Becca Anderson (author of The Book of Awesome Women) once again celebrates women for their powerful spirits and resilience.
Hawaii’s last queen was Lili’uokalani. She was raised by American missionaries in the nineteenth century and married an Englishman before taking her up her role as the ruler of the beautiful island chain. She was quite accomplished as a stateswoman and also as a singer who treasured her island’s culture and feared the loss of it with the Western invasion. It is daunting to realize she was imprisoned and held in isolation after her brother King Kalakaua’s death so white annexationists could take over Hawaii and incorporate it into the United States. Think about that the next time you hear somebody complain about what a tourist trap the once pristine paradise has become!
Maria de la Mercedes Barbudo was a Puerto Rican rebel who fought for emancipation and abolition circa 1800 and was exiled and murdered for her efforts toward her country’s independence.
Nana Yaa Asantewa was born in 1863 and went on to become the national shero of Ghana, known as the Queen Mother. British colonists stole Ghana’s sacred treasure; going to war against the Brits, Nana (at the age of fifty) led an uprising to take back the Golden Stool. Nana and her army of women were defeated, but her valor and that of her women warriors was legendary. She died in prison at seventy after being a captive exile for twenty years.
Sorjini Chattophyaya Naidu was a nineteenth-century Indian-born Brahmin, the highest caste, and rebelled by marrying a man from a lower caste. This was just the beginning of her activist actions; she went against her family’s orders by discarding the academics of math and science her father had chosen for her, becoming a poet instead. She joined Gandhi’s movement for peaceful independence and was jailed many times (“I was born a rebel and I expect to die a rebel unless I free India!”) for civil disobedience, and later ran a salon in Bombay open to all races, castes, and religions. Upon India’s independence in 1947, she became governor of her province and worked for women’s rights.
In March 1928, Chen Tiejun was arrested, jailed, tortured, and executed at the age of twenty-four for her radical feminism. A founding member of the Chinese Communist Party, she organized a women’s underground army of rebels and weapons smugglers. Forced to marry by her provincial parents, she left her husband immediately and attended college to become a teacher. Betrayed by a fellow Red Guard, her courageous refusal to divulge any information to her captors made her a shero of the Communist movement and Chinese feminists.
Founder of the Egyptian Feminist Union, Huda Sha’Rawi was part of the last generation of Egyptian women to come of age under the harem system in the late eighteenth century. Born to a wealthy family, she was at the forefront of Egyptian feminism and led the movement to free Egypt from British colonial rule.
This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.
The Book of Awesome Women
Boundary Breakers, Freedom Fighters, Sheroes & Female Firsts
Super women as female role models. From the foremothers who blazed trails and broke barriers, to today’s women warriors from sports, science, cyberspace, city hall, the lecture hall, and the silver screen, The Book of Awesome Women paints 200 portraits of powerful and inspiring role models for women and girls poised to become super women of the future. Discover some of the most awesome women known to history while celebrating the greatness of females all over!