To celebrate International Women's Day, we have asked the Cuth's community over the years to share with us the women who inspire them.
Happy International Women's Day!
She inspires me because her book, The Second Sex, is a detailed analysis of women’s oppression and is credited as the start of second-wave feminism. I drew upon her powerful work in my PhD and found it inspirational and De Beauvoir has been an influential figure whose reflections of feminism and existentialism has had significant impact on feminist movement and theory over history.
Professor Tammi Walker (Principal of St. Cuthbert's Society)
A woman who continues to inspire me is Mo Mowlam. Her fearless commitment to the Northern Ireland peace process despite facing opposition and resistance was such a sign of her strength of character and integrity. Also, she was a woman who no matter how bleak it looked at times never lost her sense of humour.
Rev Julia Candy (Chaplain of St Cuthbert's Society)
Julia Cleverdon is a tireless campaigner who has made major contributions to social justice in Britain over the last fifty years, working with the Industrial Society, Business in the Community, the Prince of Wales’s charities, Teach First, the National Literacy Trust, #Iwill, and many other organizations. She is especially good at inspiring young people to get involved in social action. Her energy, enterprise, and passion have been an inspiration to me for the last fifty years. She is also a wonderfully loyal and generous friend, always available when needed in spite of her busy diary.
Elizabeth Archibald (Former Principal)
Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a German student and anti-Nazi political activist.
She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother, Hans. As a result, she was murdered by the Nazi's being executed by guillotine.
Her last words were:
"How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?"
She was and continues an inspiration all who strive against the far right and the politics of hate, and her words are just as relevant today as they were then.
Dr. Jon Warren (Vice Principal)
Suzanne is from Montreal, Canada but has spent much of her life in Asia making a huge difference to thousands of individuals and business people. I met her in Bangok in Thailand and I feel very privileged to call her a friend. She set up the first business school in Vietnam and the first fitness conference in Asia (now the incredibly successful Asia Fitness Conference which attracts people from all over the world). Yes, Suzanne is truly inspirational yet perfectly down to earth, she somehow manages to be simply 'there' alongside being dynamic.
Her catch phrase on a recent podcast was 'It is never about me, it is about we' and she is one of the most humble women I have ever met whilst being one of the strongest (physically and mentally). In her 60s she continues to train with joy and enthusiasm and shows us all what is possible with consistency in functional movement. I am a middle-aged runner, she gives me hope for the next decade and more! She is real about grief and loss in her own life and turns it outwards to care for others.
Katherine Dodd (Cuth's Communications Support)
Louisa has been over this past year exceptionally inspirational, in that she has helped, encouraged & inspired me to keep going both physically & mentally. She goes up to see all her animals twice a day no matter what the weather, how tired she is or how she feels physically. If it was not for her I don't think I would get out of bed & do what I have to do for the community. She has encouraged me to do a job she has little time for. Due to the weather & field conditions being very wet it's hard going to walk about half a mile each time she sees the livestock. The job I've been tasked with is both mentally & physically stimulating, that being haltering, talking & handling the young calves, six in total from 9 months to newborn. We meet once a week to talk about all sorts from politics, archaeology, mainly bone studies, historic costume, livestock mating planning to silly things happening around us. The photo is one of her with the herd matriarch Thomasina, a 17yr old Dexter.
Paul Stokes (Cuth's Mentor)
A political economist, Ann Pettifor is one of the leading analysts of the global financial system. She has consistently challenged political and economic orthodoxy, being one of the few economists who successfully predicted the 2007-2008 financial crisis. She was one of the leaders of the Jubilee 2000 debt cancellation campaign, which led to the cancellation of over $100 billion of debt owed by 35 countries. In 2008, she helped to author the Green New Deal, which seeks to put economic and social justice at the heart of the fight against climate change, and which has now been taken up in the US by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Helen Mountfield is a British human rights barrister, legal scholar and current principal of Mansfield College, Oxford. She is particularly well-known for cases concerning discrimination and equality in public law, employment, commercial and other contexts, and has appeared frequently in the Supreme Court. Helen was leading advocate for the 'People's Challenge' group in the litigation brought in the Supreme Court which successfully challenged Theresa May’s attempt to trigger Article 50 to leave the European Union without the approval of a parliamentary vote. I knew her and her daughters growing up and find her inspirational not just because of the work she has done in her career, and the fact she is extremely intelligent, but because she is also very kind.
In July 1960, at the age of 26, Jane Goodall began her primatology field work researching chimpanzees in Tanzania. During this fieldwork, Goodall made ground-breaking discoveries surrounding chimpanzee sociality and tool use, these scientific discoveries are now regarded as some of the greatest of the twentieth-century. Primatology has historically been hugely male dominated, but the success of Goodall’s career has promoted the movement of women into the field and into science in general.
Goodall has also gained merit for her work as a conservationist and humanitarian. Goodall identified the importance of local communities in sustainable conservation, enabling the protection of many vulnerable species, especially chimpanzees. Additionally, Goodall also supports the education and inclusion of young people in conservation and has established her own youth program called Roots & Shoots.
Jane Goodall inspires me because she has demonstrated how empathy and love can empower you to make positive changes in the world. She inspires me to act in a considerate way and to think about how this might influence the actions of others positively.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a Northern Irish physicist who, after graduating from the University of Glasgow went on to do a PhD in astrophysics at Cambridge. During this time she conducted an experiment which detected the first rapidly rotating neutron star. This was a huge discovery, and the project itself was awarded the 1974 Nobel prize in physics, but despite doing the majority of the work, Bell was not a recipient of the prize (it went to her PhD supervisor instead). Undoubtedly one of the most influential astrophysicists of our time, Bell has only recently received appropriate recognition, and donates prize money to ‘fund women, under-represented ethnic minority and refugee students to become physics researchers.’
Nowadays she is mainly known as the wife of American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, but Zelda was a fiercely independent and capable woman who sought her own career as a writer, then as a dancer and a painter. Her novel, Save Me the Waltz, is heavily autobiographical and considers her frustration at being branded an ingenue or 'princess in the tower', and can be read as a direct response to the female characters in her husband's novels. She was not content to live in the shadow of her husband, and sought to retain her own identity and independence of thought, even whilst battling severe mental health problems throughout her lifetime.
Anne Lister was an early 19th century Yorkshire gentlewoman who was fiercely independent, a shrewd businesswoman and keen traveller, but she is of particular interest to historians because of her surviving diary which details her homosexuality and relationships with other women. During the 18th and 19th century it was normal to assert that women did not feel any sexual desire at all, and deny that lesbians existed, but in her diaries Anne Lister shows no shame or confusion about her feelings, describing them explicitly as a pure form of love. I find Anne Lister's confidence and assuredness in her own desire, at a time when women's sexuality was so profoundly suppressed, inspiring and highly worthy of recognition this International Women's Day.
I chose Simone Veil, a brave and powerful French politician. She was a very active woman in French politics from the 1950s onwards. She fought for the right for abortion in France which was legalised in 1975 and was the first elected president of the European Parliament. She made lots of advances for fundamental rights for women. I think she inspires me a lot when it comes to be an activist in feminism; she also inspired me to try to remain informed in what is currently happening in politics because it can have real impacts on our daily lives as individuals and impacts hugely future generations.
Amal Clooney is my inspirational woman. She's a high profile human rights lawyer who's worked on extremely difficult cases. For instance, in 2015 she began work on the recognition of the Armenian genocide representing Armenia in the case against DoÄŸu Perinçek, whose 2007 conviction for genocide denial and racial discrimination was overturned in Perinçek v. Switzerland in 2013. She's also completely sassy as, prior to the above hearing, outside the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, Amal was actually asked what designer frock she’d be wearing by a journalist. Her reply? “Ede & Ravenscroft” – the tailors who make her court robes. She also speaks out against important women's human rights issues, in 2016, Amal stood before the United Nations and told delegates she was “ashamed” to do so while they did nothing to help Yazidi women who had been attacked, abused and enslaved by Isis. Amal, who represents former trafficked sex slave Nadia Murad, delivered a powerful speech.
She was the first woman (and second person) to make a solo, non-stop transatlantic flight in 1932, landing outside Derry, Northern Ireland.
Tarana Burke was born in September 1973 in The Bronx, New York. In 2006, she founded the Me Too movement and began promoting the use of the phrase ‘Me Too’ to increase awareness of sexual assault and abuse. After the 2017 Harvey Weinstein accusations, the movement grew significantly, with #MeToo being used online. She was named, along with other female activists, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2017. She received the 2018 Prize for Courage from The Ridenhour Prizes, an award for those who ‘persevere in acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice or illuminate a more just vision of society.’ She is currently Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity. A woman of incredible perseverance in her dedication to supporting survivors of sexual assault, who continues to work tirelessly today.
She has gone through so much, yet still faces relentless media scrutiny, but has managed to pull through with incredible messages of self love and strength in her music. A true inspiration!
The way she teaches African history does not play lipservice to women or those who existed outside 'femininity'. She makes an obvious effort to not only discuss those who identified as women, but throughout her module 'Gods and Guns', not as just a seminar or a small section of history. Her work is inspiring to female students like myself who see women making history, and teaching it, as not something to be celebrated because of 'being women', but because of the contribution and work that one brings to the table. Her teaching of African history reflects the reality of life - women exist in all aspects of history, even if their voices might be hidden.
Anne - my wonderful wife who sadly died.
Anne was my lifelong love, companion, confidante, and soulmate. She supported me in everything I ever wanted to do, gave me a beautiful family and was truly loved by all who knew her. Anne was a human being without anger, jealousy or selfishness in her heart. She was the same warm person with everyone with whom she came in contact - irrespective of status or position, whilst having a mischievous sense of humour in summing up people - but always without malice. Anne was always more interested in listening to other people's stories rather than telling people what she has been doing.
A beautiful lady that I shall miss terribly, but at the same time celebrate always. I have been very lucky.
Born in Russia of mixed ethnic parentage, Noor Inyat Khan lived mainly in England. She trained as a psychologist and musician, wrote a book of 20 Jataka Tales. She was sent by the SOE Special Operations Executive to occupied France in WWII as a radio operator to aid the French Resistance, captured and shot in Dachau 12/9/44. She has a posthumous George Cross and a film of her life, “Spy Princess”.
Our Former Principal, Prof. Archibald. A leading academic, inspiring intellect, cultural role model and all round great friend! She extended a welcome hand of friendship when I arrived at Durham, and is a tireless good force for Cuth's, and friend to the whole college community. How she manages to take an interest in all of us at Cuth's I cannot imagine!
Paul Pettitt (Archaeology, SCR)