Rebel Women: The Narrative of Women in History


 

 The 10th Annual Women in the World Summit

 

The 10th Annual Women in the World Summit, which brought together female leaders and activists took place from the 10th till the 12th of April in New York City earlier this year.

It was an opportunity to share narratives and experiences, to inspire and to be inspired by the powerful, courageous and devoted women who were in attendance. Key speakers included Jacinda Ardern, Adwoa Aboah, Stacey Abrams, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Oprah Winfrey.

Bringing together women of different career backgrounds, experiences and walks of life. The Summit acts as a platform to promote change, as topics such as ‘Can Women Save the Planet’ and ‘Saudi’s War On Women’ saw a large spectrum of themes that covered social history, political and social strife.

The Summit was able to highlight the importance of coming together to listen to a range of diverse perspectives and learn about different cultures, politics and the ways in which we can actively create positive and lasting change all across the world. A full agenda can be found on their website along with detailed articles for each panel that took place throughout the three days.

Oprah

Oprah Winfrey took to the stage at the Lincoln Centre on the 10th of April to deliver a speech that plainly summed up the social and political climate in the western world today: “We live in a country that has somehow confused cruel with funny, serious with intelligent, attitude with belief, personal freedom with stockpiling assault weapons, and what is moral with what is legal… So, it is time for women in the world to set the agenda. It’s time for women to redefine the message. We need to make that message a positive one. Let’s make it ambitious, and inclusive, and brimming with hope.”

In light of these powerful words and the inspiring work of the event itself, we want to bring you the stories of women who have been able to redefine the stereotypes of womanhood throughout history. This month we want to celebrate the life work of Sarojini Naidu who alongside being a political activist, an active feminist and poet, also became the first Indian woman to be president of the Indian National Congress and an Indian State governor.

Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu was born in Hyderabad, India on the 13th February 1879. Beginning her education at the University of Madras at the age of 12, she eventually went on to study in London at King’s

College with a scholarship at the young age of 16. She continued her education at Girton College, Cambridge in 1896. Her time in London coincided with the Suffrage Movement that was shaking off the conventional shackles that condemned women to the private sphere. In encountering the movement, Sarojini soon became a campaigner and activist in support of women’s suffrage all over the world. Her own campaigning began to gain momentum in England when she gave evidence to persuade the British Government to give voting rights to Indian women. In doing so Sarojini opened up a dialogue and joined the conversation in India regarding Indian independence and women’s rights.

Alongside her activist work, Sarojini was also a poet influenced by English poets she met such as Arthur Symons, W.B. Yeats and Edmund Gosse. Her poetry appeared in the nineteenth-century periodical, the Savoy. The Savoy hosted art, poetry and literature from Decadent and modernists considered controversial, often going against Victorian ideals. In being a part of this movement, Sarojini highlighted her passion and commitment to campaigning for her own rights and the rights of her country. In returning to India, Sarojini stayed in contact with these poets and their like-minded politics meant she did return to England for poetry readings, political rallies and receptions. Many now recognise her as the ‘Nightingale of India’ because of her song-like verse.

Annie Besant

Sarojini became a close ally of Mahatma Gandhi and other independence leaders such as Annie Besant. Playing a part in movements against British rule, Sarojini landed herself in prison several times and worked tirelessly to fight for social welfare and India’s independence. In 1925, she became the first Indian woman to be the president of the Indian National Congress. Alongside this, Sarojini also set up the Women’s Indian Association, giving lectures around the country on suffrage and female empowerment. Sarojini was an inspiring and courageous woman living in a period where women had limited rights. Her education gave her the tools she needed to help shape the world and challenge oppressive archetypes in society.

 

 

 

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