WCW: Malala Yousafzai

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Synopsis

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. As a child, she became an advocate for girls’ education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived, and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. In  2014,  she was nominated again and won, becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Early Life

On July 12, 1997, Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan, located in the country’s Swat Valley. For the first few years of her life, her hometown remained a popular tourist spot that was known for its summer festivals. However, the area began to change as the Taliban tried to take control.

Initial Activism

Yousafzai attended a school that her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, had founded. After the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools in Swat, Malala gave a speech in Peshawar, Pakistan, in September 2008. The title of her talk was, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”

In early 2009, Yousafzai began blogging for the BBC about living under the Taliban’s threats to deny her an education. In order to hide her identity, she used the name Gul Makai. However, she was revealed to be the BBC blogger in December of that year.

With a growing public platform, Yousafzai continued to speak out about her right, and the right of all women, to an education. Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. That same year, she was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.

Targeted by the Taliban

When she was 14, Malala and her family learned that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her. Though Malala was frightened for the safety of her father—an anti-Taliban activist—she and her family initially felt that the fundamentalist group would not actually harm a child.

On October 9, 2012, on her way home from school, a man boarded the bus Malala was riding in and demanded to know which girl was Malala. When her friends looked toward Malala, her location was given away. The gunman fired at her, hitting Malala in the left side of her head; the bullet then traveled down her neck. Two other girls were also injured in the attack.

The shooting left Malala in critical condition, so she was flown to a military hospital in Peshawar. A portion of her skull was removed to treat her swelling brain. To receive further care, she was transferred to Birmingham, England.

After the Attack

Once she was in the United Kingdom, Yousafzai was taken out of a medically induced coma. Though she would require multiple surgeries—including repair of a facial nerve to fix the paralyzed left side of her face—she had suffered no major brain damage. In March 2013, she was able to begin attending school in Birmingham.

The shooting resulted in a massive outpouring of support for Yousafzai, which continued during her recovery. She gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday, in 2013. She has also written an autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, which was released in October 2013. Unfortunately, the Taliban still considers Yousafzai a target.

Despite the Taliban’s threats, Yousafzai remains a staunch advocate for the power of education. On October 10, 2013, in acknowledgement of her work, the European Parliament awarded Yousafzai the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. That same year, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She didn’t win the prize, but was named a nominee again in March 2014. In August of the same year, Leanin.Org held a live chat on Facebook with Sheryl Sandberg and Yousafzai about the importance of education for girls around the world. She talked about her story, her inspiration and family, her plans for the future and advocacy, and she answered a variety of inquiries from the social network’s users.

In October 2014, Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. At age 17, she became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In congratulating Yousafzai, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “She is (the) pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described her as “a brave and gentle advocate of peace who through the simple act of going to school became a global teacher.”

For her 18th birthday on July 12, 2015, also called Malala Day, the young activist continued to take action on global education by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon. Its expenses covered by the Malala Fund, the school was designed to admit nearly 200 girls from the ages of 14 to 18. “Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets,” Yousafzai proclaimed in one of the school’s classrooms.

That day, she also asked her supporters on The Malala Fund website: “Post a photo of yourself holding up your favorite book and share why YOU choose #BooksNotBullets – and tell world leaders to fund the real weapon for change, education!” The teenage activist wrote: “The shocking truth is that world leaders have the money to fully fund primary AND secondary education around the world but they are choosing to spend it on other things, like their military budgets. In fact, if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”

http://www.biography.com/people/malala-yousafzai-21362253

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Heroines of 9/11

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New York (CNN) — At the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, a group of about two dozen female rescue workers walked onto the platform overlooking ground zero.  Most had not seen the place in years, not since big iron beams rose into the sky to build the skeletons of a new office complex, not since the footprints of the Twin Towers were filled with black stone and waterworks, not since all the progress that followed those dark days back …
… THEN.
New York Police Department Deputy Inspector Terri Tobin was buried in the rubble of the old towers twice on September 11, 2001. She had a huge glass pane lodged in her back and cinder block cut her skull. She rose from the debris like some kind of superhero and rescued people who were in a panic — the injured, the desperate, the scared. At one point, she clung mightily to one man’s arm and said: “I’m with the NYPD. I’m not gonna let go.”
She didn’t let go. None of these women let go.
Capt. Brenda Berkman searched relentlessly for her fellow firefighters. She still cries, to this day, about the 343 who died. She knew most of them. Officer Carey Policastro searched the pile of debris for weeks, exposing herself to horrible conditions. Then she dedicated herself to preparing for the next attack, training first responders around the country.
There were women from the Salvation Army and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, emergency medical technicians and clergy.
There were plenty of female journalists there, too, including one of my producers, Rose Arce. She was featured in a book called “Women At Ground Zero” — along with all these first responders — written by Susan Hagen and Mary Carouba, two California authors who wanted to memorialize the accounts of the women. That book was published nearly 10 years ago and memory fades.
I don’t think there was any task that was performed down there by men that were not performed by women.
–Terri Tobin, NYPD
A few months ago one of the female firefighters from that book came to speak to the kindergarten class of my producer’s daughter. A little boy asked her how she could be a “fireman” if she was a girl.
In answer to that question, we produced a documentary that premieres on Labor Day at 11 p.m. ET and PT. It is called “Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11.” It chronicles the heroics and hardship of these women as they have worked to repair our nation in the decade since the terrorist attacks. As one woman in the documentary says: “Little boys and little girls need to know” that women were there and served with courage.
It was hard for the women to stand in that space where they fought so hard and lost so much. To this day when anyone looks out over ground zero, the question lingers: How do you fill this void?
Tobin became a deputy inspector of the New York Police Department, helping it cope with a traumatized force that has turned over a third of its ranks since 9/11. She also answers calls at a hotline for cops under stress. Berkman gives tours of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center to recall the losses suffered that day.
In my conversations with these women, I have heard their stories of how they sacrificed their lives to rebuilding, recovering and restoring hope. They want to fill that physical void of ground zero with a fitting tribute to the friends they lost. They want to see people working and living and smiling again. They are fighting to get good health care, to contribute to U.S. efforts at homeland security, to prepare the fire and police departments for potential attacks, and to help others repair their psyches after witnessing the worst possible.
What makes the women different is that they fought for the jobs they had on September 11. Berkman sued the fire department, paving the way for women to join in 1982. Regina Wilson, who was hired in the wake of that lawsuit, was a probationary officer on 9/11. She rode to the flaming towers that day and was one truck away from being killed.
There is a memorial to firefighters near ground zero that has no identifiable women’s faces, but they were there.
Many of the women felt slighted in the days following the attacks because they heard talk of a brotherhood of rescue workers that had performed heroically. The public forms images from big historic events like the terrorist attacks about who was heroic.
“There were female carpenters,” Tobin told me. “I believe there were female iron workers. I don’t think there was any task that was performed down there by men that were not performed by women.”
When I asked her if she thinks the public knows that, she shook her head sadly.
“No.”
Yet their journey this past decade stands out because they are still fighting to bring women into the ranks. There are fewer female firefighters, and they are a smaller piece of the force than they were on 9/11. The police department is just 17% female, generations after the first woman joined. These are not unusual percentages in this country, although the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is one-third female after being formed in 2003.
There is still resistance to the presence of women — and minorities — in the uniformed services, even as they actively recruit them. The New York fire department has for years been defending against a racial discrimination lawsuit.
The women don’t dwell on the conflicts though. They prefer to recruit by example, by putting themselves out there in uniform and talking about their work. There is nothing like seeing a real-life hero and dreaming you could be one too. They don’t limit that PR campaign to women.
That day on the platform, it was raining and gray and sad as cranes lifted beams in preparation for a September 11 unveiling, a test of whether a memorial can coexist with office towers. The women chatted about the height of the new towers, remembered tearfully where they were the day of the attack, and marveled at how much time had past.
It was just as well the sky was gray. Berkman said to me recently: “September 11 made us all feel like we could never trust a sunny day again.”

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WCW: Cleopatra

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Cleopatra VII Biography
Queen (c. 69 BCE–c. 30 BCE)

As queen of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is one of the most famous female rulers in history.

“I will not be triumphed over.”
—Cleopatra VII

The last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty, the stories and myths surrounding Cleopatra’s tragic life inspired a number of books, movies and plays. Cleopatra has become one of the most well known ancient Egyptian.  Cleopatra’s family ruled Egypt for more than 100 years before she was born around 69 B.C.

Cleopatra’s father was King Ptolemy XII. Little is known about Cleopatra’s mother, but some speculation presumes she may have been her father’s sister, Cleopatra V Tryphaena. Debate also surrounds Cleopatra’s ethnicity. While it was believed for a long time that she was of Greek descent, some speculate that her lineage may have been black African.

In 51 B.C., Ptolemy XII died, leaving the throne to 18-year-old Cleopatra and her brother, the 10-year-old Ptolemy XIII. It is likely that the two siblings married, as was customary at the time. Over the next few years Egypt struggled to face down a number of issues, from an unhealthy economy to floods to famine.

Political turmoil also shaped this period. Soon after they assumed power, complications arose between Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII. Eventually Cleopatra fled to Syria, where she assembled an army to defeat her rival in order to declare the throne for herself. In 48, she returned to Egypt with her military might and faced her brother at Pelusium, located on the empire’s eastern edge.

Around this same time, the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey was consuming Rome. Pompey eventually sought refuge in Egypt, but on orders by Ptolemy, was killed.

In pursuit of his rival, Julius Caesar followed Pompey into Egypt, where he met and eventually fell in love with Cleopatra. In Caesar, Cleopatra now had access to enough military muscle to dethrone her brother and solidify her grip on Egypt as sole ruler. Following Caesar’s defeat of Ptolemy’s forces at the Battle of the Nile, Caesar restored Cleopatra to the throne. Soon after, Ptolemy XIII fled and drowned in the Nile.

In 47 B.C. Cleopatra bore Caesar a son, whom she named Caesarion. However, Caesar never acknowledged the boy was his offspring, and historical debate continues over whether he was indeed his father.

Cleopatra eventually followed Caesar back to Rome, but returned to Egypt in 44 B.C., following his assassination.

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In 41 B.C., Marc Antony, part of the Second Triumvirate that ruled Rome following the murder of Caesar, sent for Cleopatra so that she could answer questions about her allegiance to the empire’s fallen leader.

Cleopatra agreed to his request and made a lavish entrance into the city of Tarsus. Captivated by her beauty and personality, Antony plunged into a love affair with Cleopatra that would eventually produce three children, including twins named Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene.

Just like Caesar before him, Antony was embroiled in a battle over Rome’s control. His rival was Caesar’s own great-nephew, Gaius Octavius, also known as Octavian (who became the future Emperor Caesar Augustus). Gaius Octavius, along with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, rounded out the Second Triumvirate. Antony, who presided over Rome’s eastern areas, detested Gaius Octavius and saw in Cleopatra the chance for financial and military support to secure his own rule over the empire.

Cleopatra had her own motivations, as well. In exchange for her help, she sought the return of Egypt’s eastern empire, which included large areas of Lebanon and Syria.

In the year 34 B.C., Antony returned with Cleopatra to Alexandria with a triumphant flair. Crowds swarmed to the Gymnasium to catch a glimpse of the couple seated on golden thrones that were elevated on silver platforms. Beside them sat their children.

Antony antagonized his rival by declaring Caesarion as Caesar’s real son and legal heir, rather than Octavian, whom the revered Roman leader had adopted. Octavian, however, fought back, declaring he’d seized Antony’s will, and told the Roman people that Antony had turned over Roman possessions to Cleopatra and that there were plans to make Alexandria the Roman capital.

In the year 31 B.C., Cleopatra and Antony combined armies to try to defeat Octavian in a raging sea battle at Actium, on Greece’s west coast. The clash, however, proved to be a costly defeat for the Egyptians, forcing Antony and Cleopatra to flee back to Egypt.

Antony soon returned to the battlefield, where he was falsely informed that Cleopatra had died. Upon hearing the news, the despondent Roman leader committed suicide by stabbing himself. Cleopatra followed her lover’s demise by ending her life as well by being bitten by an Egyptian cobra. She died on August 12, 30 B.C. The two were buried together, as they had wished, and Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire.

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WCW- Mary Wollstonecraft

In honor of the many amazing women who came before us, I am putting my own spin on the ever popular WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday).  Every Wednesday I will be honoring women who have made a difference in the feminist movement.  I am excited to explore the different contributions various women have made towards a more equal society.

wollstonecraft

My 1st WCW is Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) who was a “British philosopher and feminist. Best known for her book – A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) which was one of the earliest expositions of the equality of women and men.

Mary Wollstonecraft Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 27 April 1759 in Spitalfields, London. She grew up in a difficult family situation. Her father was often violent and prone to drunken moods, especially after losing money in ill-judged investments. Mary spent much time looking after her sisters and mothers. However, in 1778, she tired of domestic life and decided to take a job as a lady’s companion to Sarah Dawson. This proved a difficult experience as she didn’t get on with the old lady. However, around this time, she became acquainted with Fanny Blood, who played an important role in widening Mary’s horizons and ideas. The two became very close and Fanny Blood’s untimely death in 1785 was quite a shock to Mary.

For a while, Mary worked as a governess in a large Irish family. She had a talent for teaching, but took a dislike to Lady Kingsborough. To Mary, Kingsborough was the antithesis of an ideal women. In Lady Kingsborough she saw a women with no real independence, but being primarily concerned with superficial appearances and pleasing men. Mary later developed her thoughts for the concept of a good wife.

“To be a good mother — a woman must have sense, and that independence of mind which few women possess who are taught to depend entirely on their husbands. Meek wives are, in general, foolish mothers; wanting their children to love them best, and take their part, in secret, against the father, who is held up as a scarecrow. “
– Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

This experience fermented a desire to become a writer; Mary returned to London where she became acquainted with luminaries such as Thomas Paine, William Godwin and Joseph Johnson. In London, she became more aware of new strains in political and philosophical ideas; the late eighteenth century was an era of change. The old ‘divine rights’ of kings was being replaced with greater faith in human reason and liberty; this sea change in attitudes best exemplified by the French revolution.

Like many radicals, Mary was initially enthused by the French revolution. In 1790, she wrote an influential pamphlet Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790). This sought to defend the principles of the French Revolution against Edmund Burke’s conservative critique. This helped establish Mary as a leading liberal writer; at the time, it was rare for a women to have such prominence in literary circles.

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Shortly after the Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), Mary wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). This was ground-breaking work, as it proposed women were the equal of men. Wollstonecraft contended, it was only the lack of education for women that meant they seemed to be intellectually inferior.

“Till women are more rationally educated, the progress in human virtue and improvement in knowledge must receive continual checks.”
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) Ch 3.

She was highly critical of the contemporary attitudes to women

“Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority.”
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) Ch 3.

Such arguments were radical for the time. Even liberal authors didn’t wholeheartedly agree with its arguments and beliefs.

After its publication, Mary visited revolutionary Paris. However, the situation quickly deteriorated, Louis XVI was guillotined and the revolution became increasingly repressive. In Paris she fell madly in love with an American, Gilbert Imlay. Together they had an illegitimate daughter. When Britain and France declared war on each other, Mary needed the protection of appearing to be married to an American to prevent her being arrested.

Together they had a child, Fanny. However, the relationship grew increasingly difficult, as Gilbert proved to fall well short of Mary’s romantic ideal. Overcome with grief, they broke up and Mary returned to England. On returning to London, she attempted to commit suicide in despair at the failed relationship (she also experienced depressive moods throughout her life). However, the attempt failed, and she was rescued from the River Thames by a passing man.

After slowly recovering from the depths of depression, Mary restarted her literary career and become romantically involved with William Godwin. Mary became pregnant and the two decided to get married.

Tragically, Mary died in childbirth, though her daughter (Mary Godwin) survived and went on to become the author of Frankenstein and wife of Percy Shelley.

After her death, William Godwin published her memoirs which proved quite shocking to society. People were not comfortable with the unorthodox and free-living attitude of Mary Wollstonecraft. Even in the late Victorian suffragette movement, Mary Wollstonecraft was given a low profile, as her life sat uncomfortably with Victorian attitudes. However, by the Twentieth Century, Wollstonecraft’s writings were seen as key developments in the concept of women’s rights. In many ways, Mary Wollstonecraft was many years, if not centuries ahead of her time.”

Citation : Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Mary Wollstonecraft“, Oxford, http://www.biographyonline.net 26 Jan. 2011

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