Friday, March 28, 2008

Congratulations to Ruth Lomo of Memphis, Tennessee

Ms. Ruth Lomo will be honored Sunday at the 24th Women of Achievement Awards Celebration in Memphis, Tennessee for her work with the the International Community of Refugee Women and Children.

RWN is quite proud of Ms. Lomo, a refugee from Sudan, and a graduate of our Leadership Training program and we extend our congratulations to her.

An article about Ms. Lomo and the award celebration can be seen at and is copied below.

2008 awards celebrate inspirational and highly accomplished local women
By Fredric Koeppel
Thursday, March 27, 2008

When Ruth Lomo arrived in Memphis in 2001, she brought her five children, the six children of her dead sisters, another orphan not related to her family and the skills in carpentry she used in refugee camps after she fled in 1990 from Sudan, her native country.

Struggling with the language and to make a living, learning the ins-and-outs of life in an alien culture and the mysteries of navigating her children's schools -- and watching the families of other refugee single mothers confront the same problems -- inspired Lomo to create the International Community of Refugee Women and Children in 2003.

The organization has been centered since October 2007 at the Memphis Leadership Foundation, a nondenominational ministry aimed at improving the lives of urban children and their families. Lomo's program provides after-school tutoring to help refugee children with their homework, offers classes in English for adults and aid in coping with the procedures and traditions of a strange country.

For that effort, Lomo is one of seven women who will be honored Sunday at the 24th Women of Achievement Awards Celebration. The category of Lomo's award is Initiative, "for a woman who seized the opportunity to use her talents and created her own future."

Howard Eddings, president of the Memphis Leadership Foundation, where the Refugee Empowerment Program is an umbrella organization for several refugee programs, praised Lomo's dedication and selflessness.

"I think her passion for the work she's doing, and the compassion for the people she serves really speak volumes for what she has accomplished with few resources," said Eddings. "She really desires for each person she comes in contact with to take care of themselves and yet be able to take advantage of all the opportunities available here."

The Women of Achievement Awards 2008 will be held at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central, beginning with a buffet reception at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20; deadline for reservations is Friday. Call 458-6701 for more information or to purchase tickets.
This year's awards are dedicated to Wanda Martin, president of Women of Achievement Inc. from 1999 to 2001, who died Dec. 2, 2007.

The other categories and winners of the 2008 Women of Achievements Awards are:
Heritage, "for a woman of generations past whose achievements still enrich our lives" -- Florence McIntyre (1879-1963), first director of Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, head of the Free Art School and longtime local art teacher.

Steadfastness, "for a woman with a lifetime of achievement" -- Carolyn Gates, 17-year Shelby County commissioner, first woman to serve as chair of the County Commission, founding member of the Salvation Army Auxiliary and Dogwood Village (now Youth Villages).

Determination, "for a woman who solved a glaring problem despite widespread inertia, apathy or ignorance around her" -- Rebecca Jane Edwards, founder of the Cultural Development Foundation of Memphis, dedicated to expanding diversity in artistic performance and audience, particularly for low- and moderate-income communities.

Courage, "for a woman who, facing active opposition, backed an unpopular cause in which she deeply believed" -- Corinne Derenburger, founder of Ryan's Hope for Family and Friends, an organization that provides support for families with children who have severe physical and mental disabilities.

Heroism, "for a woman whose heroic spirit was tested and shown as a model to all in Shelby County and beyond" -- Ashley Sanders, who at the age of 18, in March 2007, saved the life of a woman who had been shot in the back during a carjacking.

Vision, "for a woman whose sensitivity to women's needs led her to tremendous achievements for women" -- Dr. Phyllis Betts, director of the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action and associate director of the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis and a founder of the Memphis Area Women's Council.

Lomo and her family lived in refugee camps in Zaire, Uganda and Kenya. Christians from the south of Sudan, they fled the war-torn country after Islamic rebels attacked their town.
"You're only supposed to stay in the refugee camps temporarily," Lomo, 38, said this week, sitting in the living room of her apartment on North Highland.

"If there is no peace, the U.N. screens cases to see why people cannot go back to their country. We came to Memphis through the Catholic Charities organization."

Lomo acquired leadership skills early in life. In Sudan, she worked for a women's self-help program. Trained as a carpenter, she ran a workshop teaching women carpentry skills so they could support themselves. In the refugee camp in Kenya, she was elected as the leader of her group.

In Memphis, she said, "I had to struggle helping my children with their homework. We, as refugee parents, cannot give our children the kind of support that American parents can give. I got tutors for my children through Second Presbyterian Church, and in my heart I thought, 'Why can't I share this with other refugee children?' " Lomo's children range from 8 to 19, with the oldest now at Christian Brothers University. The others attend Evangelical Christian School.
Thus, Lomo started the after-school program with 12 children at Leawood Baptist Church. Five years later, the program helps 160 to 170 refugee students, holding two sessions between 3 and 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday. There is now a full-time staff with a program director and an educational specialist. Memphis Leadership Foundation provides the space and fund-raising support.

Since its first celebration, Women of Achievement Awards have gone to nearly 150 recipients. For information, visit

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March 28 Shero: Augusta Savage

(February 29, 1892 - March 26, 1962)

Augusta Savage was an African American sculptor, the first director of the Harlem Community Art enter (1937) and exhibitor in the 1939 World's Fair. Her sculpture "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was destroyed when the Fair closed because no money could be found to cast it in bronze.

One of the first women to study sculpture at Cooper Union, she opened the Savage School of Arts and Crafts in Harlem and in 1939, founded the Salon of Contemporary Negro Art. She was one of the first modern sculptors to depice sympathetic and realistic portrayals of African features in her work.

March 27 Shero: Anna Mae Pictou Aquash

(March 27, 1945 -- her murdered body was discovered on February 24, 1976)

Anna Mae Pictou Aquash was an American Indian Movement activist murdered by the US Government. Her hands were cut off and sent to Washington for "identification."

March 26 Shero: Kate Richards O'Hare

(March 26, 1877 - Januarty 10, 1948)
Kate Richards O'Hare was an European American birth control advocate, prison reformer, leading socialtih in Debs' era of the Socialist Party.

Born in Kansas, she became active in the temperance movement and assisted unwed mothers and prostitutes. She became a socialist in her disillusionment with church and from the fiery oratory and leadershiop of Mother Jones. She herself became a powerful speaker rallying Kansas poor farmers and migrant workers. In April 1919, she and other comrades were arrested, convicted and imprisoned under the Espionage Act for criticism of the US role in WWI. She served 14 months and was released to a decimated white Left movement.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 25 Shero: Ida Barnett Wells

(July 16, 1862 - March 25, 1931)

Ms. Wells was an African-American anti-lynching crusader, social activist, journalist, and race woman, and founding member of the NAACP. She published A Red Record, the first book to document lynchings of African Americans.

March 24 Shero: Olive Schreiner

(March 24, 1855 - December 11, 1920)

Ms. Schreiner was a white South African opponent of apartheid and European colonialism ism Africa. She was also an anti-capitalist Victorian Age feminist. Her book Woman and Labor became a central text in the early 20th century feminist movement.

March 23 Shero: Eva Lowe

(August 1909 to ?)

"I always believed in fighting for the underdog"
Eva Lowe was a Chinese-American anti-imperialist, "soap box" street agitator, organizer of unemployed Chinese American workers, and the only woman member of the Huaren Shinyi Hui (Chinese Unemployment Alliance).
On March 23, 1931, she gave a speech presenting the demands of the Chinese unemployed: food and shelter, free hospital services, free education for unemployed women, and an office for the Alliance.

March 22 Shero: Lilian Masediba Ngoyi

(1911 - March 12, 1980)

"Ma Ngoyi" was a South African pass-law resistor, leaders of the famous August 9 anti-apartheid march. An activist in the Garment Workers Union, and organizer for the African National Congress' Women's League, she was subjected to imprisonment, solitary confinement and torture. Thousands attended her funeral.

Friday, March 21, 2008

March 21 Shero: Lear Green

(19th century) Ms. Green was an enslaved African escapee who shipped herself as freight in a sailor's chest from Baltimore to Philadelphia to free herself while her fiance's mother traveled north on the same steamer. She is an example of the many creative ways in which enslaved Africans got free.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Persian New Year!

Today is New Year's Day in Iran and Afghanistan and other cultures and places influenced by the Persian culture.

Nowrūz is the traditional Iranian new year holiday celebrated in Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Albania, Bahrain, Armenia, Georgia, the countries of Central Asia such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, as well as among various other Iranian and Turkic peoples in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Northwestern China, the Caucasus, the Crimea, and the Balkans.

It's timed to the Spring Equinox, when the sun crossed the equator and the day and night are of equal lengths.

March 20 Shero: Lozen

(1840? - 1890) Lozen was a reconnaissance expert, skilled markswoman, strategist, healer, messenger, shaman, emissary for Geronimo, a respected and honored Chiricahua Apache warrior who never married, and a breaker of gender rules.

As a girl she outran all the boys in foot races. At her puberty ceremony, she was given extrasensory power to find the enemy. She died as a captured prisoner of war in US military prison barracks.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 19 Shero: Nina Teitelboim

(1918 - July 1943, executed)

Nina Teitelboim was known as "Little Wanda with the Braids" when she was a Polish underground courier and anti-Nazi fighter. She was deputy commander of a special task force of the People's Guard that blew up railway and communication lines.

On October 16, 1942, she and her comrades blew up the exclusive Cafe-Club, a gathering place for the Wehrmacht and Gestapo elite. On November 30, she participated in a spectacular raid in broad daylight that retrieved the million zloty that the Nazis had confiscated from the people of Warsal. She eventually was captured, tortured (she revealed nothing) and executed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March 18 Shero: Agnes Smedley

(1892 - May 8, 1950)

Agnes Smedley was an European-American feminist, radical writer dedicated to the oppressed, novelist, foreign correspondent, supporter of the Indian and Chinese independence movements, and constantly targeted and smeared by the US and British governments and media as a communist spy.

Born into a poor Missouri tenant farmer family, Agnes grew up in a series of Colorado mining camps near the site of the Ludlow massacre. Agnes first became active in Margaret Sanger's birth control movement and withthe Indian nationalist movement in the US. She devoted her life to reporting and supporting the struggles of the poor and the Asian peoples.

On March 18, 1918, she ws arrested for violating the Federal Espionage Act for her international solidarity work on behalf of the Indian Nationalist Party. Imprisoned for her activities, she moved to Germany in 1920.

Her traumatic experiences in the male-dominated Indian nationalist movement resulted in a nervous breakdown. She recovered by writing her autobiographical novel Daughter of the Earth, which has become a feminist classic. Denouncing any emotional dependency on a man, Agnes went to China in 1929 and wrote extensiveley about the oppressed peasantry with special sympathy for the women.

Monday, March 17, 2008

March 17 Shero: Saiza Nabarawi

(1897 - 1985)

"A double standard! This will always exist as long as men rule!"

Saiza Nabarawi was an Egyptian feminist and national liberation leader, journalist, and editor of L'Egyptienne, Egypt's first explicitly feminist journal. Post-independence, she continued to challenge the hypocrisy she saw among her male colleagues with regard to women.

Macrh 16 Shero: Huda Sha'rawi

(1879 - 1947)

Huda Sha'rawi was a pioneering Egyptian feminist and independence leader. Born into an upperclass background, she pioneered modern Egyptian feminism. She was part of the last generation of Egyptian women to reach maturity under the harem system. A leader in the independence movement from British colonial rule, at age 44 she founded the Egyptian Feminist Union on March 16, 1923.

March 15 Shero: Abigail Mejia

(April 15, 1895 - March 15, 1941)

Abigail Mejia was an Dominican suffrage activist, author, and scholor who organized onver 96,000 women for a symbolic vote in the Dominican Republic in 1934. She was also the founder of Accion Feminista Dominicana.

Friday, March 14, 2008

March 14 Shero: Tituba

(late 17th century)

Tituba was an African American - Native American healer from Barbados, persecuted as a "witch." The slave of a Salem, Massachusetts minister who brought her from Barbados to the US, Tituba shunned the Puritan lifestyle and religion. She was feared for openly practicing her cultural rituals and sought after as a healer.

Ignorance and hysteria fueled the 1692 witchhunts and she was among the accused. Her trial began in march of 1692 and her petition for release was granted on February 21, 1693.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

March 13 Shero: Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin

(1842 - March 13, 1924)

Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin was a champion of poor African American children in the US South. A descendent of African, European, and Native American heritage, she ws a charter member of the National Federation of Afro-American Women, the National Association of Colored Women, and the Northeast Federation of Women's Clubs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

March 12 Shero: Minerva Mirabel

(March 12, 1927 - November 25, 1960, executed)
Minerval Mirabel was the oldest of the 3 Mirabel sisters -- Dominican women who defied the Trujillo dictatorship and the US invasion/occupation of their country. All 3 sisters were executed on November 25, 1960.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March 11 Shero: Machig Lapdron

(15th day of the 5th month of the Year of the Horse, 1055 C.E. - 1143 C.E.)

Tibetan mystic, the incarnation of Yeshe Tsogyel (the 8th century consort of Guru Padma Sambhara who brought Tantric Buddhism to Tibet). Born in Labchi Eli Gangwar of her mother Bum Cham ("Great Noblewoman") and father Chokyi Dawa ("Moon of Dharma"). She bassed on her unique Chod teachings to her 16 main disciples, 1,263 other followers and 433 whom she cured.

Monday, March 10, 2008

March 10 Shero: Hazel Wolf

Hazel Wolf (March 10, 1898 - January 19, 2000)
"We can't win the revolution with half the proletariat in the the kitchen."

Hazel Wolf was a Canadian-born environmentalist, advocate for women's suffrage and human rights. Briefly a member of the US Communist party after she had moved to Washington State, she worked as a union organizer during the Depression. Called by some the "Red Grandma" the US government charged her with conspiracy and arrested her in 1958, attempting to deport her; however she finally attained US citizenship.

She was the winner of the National Audubon Society's Medal of Excellence in 1997, having organized 21 chapters of the Society in Washington, and also leading the way for an Audubon chapter in Leningrad. She helped to organize the Indian Conservationist Conference in 1979, forging an alliance between Indigenous peoples and environmentalists. Wolf was an official observer in the Nicaraguan elections of 1990.

March 10 is Hazel Wolf Day in Washington State.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March 9 Shero: Aleksandra Kollantai

In honor of Women's History Month, we will bring profiles of courageous and skilled women from around the world and present their herstories, so that they may not be forgotten.These women are taken from the 2008 Sheroes Womyn Warriors Wall Calendar.


March 9 Shero: Aleksandra Kollantai (March 9, 1872 - March 9, 1952)

"Sex should be as easy and as uncomplicated as drinking a glass of water."

Bolshevik feminist, writer, the only woman on Lenin's Central Committee, who later fell into disfavor and was "exiled" as a diplomat. She shaped the first socialist republic's policies such as paid maternal care, day care, communal living arrangements, easy divorce, and recruitment of women into the labor force. She boldly and creatively applied Marxism to concepts of love, sexuality, women's liberation and revolutionary struggle and commitment. By 1922 she had become one of the first Bolshevik leaders to criticize the growing bureaucracy and authoritarianism in the new socialist state; Lenin had her assigned abroad as a diplomat.

March 8: International Women's Day

"Don't be so 3/8! Behave!"

When I first heard this in Taiwan, I didn't know what 3/8 meant. I was an ordinary girl being scolded by an ordinary adult trying to mold me into what a culturally acceptable woman should be.

Then I realized that 3 referred to March, the third month of the year, and 8 to the eighth day of the month.

So 3/8 referred to March 8th, International Women's Day, the day to commemorate the political, economic and social rights and advances of women. And yet in Taiwan, it was used as a term to refer to girls who were silly, outspoken, assertive, and otherwise "misbehaving."

Rather reinforces the need for an International Women's Day, don't you think?

There are many events happening around the world and in our hometowns to mark International Women's Day. There will be marches and speeches, poems and songs about how far women have come, what rights we have now, and how far we have yet to go, what barriers we still face because of our gender.

There will also be everyday women, going about their everyday lives, living their lives as if their lives and aspirations were as important as everyone else's. Because they are.

And ultimately that's what all our women's rights struggles are about. Equal access to jobs, schools, health care, and lives free from sexual harassment and violence should be the norm, not the exception.

Equality will be achieved not only by mass protests, lawsuits to fight discrimination, and community organizing. Equality will also achieved by the everyday actions of women asserting their rights in everyday situations.

And that's a great way to commemorate International Women's Day too.

March 8 Shero: Laura Kofey

In honor of Women's History Month, we will bring profiles of courageous and skilled women from around the world and present their herstories, so that they may not be forgotten.These women are taken from the 2008 Sheroes Womyn Warriors Wall Calendar.


March 8 Shero: Laura Kofey (1893? - March 8, 1928)

The most successful Universal Negro Improvement Association organizer, next to its founder-leader Marcus Garvey. Her origins are steeped in mystery. She claimed to be an African princess who migrated to the US in 1926 to support UNIA programs. Her success and popularity earned her Garvey's ire. Denounced by Garvey, her supporters expelled from the UNIA, she left to set up her own African Universal Church in Miami. Her sermons were so well-attended, drawing away from the local churches, that the local black clergy oppsed her. She was assassinated on March 8, 1928, her murder never solved, but it was widely suspected that UNIA supporters were involved.

March 7 Shero: Susan McKinney Steward

In honor of Women's History Month, we will bring profiles of courageous and skilled women from around the world and present their herstories, so that they may not be forgotten.These women are taken from the 2008 Sheroes Womyn Warriors Wall Calendar.
March 7 Shero: Susan McKinney Steward (1847 - March 7, 1918)

Brooklyn, NY African American physician, hospital founder, women's rights activist. She served patients of any race or economic background, often not charging those who could not pay her fee.

March 6 Shero: Pearl Sydenstricker Buck

In honor of Women's History Month, we will bring profiles of courageous and skilled women from around the world and present their herstories, so that they may not be forgotten.These women are taken from the 2008 Sheroes Womyn Warriors Wall Calendar.

March 6 Shero: Pearl Sydenstricker Buck
(June 26, 1892 - March 6, 1973)

"I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in human beings."

Nobel and Pulitzer-prize winning European-American writer, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries, she weas raised in China. Her writings introduced millions of Americans to China and Asia. Her 100+ books and many essays addressed racism, sexism, imperialism, life in Kansas, and her own life. She organized two foundations to benefit Asian and Amerasian children -- one in the US and one in Asia. Her book The Good Earth was on the bestseller list for months, sold 2 million copies, was translated in 30 languages, adapted for stage and film, and won her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1932.

March 5 Shero: Josephine Herbst

In honor of Women's History Month, we will bring profiles of courageous and skilled women from around the world and present their herstories, so that they may not be forgotten.These women are taken from the 2008 Sheroes Womyn Warriors Wall Calendar, published by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights and Big Red Media, Inc.
March 5 Shero: Josephine Herbst
(March 5, 1892 - January 28, 1969) European American leftist journalist, "proletarian novelist," one of the most important American writers of the 1930s. Born in poverty, she was forced out of her government job in 1942 and endured government persecution until 1954 for her politics. Her epic Civil War trilogy -- Pity is Not Enough, The Executioner Awaits and Rope of Gold -- published in the 1930s, remains one of the great literary works in the proletarian style of literature.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

March 4 Shero: Mabel Hampton

In honor of Women's History Month, we will bring profiles of courageous and skilled women from around the world and present their herstories, so that they may not be forgotten.These women are taken from the 2008 Sheroes Womyn Warriors Wall Calendar, published by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights and Big Red Media, Inc.
Mabel Hampton (1902 -1989)
"I, Mabel Hampton, have been a lesbian all my life, for 82 years, and I am proud of myself and my people. I would like all my people to be free in this country and all over the world, my gay people and my Black people." African American lesbian activist, co-founded the Lesbian Herstory Archives (Brooklyn, New York).

Monday, March 3, 2008

Women's History Month begins

In honor of Women's History Month, we will bring profiles of courageous and skilled women from around the world and present their herstories, so that they may not be forgotten.

These women are taken from the 2008 Sheroes Womyn Warriors Wall Calendar, published by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights and Big Red Media, Inc.

Many if not most of the women on the calendar are not well-known, because most women's individual or collective stories are lost to history. Perhaps because they were, as described in the calendar,
women who have been rebels and fighters against patriarchy, who opposed and fought invaders and aggressors to their homelands, and who represent radicals and revolutionaries of their times and societies, who if they were alive today could continue to serve as sheroes, spurring us on to work for an equitable and pluralist society and world.
They sound much like the women we work with at Refugee Women's Network.
March 3: Petrona Chacon
African female slave who in 1840 was elected "queen" by the African conspirators in the Conspiracy of the Ladder in Cuba. The Conspiracy was a Cuban slave rebellion, scheduled to start in March of 1844, with the goal of immediate seizure of power. Well organized, it spread throughout towns and plantations all over the island and involved thousands of slaves. When it was brutally repressed, of the 4,000 Africans and mulattos tried by military courts, 98 were executed, 600 imprisoned, and over 400 deported.