Posse of powerful women

On the Edge

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

It has been all about President Biden in these Mayo News pages over recent weeks. And boy are we delighted that a Blewitt from Ballina is about to influence the course of history in a positive and unifying way at this critical time in our frazzled world.
But we have to give a nod to Vice-President Kamala Harris too. Don’t we? At the very least because this little newspaper, here in Westport on the edge of the ocean, should not be accused of gender inequality in its reportage!
Seriously though, hasn’t her inauguration – the first woman to achieve such high office in the United States – been another defining moment in that great country’s history and hopeful quest to reunite its people? Indeed, Harris being the offspring of a bi-racial union – Asian and African – defines the cross-cultural, multi-racial melting pot that is the US.
Anyway, during the days after her inauguration I was scrolling through my daily onslaught of WhatsApp messages when one landed from a group of old university friends.
There are about seven of us in the group, with one man – and to be fair to him he was always ahead of the posse where feminist issues were concerned, so he survives the rest of us with his impeccable wit and occasional absences from certain threads.
To the video. It started with a blank screen, melodramatic music and an introduction stating: “While the world has been distracted by all those resistant to change, change has been happening anyway.” It then shows a series of pictures of women who happen to be heads of state – prime ministers and presidents – all around the world at this very moment.
Wow! Frankly, I was gobsmacked that there are so many and that some of them are so young.
Well done one and all.
Here is the list: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland; Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal; Saara Kuugongelwa, Prime Minister of Namibia; Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark; Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia; Ana Brnabic, Prime Minister of Serbia; Halimah Jakob, Singapore; Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand; Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland; Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia; Salome Zourabichvili, President, Georgia; Paula-Mae Weekes, President of Trinidad and Tobago; Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados; Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland; Zuzana Caputová, President of Slovakia; Maia Sandu, President of Moldova; Katerina Sakellaropoulou, President of Greece; Ingrida Šimonyt, Prime Minister of Lithuania; Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, Prime Minister of Gabon.
The video then offers a further series of pictures of other powerful women who have had positive influences on the world recently. Among them, unsurprisingly, are the former US first lady US Michelle Obama and brave young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and, of course, it ended with the young poet, Amanda Gorman, who caused the world to stop spinning for a moment during her address at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s inauguration.
Her recitation of her Inauguration Day Poem went viral. Here are the opening lines:
When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade? / The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. / We’ve braved the belly of the beast. / We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, / and the norms and notions of what ‘just’ is isn’t always justice. / And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. / Somehow we do it. / Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, / but simply unfinished.
Last August, when speaking at the Democratic Party’s National Convention after she had accepted the nomination to run for the vice-presidency, Kamala Harris said: “There is no vaccine for racism. We have to do the work.”
Neither is there a vaccine for gender inequality, but as the aforementioned video concluded: “Empower women and change the world.”
It has been a long time coming, but clearly it is beginning to happen. Step by step. Bring it on, sisters.