning? Life is a compromise between competing values and Juliet, like all of us, must make those decisions on her own. That’s why, for me, Juliet deserves her place as a role model for all aspiring young women, in whatever endeavor they undertake. For Carol, Captain Marvel, there’s a movement: #captainmarvelchallenge to encourage young girls to go and see this first female led superhero movie.
Detective Sergeant Rosetta Barrett:
What readers truly love about this character is her complexity and the many faceted roles she must play as first a women detective but also as a psychic detective and a member of an elite inter-governmental body that is charged with handling all things otherworldly, including; psychics, telekinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, witchcraft, aliens, and even time-travel. Rosetta has become deeply involved with EPIS (Elite Paranormal Intelligence Services) in order to “right” historical “wrongs” that now result in murderous karma travelling through the generations to wreak havoc in today’s world. This she does through the facility of Time Travel (Using the T-Portal).
For Rosetta her “gift” of psychic ability has not always seemed like such a gift. It has cost her a marriage to an influential Diplomat, has estranged her from her two children, and opened her up to ridicule from her police colleagues and even her friends. Despite all the pain and angst in her personal life, Rosetta realizes her gift is what makes her able to save lives and to prevent tragedy. She is prepared to put her needs beneath those of the general good and that alone makes her stand out as a great female role-model.
When Rosetta gets some inkling of the tragedy that is about to strike Juliet and her horse, she tries desperately to contact her to abort the planned ride that morning, but is unable to reach her, in part due to the intransigence of AI (Artificial Intelligence) supposedly designed to help humanity, rather than hinder them. Ha-ha! With a road-rage murder on her detective’s plate, Rosetta must work fast to establish a possible link to murderous karma from the past that is playing out today. She and Juliet must find a way to get to the bottom of these crimes without exposing her gifts to the ever-present media.
When Rosetta’s ex-husband becomes a suspect and her son is caught up in the investigation too, by a combination of coincidence and bad luck, Rosetta must make some tough judgement calls about loyalty to her job or to her family. Rosetta is lonely and wants someone to share her life with; someone who understands the stress her gift puts on her. Could she find the love she so craves in the arms of her sweet and understanding boss, Rav Patel, or perhaps the roguishly handsome and ever-charming Irish Traveler, Tommy Rafferty might be the answer?
Detective Sergeant Rosetta Barrett represents the dilemma many working woman experience as they are so often forced to choose between loyalty to their career and their needs versus the needs of their families and loved ones. With the added dimension of her psychic abilities, Rosetta’s courage and determination to do what is right has a message for us all and so I salute her in this International Women’s History Month. She, like all of the women mentioned here are inspirational in their display of strength, perseverance and above all hope.
Whether you agree with my choices or not, is not important, what is important is that we, as women, celebrate, lift-up and encourage each and every one of us to achieve the very best we can be and reach our potential, not only as women, but as human beings.
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Be sure to check out some of our earlier blogs, which you can find here:
Also, please do pop on over to another part of my website and take a look at Spirit of Prophecy. I’m sure you’ll love it. Just click on the photo below and you’re there: