A Feminist a Day: Dr Catherine Hamlin

Who is she?

hamlinDr Catherine Hamlin is an Australian obstetrician and gynaecologist who, with her husband, founded the world’s only free hospital providing fistula repair surgery for women, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The “Hospital by the River” has treated some 35,000 women. Fistula is a terrible childbirth injury – women and girls who suffer it are left for dead by their village and family.

Catherine has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (why she has never won one is beyond me) and has been hailed as a modern Mother Teresa.

Why should we thank her?

Catherine (and her late husband Reg) have saved thousands of women’s lives. Their hospital is now a healthcare network of six hospitals and 550 staff, training medical professionals from around the world. Often many of the women treated for fistula have been trained as midwives for their communities, to educate and help women with safe childbirth practices.

Her book, The Hospital by the River, is one of the most inspirational stories I’ve ever read.

Best quote

“I believe midwifery is the answer – to put a well-trained midwife in every village would eradicate obstetric fistula.”

*The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital relies on donations to survive. Find out more here. And here’s a great profile of Catherine.

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A Feminist a Day: Dr Catherine Hamlin

A Feminist a Day: Caitlin Moran

Who is she?

caitlinmoran-2Caitlin Moran is a British newspaper columnist and writer, who is known worldwide for her straightforward, modern take on feminism.

Raised in a family of eight kids in a council flat, Caitlin won a writing contest aged 13 and at 16 was writing for UK music bible Melody Maker.

Her columns in The Times have achieved a cult status, and in 2011 she released the worldwide bestseller How To Be A Woman, which is considered a modern day feminist classic. It’s a jolt to the heart of women everywhere, warning them how the forces of the patriarchy have crept up on us once more. And even more importantly, to the women who think it’s not necessary to be a feminist anymore. It’s funny as hell, too. She tackles porn, strip clubs, waxing, g-strings, childbirth, fashion, abortion and more. Just read it.

Why should we thank her?

For bringing feminism back into the mainstream again. She’s real and frank about the inequalities women still face today and she’s unrelenting about women who don’t call themselves feminists (see quote below). She acknowledges the hard-fought battles of feminists before her and brings a wonderful new voice to the movement.

Best quote

“What part of liberation for women is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man that you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Vogue by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that stuff just get on your nerves?”

This is the MOST wonderful interview Caitlin does with NPR’s incomparable Terry Gross.

A Feminist a Day: Caitlin Moran

A Feminist a Day: Sheryl Sandberg

Who is she?

Sheryl SandbergSheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and author of the 2013 bestseller Lean In.

The book looks at the barriers to women in leadership positions and encourages women to “lean in” at the boardroom table.

The book is controversial, because a lot of people think it represents a very narrow, elite view of women and workplace and doesn’t factor in average working women.

Lean In has sold millions though, and its message of encouragement is empowering – she encourages women NOT to apologise, to take credit for their success and seize career opportunities instead of doubting themselves. She also encourages women not to “check out before they check out” – don’t stop trying to advance your career because you’re planning a family.

Another gem is to “marry a truly supportive partner” – someone who will share the load at home and really support your career. Sadly, Sheryl’s own partner, Dave Goldberg, died earlier this year.

Why should we thank her?

Sheryl kick-started a worldwide conversation about women and leadership and her book does have some really great, practical advice for professional women negotiating the juggle that is career and family.

Best quote

“I look forward to the day when half our homes are run by men and half our companies and institutions are run by women. When that happens, it won’t just mean happier women and families; it will mean more successful businesses and better lives for us all.”

 

 

A Feminist a Day: Sheryl Sandberg

A Feminist a Day: Louisa Lawson

Who is she?

louisa lawsonLouisa Lawson was a publisher, poet and journalist. She’s known as the “mother of womanhood suffrage” in Australia – and she’s also Henry Lawson’s mum.

Louisa married and had five children, but left her husband in 1883 to start a boarding house in Sydney. In 1888, she started Dawn, a publication written, printed and edited by women for women. She hired women printers and faced down opposition from the Typographical Association, who wanted them dismissed.

Louisa campaigned for women’s suffrage and in Dawn, editorialised about opening up new career paths for women. She is credited with making the right to vote a precondition of a federated Australia.

Why should we thank her?

Louisa was a voice for advancing women’s issues for the first time in the media in Australia and was considered the originator of the NSW women’s suffrage campaign.

Best quote

“Whatever a woman does or is, she is criticised. The most innocuous qualities could be twisted to show her in a bad light… If she is vivacious and enjoys social life she is a ‘flirt’ or a ‘gadabout’, if she is quiet or of a more serious turn of mind she is ‘withdrawn’ or ‘stupid’. Through such sneers in conversation, writings, jokes or cartoons, contempt for women was handed down from one generation to the next…It was time… for some systematic analysis of this constant crusade in the newspapers here in Sydney and all over the civilised world…habitual belittlement leads women to mistrust themselves and silently tolerated jests against womankind.”

A Feminist a Day: Louisa Lawson

A Feminist a Day: Emily Wilding Davison

Who is she?

emily davison portraitEmily was a militant UK suffragette, who famously stepped in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913, and died. She was jailed nine times and force-fed 49 times while campaigning for the women’s vote.

She studied at Oxford and passed her exams, though women were not admitted to degrees at that time. Emily joined the militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded by Emmeline Pankhurst, and was known for her disruptive protests, including stone throwing and arson.

On the night of the 1911 census, she hid in a cupboard in the Chapel of the Palace of Westminster, so that she could state that her place of residence was “the House of Commons”.

At the end of a six month sentence (along with dozens of suffragettes, who were being force-fed), she threw herself down a staircase in a bid to end the suffering of those around her.

There are many theories about what Emily was trying to do when she ran onto the racetrack, but the most common is that she was attempting to throw a “Votes for Women” sash around the horse’s neck. She died four days later from her injuries after being trampled by the horse. Her gravestone bears the WPSU motto “deeds not words”.

Emily DavisonWhy should we thank her?

Emily’s act gathered male support for the suffragette movement at the time and led to the formation of the Northern Men’s Federation for Women’s Suffrage. Emily and her counterparts’ motto of “deeds not words” was important in raising awareness of the plight for women’s suffrage – and ultimately, they won their fight.

Best quote

“The idea in my mind was that one big tragedy may save many others” (she said of her prison fall).

Fun fact

Emily will be played by Natalie Press in the movie Suffragette, which opens in Australia on Boxing Day.

 

 

A Feminist a Day: Emily Wilding Davison

A Feminist a Day: Where next?

rosieA lot of you have contacted me to say that you’ve enjoyed reading A Feminist a Day for the month of October.

I’ve loved sharing the stories of some wonderful, inspiring women and I’d love to continue. But I’d love to hear your ideas. Tell me who your favourite notable, inspirational women are and I’d love to profile them and keep the blog going.

Just leave a comment on the blog, comment on Facebook or via Twiter @ceeemdee

A Feminist a Day will keep misogyny away!

A Feminist a Day: Where next?

A Feminist a Day: Julia Gillard

Who is she?

Julia GillardJulia Gillard was Australia’s first female Prime Minister and, before that, a Deputy Prime Minister, Education Minister and Employment Minister. She was responsible for drafting affirmative action goals in the Labor Party of women achieving 35 per cent of winnable seats, and played a role in founding EMILY’s List.

While in politics, she faced a stream of sexist slurs (remember “ditch the witch” and that awful “barren” comment?) and in 2012 delivered her famous Misogyny Speech, which echoed around the world.

Why should we thank her?

Just for being the first female PM, for starters. It’s a huge barrier to break through and many, many girls will grow up thinking the top job is attainable – never underestimate the power of that. Today, Julia’s work focuses on getting children around the world into school, especially girls.

The Misogyny Speech is already recognised as one of the great speeches in political history – it’s been described as the “Gettysburg address of feminism”. Its powerful delivery summed up the fury of a female leader who had faced a barrage of misogynistic behaviour in politics. Not to mention facing an Opposition Leader whose views on  women were a little behind the times, to say the least.

Best quote

“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. And the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.”

A Feminist a Day: Julia Gillard