How many awesome, under-recognized women make up our history? Let's start by saying I recognized only one of the dozen honorees of 2014’s Women’s History Month, which kicked off March 1. This year, the National Women's History Project, which gave life to the list, chose to honor women of "character, courage and commitment."
“Against social convention and often legal restraints, women have created a legacy that expands the frontiers of possibility for generations to come,” the organization says of this year’s honorees. “They have demonstrated their character, courage and commitment as mothers, educators, institution builders, business, labor, political and community leaders, relief workers, women religious, and CEOs. Their lives and their work inspire girls and women to achieve their full potential and encourage boys and men to respect the diversity and depth of women’s experience.”
The woman who was familiar to me is Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions. She lost her legs and partial use of her right arm after her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and exploded. She earned a Purple Heart for her combat injuries, went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of Veteran Affairs, and in 2014 was elected to the House of Representatives for the state of Illinois.
You can find all the honorees here, and I encourage you to take a few minutes to read about these remarkable women. Here are a few I particularly wanted to call out.
Chipeta (1843-1924). An Indian rights advocate who married a powerful chief of the Uncompahgre Ute tribe in what is now western Colorado, Chipeta (above) lived through the “often violent and brutal times of western settlement. Chipeta was a peacemaker who did not consider all settlers to be the enemy, often giving food to starving white families.”Read more...
1. And the award goes to…Lupita Nyong’o, by a mile. It was wonderful, at this year’s Oscars, to see the Academy honor films that incorporated strong, complex female roles. Gravity won mostly for its technical achievement, although its director won for best director. Frozen, about two sisters, won for best animated feature. And Nyong’o won for best actress in a supporting role, for her portrayal of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. If there were an award for best acceptance speech, Nyong’o would have won by a mile. Her thank you’s were more personal than most, telling director Steve McQueen, “you charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit.” More important, she acknowledged the difficult subject matter of her film and the long history of racism in this country, without ever threatening to embark on a political diatribe. If this acting thing doesn’t work out, the diplomatic corps would be lucky to have her.
2. In the fast lane. Researchers describe your 40s as the new “rush hour of life,” when family and work priorities are most in competition, says Pamela Druckerman, writing in The New York Times. Living in Paris, Druckerman reaches for a more profound explanation of the decade, hoping to better understand it while she’s in it, rather than waiting for retrospect to do its magic. She quotes Jerry Seinfeld, when he went on stage with a bunch of other comedy writers to accept an Emmy. “You see these gnome-like cretins, just kind of all misshapen. And I go, ‘This is me. This is who I am. That’s my group.’” Says Druckerman: "By your 40s, you don't want to be with the cool people; you want to be with your people."
3. What does it take to keep the Internet secure? Partly, a complicated multi-player drama hosted by ICANN and playing out four times a year, involving iris scanners, 14 "primary keyholders," and, occasionally, a security guard who mistakenly reads someone's PIN number aloud. James Ball of The Guardian chronicles it all in minute detail, assuring us that, for better or worse, the ceremony is "one part The Matrix (the tech and security stuff) and two parts The Office (pretty much everything else.)"