Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Phung wants to attend college and become an accountant, and while she is too poor right now for that to seem feasible, her astonishing work ethic just might make it possible. She recently asked her father to pay for extra tutoring, but he cannot afford the annual $40 fee.
Kristof feels that the 2,500 year old legacy of Confucius (which includes respect for teachers, scholarship, and the belief that "education can change destinies") works in her favor. In that part of the world, education is generally a top priority.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Many of you might think that this blog would focus on Hillary Clinton, who is wearing gray in the above photo, because she was First Lady for eight years, a former US Senator, Presidential candidate, and our current Secretary of State. But, instead, I'd like to pay tribute to her mother, Dorothy Emma Howell Rodham, who died on November 1st at the age of 92.
Dorothy Rodham had a childhood that has been described as "Dickensian." She was born in Chicago in 1919 and her sister, Isabelle, was born in 1924: Dorothy's father (Edwin Howell) was a fireman and her mother (Della) was a neglectful parent. The couple had an unhappy, often violent marriage, and in 1927 Dorothy's father filed for divorce. Della did not show up in court, but her sister (Frances Czeslawski) appeared and testified against her. Edwin was granted custody of his daughters, but was either unwilling or unable to care for them.
When Dorothy was only eight years old, she was put in charge of her three-year old sister for their four-day train trip (on their own) from Chicago to Alhambra, California (1: No Paternal Safety Net). Unfortunately, her paternal grandparents were ill-prepared to take care of two young girls. Her grandmother (whom she remembered as a strict woman who wore black dresses, punished the girls severely for small mistakes, and wouldn't let them have visitors or attend parties) was once so angry at Dorothy for going trick-or-treating on Halloween that she ordered the girl to stay in her room for one full year - except for attending school. Fortunately, when the grandmother's sister learned about the punishment, Dorothy's "restriction" was lifted after four months.
At age 14, Dorothy moved out of her grandparents' home (14: Selective Disassociation) and accepted a job as a housekeeper, cook and nanny for a family that gave her room, board, and $3.00 a week. They encouraged the young teenager to read and go to school, so Dorothy enrolled at Alhambra High School where she joined both the Spanish and the Scholarship clubs.
In High School her speech and drama teacher (Miss Drake) and her English teacher (Miss Zellhoefer) let Dorothy know that they really believed in her. She paid tribute to them both in a book marking the school's centennial in 1998 (4: Supportive Someone). But after graduating in 1937, she made the brave decision to return to Chicago - where she hoped to enroll at Northwestern University - because her mother had told her that her new stepfather would help her pay for college (11: Risk Addiction).
Unfortunately, Della only wanted her daughter to be nearby in order to work as her housekeeper, so Dorothy found work as a secretary at a textile company and in 1942 married a travelling salesman named Hugh Ellsworth Rodham.
They moved to the suburbs and had three children (Hillary, Hugh and Tony), and even though Dorothy never had a career of her own she encouraged her daughter (as well as both her boys) to get a good education and engage in meaningful work. In spite of a miserable childhood, she managed to make the most of life as a mid-century American housewife. Hillary once paid this tribute to Dorothy: "I'm still amazed at how my mother emerged from her lonely early life as such an affectionate and levelheaded woman" (8: Turning No into Yes).
After her death, President Obama said "Ms. Rodham was a remarkable person. Anybody who knows her history knows what a strong, determined and gifted person she was. For her to have been able to live the life that she did, and to see her daughter succeed at the pinnacle of public service in this country [was] I'm sure, deeply satisfying to her."
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Instead of focusing on one amazing woman, today's blog will introduce you to the three women who received - on Friday - this year's Nobel Peace Prize . Their selection highlights not only the "Arab Spring" movement, but the increased power and influence women are experiencing globally. President Obama said that the winners pictured above are "a reminder that when we empower women around the world everyone is better off, that countries and cultures that respect the contributions of women invariably end up being more successful than those that don't."
Friday, September 30, 2011
Today I'd like to introduce you to an amazing woman who, sadly, died last week. Wangari Muta Maathai was best known as the force behind Kenya's Green Belt Movement, a program she developed to help women plant trees in order to conserve the environment and improve the quality of life.
Born in 1940 in the village of Ihithe, Kenya, Maathai’s first years were spent when the country was still a British colony. Her family was Kikuyu, which is the largest ethnic group in Kenya, and when she was seven years old she, her mother, and two brothers lived in one place while her father worked on a white-owned farm in a different part of the country (1: No Paternal Safety Net). Maathai moved to Mathari and entered St. Cecilia’s intermediate Primary School, which was a Catholic boarding school (3: Belief In The Unbelievable). At that time she became fluent in English and took the Christian name of Mary Josephine.
When she completed her studies at St. Cecilia’s, she was ranked first in her class (10: The Critic Within) and was admitted to Kenya’s only Catholic High School for girls - Loreto High School Limuru. During the 1960s, her country was undergoing upheaval, including the Mau Mau uprising and the end of Colonialism, 300 Kenyan’s were chosen to study at American Universities. They were part of a program known as “The Kennedy Airlift” or “Airlift Africa.”; Barack Obama was one of the recipients of this scholarship program.
Maathai studied at Mt. St. Scholastica College (now Benedictine College) in Atchison Kansas, majored in Biology, minored in Chemistry and German, and graduated in 1964. The Africa-American Institute provided a Scholarship for her to enroll at the University of Pittsburgh for her Masters Degree in Biological Sciences, which she received in 1966.
Told that she had been appointed as a research assistant at University College of Nairobi, she returned to Kenya only to learn that the position had been given to someone else. Her belief was that this was due to both tribal and gender bias. She found work at the School of Veterinary Medicine at University College of Nairobi under a German professor (Reinhold Hofmann), who encouraged her to peruse her doctorate; she studied at both University of Munich and The University of Giessen (4: Supportive Someone).
In 1969, she returned to Nairobi to work as an assistant lecturer and continue her doctorate studies. That year she married Mwangi Mathai, who had also studied in America. In 1971 she became the first East African woman to receive a PhD, and by 1977 she was named Associate Professor in Veterinary Anatomy at the University of Nairobi. During this time, she campaigned for equal rights for female staff members at the university, and joined the National Council of Women of Kenya. She began to see that the root of most of Kenya’s problems was environmental degradation, and it became her life's work (7 Magnificent Obsession).
She encouraged the women of Kenya to plant tree nurseries and search nearby forests for seeds to grow trees native to the area. In return, she paid the women a small stipend for each seedling that could later be planted elsewhere. In 1979, after ten years of marriage, she and her husband divorced (15: Forget about Prince Charming), and her activism on behalf of women and the environment led her to be the recipient of a campaign of hurtful name calling. Maathai (and everyone else) was told that she was: too strong-minded for a woman, cruel, ignorant, a mad woman, and a threat to the order and security of the country (5: Life is not a Popularity Contest).
Her divorce was costly, and there was no way she could afford to support their three children on her University salary alone. So she let them stay with their father for the next six years while she accepted a job in Zambia that required extensive travel. By 1992, her advocacy for the environment and her pro-Democracy activism made her a target for assassination (11: Risk Addiction). As a result, she barricaded herself in her home for three days before the police entered and arrested her. She was arrested again in 2001 in an attempt to save public land from deforestation.
In 2004, Maathai became the first African woman (and first environmentalist) to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Thanks to her determination and bravery, more than 30 million - WOW - trees (and women) are standing proud. Sadly, Maathai died at age 71, but her cause continues; for more information contact: www.greenbeltmovement.org
Looking forward to your comments . . .
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
and divorced three times (15: Forget about Prince Charming). The one area of her personal life that does seem stress-free can be found in her role as a mother to twins Emma and Max. She employs no nannies, but family members (her mother, Guadalupe, and cousin, Tiana, and best friend from childhood, Arlene) help with child care duties. She has traveled with the twins when work made it necessary, and has promised herself to never be away from them for more than 24 hours (16: Intensive Motherhood). Last year People Magazine labeled Jennifer Lopez the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.
Friday, August 12, 2011
As we all know, in today's world there are more and more women assuming positions of power. Recently, Robb Young's beautiful new book crossed my path and I couldn't wait to share it with Self-Empowered Woman fans. Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians & Fashion (Merrell, $29.95, 192 pp) gives us an inside look at how women in the public eye choose to present themselves.
For example, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto frequently wore a "salwar kameez," which is a traditional tunic-and-trouser suit that (in various fabrics and colors) she wore for decades when she led the Pakistan Peoples Party. Thanks to her, it became the most suitable form of dress for political women. Sadly, on December 27, 2007, as she was in Rawalpindi preparing to run for Prime Minister for the third time, she was wearing a blue and white salwar kameez. After she prepared to leave, and touched up her makeup, a suicide bomber detonated himself next to her car, and she was dead.
Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said that the Ossi syndrome (a bias against those who have roots in the former East Germany) has contributed to the criticism about her public appearance. Many have said that she looks and dresses in a manner that is "frumpy, stern and outdated." In her words"Half of the German press constantly feels the need to review my haircut and make antics about it." But many feel that her "style deficit" and "dull outfits" demonstrate "consistency and prudence, two qualities general prized in German politics."
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the Former President of Latvia, was - in 1999 - a multilingual, scholarly emigre (she had left the country as a child when the Soviets occupied Latvia), who became a compromise candidate for president. After the election she relied on skirt suits in rich fabrics such as damask, jacquard and embroidered tweeds. In her words, " I considered it my duty, representing Latvia, to present myself in an attractive and correct way...All one has to do is to avoid looking silly, frilly, frumpy or slovenly."
The Former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was often called "everyone's favorite aunt," and is a woman who always stands out in a crowd. Eminent economist and vice-president of the World Bank, she returned to Nigeria to clear up what had once been called "the most corrupt place on earth." When it came to style, she was primarily known for her bright "head ties"; her way of tying them became a national trademark.
Former Prime Minister of India, Indira Ghandi wore hand-loomed saris that made both a fashion and a political statement. For decades, her saris were made of khodi, which is a homespun fabric that had been an integral part on India's economic empowerment and opposition to British Colonial Rule. By law, the Indian flag must be made of khodi, a rustic fabric that Indira Ghandi transformed into an elegant and stately political style
Looking forward to your comments...
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
As most of you already know, The Self-Empowered Woman blog strives to be a virtual salon, where we have an on-going opportunity to meet a wide variety of accomplished, interesting women. I think today's blog will both inspire and amaze you.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
The two women pictured above represent a great political story for our time. The woman on the left is Kirsten E. Gillibrand, who was appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's New York Senate by then-governor David A. Paterson. And thanks to her deep-seated belief that more women need to participate in government (7: Magnificent Obsession), the woman on the right (Terri Sewell) ran for a House seat in Alabama, won the election, and became the first black woman ever elected to Congress from that state.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011