It's 2017 and thank God we finally made it, healthy and privileged enough to exist within this 3rd millennium —well..Gregorian calendar wise; The Screener Age, I hear that's what the cool kids call it — (here's a hint, maybe it has something to do with us constantly being attached to our technology screens).
But as we are busy playing, scrolling and shopping through our gadgets, we forget that life wasn't always like this, especially for women. Long ago, basic women rights were unheard of. Sacrifices had to be made by others, through blood, sweat and tears so that future generations could act and treat women with the equality and respect that we deserve.
So here is a brief history lesson on one of my favorite topics: Women's rights. Time for us to take a step back and revise the progress that the world has made on women and gender issues by paying tribute to some of the greatest of the women to ever live and their outstanding roles. These are some of their contributions throughout history:
Charlotte Maxeke, formerly a Kimberley schoolteacher, becomes the first South African Black woman to receive a Bachelor's degree.
After 72 years, with the passing of the 19th Amendment, women in the USA are finally granted the right to vote.
In November, South Africa's Mary Fitzgerald becomes the first female City Councillor in Johannesburg.
Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet cosmonaut becomes the first woman to visit space.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded.
After the death of her husband, Isabel Martínez de Perón of Argentina becomes the world's first woman President.
Kalpana Chawla an Indo-American astronaut, becomes the first woman of Indian origin to go to space.
Halle Berry becomes the first African American woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress.
“This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox.
And it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened. Thank you. I'm so honored. I'm so honored. And I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel for which His blessing might flow...”
Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai becomes the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in promoting sustainable development, democracy and peace.
(During her activist years she was physically attacked at least 3 times, including being clubbed unconscious by police during a hunger strike in the year 1992. Daniel Moi, the president at the time, called her "a mad woman" who was a threat to the security of Kenya).
In January 2006, Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia becomes the World’s first elected black female president and Africa’s first elected female head of state.
She currently holds the country’s top seat.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia finally grants women the right to vote.
Catherine Samba-Panza takes office in January (and still is the current president of the Central African Republic. She has been tasked with saving the country from itself and is doing a rather commendable job . In her words —
“I think the presence of a woman at the head of the state in today’s context is fundamental.”
Hillary Clinton of the USA becomes the only woman to ever win the presidential nomination of a major party and is now the only woman that has ever come close to winning the Presidency.
So the new year is finally here we are and we've only just began.
Yet in some parts of the world such as Saudi Arabia, women are still not allowed to use public swimming pools that are accessible to men and are limited to undertaking other simple daily activities like driving, schooling or traveling abroad as they are forced to live and abide within the borders of the boxes their dads or husbands draw for them.
It has been a long long walk towards the light but some minds still reside in the tunnel.
The fight continues.