#InternationalWomensDay2013 Blogfest

8th March
International Women's Day a celebration of respect, appreciation and love, also economic, political and social achievements. Based upon reader's choices, this Blogfest examines the actions of famous women, and their significance in human history.

"I was travelling from Calcutta to Darjeeling by train, when I heard the voice of God" ~ Blessed Mother Teresa describing her "call within a call" on 10th September 1946

After taking her vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service to the poor she also decided that her name would be Theresa after the patron saint of foreign missionaries, Saint Theresa of Lisieux. And for over forty-five years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.

She was the recipient of numerous honours including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.

But characteristically, she refused the conventional ceremonial banquet given to laureates, and asked that the $192,000 funds be given to the poor in India. When asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" she answered "Go home and love your family."
Serving the poorest of the poor
Born in 1910 in Skopje (now the capital of Macedonia), Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was an ethnic Albanian, Indian Roman Catholic nun. She said "By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus".

Today, the Missionaries of Charity which she established in 1950 consists of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries.

“I even made poor Louis take me on Crusade. How's that for blasphemy. I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn... but the troops were dazzled.” (Eleanor of Aquitaine in “The Lion in Winter”)

If the Grand Dame of the Middle Ages really rode bare-breasted in the Holy Land is unrecorded – a sight to see in any case, Eleanor of Aquitaine was a beauty of high renown - but she did accompany her husband King Louis VII of France on the Second Crusade, finally fell out with him in a quarrel over strategy (he was wrong, by all means), he shipped her back to France – she got a divorce and stated later she had married a monk, not a man.

She got her fill of manly men with her next spouse, Henry II of England – a true love-hate relationship.
Crown Jewel of Aquitaine
She poisoned (allegedly) his lover, fair Rosamund, he imprisoned her for 16 years, but nonetheless she bore him three sons, Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland and Geoffrey of Brittany, ruled the country during Richard’s imprisonment in Austria and was a pain in the neck of King John until she finally permitted God to take her at the age of 82 in 1204, Queen of two countries, mother of two kings and two queens (Eleanor of Castile and Joan of Sicily) and one of the major causes for the Hundred Years’ War. Ecce mulier summae prudentiae.

For more on Eleanor of Aquitaine please refer to Wikipedia.

"So saith Poran the queen, I will make the needy needless of wants, I will make the poor strong, no sighs of need shall be heard within this kingdom of mine. Safe from malevolence, I shall keep these lands and follow the path of the passed kings" ~ Ferdowsi refers to Purandokht (the First Sassanid Queen) in his epic poem, the Shahnameh

Princess Poran / Boran (lit. beautiful woman) illustrated below at the site of Shiz in Azarbaijan. Boran was one of the last rulers of Sassanian Persia before the Arabo-Islamic invasions of 637-651 AD.

In the "Book of Kings", the great epic work by Ferdousi, the great Bard and writer of the History of Iran, Poran or Porandokht is remembered for her words of justice and wanting to end poverty and bring tranquillity to the realm.
Revitalizing the Sassanid Empire
She was the daughter of Khosrow the Second of his name, she was crowned queen or rather Shahanshah, the king of kings, in the year of 629, 17th of June. She only reigned a short period, until 631. Her death has been ascribed to be either from murder to a fever.

Her greatest achievement was to barter a peace treaty between Byzantium and Iran. To read more about her please see:
Iranica Online.

Editor says, today we can only speculate as to the real reasons for the truncation of her short period of rule. But we can still marvel at her courageous attempt to revitalize the Empire.

"I'd like to be a queen in people's hearts but I don't see myself being queen of this country" ~ Princess Diana Spencer

From her fairy-tale beginning as the Princess of Wales, Diana Spencer was perhaps best known for her fund-raising work for international charities and as an eminent celebrity of the late 20th century. She was one of the first high-profile celebrities to be photographed touching a person infected with HIV at the "chain of hope" organization.

"The unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Diana, whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds" - her brother, Earl Spencer
The Queen of Hearts
Diana also received recognition for her charity work and for her support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (pictured above). From 1989, she was the president of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, in addition to dozens of other charities.

Diana also made clandestine visits to show kindness to the sick, sometimes accompanied by her sons. According to nurses, she would turn up unannounced (for example, at the Mildmay Hospice in London) with specific instructions that her visit was to be concealed from the media

"The first of a new genus" ~ Mary Wollstonecraft

She was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Mary Wollstonecraft had grown up in a household dominated by an abusive, alcoholic father, which served to inspire her toward her philosophy of early feminism. She left her father and supported herself as a governess and teacher.
When Mary took in her half-sister, who had fled an abusive marriage, they began a school that initially did well but would later fail and leave Mary with substantial debt.

She began to write, publishing the somewhat autobiographical Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787) and widely successful children's story Original Stories from Real Life (1788). From her platform of education, she began to write more political works such as A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. Mary also travelled, coming to Paris, where she met and fell in love with Gilbert Imlay. Neither believed in marriage, and Imlay eventually left her and their daughter Fanny.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
For years, Mary pined for Imlay. She attempted suicide in 1795, which was stopped by Imlay's influence. Still hoping that they could rekindle their relationship, Mary travelled for Imlay on business through Scandinavia, bringing along her daughter and a nurse. The journey proved good material for her writings, but it became clear that Imlay would never accept her. In 1796, she attempted suicide again by leaping into the Thames, but was rescued by a stranger.

Following her second attempt, Mary moved on with her life. She continued to write, coming into literary circle that began the foundation of feminism. Ten years before, Mary had written to her sister that she wished to be the "the first of a new genus". After a life of suffering and continuing to forge ahead, travelling with a child in a time when most women rarely left the home, Mary's writings proved that she had indeed begun a new genus.

Although she had come into her own, her life came to a tragic end. Mary at last found happiness with William Godwin, who had fallen in love with her through Mary's writing, saying, "she displays a genius which commands all our admiration". Mary became pregnant and, despite neither of them believing in the social shackling, they were married March 29, 1797. She gave birth to a daughter who was named in her honour and passed away from child-bed fever (an eighteenth century description of complications and infection incurred during delivery).

Her daughter Mary would later marry poet Percy Shelley and write Frankenstein, the novel often considered the first work of true science fiction. Thanks in many ways to the feminist work of her mother, another Mary living up to ambitions to be the "first in a genus."

Marie Curie was the first well-known woman scientist in the modern world, and is known as the "mother of modern physics" for her research in radioactivity. She won two Nobel Prizes: for physics (1903) and chemistry (1911). "Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas".

"People tend to forget their duties but remember their rights" ~ Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi

A controversial figure known for her political ruthlessness and unprecedented centralisation of power, she governed during a period when India was emerging with greater power than before to become the regional hegemon of South Asia with considerable political, economic, and military developments. Gandhi also presided over a state of emergency from 1975 to 1977 during which she ruled by decree and made lasting changes to the constitution of India.

"There exists no politician in India daring enough to attempt to explain to the masses that cows can be eaten."
Taking on sacred cows
Indira Gandhi was the only child of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. She served as the Chief of Staff of her father's highly centralized administration between 1947 and 1964 and came to wield considerable unofficial influence in government. Elected Congress President in 1959, she was offered the premiership in succession to her father. Gandhi refused and instead chose to become a cabinet minister in the government. She finally consented to become Prime Minister in succession to Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966.

During the early 1980s Indira Gandhi was faced with threats to the political integrity of India. Several states sought a larger measure of independence from the central government, and Sikh separatists in Punjab state used violence to assert their demands for an autonomous state. In response, Gandhi ordered an army attack in June 1984 on the Harimandir (Golden Temple) at Amritsar, the Sikhs’ holiest shrine, which led to the deaths of more than 450 Sikhs. Five months later Gandhi was killed in her garden by a fusillade of bullets fired by two of her own Sikh bodyguards in revenge for the attack on the Golden Temple.

She was named "Woman of the Millennium" in a poll organised by the BBC in 1999. On the other hand, she is associated with fostering a culture of nepotism in Indian politics and in India's institutions. The international airport at New Delhi is named Indira Gandhi International Airport in her honour.

Who was your favourite woman from the reader's choices?

Malala Yousafzai who was chosen by Andrew Beane's readers as Voice of the Christian Worker's Person of the Year
After the publication of her writings for the “Open Minds” project, she was shot in the head and neck by a Taliban Gunman as she returned home on a school bus.

“ The new woman? Does she really exist? Is she not the product of the creative fancy of modern writers of fiction, in search of sensational novelties? Look around you, look sharply, reflect, and you will convince yourself: the new woman is certainly there – she exists.”

Russian Communist revolutionary, first as a member of the Mensheviks, then from 1914 on as a Bolshevik. In 1923, she was appointed Soviet Ambassador to Norway.

It all started in earnest on International Women's Day 1917, meetings and rallies in Petrograd turned into demonstrations and merged with the worker’s strike that had begun the day before. Before long the entire city was brought to a standstill.
Fighting the Revolution
Troops order to quell the disorder failed to act, and in some cases even joined the protests. After a week the Tsar had abdicated and the royal line of the Romanov’s came to an end.

When the news reached Alexandra Kollontai in Norway she returned from exile to play her part in the Russian Revolution.

Kollontai, who had just turned 45 at the time, was already a veteran of the movement, having become involved in revolutionary activities in her early twenties. The daughter of a wealthy family she was well-educated, fluent in several languages, but expected to play the traditional role of women in polite Russian society that of wife and mother. But her career would be anything but traditional. She married at a young age to a poor student, a marriage opposed by her parents. She had a child but abandoned motherhood for a life as a revolutionary.

Kollontai, who had just turned 45 at the time, was already a veteran of the movement, having become involved in revolutionary activities in her early twenties. The daughter of a wealthy family she was well-educated, fluent in several languages, but expected to play the traditional role of women in polite Russian society that of wife and mother.

But her career would be anything but traditional. She married at a young age to a poor student, a marriage opposed by her parents. She had a child but abandoned motherhood for a life as a revolutionary.

After studying Marxist economy in Switzerland she was active in the revolutionary movement in Russia until 1908 when she went into exile. During her years in exile she travelled widely and spoke publicly on social issues, women’s rights and against the war. During the Great War she moved first to denmark, than Sweden before settling in Norway as a place where she could speak freely without fear of imprisonment. When the revolution broke out in Russia she carried Lenin’s ‘Letter’s from Afar’ with her.

Arriving in Petrograd immersed herself in political activities, helping organize the female workers paper Rabotnitsa, writing leaflets, making speeches and most importantly being elected to the executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet (worker’s council). After the Bolsheviks took power in the October Revolution, a decision she had participated in as an outspoken proponent of soviet power, she became Commissar of Social Welfare in the Soviet government.

She had spent much of 1917 campaigning for women’s rights and pressuring the Bolsheviks to put it on the agenda (the topic was controversial among marxist revolutionary, because feminism was widely viewed as a bourgeois issue).

Her work for women culminated in the Zhentodel, the “Women’s Section” of the communist party, which she co-founded Inessa Armand and Nadezhda Krupskaya (she became head of the Zhentodel in 1921). The Zhentodel worked to improve the conditions of women and educating them about their new rights under Soviet rule.

Besides her activities for women´s right she was also very politically active within the Communist Party at large. It was her political views which would put her on a collision course with Lenin himself. At the end of 1920 she helped form the Worker´s Opposition, a faction within the Communist Party that opposed the increasing bureaucratization of the Soviet Union. Such critical opposition was not well-received within the Party and it led directly to Lenin banning all factions within the Soviet Union, and Kollontai herself was sidelined.

In 1923 she was appointed to the position of ambassador to Norway. Quite a spectacular appointment in itself, as it made her the first female ambassador in the world. But it also meant she was permanently removed from the day-to-day politics of the Soviet Union. During her years as ambassador she continued to write on women´s equality, but from a position of little influence. Her more radical ideas also fell out of favour among the increasingly conservative leadership of the Communist Party.

Although her radical views on marriage, motherhood and sexuality ultimately had little influence she had been important in other ways. She had shown by example that women could occupy important positions, in a society where women had until recently been barred from holding any position at all. Her actions in the years following the revolution had helped improve the position of women in the Soviet Union directly, and she was instrumental in making women´s rights a part of the communist agenda. Something that the Soviet Union throughout it´s existence would at least pay lip-service to, even if that did not always translate to actions.

"Back then, we didn't have any civil rights. It was just a matter of survival existing from one day to the next." ~ Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955, Rosa's whole life changed when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. For violating Montgomery's ordinance, she was arrested and fined.

However, this act began the modern civil rights movement. In combination with Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa boycotted the ciry's bus company for a duration of 382 days.
Not taking it sitting down
This caused the Supreme Court to rule that the ordinance under which Rosa was fined was wrong. They also put out a law against racial segregation on public transportation. She also later received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize.

Presidential Candidate Jesse Jackson paid tribute to her in his 1988 DNC address -
"All of us - all of us who are here think that we are seated. But we're really standing on someone's shoulders. Ladies and gentlemen, Mrs. Rosa Parks. (Applause) The mother of the civil rights movement. [Mrs. Rosa Parks was brought to the podium.]".

"Remember the ladies" ~ First Lady Abigal Adams

In 1776 when the Continental Congress was considering Independence, she sent a letter to her husband saying "remember the ladies" meaning that they should also demand that the new society protect the rights of women as well as men.

Women's suffrage in the United States was achieved gradually, at state and local levels, during the late 19th century and early 20th century, culminating in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provided:

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad conductor during American slavery, was also a Civil War nurse and spy, and an advocate of civil rights and women's rights). "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world".

Florence Nightingale practically invented the profession of nursing, and also brought sanitary conditions to soldiers in wars -- at a time when more soldiers typically died of disease than of injuries in battle. "Women have no sympathy and my experience of women is almost as large as Europe".

Madonna is regularly listed as number one, meaning of course the Virgin Mary although the high number of web hits also includes the pop-star Madonna (Ciccone).

Maria Montessori was the first woman to earn a medical degree from the University of Rome, She applied learning methods she developed for mentally retarded children to children with intelligence in the normal range. The Montessori method, still popular today, is child-centered and experience-centered.

In the alternate history "Hard Woman", Flora MacDonald is the incomparable Highland rebel that saves the invading Jacobite Army.
After he quits the field at Culloden, she convinces Bonne Prince Charlie to rejoin the Jacobite Army by promising to organize reinforcements from her own Clan. With fresh resolve, he inspired the "forty-five" rebels with a fiery new leadership that turned the tables on the Hanoverians.

And last, but not least, Robbie A. Taylor writes -

international superstar Pete Best made his television debut on the BBC, performing with his old band The Silver Beatles on the musical show Teenager's Turn. Best would soon decide to go his own way, which turned out to be disastrous for his old bandmates, but a bonanza for him.

Following up on the success of his scientific romance Look Homeward, Angel, Thomas Wolfe publishes its sequel, Of Time And The River. The series followed the exploits of the fallen angel Gant after leaving his home in the village of Ash, and has become a classic of S.R.

Denmark and Spain joined the Congress of Nations. The last two holdouts in Europe, they paved the way for the other isolationist countries of the earth to finally give in and begin joining the C.N.

A selection of alternate histories by Robbie Taylor 1994
South African troops, allies of the U.S., accept the surrender of Madagascar. Although the war in the Indian Ocean Theater is just beginning, South Africa is sweeping across its neighbors with alarming speed. In some respects, they are doing even better than President Ralph Shephard's troops in the western hemisphere.

Robbie's Tweets from Alternate History now available on Twitter and his latest e-book "The Tree Of Knowledge (The Chelsea Perkins Trilogy)" on Amazon.
The composer for the Incan court, Bekcheco, died in his sleep in the Incan capitol of Cuszo. Bekcheco had been known for his musical styles that appealed so highly to the young people of the continent, combining eastern rhythms with more civilized traditional Oueztecan music.

British and Ottoman soldiers took control of Abukir Bay in Egypt from Italian Imperial forces. Napoleon Buonaparte, Emperor of Italy, had assumed control of Egypt largely out of a desire to recreate the Roman Empire. Unfortunately for the Little Italian, it placed him perilously close to the Ottoman Empire, which joined forces with the northern European allies against Italy.

Please stay tuned for our forthcoming celebration of Irish Alternate History for St Patrick's Day, 17th March 2013. We look forward to commemorating the life of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
17th March

Robbie Taylor, Creator of Today in Alternate History Jackie Rose, novelist for Extasy Books Dirk Puehl, Editor of #Onthisday Professor Jeff Provine, Editor of This Day in Alternate History
Haleh Brooks, publisher of Haleh's World of Archaeology Marko Bosscher, tours Natural History museums at Eruditorum. Alternate Historian, Editor of Today in Alternate History Andrew Beane, Editor of Voice of the Christian Worker

Today's eight-way post includes contributions from the Marko Bosscher, Reverend Robbie A. Taylor, Andrew Beane, Professor Jeff Provine, Haleh Brooks, Jackie Rose, and the Editor.

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