Let’s get a perspective on 2016. Let’s not let Donald Trump’s victory cancel out this year’s progressive changes!
On a national scale we can celebrate the successes of Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter. While their struggles face ongoing obstacles, their movements are here to stay.
In the United States women are mobilizing for a national march on January 21st to combat new attempts to limit access to abortions. Worldwide dozens of women leaders emerged in 2016, establishing victories for the women in their countries while emerging as role models for all of us.
Here’s my list of ten women deserving accolades for their actions this past year.
Asia Amini (Iran)
Iranian poet and journalist. Momentum grew this year for her Iranian campaign to end honor killings where women are stoned to death if they have sex outside of marriage, even if they are raped. Unfortunately her success led to threats against her life, which escalated to the point she was forced to leave Iran. She now continues her work in Norway.
LaDonna Brave Bull (US)
One of the Native American women founders of the Standing Rock movement aimed at stopping the building of the North Dakota pipeline through sacred Native American territory. Standing Rock is the largest trans-tribal alliance in the United States of America in centuries, with over 200 tribal nations represented at the camp. Brave Bull has vowed to stay at Standing Rock thorough the winter to continue her work as a water protector.
Mary Beard (Great Britain)
Cambridge scholar and prolific author of books on classical society. She has been dubbed “The Troll Slayer” for her activist role confronting Internet bullies. After receiving numerous online threats from men, Beard went to the airwaves to broadcast their messages to shame them. She has been surprisingly effective, making the net safer for all women and encouraging women to speak up when harassed online.
Amy Goodman (US)
“Democracy Now” host. This year “Democracy Now” celebrated 25 years on air. Goodman deserves credit for seeing her program develop into one of the most respected broadcast news programs and for her courageous on site reporting. Recently she recorded live footage of police dogs viciously attaching non-violent protesters at Standing Rock.
Esther Ibanga (Nigeria)
Nigerian pastor and founder of “Women Without Walls,” a peace movement created to bring together Nigerian women from different backgrounds to teach them peace-building skills. The movement expanded to the point where Ibanga has led protests that number in the thousands.
Glenda Jackson (Great Britain)
Former film star and member of Parliament who returned to the stage after an absence of 25 years. Appearing at the Old Vic at age 80 to play “King Lear” was a courageous act of great proportions! Jackson’s gender-bending Lear was a critical success. Great inspiration for those among us who might feel “too old” for a new venture!
Brigitta Jonsdottir (Iceland)
Icelandic activist and poet who calls herself a “poetician.” Jonsdottir is a founder of Iceland’s newly formed “Pirate Party,” which references itself to Robin Hood with its goal to “take power from the powerful and give it to the people.”
Margaret Kimberley (US)
Senior columnist for Black Agenda Report since its inception in 2006. With the rise of “Black Lives Matter,” Margaret’s writings gained new prominence this year. She also writes the blog, Freedom Rider, freedomrider.blogspot.com.
Naomi Klein (Canada):
Author of the climate change bible, This Changes Everything. This year Naomi was a high profile speaker at all the leading climate conferences. Her commitment to stopping global warming is tireless.
Rash Misra (India)
Indian educational advocate for the education of girls from poor families. Initially Misra opened a school for girls from the slums in her own home. Today her vision has grown to one where there are now girls’ schools in the slums of New Delhi, Mumbai, and Goa.
Let’s take heart from these ten visionaries and do our own small part in our communities and the world at large to insure greater equality for women and girls of all races and economic backgrounds. Let’s be an army of women that stretches across the globe!
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