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Inspiring Stories for International Women's Day 2019

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Happy women’s day to all our students, staff and friends of EC around the world. International women’s day is celebrated annually on the 8th March to acknowledge and honour the achievements of women from cultural to social, economic to political. Let’s have a look at some of the remarkable women throughout history, and one woman whose memory is painted on the walls of EC Manchester.

International women’s day is celebrated annually on the 8th March.

Emmeline Pankhurst

If you are taking an English course at EC Manchester, then you may already be familiar with the wall displaying the words, “We are here, not because we are law-breakers, we are here in our efforts to become law-makers”. These words were spoken by Emmeline Pankhurst, the founder of the suffragette movement in the UK, in 1903. In fact, it was she and her daughters Sylvia and Christabel who founded it. The official name of this group was the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

Emmeline Pankhurst, the founder of the suffragette movement in the UK.

Women’s Right to Vote

Led by Emmeline, the suffragettes campaigned for equal voting rights for women. It took time for people to listen but when World War I began, they turned their focus on helping the men at war by becoming factory workers. This was very well received and by the end of the war, in 1918, women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote. In 1928, just a few weeks following Pankhurst’s death, this age was lowered to 21.

The immortalised words of Emmeline Pankhurst in EC Manchester.

Dorothy Vaughan

Born in the US in 1910, Dorothy was a mathematician with her sights set on the stars! Beginning her career as a maths teacher, she later became an engineer for NASA. In NASA, Vaughan was one of the experts in a programming coding language called FORTRAN. She and her team used this language to drive one of the most successful satellite launch missions, and later to launch astronauts into space.

Dorothy Vaughan, mathematician for NASA.

Grace O’Malley

In 16th-century Ireland, Grace O’Malley (Gráinne Mhaol) was a woman pushing against boundaries at every turn. Following the death of her father, she became the queen of her clan. O’Malley was a very successful leader thanks to her ability to form strong alliances. She was also a fearsome pirate with hundreds of men on her crew. She guided this crew to patrol the Irish coastline and protect it from numerous attacks from Queen Elizabeth’s ships, surviving to old age in her castle home.

Grace O'Malley, 16th century lord and pirate.

Gerda Taro

After leaving Germany, Gerda Taro learned photography from her lover, Robert Capa. As she was captioning his photographs, her interest grew and so he taught her the craft. The two worked as a team to photograph the Spanish Civil War and by 1937, Taro was working independently. Unfortunately, she didn’t survive the war, but her work is remembered for its coverage of the Spanish refugees in Almeria and Murcia. The images are a sensitive and realistic insight to humans at times of war.

Gerda Taro, Spanish Civil war photographer.

Wangari Maathai

Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, began her career as a teacher of veterinary anatomy. She was also an environmental political advocate and the founder of the Green Belt Movement. The GBM has so far planted over 51 million trees in Kenya to build climate resilience and empower communities to preserve the environment and improve their quality of life. It has encouraged women in these communities to work together to benefit the group, and not just the individual.

Wangari Maathai, the founder of the Green Belt Movement

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