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May 21

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This version of Women of Achievement has been taken
from the draft of an unpublished book based on
Irene Stuber's files on women of achievement and herstory.
The full text of this episode of Women of Achievement and Herstory
will be published here in the future.


Mary Robinson


QUOTE by Mary Robinson.

Mary Robinson

Robinsonireland.jpgBorn 05-21-1944, Mary Robinson is the former president of Ireland (1990-97), and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-).
      While president of Ireland she visited famine- racked Somalia and with unashamed tears streaming down her face angrily denounced the West for not helping. She was traveling as the Irish president for a country that had a well established foreign policy of peace-keeping and third world relief.
      Today, as the UN commissioner she has the world authority to expose abuses as she find them.
      Shortly after assuming her UN position she pointed out that women constituted the overwhelming majority of people living in poverty and represented the majority of the world's illiterates. She said that women worked more hours than men with their work still terribly undervalued. She said a priority of her position would be to end discrimination based on gender. One of her first battles was within the UN itself as many male- dominated governments opposed almost everything she did, including moving to better quarters for her division.
      In Ireland, MR changed the traditionally ceremonial office of president into a strong advocacy (albeit without legal authority) favoring birth control and divorce in opposition to the majority Roman Catholic Church, and instituting help for the long- term unemployed and others marginalized by a previously backward-looking government. The economy boomed.
      When she resigned the Irish presidency to assume the U.N. post, her approval rating in Ireland was 80%. A news report read:
"A white-haired lady sighs with satisfaction and breathes, 'Isn't she someone to be proud of?' "
      MR is an attorney and married with three children.

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B. 05-21-1780, Elizabeth Fry - English prison reformer and philanthropist, and a Quaker minister. Shocked, appalled, and disgusted at the treatment of women in the Newgate prison, she campaigned for the separation of the sexes, classification of prisoners according to age and crime, more food and clothing, women supervision for women prisoners, and education and training for future gainful employment.
      She testified before British parliamentary bodies and took her campaign to all the heads of state in Europe. (Male-directed governments since time immemorial often put male and female prisoners together so that female rapes and sexual abuse were commonplace. The policy, the men explained, kept the "prison population" calmer!)

B. 05-21-1856, Grace Hoadley Dodge, U.S. heiress who donated about $1.5 million a year to her various organizations. With amazing energies, and organizational abilities, she also gave freely of her time.
      Among her accomplishments were encouraging domestic training programs in schools, a college to train teachers, an association of clubs so working women could network, and uniting two rival factions into today's YWCA which she headed for several years.
      She organized a travelers aid society to protect and aid women immigrants and migrant workers.

B. 05-21-1867, Frances Theresa Densmore, the foremost authority on the songs and music of the Amerinds (Native Americans) and a ranking authority on Indian culture.
      An American ethnomusicologist, she collected nearly 2,500 recording of the songs of more than 30 native American Indian tribes. She continued making recordings as well as taking photographs and notes until almost 88.

B. 05-21-1888, May Aufdeheide, an almost forgotten U.S. composer of ragtime, one of the few women in the field. Her best known works were "Dusty Rag" and "Richmond Rag," both published in 1908.

B. 05-21-1928, Adele Wiseman, Canadian novelist won the Governor General's award for her first book The Sacrifice (1956) about a Jewish immigrant family adapting to the Canadian life.

Event 05-21-1975: Oregon enacted pioneering legislation that forbids the introduction of a rape victim's prior sexual history into the evidence.

Event 05-21-1980: Ensign Jean Marie Butler became the first woman to graduate from a U.S. service academy, the Coast Guard Academy.

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      In her inaugural address after being elected the first president in Irish history who was also a woman, Mary Robinson (the only woman on the platform surrounded by suits) credited women with electing her:
            "(Irish) women who (before) had rocked the cradle, have rocked the system."

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