Today is International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and a call for gender parity in the world. International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over a century, beginning in 1908, where 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. Then, on February 28, 1909, the first National Woman's Day was observed across the United States. (Coincidentally, February 28 is also Mary Lyon’s birthday, whose contributions to women’s education and empowerment are certainly well known!)
Ifeoma Aduba ’95 majored in politics with a minor in African American studies at Mount Holyoke. Now she's making a difference for her community helping victims of domestic violence as the Executive Director of A Woman's Place. Her life changed the moment she was accepted to Mount Holyoke—she knew then she would be seen and her voice heard.
What's the greatest lesson you learned while at MHC? There have been two that I have carried with me and grow in value for me every day—investing in the education and development of women is priceless for the whole community and to be thoughtful in building a case for support. They are lessons that I have benefited from and that have never failed me!
What's your favorite spot on campus? I love to wander and see what's changed over time... but I always come back to Upper Lake. That's where it started for me, living in MacGregor Hall my first year.
You recently made a gift to MHC. Can you tell us what inspired you to give? I give regularly to MHC—literally out of every paycheck I receive. I know that my experience at MHC and what I have accomplished since was made possible by the generosity of those who came before me and I try to honor that with a piece of every paycheck. That legacy of generosity and investment in women inspires me constantly.
Emily Kyte ’17, a geography major and Arabic minor, left her comfort zone far behind to study abroad in Amman, Jordan this past spring semester. With support from Lynk-funding, she has taken on a new challenge this summer and is making a difference in the lives of refugees, working as an intern for Alhadaf, a non-profit in the Hashemite Kingdom that serves marginalized populations through education, training, psychosocial support services, and medical campaigns. So far this summer, she has designed and taught an ELL (English Language Learner) course for Iraqi refugees, worked with logistics and translation at a health clinic, and is helping to open a new community space for refugees. She writes to us from Jordan:
Kavita N. Ramdas ’85, Senior Advisor, Global Strategy at the Ford Foundation and former President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, was among 5,000 women recently gathered in Washington, D.C. for a "one-of-a-kind" summit, The United State of Women. From the Obamas to 11-year old Mikaila Ulmer, and from trailblazers like Lily Ledbetter to activists like Bamby Salcedo, it was a historic gathering of inspirational leaders, feminists, and extraordinary women:
"Watching the sun slant over the waterways and bridges as the Amtrak train glides by my mind goes back to the 5,000 women with whom I just spent a very special day. We were gathered at the Convention Center in Washington DC to celebrate a one of a kind summit: The United State of Women. Hosted by the White House in close collaboration with the Department of Labor and Justice, the Aspen Institute and with the support of the Ford Foundation, the Pepsico Foundation, Tory Burch Foundation and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women among many others, it was a chance to honour and celebrate the power of women here in the United States and across the globe, while also squarely facing the miles that remain yet to be travelled in our shared quest to end violence and discrimination against women and girls. In words of President Obama, who addressed us all at lunch, "With passion and courage, women have taught us that when we band together to advocate for our highest ideals, we can advance our common well-being and strengthen the fabric of our nation." I would add—the fabric of all nations."
"We're raising our girls to be perfect, and we're raising our boys to be brave," says Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code. Saujani has taken up the charge to socialize young girls to take risks and learn to program—two skills they need to move society forward.
"Some people worry about our federal deficit, but I, I worry about our bravery deficit. Our economy, our society, we're just losing out because we're not raising our girls to be brave. The bravery deficit is why women are underrepresented in STEM, in C-suites, in boardrooms, in Congress, and pretty much everywhere you look."
It started out with a quick email between two classmates who work in the same office building: "Could we take a lunchtime photo together for FebruMary? and invite some other MHC alums who work for the Commonwealth?" A few more emails and a quick LinkedIn search later, and our group had grown to nine. FebruMary meet-up accomplished!
We had a terrific time getting together. We found that our work for the Commonwealth couldn't be more varied—we address issues that range from uniquely local to global; that cover the human lifespan from birth to workforce participation to death. We work for three different Constitutional Officers (Governor Charlie Baker, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, and State Auditor Suzanne Bump) and three State Representatives (one of whom, Representative Ellen Story, kindly arranged for our use of the House Chamber for this photo). Even with this range, we found overlap—it was a nice surprise to find that three of us are on the Special Legislative Commission on Post-Partum Depression, and three of us are mothers of MHC alums. The biggest overlap—every day, we look forward/give back.
“When financial difficulties are combined with disempowerment, people don’t have the vision or the strength to say, ‘I’ll stay hungry before I sell myself.’ My job made me think of bringing the same model to my former university, because it changed my life. I want to empower students.”
Kathryn Smith made history last week becoming the first female full-time coach in the National Football League as the Buffalo Bills' quality control-special teams coach.
The Bills' head coach was inspired to promote Smith in part by other professional sports teams and their female coaches. The San Antonio Spurs appointed Becky Hammon, a former WNBA player, as a full-time assistant coach in 2014 and last year, the Sacramento Kinds hired Nancy Lieberman.
From the NY Times:
Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green is one of fewer than 100 black female physicists in the country, and the recent winner of $1.1 million grant to further develop a technology she’s pioneered. At the University of Alabama in Birmingham, where Dr. Greem earned her Masters and Ph.D. on full scholarship, she was the first to work out how to deliver nanoparticles into cancer cells exclusively, so that a laser could be used to remove them.
Madeleine Gagné started growing algae in her basement in 7th grade as a science fair project. Now at 16, Madeleine founded “The Collins-Miller Project” and is working on a marketable alternative-energy algae biofuel.