‘All that separates, whether of race, class, creed or sex is inhuman and must be overcome.’
Born Catherine Wilson Malcolm on 10 March 1847 in Liverpool, England, Kate – as she preferred to be called – spent her early childhood in London, Dublin and Nairn. Kate’s uncle, who was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland in Nairn, was influential in her religious and moral education and her later adherence to Christian Socialism.
In 1869 after almost a three month journey, Kate, along with her mother and three of her siblings, arrived in New Zealand to join her sister, who had already been living in Christchurch. In 1871 Kate married Christchurch grocer Walter Allen Sheppard. During the early years of her marriage she became an active member of the Trinity Congregational Church and with other members of her family was involved in the temperance movement.
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Princess Pingyang was decidedly more fearsome than her name might suggest. She led an army that helped to establish one of China’s greatest dynasties, and as her father said, ‘she was no ordinary woman’.
Born in 600 AD, Pingyang was the daughter of Li Yuan. Li was born a peasant and had risen through the ranks of the army to become a military commander. The Emperor at the time was the second leader of the Sui Dynasty and was known as Yangdi. Yangdi was not a popular ruler. The people of China saw him as a villain and grew increasingly unhappy with his rule, the things he spend money on and the rising taxes. The whispers of rebellion began to stir as more and more people grew opposed to him.
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Empress Matilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England and his first wife Matilda of Scotland. At aged 8, Matilda was sent to Germany in betrothal to Henry V of Germany, who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope.
As Henry’s Empress, Matilda wielded authority when her husband was absent. She gained practical experience of exercising political power and widespread popularity as ‘Good Matilda’. When her husband died in 1125, Matilda was just 23 and childless, so she returned to England.
During her absence, her only legitimate brother William had died in 1120 in the ‘White Ship disaster’, when his boat sank during a drunken crossing of the English Channel. This left King Henry and England without a direct male heir at a time when every Norman succession had been fought over. To ensure the succession, Henry’s barons swore on oath to recognise Matilda, and any of her future children, as heirs to the throne.
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Benazir Bhutto became the first female leader of an Islamic state when she was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988.
This week’s post is inspired by a young woman I heard speak last weekend. I was privileged to hear Malala Yousafzai (a modern day Shero if ever there was one) speak at the launch of her new book in Birmingham on Sunday. When asked the question ‘Is there anyone who inspires you?’ she spoke about Benazir Bhutto. So I thought I would find out a bit more about the woman who inspires the girl who inspires so many others!
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Franco’s female political prisoners: Tomasa Cuevas
Although the victory of the Nationalist army on 1st April 1939 at the hands of leader General Francisco Franco officially put an end to the Spanish Civil War (1939-1939), the violence was far from over.
Now formally instated, the Francoist dictatorship, which had begun establishing control over the country since the start of the Civil War, was faced with the task of rebuilding the nation. This would be done through a combined focus on the regeneration and implementation of National-Catholic values through legal reform, propaganda, and public morality, and the elimination of the so-called enemies of Spain – particularly communists, republicans, and masons – through social denigration, mass imprisonment, torture, and execution. For women, Francoism meant a return to the ideals of Christian motherhood, with the downfall of the nation attributed to female emancipation.
Continue reading Franco’s female political prisoners: Tomasa Cuevas
Maria Bochareva was a determined, skilled and brave Shero who formed and led the very first women’s battalion in the First World War. Emmeline Pankhurst called her ‘The greatest woman of the century’!
Maria was born in Russia in 1889. The start of her story is not a happy one: She came from a poor family and had an abusive father. Determined to escape this life she got married when she was only 15. Unfortunately things didn’t get much better for Maria, as her first husband was also abusive towards her. Maria left him and soon re-married. Her second husband turned out to be not much better than the first, he was a thief and after sticking with him for so long she eventually left him when he too became violent towards her.
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Mary Trevelyan founded the International Students House, London.
Mary Trevelyan was born on 22nd January 1897 to the Reverend George Philip Trevelyan and his wife, Monica Phillips. Both Mary’s grandfathers were vicars and she was raised in a family committed to public service.The eldest of six children, Mary had a privileged childhood in a well-connected, upper-middle class family. As well as being the great great-granddaughterof a baronet, she was second cousin to the historian, G.M. Trevelyan. Mary Trevelyan grew into a determined, idealistic and energetic adult. Her friend, the poet T. S. Eliot, described her as ‘industrious, honest, and moderately temperate’ .
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