Frenchman Baron de Coubertin, upon founding the modern Olympic movement in 1896, said, “Olympics with women would be incorrect, unpractical, uninteresting and unesthetic [sic].” Well Baron, the fact is that with 4847 women competing, the story behind the 2012 games is really a women’s story. And courageous women they are.
These games will see the first women’s boxing competition, debuting on August 5. And for the first time in history, last Friday’s parade of athletes included a woman on every team. Two of the Muslim nations adding women, Brunei and Qatar, marked the occasion with female flag bearers. Brunei usually sends just one athlete. The addition of runner Maziah Mahusin has doubled that country’s team size to two.
Furthermore, Malaysia’s first female athlete, Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi is 8 months pregnant. What a story she’ll have to share when her child asks about her mother’s Olympic experience!
The U.S. Team has made history as well. For the first time, our team includes more women than men – 269 and 261 respectively. As the mother of two very competitive and athletic sons, I have to say it appears as thought Title IX is having an affect.
Go Girls! Go Boys! Go Team USA!
So here’s your “what happened today in history” question: who was nominated on this date for Vice President of the United States? Oh, and she was the first of her gender from a major political party to have the distinction. Whether you agreed with Geraldine Ferraro’s politics or not, it was a thrilling day back in 1984.
Ferraro was the daughter of Italian immigrants and a representative to Congress who had gained notoriety as a vocal advocate of women’s rights. Ferraro far outshone the other name on the ticket – Walter Mondale. But media focus was on whether or not she (or any woman) was tough enough to hold the second highest position in the country. Kinda makes you smile, doesn’t it.
We’ve come a long way – or have we? While women’s skills as Secretary of State have clearly been recognized, it took 28 years for another woman to be nominated for the same job. And there’s not much chatter about a woman being added to either major party ticket this year.
C’mon girls – let’s let everyone know we can do it. We’re not only tough enough, we’re REALLY tough!
As we near the 4th of July celebration, I offer this reminder of the part we girls played in the struggle for our nation’s independence.
Case in point – Sybil Ludington, the 16 year-old daughter of a New York militia officer, was with her family on the night of April 26, 1777, when word reached her house that the British were burning the town of Danbury, CT, where munitions and supplies for the entire region were stored.
With permission from her father, Sybil leapt on her horse and rode more than 40 miles to summon volunteer militia to repel the British raid. Not only was it a big undertaking for a teenage girl, she rode TWICE as far as Paul Revere did on his famous ride!
It doesn’t much matter what your politics are, I think we can all agree that Madeleine Albright is a woman of courage. She was the first woman to be appointed Secretary of State (there have been two more women since – I’d say we might be learning that female skills are darned important in that arena!), but Albright was courageous in other areas before that prestigious post.
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1937, her family fled to England just ahead of the Nazi invasion, and converted from the Jewish faith to Catholicism. Albright didn’t learn of her true roots until later in life, when she also learned that the Holocaust claimed the lives of three of her grandparents. The family arrived in the U.S. in 1948, and Albright began an impressive educational and professional journey that brought her to the attention of the nation.
Today is Madeleine Albright’s birthday. I think we owe her a big thanks and a wish for a fulfilling year ahead. Three cheers, Madam Secretary!
On April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred. The scene was the Chernobyl plant in the Soviet Union. An explosion and fire sent radioactivity into the atmosphere. An estimated 31 Soviets died immediately. An untold number of Soviets were affected in the days and years to follow.
But a courageous group of women returned to this nuclear wasteland. A pull from their ancestry or an irrational effort to resettle? The reason is debatable. What’s important is to recognize that women have an organic and inherent need to establish community. Read the full story about these courageous women here.
I became a high school basketball coach in 1975. It was the year Title Nine was born, legislation ensuring that girls would have sports offerings equal to boys. My tenure as coach lasted 5 years, a mere drop in the bucket as compared to the 39 year career of the NCAA’s winning-est basketball coach of all time.
I’m referring, of course, to Pat Summitt, the Lady Vols’ (University of Tennessee) head coach. Summitt announced her transition from head coach to an emeritus status yesterday (April18) as the result of a diagnosis last year of early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.
Summitt’s career included 1,098 victories and eight national championships. It doesn’t matter how much of a basketball fan you are. Those numbers are pretty darned impressive.
Much more impressive are the courage and grace Summitt has exhibited in the face of her diagnosis. We are once again reminded that no one is exempt from life’s trials, but the way in which we handle them will serve to coach others in their challenges.
Thanks for your leadership, Coach Summitt. You are a winner!
For some, life’s trials are kept private. For others of us, strength is drawn from telling our stories. And if another human being can learn from our journey, all the better. It is for that reason that I wrote It’s Just Hair.
I can’t speak for Nancy Borowick’s private motivation for her photo project, entitled “Dessert First,” which you can view here. It was a solution to two issues for her: to complete her work as a student at the International Center of Photography and to spend time with her mother, facing a second go-around with cancer.
Her motivation isn’t what’s important. The beautiful photo essay that is the result of her work speaks volumes, both to those of us who’ve walked that trail, as well as to those who have witnessed it from afar.
Seeing what cancer treatment is, how it affects family members, and understanding it is a means to an end, gives strength to those who are newly diagnosed as well as those who are cancer veterans. I thank the Borowicks for giving us this glimpse into their lives.
The dropping needles are far more noticable when there are no packages under the tree. The scene can only mean one thing – Christmas has come and gone. In one sense, it was my best Christmas ever as there were a couple of moments back in April when I wondered whether I would live to see it (totally irrational, I now realize). In another sense, it was an odd Christmas, since my eldest son was a part of the celebration in voice only via the computer.
Serving a 6 month deployment in Afghanistan, this son, husband and daddy sent wonderful handcrafted gifts. We would have exchanged them, and all the others we received, to have him home. But we are so proud of the courageous sacrifice he, and his family, are making.
Among the gifts were scarves my son purchased from a very special shop called Kandahar Treasure. Launched by Ragina Hamidi in 2003, the business employs women artisans from the Kandahar area who make home decor items, clothing, accessories and more. The scarves we received are embroidered with the unique stitchery of this region.
Even more importantly, purchases from Kandahar Treasure supports an organization whose purpose is to develop an economic base for the province and support the advancement of women throughout Afghanistan. Afghanis say, “A woman is the light of the family.” But they are also the light of their society, and Ragina Hamidi’s vision has supported this thought. This, despite the fact that she’s lived through decades of war and internal strife, and saw her father, Kandahar’s mayor, assassinated in July. Read more about this woman of courage.
Everyday there are stories in the media about our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our thoughts focus on them and what they’re experiencing. But we seldom look beyond the camo to consider the spouses and families back home, waiting with pride and trepidation.
My daughter-in-law and grandchildren fit into that group. And it was my daughter-in-law who stumbled upon the blog entitled “To Love a Soldier.” It is the very creative work of the wife on a soldier, now living through her husband’s second deployment.
Reading through the posts is very moving, but just as moving are the responses of all those who, like my daughter-in-law, have found strength in the knowledge that they’re not alone in their feelings, frustrations and longings. They are a very courageous group who deserve our attention and prayers. Regardless of where their loved ones are serving, let’s celebrate their courage by thanking them for their service as well.
The African continent has 24 of the world’s 25 poorest countries. It is home to 75% of the world’s poor. The continent’s recent history is riddled with stories of mass rapes, civil wars and genocides. And yet miracles of women’s courage are happening there.
I am in San Francisco, having just attended the annual conference of Opportunity International. This 40 year old, non-profit organization has pioneered new concepts in microloans (business loans averaging $145). And from Uganda to Malawi, Tanzania to Mozambique, Kenya to the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 80% of Opportunity’s loan clients are women. They start or build businesses with their loans. They use their earnings to feed and educate their children. They are changing their communities and they are breaking the chain of generations of poverty.
Most amazingly, these women are using decidedly feminine characteristics of courage – collaboration, inclusion, altruism – in the face of overwhelming odds. More stories to come, more info about Opportunity International at http://www.opportunity.org