We asked our followers to share stories of women who inspire them be they famous or not, the results were both moving and inspiring:
Pauline or Po as she preferred was a support worker at a hostel I lived in during my most vulnerable period in life. She was not assigned to me or had any responsibility to help on a personal level. In fact, Po didn’t even have to interact apart from if needed.
This woman went above and beyond. Even bought arts and crafts pieces out of her own money to see if it could help calm me. Shared her own stories of being a sex worker despite risking a backlash (majority of the women residents were in SW). Gave everyone support on their own level which I am yet to find any other support worker to also do.
Looking back she was the first womanist I have ever encountered. She had the experience and respect for other women that made her fantastic at her job. Although it must have been difficult in a white male dominated environment she never settled for any of the people she cared for or herself.
I know it’s clichéd. I know loads of people will say, and possibly write, the same. But I have to go with my mother. She came to this country at 16. Unable to speak a word of English. She gave birth to my brother the year after, my sisters (twins), the year after that. I came along a few years later. Then another sister to follow me. My father left and returned to Nigeria. 5 kids, single mum, Shimeer Yongo. And she managed to work, pay the bills, study (until she became a qualified teacher), and raise us. Not bad for an immigrant. My hero. Simple as.
“You are young, gifted and black, […] I can’t think of no more dynamic combination a person might be,” she wrote toward the end of her life, and Nina Simone wrote a song inspired by her. Lorraine Hansberry—the first black woman writer to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play with A Raisin in the Sun. “Sweet Lorraine” to James Baldwin, we lost her to cancer at 34.
Her writing lives on, as do her ideas, though the most important being that the human race can be great: to impose the reason for life on life.
More about her outlook on life and the wish to live: http://hopefoolyromantic.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/the-wish-to-live-lorraine-hansberry-and-hope-for-the-human-race/
Noreen and her Ayah, both inspirational.
I was 10, she was 11, from Pakistan, and we both lived in Kenya.
It was a turbulent time in Kenya, which culminated in the 1982 coup. Indians were targeted in the name of nationalism. One night, a gang burst into her house armed with machetes. Her father was beheaded, her uncle, mother and brothers killed, and she was stabbed in the back of her neck. Her Ayah (nanny), a Kenyan, sheltered the dying 11 year old under a table.
Her Ayah at her side, Noreen overcame brain damage and learned to walk again.
Charlotta Bass: An activist extraordinaire at the forefront of a nascent civil rights movement, editor and publisher of The California Eagle, her career spanned more than 50 years. A tireless and fearless campaigner, she received death threats from the KKK, after petitioning for Birth of a Nation to be banned; was under constant FBI surveillance; accused of being a communist and summonsed before the House of Un-American Activities Committee; and, after being nominated and seconded by W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson, respectively, became the first black female vice-presidential candidate for the Progressive Party in 1952.
She lives three lifetimes- her own, her children’s and her grandchildren’s.
In her twilight years, not as fast as she used to be, not as loud, energetic, but -commanding the same amount of respect and giving twice as much love to her children’s children than she ever imagined her heart could carry. Back hunched, mind somewhat cloudy, heart wide open-telling a toddler how sharp he looks wearing the work of her hands, re-learning the Itsy-Bitsy Spider, gracing a tea party, kissing a boo boo, taming an unruly mane, chasing away bad dreams, drying tears- while her children are away.
My WOC hero would be my long time family friend. She is so special to me because she has impacted me to become the huge feminist I am today. She is a survivor of sexual, mental, physical and emotional abuse, was sold as a child bride to get out of poverty, had malaria twice and started clubs to empower young Somali girls. She has taught me that the only one that can silence me is myself, by not standing up for myself. She taught me more about my culture, language wants religion through poetry and short stories. This person is my hero because the amount of support I have gotten from her cannot be put into words and for that, I am eternally grateful!
Unmistakably one of the most influential writer of our time. A woman who commands respect purely by her presence. Speaking in soft tones, with that unmistakable lilt that imforms, your now attentive mind, that you are about to hear something profound. Her books telling her life story have made me realise that my life was not a struggle for she and others like her struggled for me, fought the hypocrisy of the time so that me and mine could walk tall and proud in our skin of colour. I thank you my heroine Maya Angelou.
Hey Sam, I’m so sorry I didn’t see this yesterday! Anyhow below is the entry: Also hope your ok xx Dear Writers of Colour, Can I firstly say what a pleasure it is to respond to this on International Women’s Day. It’s Hannah but I’ve decided to de-transition My hero is my care worker and friend, a proud Ugandan. The funny part of it is that she was only ever supposed to stay for a week, then a week turned into 2 years and not counting! Live in care work as you will know is an industry mostly propped up by women from across the continent of Africa. Care workers work for very little money, and credit. It is not an easy job, sacrificing time with your own family to enrich someone else’s life. My careworker is my hero because she is kind, unselfish and consistent. She gives me confidence and makes me happy. She never complains and is the best care worker I have had. I learn a lot from her, we laugh and we joke and I even know some Luganda. She is my best friend and nothing is ever too much trouble whether day or night. I love her and I would trust her with my life. I cannot fathom racism at all. I have seen people be racist to care workers and I hate it! I just wanted to give my mukwano some recognition. I appreciate her so much. She has stayed with me in hospital and she makes me feel like I can achieve anything in life. My colourful life has never been an issue for her.
I like Harriet Tubman because she helped others. She thought of others. She hid people who were slaves, and she helped slaves escape on the Underground Railroad. Even though she escaped and was safe, she went back for others. She was named after a bible character and that was Moses. Later on she retired and she became a suffragette. She was a very good lady. Harriet Tubman was brave and I want to think about others like she did.
Rebecca Trevett - Age 5 (edited for spelling by Rebecca’s Mum)