For March Services in Action’s Book Club learned about Gutsy Women. There are some stories that show an ordinary act having an extraordinary outcome. These are the most inspirational stories. Sure, in some occasions people had privilege, wealth, or position that ensured a seat at the table or access to someone who could catapult an idea, but in many cases, it was just one person’s decision to act, and ability to organize, and persistence. Here are a few examples:
Juliette Gordon Low heard about the Boy Scouts in the UK and started Girls Scouts in the US. This afterschool program turned into a generational life-long movement, with an alumni of 59 million US women.
Mary McLeod Bethune born in 1875 to parents who were former slaves. Mary had the opportunity to go to school run by a missionary. She received a scholarship and became a teacher herself. Mary opened a school in Florida for Black children in 1904. Within two years 250 students were registered. Mary was very political, founding and leading many organizations and events in support of Black people, particularly girls and women. Mary also opened a hospital and training centre for nurses. In 2018, her statue was erected, replacing a confederate general in the US Capital Building.
Clara Barton was active in the US civil war in the 1860s. She helped wounded soldiers. And by 1881, at sixty, she founded the American Red Cross, which she then led for the next twenty-three years.
Junko Tabei was passionate about mountain climbing, traditionally a male sport. In 1969, she founded the Ladies’ Climbing Club, she fought to have the club recognized by the Japan Mountaineering Association. As soon as it was she led a group up the Himalayas. In May 1975, she became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. By the age of seventy-six Junko had climbed the highest peaks in seventy-six countries.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh At 17 years old, she started a magazine called MuslimGirl by buying a domain, hosting, and getting started. The goal was to establish a space for Muslim Millennials. With diligence and commitment, the magazine had 1.7 million views in 2017.
What has struck me the most about these remarkable stories is how these women wanted to see something happen, so they went and made it so. Underlying each story, is awareness of a problem, the decision to act, an ability to organize, and an unwavering commitment to see the goal realized.
Perhaps this book should not be read as a book of stories, but as a guide. A guide to making change happen.