Sometimes, taking a stand is a calculated decision. Other times, it is a gut reaction in the moment. Either way, drawing a line in the sand takes courage and conviction.
There are so many women who set an excellent example because of a chance they took, not knowing the outcome.A few women that I am specifically humbled and inspired by include:
Rosa Parks, known for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. “The first lady of civil rights” collaborated with many civil rights leaders despite losing her seamstress job and receiving death threats. The recently opened Rosa Parks Collection at the Library of Congress suggests she was a life-long activist. At the time of her arrest, she was secretary of the NAACP and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, known for providing training in social justice. She had consciously prepared herself and was ready to take action when the moment arrived.
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. At age 11, Malala began writing an anonymous blog for the BBC about her desire for education and her life under Taliban rule. She was discovered, targeted by the Taliban and shot in the head on her school bus when she was 15. Malala miraculously recovered and founded the Malala Fund, focused on continuing education for girls across the world. The documentary “He Named Me Malala” released in October 2015 by Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim helps to fund the movement.
Emmeline Pankhurst, the British leader of the suffragette movement in the early 1900s. Her tenacity and commitment to voting privileges for women spanned decades of work, saw the rise and fall of organized groups and divided her family permanently. Britain extended voting privileges to all women over 21 years of age only weeks after she passed away in 1928. Named one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century by Time, she is credited with helping shape the women’s rights movement across the world with Britain as the first to adopt suffrage rights.
Our world is a better place because of these women and so many more. Most of us want to believe we would stand for what is right, given the opportunity. Whether it is making a bold move as these ladies did or small everyday activities, let’s lead by example for our families, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
Have courage. Be strong. Stay diligent.