Herstory

ROSE MARIE MURARO

ROSE MARIE MURARO

1930- 2014

I was born practically blind in 1930 into one of the wealthiest families in Brazil at the time. At the age of 15, when my father died suddenly and my family got into disputes over the inheritance, I realized that my path would be to reject these origins and dedicate my life to building a new world – a more just and freer world. I combined my strength with Father Helder Câmara’s integrating his team and creating social movements that changed all of Brazil in the 1950s.
I studied Physics and Economics, was a writer and editor. I am proud to have published polemic, contesting and innovative books. I am even prouder to have been one of the pioneers of the feminist movement in Brazil and to have founded the two most important social movements in Brazil in the 20th century: the women’s emancipation movement and liberation theology.
I received countless awards. I was elected 9 times «Woman of the Year», 2 times «Woman of the Century» and in 1994 «Intellectual of the Year».
In the mid-1990s I challenged my own limits and regained my sight after undergoing surgery. I saw the world for the first time at the age of 65.
In 2013 I left this world, but in it I left 5 children, 12 grandchildren, and 4 greatgrandchildren, the outcome of my marriage of 23 years. I also left as cultural heritage the Cultural Institute Rose Marie Muraro (ICRM).

ROSA PARKS

ROSA PARKS

1913-2005

I became famous because on 1st of December, 1955, I openly refused to give up my seat on the bus to a white man, which served as the spark for the movement called the Montgomery bus boycott and would later mark the beginning of the antisegregationist struggle. On that day I sat in a seat destined for people of color, but because the bus was full, the driver told me to give up my seat to a white man who was standing. I refused and was arrested for it. After that act of courage, we carried out a Montgomery bus boycott. Over a 381-day period, more than 40,000 passengers stopped using the bus, creating a huge financial deficit for city public transportation, and demanding an end to racial segregation. In 1956, we did it! Racial segregation in public transportation was ruled unconstitutional. I became an icon for this movement, true, but with it also came sanctions, difficulties in getting a job, and even death threats. I felt forced to move more than once in my life in order to escape these threats. But nothing stopped my determination, and I continued my journey as a human rights and equality activist.

ELIZABETH ROBINSON

ELIZABETH ROBINSON

1911-1999

I was the first woman ever to win a gold medal for the Olympic 100 m for women. I was just 16. I was inexperienced and young, next to my peers at this run, but I won. How I got here is a funny story. I was running after a train and my teacher saw me. He timed me and gave me my first training in sprinting. This is how started my athlete career. After my success in the 1928 Olympics, I continued to run in school and college tournaments, bringing home records. In the outdoor nationals of 1929, the chairman of the national committee on women’s athletics thought he was being complementary when he wrote “the most sensational performances of the meet” from “the slim, smiling Chicago girl, who runs like a man”. Hmmm, like a man? No way, I ran proudly like a girl! Everything was going well. I loved what I was doing. But in 1931, I was in a plane crash. After being in a coma, I was forced to drop my participation in the 1932 Olympics because I was in a wheelchair. I worked hard and managed to recover from this near tragedy. It was a slow and painful way out, but my passion for running helped me surpass all this and I tried for the 1936’s Olympics. It was such a struggle, I had to work overtime, but I did it!

AMELIA EARHART

AMELIA EARHART

1897-1939

I guess I helped women believe that they can fly high, if they wish so. I was a pioneer in aviation, because I was a woman. This was the beginning of the 20th century and women were not supposed to enjoy planes. I was the first person to fly alone above the Atlantic Ocean. I am proud of that. I was also a defender of women’s rights and got involved with the “Ninety-Nines”, an association devoted to raise the morale of women who wanted to become pilots. I wrote many books about my passion and always fought to pursue my dreams. I guess what my life shows is that we just need to believe in ourselves and be courageous. If for that one needs to defy conventions, just don’t let fear stop you.

KOMAKO KIMURA

KOMAKO KIMURA

1887-1980

I was born in Japan where I received a traditional education. I was taught to read, to recite poetry, cook, play string instruments, but most importantly, I was taught to obey my future husband and be a good wife. What I enjoyed the most when I was young was acting and reading. So, I read a lot, and specially, a lot of feminist works. These readings had a great influence on my upbringing and when I was only 14, I decided to run away. I literally jumped out of the carriage that was taking me to my fixed wedding. I hid myself and sold my wedding dress to get some money for a train ticket. I moved to another city where I managed to live the life I wanted. I got a job as a dancer, which eventually made me famous. I was an actress and a writer. But little by little I was boycotted by the government of my country. I got arrested and went to trial. But they couldnt really punish me! I defended all the unfounded accusations so well that the trial gained a lot of notoriety in the press and brought the word “suffrage” to every district. In 1917 I travelled to New York where I ended up living the rest of my life. But do you know the true reason why I took this trip? I Really wanted to join the march for suffrage, to be able to study with other suffragettes and raise funds to continue the feminist struggle in Japan.

MARIA MONTESSORI

MARIA MONTESSORI

1870-1952

I trained to be a doctor because I had a genuine passion for the human being. Specially, for the human mind at its younger stage, when we are children. Our choices, our instinct, our behaviour fascinated me, and this is why I developed my career as an educator. I worked in several schools applying specific teaching methods with the ambitious vision «To educate for life». What I meant here was not to enable children to have straight A’s in all subjects throughout their school life. I was more concerned with empowering them to grow autonomously, with confidence about their environment and by respecting their individual traits. This was the 19th century.I was one of the first women to graduate as a doctor, back in Italy. I was a misfit to the norm, but I was happy pursuing my mission. I know the «Montessori method» was controversial for the status quo. But luckily, also beautifully inspiring to have spread all over the world with many successors today. I am grateful to have seen my work being recognized. I addressed UNESCO on the theme ‘Education and Peace’ in 1947 and have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for three consecutive years: 1949, 1950 and 1951. I never stopped believing freedom is the best tool to learn and that children have the transformative potential to better the adult world. So, I challenge you today to discover something new with a child!

SOJOURNER TRUTH

SOJOURNER TRUTH

1797-1883

I am known for being a powerful anti-slavery spokesperson. I managed to escape slavery and went to Canada, bringing only my youngest son with me. After the abolition in New York, in 1829, I returned. You know, since I was young, I had visions and heard voices, which I felt came from God. I decided to change my name from Isabella to Sojourner Truth and left New York to preach in camps, churches and streets spreading the message of God, kindness and brotherhood. And that naturally led to my fight for women’s rights. As a human rights advocate in 19th century America, I delivered what is now recognized as one of the most famous abolitionist and women’s rights speeches in American history – “Ain’t I a Woman?”. I continued to speak out for these causes during the Civil War and died in 1883. But I like to believe, as I once said, that I haven’t died. I “went home like a shooting star”.

OLYMPE DE GOUGES

OLYMPE DE GOUGES

1748-1793

I lived in the 18th century and was quite revolutionary for the time. I was a French activist, wrote plays and was very politically engaged. My writings have reached many people and countries. The Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen was my most important work. I was practically a sole voice at the time and my intentions dictated my end. I was the only woman to be executed for my political writings during the French Revolution. Throughout my lifetime, I consistently fought for the freedom of speech and its importance in social and political critique, as well as for the equality of rights between women and men. So, this is why I’ve been at the forefront of feminism and opened the doors for others to create feminist movements around the globe.

JOAN OF ARC

JOAN OF ARC

1412-1431

I am considered a French heroine for my deeds in the Hundred Years War. I was born into a peasant family and led a quiet life when I began to hear divine calls to help King Charles VII deliver France from English rule. I had audiences with bishops and cardinals to show them that I was the right person to save my nation. I convinced them all! I even convinced the King. I won his trust and he gave me the command of a small army to solve the siege of Orleans. After only nine days, the battle ended in France favor, and thus I gained the trust of the King, the nobility, and also of the people. I always served my country, but one day in 1430 I was captured by the Borguignons (a group of Frenchmen who supported the English) who handed me over to the English government. They accused me of heresy and witchcraft and I was eventually found guilty. I was executed alive at the stake on May 30, 1431 when I was 19 years old. Twenty-five years after my death my trial was re-examined and my innocence was finally proclaimed, formally declaring me a martyr of the church. In 1803 I was officially declared a national symbol of France by decision of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. I was beatified in 1909 and finally canonized in 1920 by the Vatican. Today I am one of the 9 patron saints of France and remain a popular figure in my country and in the world.