Five significant women for good

These are in no particular order:

559px-hatshepsut-collosalgranitesphinx02-metropolitanmuseum-tmHatshepsut is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful female pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty.

As Hatshepsut reestablished the trade networks that had been disrupted during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, thereby building a wealth of the Eighteenth Dynasty that has become so famous since the discovery of the burial of one of her descendants, Tutankhamun, began to be analysed.

Hatshepsut was one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper and Lower Egypt, that were grander and more numerous than those of any of her Middle Kingdom predecessors.

Much of upper and lower Egypt is due to her.

cavellNurse Edith Cavell Born on 4 December 1865 in Norfolk, Cavell entered the nursing profession while aged 20, moving to Belgium in 1907.

With the war in 1914 and the subsequent German occupation of Belgium, Cavell joined the Red Cross and began caring for wounded soldiers of all nationalities.

Cavell was arrested on 5 August 1915 by local German authorities and charged with having personally aided in the escape of some 200 such soldiers.  sentenced to death by firing squad.

The sentence was carried out on 12 October 1915 and Cavell’s case received significant sympathetic worldwide press coverage, most notably in Britain and the then-neutral U.S.

It was more a case of what she came to symbolize that caught the public imagination and made her a household word.

aung_san_suu_kyiAung San Suu Kyi was born in 1945 in Yangon, Myanmar. In July 1989, Aung was put under house arrest by the military government for appearing at and creating mass gatherings about democracy.

The problem was that mass gathering were illegal in Myanmar. While still under house arrest, in May 1990, 80% of the seats in Parliament were elected to the NDL. However, the government refused to allow the seats to be taken.

On July 10, 1995, Aung was released from house arrest, yet she refused to leave the country because if she left, she could never return again.

She was subsequently rearrested and has proved a thorn in the side, not only of her country’s enemies but the enemies of freedom and democracy all over the world.

catherineinprayer-tmCatherine of Siena dedicated her life to helping the ill and the poor, where she took care of them in hospitals or homes.

She wrote letters to men and women in authority, especially begging for peace between the republics and principalities of Italy and for the return of the papacy from Avignon to Rome.

She carried on a long correspondence with Pope Gregory XI, also asked him to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States. Incredibly, the Pope, inspired by her wisdom, did return the Papal administration to Rome.

Catherine’s letters are considered one of the great works of early Tuscan literature.

That a woman of that time was so bold and dedicated herself so selflessly to the general good of people makes her quite rightly a saint.

jeannette la pucelleJeannette la Pucelle was tried and executed for heresy when she was only 19 years old. The judgment was declared invalid by the Pope and she was declared innocent and a martyr 24 years later.

She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in only nine days. Several more swift victories led to Charles VII’s coronation at Reims and settled the disputed succession to the throne.

She remained astute to the end of her life and rehabilitation trial testimony frequently marvels at her astuteness. Her subtle replies under interrogation even forced the court to stop holding public sessions.

One of the greats of world history, irrespective of sex, she symbolizes someone who will stand up, knowing something is wrong, even at the price of one’s own life.  A very great woman.


Sadly, some names have popped up on “great women” lists who should not be there.  Many of these have been quite destructive in their actions and one or two are plain sadists.  For example, boadicea should never be on a “greats” list – she cut off women’s breasts and sewed them to their mouths plus other atrocities.  Killing was her thing.  Similarly, Gloria Steinem was on some lists but of course, her movement has wrought great misery on the true progress of women in the latter part of the C20th.  Catherine the Great was a monster too, as was Lucrezia Borgia.  The women who should be celebrated are the constructive ones.

4 comments for “Five significant women for good

  1. QM
    March 8, 2010 at 20:36

    It’s always difficult to say who was or wasn’t a heroin the further in the past you go. Boadicea’s reputation for instance was almost entirely written by her detractors and enemies, though who could blame her for being angry at the Romans who disinherited her, whipped her and raped her daughters.

  2. March 8, 2010 at 20:46

    THere are plenty of fine role models. One woman I would gladly add to my list of great britins in Cicely Saunders, the mother of teh hospive movement

  3. March 8, 2010 at 22:18

    During our rally today our regional chairman said lets forget all those famous lists and pay tribute to all the women here today. I thought that was rather sweet of him 🙂

  4. March 9, 2010 at 04:58

    Cherry, add an “I like that too” for me

    (and true, QM, history is written by the victors)

    I think it’s good though to bring attention to those whose actions require standing against all odds. Good post, James.

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