Women’s History Month Tribute
Image Source: Jung Hawon/AFP
This March, Freely Magazine would like to honor women around the world in a special article highlighting important female figures and their lasting legacies worldwide. Everywhere, women are fighting a battle to have a voice, to be treated with respect, and most of all to have rights. Women around the world often face very different challenges from cultural attitudes to workers’ rights to protection and retaliation against sexual assault, but together we are united by our passion and our drive to stand up for our rights. Together, we will fight for equality.
“Uncomfortable Courage” Protests (South Korea)
By Jae-In Kim
I believe that women’s history is created by the gathering of our courageous voice—debates, social media movements, and ambitions within the group. With that being said, I want to credit all the Korean females who had participated in so-called “Uncomfortable Courage” protests in 2018, against the ongoing gender discrimination in a sexual harassment investigation. When the victim is a woman, numerous facts are covered up, and secondary assaults exist, whereas when a victim is a man, the perpetrator is punished so quickly. It is inequality resulting from a male-dominated investigation process, and the “Uncomfortable Courage” protests had expressed anger toward it. There were six protests within seven months, and more than 300,000 Korean women participated, which is the most significant feminism movement in Korea so far.
The incredible thing is that no one—the government and organizations—forced Korean women to do this. The citizens voluntarily scheduled a day, selected a place, and made social media posts to promote the event. In the end, it was to accomplish one goal: a better environment for females. Still, many Korean women are ready to talk about gender discrimination with the world–we are ready to make a new history.
Rachel Corrie (America)
By Hal Conte
Her death tragic, her cause controversial, her life inspirational, Rachel Corrie is a name which may not resonate in every household, but is one which shines real light on 21st century world realities. Corrie, a 23-year-old American college student passionate about global justice and , was crushed by a bulldozer in 2003 attempting to block the illegal destruction of Palestinian homes, sparking international condemnation of the Sharon government and Caterpillar corporation, which constructed the bulldozer. Even those who do not sympathize with the Palestinians in the Arab-Israeli conflict will likely understand her idealism. “Maybe,” she wrote in her diary, “if people stopped thinking of themselves, and started thinking of the other sides of things, people wouldn’t hurt each other.” In Gaza, shortly before her death, she wrote, I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Pakistan)
By Haajrah Gilani
Pakistani filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, has received worldwide acclaim for her documentaries, including six Emmy, two Academy Awards, and Pakistan’s second highest civilian honor, Hilal-i-Imtiaz. Her career, now nearly two decades long, has constantly challenged the male-dominated field of directing and producing. Her films combat misogynistic issues in Pakistan, such as honor killings and acid attacks, in a way that only a woman from the country could. While Western media often tells these stories in heavily-biased and patronizing ways, Obaid-Chinoy has been able to criticize Pakistan’s patriarchy without belittling the country and its people.
Jessica Nabongo (Uganda/United States)
By Emma Krampe
Jessica Nabongo made history on October 6, 2019 in the Seychelles when she became the first black woman to travel to all 195 UN member states including the Vatican and Pakistan. Only approximately 200 people around the world have completed the feat, which took Nabongo approximately 2.5 years when her goal intensified into a full time job. Prior to 2017, she had visited (just!) 46 countries. Her journey was documented along the way on both Instagram and her blog, The Catch Me If You Can, through which Nabongo has launched other entrepreneurial ventures including Jet Black, a boutique luxury travel company and The Catch, a socially conscious marketplace for global handicrafts and artisanal works. Perhaps Nabongo’s power is her presence in an industry only recently growing to include and support solo-female travelers, especially women of color, as well as her commitment to increasing cultural awareness.
Marie Jana Korbelová (Czech Republic/United States)
By Pavlina Cerna
Marie Jana Korbelová was born in former Czechoslovakia (today’s Czech Republic) in 1937. As just a one year old she had to flee the country with her family due to the Munich agreement, a settlement that permitted Germany annex Czech Sudetenland and occupy the country.
The family’s Jewish roots and her father being a diplomat made them a target of the Nazis. The family tried to return after the Second World War ended only to be met by the ruling Communists forcing them into exile once again. Korbelová came to the United States as a refugee at the age of 11.
At the age of 41, Marie Jana Korbelová entered politics as a staffer at the National Security Council. On January 23, nominated by former President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate 99-0, she became the first and highest-ranking woman to become U.S. Secretary of State — fourth in line to succeed the president in case of emergency, yet not allowed to ever take his place because she was not born on American soil.
In 2012 former President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given by the U.S. to civilians.
She is my idol, someone I look up to and admire, a living proof that one can go from a refugee to the fourth most important person in the presidential succession line.
You might also know her as Madeleine Albright.