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Ahhotep  

Hannington Ochwada

queen of Egypt, is one of the most prominent women leaders in ancient Egyptian history. She possessed numerous titles that provide us with invaluable insights into her role and stature in the New Kingdom. She was referred to as “Peace of the Moon.” Her father was King Tao I and her mother Queen Tetisheri. She was the sister and wife of her brother, Seqenenre Tao II, one of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt who died on the battlefield in a campaign that was aimed at expelling the Hyksos from Egypt. Ahhotep was the mother of Kamose and Ahmose, the subsequent kings of Egypt after the death of Tao II, and also the mother of Ahmose-Nefertari, wife of king Ahmose.

Some historians and Egyptologists considered Ahhotep the first of several of the most notable powerful and remarkable women of influence in the New Kingdom While some consider her to be the ...

Article

pioneering Nigerian feminist, civil servant, and democratic activist, was born on 17 December 1923 in Okeigbo, a small town in present-day Ondo State, Nigeria. Her full name was Felicia Folayegbe Mosunmola Idowu Akintunde-Ighodalo. Her parents were Benjamin Olojomo Akintunde, a farmer, and Sarah (Ogunkemi) Akintunde, a direct descendant of the war leader and uncrowned Ooni-elect Derin Ologbenla of the Giesi Ruling House of Ile-Ife. Fola, as she was known, was their fourth, but first surviving, child. Although her parents were early converts to the Christian Missionary Society (CMS) mission in Ondo, she grew up in a family compound whose members also included followers of traditional Yoruba religious practices and Islam. Her father encouraged her to be self-reliant and assertive even if her actions sometimes disregarded gender expectations.

Young Fola Akintunde attended the local mission school whose headmaster recognized her potential and persuaded her father to allow her to complete primary ...

Article

Kathleen Sheldon

queen mother in Ghana, where she served as asantehemaa from around 1809 until about 1819, when she was removed from office after being involved in a failed rebellion against Osei Tutu Kwame. Her father was Apa Owusi, who held the position of mampon apahene, or chief of the locality of Mampon; her mother, Sewaa Awukuwa, was a member of the Asante royal family. It appears from some sources that Adoma Akosua was married to a son of Asantehene Osei Kwadwo.

When the ruling queen mother, Asantehemaa Konadu Yaadom, died in 1809, there were two women with a strong genealogical claim to succeed her. One was Konadu Yaadom’s own daughter, Yaa Dufi, and the other was Adoma Akosua. Adoma Akosua was a matrilateral cousin of Asantehene Osei Tutu Kwame (their mothers were sisters); as such she was eligible to be named asantehemaa and she was selected for ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Nigerian educator, civil servant, and women’s rights activist, was born in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, on 17 May 1925. Her family was extremely affluent, as she was the daughter of Sir Adesiji Aderemi (1889–1890), the traditional king of the city of Ile-Ife, one of the most important sacred sites in the spiritual traditions of the Yoruba people. One of her sisters, Awujoola Adesomi Olagbaju, went on to become a schoolteacher and headmaster in her own right.

Alakija received her early education in Nigeria. She attended the Aiyetoro Primary and the Aiyetoro Central Schools in Ile-Ife from 1933 to 1937. She also studied at the Kudeti Primary boarding school in Ibadan for a time. Eventually Alakija moved to England in 1946, where she enrolled in Westfield College at the University of London. She acquired her undergraduate degree in 1950 in history and then proceeded to continue her ...

Article

Eugenio Fantusati

queen of Meroe, reigned during the second half of the first century BCE. She is shown dressed in ceremonial clothes on the pylon of her pyramid, Beg. n. 6, spearing bound prisoners: this action illustrates clearly the queen’s status as fully equal to the king in Meroitic ideology. Another form of her name is Amanishakheto.

In a second portrait found on the same monument (the original block is actually kept in Berlin) it is possible to observe the presence of three scars under her left eye. Considering that the practice of scarring was also employed for medical purposes, it has been hypothesized that Amanishaketo could have been the one-eyed kandake who fought the Romans during the 20s bce, especially since Amanishaketo’s presence inside the Dodekascoenus in that period is confirmed by a long inscription left by the same Kushite queen in Qasr Ibrim.

As the successor of Amanirenas and the ...

Article

Eugenio Fantusati

queen of Meroe, was crowned under the name of Merkare and reigned over the Meroitic empire in coregency with her husband, Natakamani, between the end of the first century BCE and the first decade of the first century CE.

As with the other Kushite queens, her title was kdke (kandake, or candace, probably translating as “regal sister”), an attribution common in Egypt among the royal brides during the Eighteenth dynasty and adopted later in Nubia by the brides of the Twenty-Fifth dynasty’s black pharaohs and subsequently by the wives of the Napatan and Meroitic sovereigns.

The complete lack of written sources relating to her kingdom forces us to make exclusive reference to the archaeological remains and above all to the reliefs in which Amanitore was represented The images at our disposal first of all show her in the prominent role of invincible warrior On the northern pylon of temple N ...

Article

Amina  

LaRay Denzer

sarauniya (queen) of Zazzau (present-day Zaria, Nigeria), was the legendary warrior and state builder who established the kingdom of Zazzau as a major Hausa state in the sixteenth century. Also known as Aminatu, she may have been born about 1533, but this is uncertain. She was the eldest daughter of Bakwa Turunku, the twenty-second sarki (ruler) of Zazzau (now Zaria). There are conflicting accounts about the gender of this ruler. Historian Abubakr Saʾad believes that she was a woman and argues that she very likely was the sarauniya of Kufena, the predecessor kingdom to Zazzau. Among the estates under her authority was Turunku. When an interregnum occurred, she was either appointed ruler or seized control of Kufena and in 1537 moved her capital to Zazzau which she named after her second daughter to secure land for expansion and better water supplies Her reign was mostly peaceful except for ...

Article

Vickey Kalambakal

Susan Brownell Anthony was born in Adams, Massachusetts, to an unusual family. Her father was a Quaker; at the religious meetings she attended as a child, women were allowed to speak and were on an equal footing with men. The family was prosperous, and her parents encouraged freethinking and activism in their children. Anthony became an abolitionist and participant in the Underground Railroad. She is best remembered as one of the leaders and organizers of the women's suffrage movement.

Anthony's family moved from Massachusetts to Rochester, New York, in 1845. Over the next few years, the abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass also a resident of Rochester became a frequent visitor and speaker at Sunday meetings at the Anthony farm where abolition was discussed Like many reform minded people of the day Anthony also joined the local temperance society After being denied the chance to speak at ...

Article

Meghan Elisabeth Healy

liberal historian and politician active in South Africa, was born Violet Margaret Livingstone Hodgson on 11 January 1894 in Glasgow, Scotland. Her father, John Hodgson, emigrated to the Orange Free State, South Africa, shortly after Margaret’s birth, working as a merchant while Margaret’s mother, Lillias, raised their three young children in Scotland. After fighting against the British with the Irish Brigade in the Anglo-Boer War, John Hodgson went to the Atlantic island of Saint Helena as a prisoner of war. When war ended in 1902, officials repatriated him, but he was ostracized in his community. Six months after his return, he illegally boarded a ship bound for Port Elizabeth, where he worked as a bookkeeper. In 1904, John Hodgson’s family joined him in the Cape. He harbored liberal political beliefs, supporting legal equality and the extension of a nonracial franchise in southern Africa.

After attending the Holy Rosary ...

Article

Owen J. M. Kalinga

Malawi's first female president, and the second female head of state in postcolonial Africa, was born Joyce Mtila on 12 April 1950 in Ntogolo Village Traditional Authority Malemia Zomba District Ntogolo the site of the Domasi Church of Scotland Mission and from the early 1930s the home of the Jeanes Training College was one of the centers of education in colonial Malawi Her father Gray Mtila was in the colonial police service serving for a long time in Zomba town and her mother Edith was a homemaker and later a retail assistant in one of the Peoples Trading Center establishments Joyce Mtila attended primary schools in Zomba district and after completing high school at Providence Secondary School she trained in office management and worked for some years during which time she married Roy Kachale The union produced three children For part of the 1970s the Kachales lived in Nairobi ...

Article

Gerhard Seibert

politician and foreign minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, was born Alda Bandeira Tavares Vaz da Conceição on 22 September 1949. She was the daughter of a male nurse and his wife on the Àgua-Izé estate, Santana District, São Tomé Island. She married Noberto Costa Alegre, with whom she has two daughters. Bandeira attended primary school and secondary school in São Tomé and Luanda, Angola, respectively. From 1972 to 1974 she studied German philology at Lisbon University.

During her country’s decolonization process, following the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974 in Portugal, Bandeira became one of the prominent student members of the radical Associação Cívica pró-MLSTP, which struggled for her country’s total independence from Portugal under the leadership of the Liberation Movement of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP, founded in 1972), whose leaders were exiled at that time in Libreville, Gabon. However, in March 1975 owing to a ...

Article

Elisabeth Bekers

daughter of El Hadj Ibrahima Sory Barry of Dara (1884?–1978), the last almamy, or king, of the Fulani of Fouta Djalon, and his third wife, Diello, was born in Mamou, Republic of Guinea (Guinea-Conakry), in 1948 Kesso meaning virgin in Fulani enjoyed a happy childhood in the royal slave sustained and polygamous household of her father until the age of six when she moved to Sogotoro with his authoritarian sister For four years her aunt tried to reform her impulsive headstrong niece through hard work and discipline but to little avail Upon her return to Mamou Barry quickly made her reputation as a revolutionary princess She joined her brothers in typically male activities such as hunting and tax collecting frequenting the cinema and joyriding in her father s car once almost killing a child On her own initiative she attended Mamou s qurʾanic school and its public primary ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Burundian politician and diplomat, was born on 23 May 1956. Her parents belonged to a prominent Tutsi family. From 1979 to 1981, after she had completed her undergraduate studies, Batumubwira worked as a journalist for the newspaper La Voix de la Révolution du Burundi. She eventually received a master’s degree in communication. In 1981, she became a public relations administrator for the United Nations information center in Bujumbura, the Burundian capital. She held this position until 1995, even after the Burundian civil war commenced in the early 1990s. She married Jean-Marie Ngendahayo, a prominent politician in his own right, who served as Burundi’s foreign minister from 1993 to 1995 She joined the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie Forces de défense de la démocratie CNDD FDD National Council for the Defense of Democracy Forces for the Defense of Democracy a rebel movement ...

Article

Paula J. Giddings

Born in Mayesville, South Carolina, and educated at a Presbyterian school in North Carolina and Chicago's Moody Bible Institute, Bethune in 1904 founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for girls in Florida; she was its president until 1942. Merged with Cookman Institute in 1923, it was subsequently known as Bethune-Cookman College—the only extant historically black college founded by a black woman. In 1935, she founded the National Council of Negro Women, which united the major black women's organizations, including the National Association of Colored Women, of which she had been president (1924–1928). She was also active in several interracial civil rights organizations.

Bethune's service on the advisory committee of the New Deal's National Youth Administration (1936–1943) extended her influence, particularly after she became director of its Negro Affairs Division in 1939 Her access to the White House and her alliance with ...

Article

Darlene Clark Hine

organizer of black women and advocate for social justice, was born Mary Jane McLeod in Mayesville, South Carolina, the child of the former slaves Samuel McLeod and Patsy McIntosh, farmers. After attending a school operated by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen, she entered Scotia Seminary (later Barber‐Scotia College) in Concord, North Carolina, in 1888 and graduated in May 1894. She spent the next year at Dwight Moody's evangelical Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago, Illinois. In 1898 she married Albertus Bethune. They both taught briefly at Kindell Institute in Sumter, South Carolina. The marriage was not happy. They had one child and separated late in 1907. After teaching in a number of schools, Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Training Negro Girls in Daytona, Florida, in 1904 Twenty years later the school merged with a boys school the ...

Article

Elaine M. Smith

Long deemed the most influential black American woman, Bethune is, by scholarly consensus, one of the most important black Americans in history regardless of gender, alongside Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King Jr. Unflinchingly, she championed the democratic values that define the nation. She took personally the well-being of the body politic, particularly in the crisis of two world wars. President Franklin D. Roosevelt viewed Bethune as a great patriot devoted to advancing all Americans. Bethune’s accomplishments were so impressive in relationship to resources, and her interest in people, regardless of nationality and locality, was so genuine, that any freedom-loving country could feel proud to claim her as its own.

Article

Jeremy Rich

second spouse of Cameroonian President Paul Biya, was born on 4 December 1970 in the eastern Cameroonian town of Dimako. Her father was a French expatriate, Georges Vigouroux, while her Cameroonian mother, Rosette Marie Mboutchouang, was a beauty pageant winner. Biya grew up in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé. After the death of Paul Biya’s first spouse, Jeanne-Irène, in 1992, Chantal entered into a romantic relationship with the authoritarian leader despite the thirty-seven-year age difference between the couple. Before their meeting, she had worked as a waitress and had few financial resources. On 23 April 1994, Chantal and Paul married in an elaborate ceremony. They had two children, Paul Junior and Anasthasia Brenda.

Chantal proved herself to be an able supporter and adviser to her husband She was a figure whose flamboyant public presence infuriated opponents of Biya s regime even as she succeeded in gaining a large popular ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politician and foreign minister, was born on 10 April 1956 to Omar (then Albert-Bernard) Bongo Ondimba and Louise Mouyabi Moukala in Franceville, capital of the southeastern Gabonese province of Haut-Ogooué. At the time of her birth, her father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, later president of Gabon, was a lieutenant in the French air force. Little public information is available about her childhood and adolescence, but she attended the University of California–Los Angeles in 1979 with her younger sister Albertine. Her father had purchased a home for roughly 2.2 million dollars US in Beverly Hills, California. Shortly before moving to the United States, she reportedly had a short romantic relationship with the Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley.

Pascaline Bongo finished her studies in the United States and returned to Gabon Although little detailed information exists about her activities in the 1980s she rose to prominence in her father s government after ...

Article

Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian nationalist, writer, women’s rights activist, and artist, was born in the provincial city of Sfax, where her father worked in the Arabic publishing business and was an amateur actor, which helps explain her lifelong involvement in the arts. Her mother, Cherifa, was educated and quite unconventional; after her husband’s death, she taught primary school in Nabeul from 1943 on, riding a bike to school while still wearing a black veil, which scandalized the conservative local community. Since there were no educational institutions for Tunisian girls in the town, Dorra Bouzid studied in the local French secular school from the age of four on, with students from a range of religious and ethnic backgrounds. After her father’s death—his family had been opposed to Cherifa teaching school—Bouzid’s mother received a post in Tunis just prior to World War II and married again, to Mahmoud Messaâdi (1911–2004 an important figure ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

first female prime minister of Senegal, was born in the coastal city of Saint Louis, Senegal. She came from a family of lawyers, including her father, one brother who worked for the Supreme Court of Senegal, and another brother who received an advanced law degree, became a professor of international law, and eventually became the head of the University of Dakar. Boye herself attended primary school in her home city before graduating from the Lycée Faidherbe secondary school and enrolling in an undergraduate law degree program at the University of Dakar in 1963 She then studied law at the Centre National d Études Judiciaries CNEJ in Paris Once she finished her studies in France she returned to Senegal and began to work as an assistant prosecutor for the government Boye became an assistant judge in a court at Dakar and later rose to be president of the Senegalese Court ...