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November-Inspiring Women

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Centro de Promocion de Salud Integral (CEPROSI) 

Nindiri, Nicaragua 

CEPROSI is working actively to encourage participative leadership of women in their organization and to support women in creating businesses that are profitable and sustainable. CEPROSI has identified and is working intensively with businesses that face the most barriers to productivity. They do this with the objective of improving the overall well-being of all in the eight communities that they work in. 

Gloria (right) is a single mother. She works in a family business with her three daughters making food, which she sells from her home and at the local school. She also works with a group of four other women to make and sell jewelry. They use loans form the ESPERA lending pool to buy materials to make the jewelry. 

1 | Olympe de Gouges  

(b. 5/7/1748  d. 11/3/1793)

Olympe de Gouges was a French Revolution-era playwright and social reformer who addressed issues such as divorce and the rights of unmarried mothers in her writing. Her main political focus was on the full inclusion of women as citizens, a subject she addressed in her most famous work, a pamphlet called “Declaration on the Rights of Woman and the (Female) Citizen”. She wrote it as a response to the Constituent Assembly’s “Declaration on the Rights of Man and the (Male) Citizen.” 

2 | Rosemary Radford Ruether 

(b. 11/2/1936)

Rosemary Radford Ruether is a feminist scholar and Catholic theologian. She received her PhD in classics and patristics in 1965 and since then has written 36 books and over 600 articles. She is particularly well-known as a proponent of women’s ordination as priests and has served on the board of the pro-choice group Catholics for Choice.  

3 | Anne Knight

(b. 11/2/1786 d. 11/4/1862)

Anne Knight was born in England to Quaker parents who were deeply involved in the abolitionist movement. Her own participation in the movement led her to become a feminist pioneer, due to her outrage at women being excluded from the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Knight, alongside fellow activist Anne Kent, founded the Sheffield Female Political Association, which was the first British group to call for women’s suffrage. 

4 | Sr Janemarie Luecke

(b. 4/24/1924 d. 11/17/1987)

Janemarie Luecke was a founding member of Mary’s Pence. She was an English professor and belonged to the Benedictine Order. Janemarie is described as “leading thinker on the changing role of nuns” and is a co-author of the 1965 book The Changing Sister. 

5 | Margaret Cavendish 

(b. 1623 d. 12/15/1673)

Margaret Cavendish was an English aristocrat and wrote prolifically, especially on her favorite subject of rhetorical theory. Her works not well received in her own day due to the sexist attitudes prevalent in society, but luckily, she had the support of her husband William, Duke of Newcastle. 

6 | Sr Jeanne Chézard de Matel 

(b. 11/6/1596 d. 9/11/1670)

Jeanne Chézard de Matel’s innovative earthly works have earned her the title of Venerable by the Catholic Church. Born in France at the beginning of the XVII century, she spent much of her life considering founding a religious order, a goal she accomplished when she founded the “Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament,” whose ministries were oriented toward youth education. Despite her decades of service, Jeanne didn’t make her vows and officially become a nun until a few hours before her death. 

7 | Marie Curie

(b. 11/7/1867 d. 6/4/1934)

Marie Curie, most famous for her research on radioactivity, was born in Warsaw, Poland. She moved to Paris for her studies in 1891, and three years later married her French husband, who would be her scientific partner until his early death in 1906. He did live long enough, however, to see Curie receive her doctorate and accept the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics alongside him. She lived out the rest of her life in France, winning a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, in 1911. 

8 | Fanny Kemble 

(b. 27/11/1809 d. 1/15/1893)

Born in Britain into a family of actors, Fanny Kemble acted herself before her marriage. After being wed, she moved with her husband to the U.S. in 1834, where he held a plantation. After several years of Kemble’s asking to see the plantation, her husband brought the whole family there in 1838. What she saw there horrified her, and prompted her to write her famous anti-slavery Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1839-1839

9 | Diana L. Hayes 

(b. 1955) 

Diana L. Hayes is a renowned American theologian. In particular, she has studied the history of Black Catholics and worked on Black liberation theology. She is also a feminist, a womanist, and a professor emertita of systematic theology at Georgetown.  

10 | Lynda Van Devanter

(b. 5/27/1937 d. 11/15/2002)

Lynda Van Devanter served as an army nurse during the Vietnam War. Her experiences there led her to write a memoir, Home Before Morning, detailing what she saw. Van Devanter was outspoken on behalf of those suffering from PTSD and veterans, particularly female veterans, who received less medical care than their male counterparts. 

11 | Sr. Catherine McAuley

(b. 2/29/1778 d. 11/11/1941)

Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in her native Ireland in 1831. Her original vision was to organize lay social workers to educate and shelter women and girls. In the end, she accomplished this ministry not with laypersons but women religious. 

12 | Mary Astell 

(b. 12/11/1666 d. 5/11/1731)

Mary Astell advocated equal educational opportunities for women, which idea was so unpopular in the England of her time that she published all of her work anonymously. Additionally, she was the head of a charity school for girls which was the first school in England to have an all-female board of governors. 

13 | Juliana Dogbadzi

(b. 1970) 

Juliana Dogbadzi is a Ghanian human rights activist. As a young girl, she fell victim to a forced-labor practice known as Trokosi, living essentially as a slave. Dogbadzi has spent the rest of her life campaigning against Trokosi, establishing a non-profit called International Needs Ghana which was freed over 1,000 victims. In 1999, she received the Reebok Human Rights Award. 

14 | Julia and Celina Ramos

(b Julia 4/5/1947, Celina 2/23/1976 d.11/11/1989)

Julia Elba Ramos and her daughter Celina moved into the empty room of a Jesuit residence when their own street was bombed in the war in El Salvador. Julia worked there as a cook and housekeeper, while Celina attended highschool. Both were murdered when the El Salvadoran army murdered the Jesuits living there. 

15 | Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace (2003)

The Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace was a movement to end the second Liberian civil war. It was a cross-class collaboration between Christian and Muslim women that hinged on non-violent protests.

16 | Margaret Hassan

(b. 4/18/1945 d. 11/8/2004)

Margaret Hassan was born in Ireland, then moved to Iraq in 1972 when she married an Iraqi man. There, she taught English before becoming involved with CARE International in 1991. She has at its head when she was murdered in 2004. 

17 | Winson Hudson 

(b. 17/11/1916 d. 1/5/2004)

Winson Hudson was a teacher and civil rights activist. She taught school in Leake County Mississippi for several years and with the help of Medgar Evers founded a NAACP chapter in the same county. High on her agenda were the issues of school desegregation and voter registration. 

18 | Wilma Mankiller 

(b. 18/11/1945 d. 6/4/2010)

 A-ji-luhsgi Asgaya-dihi, or Wilma Mankiller, was the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, a position she held from 1985-1995. She was an activist and politician for many years prior, and had participated in the occupation of Alcatraz. As principal chief, she fought against the mis-approriation of Native culture in addition to promoting health, educational, and cultural initiatives.  

19 | Emma Lazarus 

(b. 22/6/1849 d. 19/11/1887)

Although most famous for having lines of her poem “The New Colossus” inscribed on the bottom on the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus also translated and wrote prose in addition to poetry. She was a life-long activist for Jewish causes, specifically helping Jewish immigrants who fled the pogroms in Russia establish themselves in the U.S. 

20 | Dr. Nora Kizer Bell 

(b. 6/25/1941 d. 1/24/2004)

Nora Kizer Bell was first woman president of Wesleyan college. She believed that women’s colleges should address issues of concern to all women, in all aspects of life such as the workplace, health and finances. 

21 | Presentation of Mary 

22 | St Cecelia 

(b. 200 d. 230) 

St Cecelia is a Roman martyr and the patron saint of musicians. 

23 | Our Lady of Peace

24 | Las Mariposas 

(b. Patria Mirabal 27/2/1941, Minerva Mirabal 2/3/1926, Maria Teresa Mirabal 15/10/1936 d.11/25/1960)

These three sisters from the Domincan Republic are known as the Mariposas (the Butterflies) because this was the name they used to refer to themselves when acting to undermine the dictatorial regime of Rafael Trujillo. Their activities included distributing pamphlets about the many people Trujillo had killed and collecting materials for guns and bombs. They were assassinated by the military in retribution and survived by their fourth sister, Dede, until she died of natural causes in 2014. 

25 | International Elimination of Violence Against Women Day 

In 1999, the U.N. General Assembly declared November 25th to by the  International Elimination of Violence Against Women Day in honor of the Mirabal sisters (Las Mariposas).

26 | Emma Goldman 

(b. 27/6/1869 d. 14/5/1940)

Emma Goldman was a Russian-American anarchist and rabble-rouser and a loud voice in the labor movement. In 1906 she began the anarchist journal Mother Earth. In 1917 she and her lover were deported to Russia for the attempted assassination of financier Henry Clay Flick, which positioned her to witness the early years of the Russian Revolution. Initially, Goldman was greatly excited by the revolution, but grew disenchanted with its bureaucratization, a process she chronicled in her book, My Disillusionment in Russia

27 | Dorothy Day 

(b. 11/8/1897 d.11/29/1980)

Dorothy Day was an American activist, journalist and political radical. She was active in socialist and anarchist groups in her youth before converting to Catholicism, a process she described in her 1952 autobiography The Long Loneliness. In the 1930s, Day worked alongside Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker Movement, based on direct aid and direct action for the poor. She served as the editor of the Catholic Worker newspaper from its founding in 1933 to her death in 1980. 

28 | Mary Walker, MD

(b. 11/26/1832 d.2/21/1919)

Mary Walker obtained her medical degree in 1855 and started a medical practice that she would later leave to volunteer with the Union Army in the American Civil War. There, she served as a surgeon. Walker was captured by the Confederates after crossing enemy lines to treat wounded civilians and held as a prisoner of war on charges of espionage. She is the only woman and one of only eight civilians to have ever received the Medal of Honor. 

29 | Shirley Chisholm

(b. 11/30/1924 d.1/1/2005)

Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman in Congress (1968). Throughout her 7 terms, she promoted racial and gender equality, advocated for the poor, and demanded an end to the Vietnam War. In 1972, Chisholm became the first woman and African American to seek nomination for President of the U.S. from one of the two main political parties.  

30 | Elizabeth Kenny 

(b. 20/9/1880 d. 30/11/1952)

Elizabeth Kenny was an Australian “bush nurse” who also served in the First World War. She laid down the foundations of modern physical therapy and gained special fame for treating polio victims. Kenny cared for thousands throughout her life. 


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