Phenomenal Women – Rita Williams & Ramona Nedd

Today it is Mother’s Day in the UK, and it is also the 17th anniversary of the passing of my grandmother.  I only ever had one grandmother, so it was heartwrenching when she passed.  Her story is one of strength and resilience she was a domestic for rich plantation owners in Guyana and was descended from the indentured East Indian labourers who were duped into moving to Guyana after the abolition of slavery.  A single mother to 6 children she made immense sacrifices for the good of her family including sending my mom and her sister’s to live in a Catholic orphanage giving them the opportunity to have a good education and raise their aspirations.

My mother obviously got her work ethic from her mom, and she took the opportunities given to her through being placed in the Orphanage a focused student and avid athlete she balanced school work with netball, swimming, and cycling.  As soon as she could start working she sacrificed higher education to begin working to support her younger siblings and to enable her mother to stop working in other people’s houses.

So today I wanted to honour both these women who set the blueprint for the other women in our family, as one of my favourite quotes says,

“Here’s to all the strong women, may we know them, may we be them and may we raise them!”

 

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50 Women: 50 Years

In 2016, we published a book about Guyanese women.  Today on International Women’s Day we wanted to celebrate the women who were part of that book.  The thought-process behind the book was that we wanted to showcase ordinary women leading extraordinary lives and use the book as a way to inspire the next generation and force this generation of women to step into their own spotlight and acknowledge their greatness.  To do this, we asked each woman three simple questions:

  1. What is your earliest/most significant memory of Guyana?
  2. What has been your greatest achievement/proudest moment?
  3. What words of advice would you give to other Guyanese women?

To say that we were blown away by the responses would be an understatement.  The inspirational quotes were insightful and uplifting, and the achievements of these women ranged from overcoming adversity, nurturing children, siblings and other family members to developing businesses and achieving academic success.

To build on the success of this book, we are proud to announce that we are opening calls for contributions to our second book which will be entitled “Women of Kaieteur – strength, grace, and endurance.  If you or someone you know want to be profiled in the book, please ask them to send to complete the attached form.

Why not grab a copy of 50 Women: 50 Years from Amazon and help us to continue our good work.  All funds raised are used to help women and girls in Guyana.

Phenomenal Women – Dr. Faith Harding

Writing this profile was bittersweet for the team at Women of Kaieteur.  Dr. Faith Harding was by far the most prolific and outspoken advocate for Women’s Rights in Guyana.  It is my belief that she was the first true feminist in Guyana.  She worked tirelessly to improve conditions for women and girls and was also a child psychiatrist, educator, and a political activist as well as a wife and mother.

This particular profile is more poignant because for years many of the team knew her as PJ’s mom because she was also the mother of one of our high school friends.  She was warm and kind as well as fiercely committed to the causes that she chose to support.  Her phenomenal journey was cruelly cut short in 2015 but her legacy lives on through all the people both women and men who she helped through her activism.  She is gone but never forgotten and we are proud to hail her as one of our heroines at Women of Kaieteur.

Phenomenal Women – Malala Yousafzai

Our second phenomenal woman is Malala, an activist who stands out because she dedicated her life to the fight for education with a zeal that many women more than twice her age fail to display.   Born in Pakistan and determined to go to school and gain an education as well as campaigning for education for girls she was an anomaly in a society where parents usually focused their educational aspirations on boys her parents supported and encouraged her to gain an education.  A fervent challenger to the Taliban regime at an early age Malala was blogging for the BBC about life under the Taliban under a pen name.  In 2012, Malala paid a high price for her beliefs when the Taliban targeted her and shot her while on the way to school intending for her to die.  Luckily for us, she survived to continue her campaigning, relocated to the UK and was the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.  Malala is a beacon of hope for women and girls across the world and is an obvious choice for our Phenomenal women profiles.

As she says

We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”

Phenomenal Women – Michelle Obama

To kick off our month of strong female role models we decided to highlight Michelle Obama.  A woman filled with poise and grace no one could have predicted the profound impact and legacy that she would leave.  Arguably the most influential first lady that has ever graced the White House she dazzled at the inauguration ball and at her numerous public engagements, but her beauty isn’t the thing that created her legacy. It was the way that she spoke passionately about the issues close to her heart including the progression of girls, healthy eating and wellbeing and the warmth and compassion demonstrated in all her public appearances.  For the eight years that her husband held office, she inspired and motivated people around her to do more.  The positivity that she exudes and the multiple roles that we observed her playing filled us as women with hope for a future where girls could be anything and everything that they want to be.  And it is for this reason that we have chosen Michele Obama as our first Women of Kaieteur profile.

To close with a quote from the lady herself

“Women and girls can do whatever they want.  There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”