Mary was born in 1799 to a poor family in Lyme Regis, her father was a cabinet maker and she was one of 10 children (although only her and her elder brother, Joseph, survived into adulthood). She was fortunate to be able to learn to read and write at the Sunday School of the Congregationalist Church her dissenting parents attended. Yet as a girl from a poor working family in the early nineteenth century her opportunities were limited, probably working from home before marriage and motherhood, and a likely hand to mouth existence.
In the medieval world, dominated by men, Anne of Brittany spent her life fighting for her Duchy to retain it’s traditional independence.
Born in 1477, Anne was the daughter of Duke Francis of Brittany. Her older half-brother had died within weeks of birth, and her younger sister died aged twelve. As the eldest of the two girls with no brother following them, Anne was Francis’ heir.
Brittany was an independent Duchy, bordered by France but technically separate. As the French kings expanded their borders, Brittany came under threat. Duke Francis spent his life fighting to keep the Duchy independent, and must have hoped that sooner or later he would have a son who would continue that fight. He had Anne educated, she was his presumed heir after all, but he no doubt believed that he wouldn’t actually have to leave his Duchy to a girl, with all the political problems that would ensue.
Ani Pachen was a Tibetan tribal princess who became a Buddhist nun and led her tribe against the Chinese.
Pachen Dolma was born in 1933 in Eastern Tibet. Her father was the leader of her tribe. As a girl growing up she learned how to ride & shoot, but Pachen (Ani) had a desire for a more peaceful life.
When she was 17 years old she heard of plans to marry her to a chieftan from another tribe. She wasn’t keen on the idea so instead she took tried to run away and join a Buddhist monastery, she wanted to become a nun. The name she is now known by ‘Ani Pachen’ means simply ‘Nun, Big Courage’. Her father send some of his men to bring her back home; he told her he missed her terribly and agreed to call off the marriage he had arranged. Over the next few years of her life her Buddhist practice deepened and she learned how to meditate and live a peaceful life.
Mary Macarthur was born in Glasgow in 1880. Her family were Conservatives and at first she shared the same political beliefs. In 1901 she attended a meeting to discuss the establishment of a branch of the Shop Assistants’ Union, which caused her to rethink her politics. The meeting inspired Mary to become an advocate of trade unionism and a member of the Labour Party.
Mary Macarthur is perhaps best known for founding the National Federation of Women Workers (NFWW) in 1906.