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6 Fearless Women Who Were An Inspiration In 2018

Dec 23, 2018
Originally published on December 28, 2018 11:01 am

It was an epic year for women activists. Nadia Murad, who had been sexually enslaved by ISIS, was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against human trafficking. She was one of many women who made news — and made changes — in 2018. Here are six inspiring women we profiled on Goats and Soda in 2018.

The Kenyan woman who fought for dignity during childbirth

In August 2013, Josephine Majani came to on a hard hallway floor in the Bungoma District Hospital in Bungoma, Kenya.

Majani heard nurses yelling: "I saw them carry the baby away. They screamed at me, 'Why have you delivered on the floor? Who is going to clean up all this blood? Get up. Get your things and go back to the delivery room.' I was helpless."

Majani has no memory of being slapped, she says, but when she regained consciousness her cheeks stung. But her experience was captured on video.

This extreme lack of attention is not unusual in hospitals in poor countries, says Martin Onyango, the senior Africa legal adviser for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

In February of this year, the court issued a landmark ruling awarding Majani $25,000 in damages, requiring that hospital staff formally apologize to her and setting a precedent that demands women be given quality care and treated with dignity during childbirth.

Read the full story here

The 101-year-old Indian runner who inspires women to do the impossible

Man Kaur is 101, but her routine could tire most 20-somethings.

Every day she wakes up at 4 a.m., bathes, washes clothes, makes tea, recites prayers until about 7 a.m.

And then she goes to the track for an hour of sprinting practice. And she's not just doing it for fun. A competitive runner, Kaur is a world record holder in her age group for several categories.

Now you may be thinking ... is she really 101? Kaur doesn't have proof of her age but her oldest child does. When her baby's birth certificate was issued 81 years ago, Kaur was 20, so you do the math.

The centenarian is a role model for women and runners everywhere.

Read the full story here

The woman who inspired others to speak up about sexual harassment at Mecca

Dressed in a hijab and covered from head to toe, she felt something. Someone — a man — had grabbed onto her butt and would not let go.

The Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, called hajj, was supposed to be the holiest moment of Mona Eltahawy's life.

Instead of telling the authorities, Eltahawy, 15 at the time, simply burst into tears.

"Who wants to talk about sexual assault at a holy place? No one would believe it," she says, recalling the encounter, which took place in 1982.

In early February, Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American activist and journalist and the author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, shared this story on Twitter. It was in response to a viral Facebook post by a Pakistani woman who shared her own experience of being sexually assaulted at hajj. The post inspired an outpouring of similar testimonies from Muslim women around the world.

Read the full story here

The woman who was once enslaved by ISIS — and won a Nobel Peace Prize

In August 2014, Nadia Murad was one of thousands of women from the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq who were captured by ISIS and forced into sexual slavery. Three months later, she escaped through a door that a captor left unlocked.

She has shared her painful story with international media outlets to show the world what happened to Yazidis. She has become a voice for captive women and girls in the process.

Murad urges women who have faced sexual violence to reclaim their lives. "The hope of ISIS was to break the Yazidi community," she says. "But for survivors especially, going back to their lives and getting married and making a life and working, it's basically making sure ISIS did not succeed."

In 2016, she was named the U.N.'s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

In 2018, she became the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who treats victims of rape.

Read the full story here

The academic who called out a blogger's list of top economists for being a #sausagefest

In January, members of the international development community expressed outrage after a prominent blogger published a list of 11 top thinkers in the field. Seven were white men. So is the blogger, Duncan Green, and the person who curated the list, the economist Stefan Dercon.

"#Sausagefest," tweeted Alice Evans, a lecturer in international development at King's College London, in response.

No one's saying that the people on the list don't deserve to be there. They include leading economists like Jeff Sachs, author of The End Of Poverty: How We Can Make It Happen In Our Lifetime, and William Easterly, author of The White Man's Burden: Why The West's Efforts To Aid The Rest Have Done So Much Ill And So Little Good.

But readers were furious that the list had so few women — especially from countries in the developing world.

So Green invited Evans to pen a response, which she called "The Perils Of Male Bias."

Read the full story here

The Mexican activist who wants to see more women with disabilities on TV

Maria Garcia Ramos has been using a wheelchair since she was 14 due to a neurological disorder that damaged her spine.

The founder of a nonprofit called Mexican Women With Disabilities, she advocates for policy and legislation that advance rights for women with disabilities. In 2017, she represented Mexico at the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In March, she attended SXSW, a technology, film and music conference in Austin, Texas, to speak on a panel to help break stereotypes about women with disabilities.

She wants people to know that yes, people with disabilities do have sex. And at a panel on women and television, she called out the panelists – which included the president of Paramount and executives from Warner Bros. — in the Q&A portion for not including people with disabilities on their TV shows.

She shares the biggest misunderstanding of people with disabilities: "People instantly think that a person [with disabilities] is broken or missing something — that as humans we are not complete."

Read the full story here

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