By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA
Our theme for this week’s Top Five on Friday is hard work and recognition. Both of these ideas are important, and they are intrinsically linked: hard work deserves recognition, and recognition requires hard work. Our stories this week highlight audacious women who have overcome triumphs and who inspire others to keep forging ahead. We hope you’ll share these articles with your friends and family who need a boost!
1. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has traveled around the world many times in her years of public service, but she has always prioritized the needs and accomplishments of women and girls. She is, herself, a leader; but while speaking at a recent event in Washington, D.C., she highlighted the achievements of others.
Hillary Clinton pushes for women on the world stage, by Katie Glueck, Politico
“The potential 2016 presidential candidate cited women’s achievements in resolving conflicts in places including Liberia, Northern Ireland and Rwanda, and she emphasized the potential for growth in Afghanistan.
“‘Afghanistan should embrace and empower all of its people, including women,’ the former secretary of state said. ‘We know how hard that is, but women are out running for office. There’s even women running for president in Afghanistan. And their voices deserve to be heard.'”
2. Madonna Badger experienced horrible tragedy two years ago, when she lost her two daughters and her parents in a horrific fire. In this emotional piece, she tells the story of her struggle to continue in the aftermath, and what it took for her to find happiness again.
The Long Road Back: How to Keep Going After the Unimaginable Happens, by Madonna Badger, Vogue
“The garage behind the house in Stamford hadn’t caught fire, and I had stored old boxes of toys there that my girls had outgrown and a bunch of things I had saved for them for when they grew up. I took a bag of it all to Thailand, and on Christmas morning I gave the girls presents, and they were so excited. Thirty or so of them came and stood in front of me and prayed for me in Thai. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them we were all crying. When I looked into the girls’ faces, I saw my children. It broke me open in a way I still can’t fully explain. But if these little girls were living their lives with joy and happiness, I realized—and if they could give their love to me after all they had been through—how could I possibly feel sorry for myself? What they showed me was that what had happened to them had just happened. It wasn’t ‘done’ to them, just as none of this had been “done” to me. I wasn’t being punished; I had not been singled out.”
3. The first-ever statue of a female soldier has finally been erected on a military base in Fort Lee, Virginia, commemorating all women who have taken the oath to serve in the U.S. Army.
A New Monument Recognizes Military Women’s Service and Sacrifices, by Mariette Kalinowski, The Daily Beast
“While the statue is a tribute to all women soldiers, it was designed to commemorate those who served in our most recent wars, a significant step by the U.S. Army to recognize and honor the part women play in military operations. The figure is dressed in modern combat equipment and carries a loaded M4 rifle. It’s the standard gear for all soldiers, the combat load that we wore every time we went out on a mission overseas. It’s refreshing to finally see a public display showing the rifle and gear worn by a woman. A powerful tribute to the burden that women have carried in combat.”
4. The women who made up the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center team unit that tracked and found Osama Bin-Laden, as well as several other terrorist leaders, are being recognized in the press, and a conversation about how their gender has to do with the quality of their work is (unfortunately) taking place. While it’s sad to see that this is news-worthy, we’re glad the articles celebrated the many achievements of these analysts, and that this article did not mention their clothing or hair styles.
Hunting Osama bin Laden was women’s work, by Robert Windrem, NBC News
“Carol Rollie-Flynn, former executive director of the agency’s Counter Terrorism Center, said she thinks ‘the real strengths of these women were their intense dedication and incredible attention to detail.’
Detail and more detail, said Bakos, was a big part of the Zarqawi team’s day. The women sifted through communications intercepts, interrogation reports, snippets from human spies, and satellite images, trying to make their analysis ‘operational’ – meaning good enough to find their target and strike him.”
5. Female superheroes have always been subject to close scrutiny and discussion about their outfits, abilities and the hyper-sexualization of women’s bodies. Now, a female Muslim teen superhero is changing the narrative as the first Muslim character to have her own series as a fully-developed character.
Muslim Teen To Kick Butt As Marvel’s Latest Superhero, by Shae Collins, Ms. Magazine
“Khan isn’t Marvel’s first Muslim woman superhero, either: Sooraya Qadir (also known in X-men comics as Dust) is an Afghan American mutant who can transform into a living sandstorm; Dr. Faiza Hussain, who appeared in Captain Britain comics, can disassemble objects and people into their component parts and Monet St. Croix, a telepath with superhuman speed and strength, appeared in X-men comics. Unlike Kamala Khan, though, they’ve all had supporting roles, while Khan is the first Muslim character to have her own series.
In that series, Khan will discover that she is a shape-shifter who can shrink and grow her entire body, as well as specific limbs. Eventually, she will learn to transform into different people and objects. Her storyline includes her identity crises over her abilities to polymorph as well as her cultural identity (straddling American and Pakistani culture).”
If you have a story that needs to be shared, let us know! Leave a link in the comments or send us a Tweet at @YWCAUSA.