Springingtiger's Blog

Women Arise

International Women’s Day and it occurs to me how few women were in my list of heroes yesterday. It is certainly not because there are no women who should be on the list there are many, but I think it does reflect my upbringing and conditioning. In my schooling we came across few women heroes and they tended to be safe; we had Florence Nightingale, but not Mary Seacole. We had Elizabeth Fry reforming prisons but skirted over the Suffragettes incarcerated in them. Our heroes were largely men; men who fought battles, men who explored new lands, who wrote and painted, who made medical advances, yes there was a woman who made medical discoveries but she was known as, “Pierre and Marie Curie”. The church has had some remarkable women, St Teresa of Avila, St. Clare, Hildegarde of Bingen but never have they accepted that a woman is competent to govern men. I was on retreat in Cheshire the day the Church of England voted to ordain women as priests, among the people staying in the retreat house was a party of Roman Catholic nuns who greeted the news with a cheer, the priests looked less happy. I think this International Women’s Day I shall share with you some of my heroines.

Leading my list is my wife Neelam Bakshi, the first Asian woman to be elected to public office in Scotland. She served as a councillor in Strathclyde Regional Council until English Tories destroyed it for purely dogmatic reasons, it was Scottish, socialist and one of the most effective local authorities in Europe. She has had to combat racism all her life and is still experiencing, not so much the overt racism of the past, but the racism intrinsic to the social and political structures of Scotland, she continues to fight. A couple of days ago I was sharing about Dolores Ibarruri “La Pasionara” who stood against Franco’s fascists in the Spanish civil War, her statue stands on the Clyde walkway in Glasgow, she continues to inspire. Another personal heroine of mine is Countess Constance Markievicz founder of the Fianna Eireann, a colonel in the Irish Republican Army during the revolution and later elected to the Dail, she was Minister of Labour in 1919, the Republic extended the full vote to women in 1922 when they finally cast off the dead hand of England. I must include Eleanor of Aquitaine who is one of my wife’s favourite inspirations, she was a consummate politician who wielded enormous influence in medieval europe despite the restrictions placed on women at the time. I must mention the revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg who wrote serious socialist polemics and opposed the First World War from a socialist position, despite her opposition the German Spartacists launched a hopeless rebellion and in 1919 Rosa Luxemburg was murdered by the police while in custody. I also include Lakshmibhai the Rani of Jhansi who was ruling Jhansi as regent when the British decided to invade during the war of Indian Independence, she resisted, but was forced to flee. She died in battle against the English.

I do not have time to list as many as I would like but there are writers like Jane Austen and George Elliott, politicians like Jenny Lee. Just because women are overlooked does not mean they are not powerful, this Women’s Day why not share some heroes, it’s time women were given their rightful place in our consciousness.


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