March – Inspiring Women - Mary's Pence

News & Events  |  Inspiring Women 2022

March – Inspiring Women

Altagracia Faith and Justice Works
New York, New York

Empowering the community to put faith into action.

Rooted in Catholic Social Teaching and a strong faith-based and spiritual tradition, Altagracia Faith and Justice Works promotes social justice through faith formation, leadership development, and service and advocacy opportunities. Through the organization of social justice ministry teams in local parishes, community members identify shared issues, including affordable housing, food insecurity, health care, immigration advocacy, and public safety. After considering the roots of those problems, the community reflects on how faith can inform and inspire solutions and then develops an action plan to address the issues.


1 | Margaret Randal


Margaret Randall has written over 80 books about feminist, social, and political topics. She lived in Latin America for 23 years and in 1984 was not allowed to return home to the United States because of her writings. She fought for her First Amendment rights for five years, finally winning her case and was allowed to return to the US. She is a poet, a photographer, an oral historian, and a social activist. She has written extensively on her experiences abroad and back in the United States, and has taught at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and other colleges.

2 | Nawal El Saadawi


Nawal El Saadawi is an Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician and psychiatrist. She has written many books on the subject of women in Islam, paying particular attention to the practice of female genital mutilation in her society.

3 |St. Katharine Drexel

(b.11/26/1858 d.3/3/1955)

St. Katherine Drexel was a one-woman charitable foundation who, in her lifetime as a nun, embraced personal poverty, yet gave away about $20 million for staffing or building schools for African and Native Americans. She donated more than $1 million for the support of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, and pledged $100,000 yearly for the support of Indian schools. At the time of her death in 1955 at age 97, she left 62 schools and 600 Sisters to carry on the work she began.

4 |Young Sin

Young Shin has worked for three decades to promote the socioeconomic status and the political participation of low-income, limited-English speaking immigrant women and other disenfranchised members of the community.  After graduating from law school in 1983, she co-founded the Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA), whose mission is to empower immigrant women through education, leadership development, and collective action.

5 | Catherine A. MacKinnon


Catharine MacKinnon graduated in the top 2% of her class from Smith College and went on to earn a J.D. and Ph.D. from Yale University. While studying at Yale Law School she received a National Science Foundation Fellowship. She has devoted her career and attention to cases that focus on harassment, pornography, and international work. She authored Sexual Harassment of Working Women: A Case of Sex Discrimination a frequently cited American legal book. McKinnon is currently a professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

6 | Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova


Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is a retired Russian cosmonaut and politician. She is the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on June16, 1963.

7 | Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

(2nd c.)

Perpetua, born in 181, was a prosperous married noblewoman and mother of a small son. Felicity was a pregnant slave girl. While awaiting baptism, they, along with others, were put under house arrest in Carthage, North Africa for violating a prohibition against conversion to Christianity. After they were baptized while under house arrest, they were tried, imprisoned, and sentenced to die by the Emperor Septimus Severus. While awaiting their fate, Felicity gave birth to a daughter who was adopted by Christian friends. Perpetua experienced remarkable visions in which she vanquished Satan. Her fearsome faith gave her strength to reject her father’s plea to renounce her conversion in order to save her life.

The Passion of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas and their Companions, one of the oldest Christian texts, preserved in both Latin and Greek, is the diary of a young mother martyred during an early Christian persecution.

8 | International Women’s Day

The first international Women’s day was celebrated back in 1908 when a group of 15,000 women marched on the streets of New York, demanding their rights. Since then every year on March 8th   the world joins hands together to support, raise, inspire and motivate women across all fields of work. The purpose of this day is to focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities. March 8th is a holiday in many countries, while others celebrate it by holding street marches, debates, discussions and a variety of other programs.

9 | Zahra Rahnavard


Zahra Rahnavard, a prominent figure in Iran, earned her Master’s degree at the Arts faculty at Tehran University. She also has a masters and doctorate in political science from Azad University. She married Mir Hossein Mousavi in the late 1960s. In the 1970s they fled to the United States after a close friend of hers was arrested. Rahvavard returned to Iran shortly before the 1979 revolution and was instrumental in helping develop many of the new political and cultural programs. From 1997- 2005 she was the advisor to the former president, Mohammad Khatami and was also the chancellor of Az-Zahra University, Iran’s only all-female institution of higher education. She was the first woman to hold her position since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

10 | Harriet Tubman

(b.1822 d.3/10/1913)

Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout and spy for the United States Army during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved families and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry.

11 | Hallie Quinn Brown

(b.3/10/1849 d.9/16/1949)

Hallie Quinn Brown began as a public school teacher, working to improve literacy levels, she became the dean of women at Tuskegee of Institute in Alabama, where she worked with Booker T. Washington. Brown helped to promote the Colored Women’s League, which became the National Association of Colored Women, and set up a scholarship fund so other African American women could pursue education. She fought for the full citizenship of women, for civil rights, and she protested segregation.

12 | Mechtild of Magdeburg

(b.1210 d.1282)

Mechthild of Magdeburg, a Beguine (a Christian lay religious order), was a medieval mystic, whose book Das fließende Licht der Gottheit described her visions of God. She was the first mystic to write in German. Her criticism of church dignitaries, religious laxity and claims to theological insight aroused so much opposition that some called for the burning of her writings. With advancing age, she was not only alone, and the object of much criticism but she also became blind. Around 1272, she joined the Cistercian nunnery at Helfta, Where she was protected and supported for the rest of her life.

13 | Mary Elizabeth Bowser

Mary Richards was likely born near Richmond, Virginia, and may have been born a slave of Eliza Baker and John Van Lew or their extended family. The first record of Richards is her baptism in 1846. Richards was sent to school in the north. In 1855, Richards went to Liberia to join a missionary community. She returned by 1860 and married Wilson Bowser.  She was a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.

14 | Fannie Lou Hamer

(b.10/6/1917 d.3/14/1977)

Fannie Lou Hamer (Townsend) was an American voting rights activist, civil rights leader, and philanthropist. She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi’s Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

15 | Ruth Bader Ginsburg

(b.3/15/1933 d.9/18/2020)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. She was a professor at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and Columbia Law School. Still one of the few women in her field, Ginsburg was paid less than her male colleagues. Ginsburg spent a considerable part of her legal career as an advocate for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights, winning multiple victories arguing before the Supreme Court. She advocated as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsels in the 1970s. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit where she served until her elevation to the Supreme Court by President Clinton.

16 | Anna Marie Dengal

(b.3/16/1892 d.4/17/1980)

Anna Marie Dengal was an Austrian physician, Religious Sister and missionary. She was the founder of the Medical Mission Sisters, which was among the first congregations of Religious Sisters authorized by the Roman Catholic Church to provide full medical care to the poor and needy in the overseas missions.

17 | Women Celtic Saints
St. Brigid, St. Ida, St. Attracta, St. Ia, St. Winifrede known as Pilgrims for Christ

St. Brigid

Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and founder of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland, which was famous and was revered. Her feast day is February 1, which was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring. The saint shares her name with an important Celtic goddess and there are many legends and folk customs associated with her.

St. Ida

An early Irish nun and patron saint of Killeedy. She was known as the “foster mother of the saints of Erin”. The name “Ita” (“thirst for holiness”) was conferred on her because of her saintly qualities. Her feast day is January 15.

St. Attracta

A hermit and co-worker with St. Patrick. She is traditionally listed as a daughter of a noble Irish family. Her father opposed her religious vocation but Attracta went to St. Patrick at Coolavin, Ireland, and made her vows to him. Attracta founded a hospice on Lough Gara called Killaraght.

St. Ia

Ia of Cornwall was an evangelist and martyr of the 5th or 6th centuries in Cornwall. She is said to have been an Irish princess.

St. Winnifrede

Saint Winifred was a 7th-century Welsh Christian woman, around whom many historical legends have formed. A healing spring at the traditional site of her decapitation and restoration is now a shrine and pilgrimage site called St Winefride’s Well in HolywellFlintshireWales and known as the Lourdes of Wales.

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19 | María Josefa Crescencia Ortiz Téllez-Girón

(b.4/19/1773 d.3/2/1829)

Josefa Ortizi de Dominguez was an insurgent and supporter of the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century. She and her husband worked to gain Mexico’s independence from Spain. Maria was offered many honors and awards following the war, but refused all of them because she considered what she did as her patriotic duty.

20 | Mary Mills

(b.8/1912 d.2/2/2010)

Mary Mills, a granddaughter of slaves became a nurse and joined the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) in 1946 serving as their chief nursing officer in Liberia. Under her guidance some of the first campaigns in public health education took place. Mills later worked in Lebanon and established the country’s first nursing school, which. helped to combat treatable diseases. She was later assigned to South Vietnam, Cambodia and Chad to provide medical education.

Mary Mills had an excellent preparation for her vocation in public health. Mills earned a certificate in public health nursing from the Medical College of Virginia, a certificate in midwifery from the Lobenstein School of Midwifery in New York City, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from New York University and a graduate certificate in health care administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

21 | Belle Sherwin

(b.3/20/1869 d.7/5/1955)

Belle Sherwin was an American Women’s rights activist. She had a long involvement with voluntary civic and women’s organizations. Belle became the first President of the Consumers League of Ohio. During the first years of this century Sherwin was most active with the Visiting Nurse Association of Cleveland, serving on its board until 1924, and with the Cleveland Consumers’ League, which she had organized in 1900. In 1913 Sherwin was elected a trustee of Wellesley College, a position she served until 1943.

22 | Dorothy Stratton

(b.3/24/1899 d.9/17/2006)

Dorothy Stratton was the director of the SPARS, the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve during World War II. She is the namesake of the Coast Guard’s third National Security Cutter, the USCGC Stratton.

23 | Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz

(b.3/22/1943 d.5/13/2012)

Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz was professor emeritus of ethics and theology at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. As a Latina theologian, she was an innovator of Hispanic theology in general and specifically of Mujerista Theology. She was founder and co-director of the Hispanic Institute of Theology at Drew University. She was a political refugee from Cuba (1960). Her studies and involvement in the feminist theological movement led her to begin to develop a theology from the perspective of Latinas in the United States, which led to the development of Mujerista theology. This theology used as its sources religious experiences, practices, and responses to the daily struggles of life. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz was a board member of Mary’s Pence.

A mujerista is someone who makes a preferential option for Latina women, for their struggle for liberation. Mujeristas struggle to liberate themselves not as individuals but as members of a Latino community. They work to build bridges among Latinas/os while denouncing sectarianism and divisionary tactics. Mujeristas understand that their task is to gather the hopes and expectations of the people about justice and peace. Mujeristas believe that in them, though not exclusively so, God chooses to once again lay claim to, to revindicate, the divine image and likeness made visible in Latinas. 

24 | Esther

(4th c. B.C.)

Esther was the Jewish queen of Persia, married to King Ahasuerus. At the time of the Achaemenid Empire. Her story is the basis for the celebration of Purim in Jewish tradition. When a nobleman sought to persecute the Jewish people, Queen Esther persuaded the King to spare them. She was the savior of the Jewish people.

25 | Margaret Chase Smith

(b.12/14/1897 d.5/29/1995)

Margaret Madeline Chase Smith was a United States politician. She served as a U.S Representative and a U.S. Senator from Maine. A moderate Republican, she was among the first to criticize the tactics of McCarthyism in her 1950 speech, “Declaration of Conscience.”

26 | Emma Sepulveda

Emma Sepulveda was born in Argentina and raised in Chile. She fled with her family to the United States after Augusto Pinochet took over the Chilean government. She earned her Ph.D. in languages and literature from the University of California at Davis. Sepulveda has dedicated the past 25 years to working with Arpilleristas, the Chilean women’s movement, and she also founded the nonprofit organization Latinos for Political Education. Additionally, she has authored over 17 novels, works of poetry, non-fiction, literary criticism, and photography. Author of From Death to Silence, Do You Hear My Accent When I Write?

27 | Adrienne Cecile Rich

(b.5/16/1929 d.3/27/2012)

Adrienne Cecile Rich was an American poet, essayist and radical feminist. She was called “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century”, and was credited with bringing “the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse.” Her first collection of poetry, A Change of World, was selected by renowned poet W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Auden went on to write the introduction to the published volume. She famously declined the National Medal of Arts, protesting the vote by House Speaker Newt Gingrich to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

28 | Asma Jahangir


Asma Jahangir earned her law degree in 1978, and since then has been crusading for human rights in Pakistan as a leading lawyer and advocate of the Supreme Court of the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. Over the years she has represented thousands of seemingly hopeless cases for persecuted religious minorities, women, and children.

In 1987 she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary General until 1993 when she was elevated as commission’s chairperson She has co-chaired South Asia Forum for Human Rights and was the vice president of International Federation for Human Rights. Jahangir served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion from August 2004 to July 2010, including serving on the U.N. panel for inquiry into Sri Lankan human rights violations and on a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements.

29 | Pearl Bailey

(b.3/29/1918 d.8/17/1990)

Pearl Bailey began her career as a singer and an actress. At 67, she graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in theology, as well as an honorary doctorate. She became well known for her humanitarian work around the world and for advocating for liberty for all. In 1975 Pearl became the United States Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, and in 1988 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

30 | Kathy Kelly


Kathy Kelly is an author, pacifist, and peace activist in the US and abroad. In 1996 Kathy Kelly helped found Voices in the Wilderness to lead a campaign against the sanctions in Iraq. Currently she is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She has been arrested several times both at home and abroad, and has spent time in jail for her beliefs.

31 | Marjorie Agosin


Marjorie Agosin is recognized as a premier Latin American voice in writing and for human rights activism. She is descended from Austrian and Russian Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and was born and lived in Chile until she was 16 years old. At that point she moved to the United States to escape a military coup. Agosin has won numerous awards for her human rights work including the United Nations Leadership Award for Human Rights and awards for her work as a Latina writer.

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