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BHM17 – Ida B Wells

BHM - Ida B Wells

Ida B Wells lived from 1862 to 1931 in the USA. She was a brilliant journalist who documented the lynchings that were taking place there, and she also campaigned to stop this practice. She mostly worked in the USA but she also came to Scotland to speak as part of an anti-lynching tour in 1893. I find it awe-inpiring that she visited Scotland so people here could learn about her work and her experiences. She wrote fondly of her time here, so I think she felt appreciated at the time.

Long before women in the civil rights movement such as Rosa Parks were arrested for refusing to go to the back of buses, Ida B Wells was forced to leave a train in 1884 as she refused to sit in a ‘colored’ compartment. She took this to court and won her case (although the decision was sadly overturned) and her writing about this incident was the beginning of her journalistic career.

Ida lost 3 of her own friends to murders by lynching in 1892 and this started her on her path as one of the foremost anti-lynching campaigners.

It’s inspiring that she took experiences from her life and used them as catalysts to change society, and to excel in her field. At Amina, we see women who have this same ability to use their experiences to change the world, and women who have the courage to make changes in their own lives. We hope you can join us in our #YouCanChangeThis campaign to end injustice in the lives of women and girls across Scotland.

BHM17 – Maud Sulter

BHM - Maud Sulter

 

Maud Sulter has left such a wonderful legacy in Scotland in terms of the creative work made by women of colour. She organised with other women so they could encourage one another to keep going in the face of the adversity that comes with being creative – a writer, an artist, a poet, a photographer – when the world seems to expect this work only from white, middle class men.

Her work ‘Passion’ is evidence of this work. Women such as Lubaina Himid and Meera Syal were photographed and featured so that the work stands as a testimony to how many amazing, creative women of colour were working at that time.

Maud Sulter’s photography work also documented creative women. Her image of Alice Walker as Phalia represents her so perfectly – her love of flowers, her warm smile and her existence on the earth as a woman of colour, a poet and a human being. I would never have heard of Dorothea Smartt if I hadn’t seen the image ‘Clio’ at Dundee’s McManus Museum. As soon as I knew about her, I went and found as many of her poems as I could.

Maud’s own poetry is often poignant and even painful to read but it’s also brilliant. I strongly recommend you give her work a try. Women speaking out from their own experience is a big part of our self-care work in the VAW programme at Amina, and Maud Sulter’s work is inspirational and reminds us of the importance of speaking out, and what it can lead to.

BHM17 – Nawal El Saadawi

BHM - Nawal El Saadawi

Nawal el Saadawi comes from Egypt. She trained as a doctor and psychiatrist, but she is also an author and an advocate for women’s rights. She has spoken out against female genital mutilation for decades. She has shared the account of how it happened to her at the age of 6. She’s still involved in activism now. She says “I’m fighting against the patriarchal, military, capitalist, racist post-modern slave system. I am going to fight for this for ever.”

Her books include non-fiction works such as ‘The Hidden Face of Eve’ and fictional writing such as ‘Woman at Point Zero’.

She visited Scotland in 2015 and her speech was inspiring, both in terms of the work we can do in Scotland but also how we can magnify the voices of women doing the same kind of work all over the world, in ways that make sense for their contexts.

If you’d like to know more about FGM this is a good resource: http://www.fgmaware.org/ The film does not contain graphic images. If you’d like support on this issue or just a listening ear, please call our helpline.

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