Welcome to the 11th article in the “Celebrating Women” Series for Women’s History Month! It’s the first time I’ve coordinated an author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to JoAnn Shade for offering the 11th article in this series. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.
On Honoring Women During Women’s History Month
*reprinted from the Ashland Times-Gazette Column, March 2014
by author JoAnn Shade, D.Min
Given the continued cold temperatures we’ve enjoying well into March, it’s appropriate that this month is National Frozen Foods Month, as well as Irish American Month, National Peanut Month, and Music in Our Schools Month, an observance near and dear to my heart.
Beyond my love for music, for many years my Salvation Army ministry, academic pursuits and writing interests have been interwoven with the lives of women, particularly those who have struggled in the face of poverty and prejudice. I’ve even been told that some within Salvation Army circles see me as “that radical woman,” a label I’m actually quite fond of, as radical means ‘from the root.’ So along with the focus on frozen foods and peanuts, as a radical woman I am especially glad to note that the month of March is also National Women’s History Month, celebrating women of character, courage, and commitment.
In my early academic endeavors in the 60s, the classroom textbooks seldom mentioned the role of women in the history of our country or our world, yet as I discovered their stories on the shelves of the local library, somehow I knew they belonged in those history texts as well. I doubt that I understood the long-lasting impact the accounts of Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D., Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Dorothy Day would have on the trajectory of my life, but their biographies planted seeds of inspiration in the life of that young girl.
Times have changed, and since 1980, women from a variety of areas of achievement have been honored during this month of recognition, and this year’s list includes a pharmacologist and public health activist (Frances Oldham Kelsey), a congresswoman and Iraq War veteran (Tammy Duckworth) and Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, the slavery-born author and educator with a life mission to open the doors of higher education to children of color.
Chipeta, also on this year’s list, was a new name to me, a woman born into the Kiowa Apache in the 1840s and remembered as a peacemaker, wise elder, and advisor to other Indian chiefs. I also was awed by the many accomplishments of Roxcy O’Neal Bolton, who founded Florida’s first battered women’s shelter, convinced the airlines to offer maternity leave to its pregnant flight attendants (instead of firing them), and persuaded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to name hurricanes after both women and men.
Yet it isn’t only the historical achievements of women that are being honored during March. Since 2007, the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award has recognized women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk.
This year, these women include Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil of Afghanistan, a prominent leader in the field of maternal health, and Beatrice Mtetwa, who is Zimbabwe’s most prominent human rights lawyer, fighting against injustice, defending press freedom, and upholding the rule of law. With the eyes of the world focused on the unrest in the Ukraine, I took special notice of Ruslana Lyzhychko, a civil society activist, human rights advocate and a leader of Ukraine‘s Maidan movement for democratic reform. Her bio notes that Lyzhychko’s “steadfast commitment to non-violent resistance and national unity helped channel a series of popular demonstrations into a national movement against government corruption and human rights abuses.”
Rudyard Kipling understands: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” The stories of women add a rich texture to our understanding of history and of contemporary life. These are the stories I want to tell my granddaughter: stories of her fore-mothers who left all they knew to immigrate to the United States, stories of women in history who risked their lives for the rights she will take for granted, and stories of women around the world today who do what they have to do to feed their children and to change their world. I want the lovely Madelyn Simone to know women of character, courage and commitment in her community, her country, and her world. Let me tell you a story, Madelyn . . .
JoAnn Streeter Shade, Biography~
JoAnn Streeter Shade has walked alongside many women in a variety of ministry settings for more than thirty-five years. She has served in Salvation Army congregations and social service programs, has ministered at North Coast Family Foundation, a Christian counseling center in Northeast Ohio, and has also written extensively about the issues facing women in today’s culture. She writes a weekly column in the Ashland Times-Gazette, and is the author of more than a dozen books on topics such as spiritual growth (The Heartwork of Hope, The God Gallery), sexual abuse (Rapha’s Touch), marriage (The Guerilla and the Green Beret), biblical narrative (The Other Woman, WomenVoices), and the joy of living in Ashland (Only in Ashland: Reflections of a Smitten Immigrant).
She is married to Larry, is the mother of three adult sons, Greg, Drew and Dan, and Lauren, a beloved daughter-in-law, and is Nana to the lovely Madelyn Simone. With an M.A. in pastoral counseling and a D.Min. in the Women in Prophetic Leadership track from Ashland Theological Seminary, she combines her academic training with a writer’s eye, a pastor’s heart and a grandmother’s joy.