March- Inspiring Women - Mary's Pence

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March- Inspiring Women

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Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS)

Washington, D.C. 

Eliminating public gendered harassment and assault.

Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) uses community-based resources to eliminate public harassment and violence against women and folks in the LGBTQ+ community. CASS believes in the power of community-driven, action-oriented solutions to spark change at all levels of society. CASS’s response to gender violence is multi-faceted, employing research, advocacy, education and art to address harassment and violence. 

To engage people in the prevention of violence, CASS offers a Bystander Intervention Training Program that instructs witnesses of harassment or violence to respond to public aggression in appropriate ways. By promoting community responsibility, the program makes public areas safer for everyone. 

Calendar of Women – March 2020

1 | Margaret Randall


Margaret Randall has written over 80 books about feminist, social and political topics. She moved to Mexico and married a Mexican poet and in 1969, she moved to Cuba and began to write oral histories focused on women. From 1980 to 1984, Randall did similar work in Nicaragua, then attempted to return to the United States. She was ordered deported for her writings, but won her appeals case after five years. She has written extensively on her experiences abroad and in the United States and has taught at Trinity College. Randall currently lives with her wife in New Mexico.

2 | Nawal El Saadawi

(b. 9/27/1931)

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. El Saadawi also founded the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and co-founded the Arab Association for Human Rights.

3 | St. Katharine Drexel

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

St. Katharine Drexel was a one-woman charitable foundation who, in her lifetime as a nun, embraced personal poverty and 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 Shin       

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 Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA), whose mission is to empower immigrant women through education, leadership development and collective action.

5 | Catharine A. MacKinnon


Catharine MacKinnon graduated 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. MacKinnon authored a book, Sexual Harassment of Working Women: A Case of Sex Discrimination, which is frequently-cited in American legal circles. 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 June 16, 1963. On her mission, Tereshkova orbited the planet 48 times. Prior to her cosmonaut career, she was a textile factory worker and amateur skydiver. She currently serves in the national State Duma.

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 and Perpetua’s close friend. While awaiting baptism, the two were put under house arrest in Carthage, North Africa for violating a prohibition against conversion to Christianity. They were baptized while under arrest and subsequently 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. Her diary, The Passion of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas and their Companions, is one of the oldest Christian texts and is preserved in both Latin and Greek.

8 | International Women’s Day

The idea of an International Women’s Day was first proposed by socialist politician ClaraZetkin in 1910 both to celebrate women and press for their civil rights, especially the vote. The date was not fixed until 7 years later, when women in Russia struck for “bread and peace,” toppling the Czar’s regime in what is now known as the Russian Revolution. This happened on March 8. The United Nations formally recognized International Women’s Day for the first time in 1977.

9 | Zahra Rahnavard


Zahra Rahnavard, a prominent figure in Iran, was instrumental in developing many of the political and cultural programs that were begun after the 1979 revolution. She earned a doctorate in political science from Azad University and 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. 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 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 Harper’s Ferry.

11 | Hallie Quinn Brown

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

Hallie Quinn Brown was the daughter of two former slaves, both well-educated. She followed in their footsteps, graduating from Wilberforce University in 1873. Brown then taught in public schools in South Carolina, Mississippi, Ohio and Virginia. Brown was a founder of the Colored Woman’s League, which later 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, civil rights and protested segregation.

12 | Mechtild of Magdeburg

(b.1210 d.1282)

Mechthild of Magdeburg was a medieval mystic whose book Das flieende 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 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 Jane Richards    

(19th c.)

Mary Jane Richards was born a slave near Richmond, Virginia, and was freed at a young age when her owner died and his daughter, an abolitionist, freed all of her father’s slaves. The first record of Richards is her baptism in 1846. Richards was sent to school in the north and later joined a missionary community in 1855. 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 (neè Townsend) was an American civil rights leader. She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi’s Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Later Hamer became the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which she co-founded as an integrated alternative to the racist Democratic Party. She also launched the Freedom Farm Collective, which bought up land that African Americans could own and farm communally.

15 | Ruth Bader Ginsburg


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, woman religious 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:  According to Irish hagiography, Brigid was an early Christian nun and abbess. She founded several monasteries of nuns, the most famous of which was in Kildare. The saint shares her name with an important Celtic goddess and her feast day, February 1, coincides with Imbolc, a pagan festival marking the beginning of spring. An important emblem associated with her is the Cros- or Crosóg– or Bogha-Bríde, a symmetrical cross made of rushes to be re-made every year and placed above doorways and windows to protect houses from harm, especially from fire.

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 of 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. Winifred: 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 Holywell, Flintshire, Wales 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)

Doña Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez was an insurgent and supporter of the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century. Her husband was a local Spanish administrative official, while she took care of their 14 children. She was sympathetic to mestizo and creole peoples, and supported the cause of Mexican independence from Spain. In 1823, when Agustín de Iturbide named himself emperor of Mexico, he offered Ortiz a position as lady-in-waiting for his wife, but she refused the post, because she’d fought not for the establishment of an Empire but a Republic.

20 | Mary Lee Mills

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

Mary Lee Mills, a granddaughter of slaves, was an American nurse and an officer in the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). She first joined the USPHS in 1946, serving as their chief nursing officer in Liberia, where she oversaw some of the first campaigns in public health education. 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 graduated from Wellesley College in 1890 and completed graduate coursework at Oxford Univerity. Seeking out civic involvement, Sherwin became the first President of the Consumers League of Ohio. She was also active with the Visiting Nurse Association of Cleveland and served on its board until 1924. In 1913 Sherwin was elected a trustee of Wellesley College, a position she served until 1943.

22 | Dorothy C. 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. In 1942 she became the first commissioned female officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. Prior to her military service, she worked as Purdue’s first full-time Dean of Women, and afterward she was the national executive director of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

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, where she also founded and co-directed the university’s Hispanic Institute of Theology. As a Latina theologian, she was an innovator of Hispanic theology in general and of Mujerista theology in particular. 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. 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 Achaemendid Empire. 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 and continues to be celebrated during Purim.

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

(b. 1950)

Emma Sepulveda was born in Argentina and raised in Chile, which she and her family were forced to flee after the U.S.-backed coup of 1973. She earned her Ph.D. in languages and literature from the University of California at Davis. Sepulveda has authored over 17 novels, works of poetry, non-fiction, literary criticism and photography. She is currently a Foundation Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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. She famously declined the National Medal of Arts to protest 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 Pakistan and 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 Jahangir co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary General until 1993 when she was elevated as commission’s chair. 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 Agosín

(b. 6/15/1955)

Marjorie Agosín is recognized as a premier Latin American voice in writing and activist for women’s rights. She is descended from Austrian and Russian Jews who re-located to Chile, where she lived until she was 16 years old. At that point she moved to the United States to escape the U.S.-backed military coup. Agosín has won numerous awards for her human rights and literary work including the United Nations Leadership Award for Human Rights and the Gabriela Mistral Medal of Honor for Life Achievement.









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