Tcheng Soumay (also known as Tcheng Yu-hsiu and Madame Wei Tao-ming) was a lawyer and campaigner for democracy and women’s rights. She was active in China in the first half of the twentieth century when the ancient empire was toppled and competing factions fought for the soul of the new republic.
Soumay (to use her first name) was born to a wealthy family in Canton. Her father was a government official, her mother was the daughter of a general. It was usual to bind the feet of upper class girls, so their gait was ‘dainty.’ Always a rebellious child, Soumay refused to have her feet bound, ripping off the bandages. Her father was sympathetic, he encouraged her inquiring intellect and, wanting to take her around in public with him, dressed her as a boy. Continue reading Tcheng Soumay
Last year I wrote about Ani Pachen, an incredible shero who was, as the title of this book indicates, a Tibetan warrior nun. Her life intrigued and inspired me, and I wanted to know more, so I ordered her biography Sorrow Mountain, which I’ve just finished reading. Continue reading Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun – Ani Pachen & Adelaide Donnelley
Sophie Duleep Singh was an Indian princess, turned rebel suffragette, who marched alongside Emmeline Pankhurst and dedicated her life to the cause of votes for women.
Sophia was born on 8th August 1876, at her family’s stately home in Suffolk. But she was no normal English aristocrat; her father was Maharaja Duleep Singh – the last king of the Sikh empire, who was withdrawn from his throne (after the British Empire conqured the Punjab), and was exiled from India to England a couple of years later when he was still just a teenager. He brought with him the famous Koh-i-noor diamond, which now sits in the crown jewels. He converted to Christianity and enjoyed the favour of Queen Victoria. When Sophia was born she (the Queen) became her godmother. Continue reading Sophia Duleep Singh
Empress Dowager Cixi began her ascent to rule when she was only 16, during a time where female names were too insignificant to be recorded; she was known as ‘the woman of the Nala family’. She was taken in as a concubine by the Xianfeng Emperor in 1852, during a routine selection.
Cixi went down in history to some as a ruthless killer; a woman who was selfish, strict and cunning. Traits which, had they been describing a man, would not be given a second thought. Cixi was, however, a clever woman with an array of talents and who ruled the Qing Dynasty when her husband died.
Continue reading Empress Dowager Cixi
The Trung sisters are famous in Vietnam for their brave stand against the occupying Chinese nearly 2000 years ago.
Trung Trac and Trung Nhi were sisters, daughters of a powerful military ruler. Unlike many neighbouring countries of the time, women in Vietnam could work, becoming judges or soldiers, and were allowed to inherit property and land. This opened a world of opportunity to the young sisters. As girls growing up they were really into martial arts and when they grew into young women their lessons extended to the art of warfare, which they learnt from their dad. These sisters were strong, brave and not to be messed with!
Continue reading The Trung Sisters – We are family
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.
Continue reading Ani Pachen: ‘Tibetan Joan of Arc’
Hind Al-Husseini was born in occupied Jerusalem on April 25, 1916 to two Jerusalemite Palestinian parents. Her father died when she was only two years old, and left her mum to bring up her and her brothers on her own.
Despite the difficult conditions Hind’s mother faced, she was determined that Hind should pursue her education. Hind finished Elementary school in 1922 and she then joined the English Secondary School to become a teacher and graduated in 1937. She quit teaching in 1945 and decided to take on social work, and became the coordinator of the Women Social Cooperative Society in Jerusalem.
Continue reading Hind Al-Husseini