Women Who Inspire Us:

Posted 7th of March 2018 by Bay Whitaker

Choices from the Sheffield Central Counselling Team

Gill Wier has chosen Josephine Butler, a campaigner from the Victorian Era for women's rights. 

Gill writes: "Josephine Butler - born in 1828, died in 1906. Inspired by her strong Christian faith and following the death of her six year old daughter she focused her grief into helping others less fortunate.  Despite her own ill health and the opposition she faced as an outspoken early feminist she spent hours sitting with inhabitants of the local workhouse and welcomed destitute prostitutes into her own home with the support of her husband.  She campaigned for the rights of prostitutes and against the trafficking of young women, helping to bring about the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 which raised the age of consent from 13 to 16 and introduced measures to stop child prostitution"

Gill's second choice is Afghan student campaigner for girl's rights to education, Malala Yousafzai.

"She showed extraordinary courage in standing up for the rights of women, particularly to education.  She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to go to school. Undeterred she continued to speak out and became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize."

Judth Caul has chosen to celebrate Victorian Writers, The Bronte Sisters. 

Judith writes: "Despite the limitations placed on women in the age in which they lived, and the fact that they all died so tragically young, their literary legacy is immense."

Fiona Everatt has named punk singer Poly Styrene from X-Ray Spex.

Fiona says: "She was a huge influence for me as a teenager.  She challenged the expected gender, appearance and sound of punk, and what she made was exceptional!  It was so inspiring and so freeing."

Fiona's other suggestion is Margaret Atwood, who wrote the book, The Handmaid's Tale, recently serialised on TV. 

Talking about the book, Fiona says: It highlights attitudes to women by amplifying them to the unthinkable but logical end.  It also speaks to me of the strength of humankind and their capacity for resistance."

Sarah Saatzer chose philanthropist, educaator and spiritual leader, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. 

In Sarah's words: "I like her because she teaches genuine ancient knowledge of yoga and more importantly imparts a way to attain the true meditative state of being fully aware but having peace from our thoughts. And I like her because she is a great example of motherliness, forgiveness and generosity." 

Chloe Hill has chosen Chief Executive of LGBT Rights Campaign Group, Stonewall, Ruth Hunt. 

Chloe says: "I was lucky enough to attend a conference where Ruth was a speaker recently and her speech was truly inspiring. The statement that most stuck in my head is that “No one is equal until everyone is equal!”, this is so true, until everyone can be treated fairly and with respect the fight for equal rights for every race/gender/sex/age group etc is ongoing."

Amanda Morgan has suggested Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, and scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

In Amanda's words, "She is a powerful advocate for the rights and self-determination of Muslim women, actively opposing forced and child marriage, honour based violence and Female Genital Mutilation. She also founded an organisation for the defense of women's rights, the AHA Foundation.  I thoroughly recommend her 2008 autobiography ‘Infidel’ which, though not an easy read, shows her strength, determination and what a woman can do if she puts her mind to it!"

Bay Whitaker has chosen Illustrator and film maker Marjane Satrapi. 

Bay: "Satrapi's Persepolis graphic novels give a moving and informative explication of life as a child gowing up in war-torn Iran.  She draws her life in black and white ink, through teenage and adulthood as a refugee in Europe, and shows us a unique persepctive, linking  the political and the personal with humour, and poignancy." 

Bay's other choice is Lancastrian comedian and writer, Victoria Wood. 

She says: "The nation was stricken when we learned that VIctoria Wood had died.  She was such a well loved figure on TV, and a real trail-blazer for women comedians, of which there were almost none on TV or Radio when she first became successful.  Her down-to-earth comedy always came from a place of kindness and curiosity, and she was tea-spurtiingly funny without attacking people or groups.  In interviews she always came across as quite a humble person, very honest and open.  To me, she is a real working class hero."

Image by Moondance from Pixabay

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