I have some reluctance in embracing the above title – after all, you probably haven’t seen “Male Heroes You’ve Never Heard Of,” right?
As Gloria Steinem pointed out, “Whoever has power takes over the noun – and the norm – while the less powerful get an adjective.”
With that proviso, here’s my selection of just five women who I think deserve the hero title. They are ranked in particular order.
1. Virginia Wade
Photo credit: Alwyn Ladell
The Times of London’s headline on July 8 read: “Murray ends 77-year wait for British win.”
It was referring to the Wimbledon tennis tournament where on July 7, the Scottish Andy Murray became the first Brit to win the men’s single championships since Fred Perry won in 1936.
The Daily Mail chimed in: “Andy Murray ends 77 years of waiting for a British champion.”
Well, unless women count too.
Virginia Wade, a UK citizen from Bournemouth, in the southwest of England, won the women’s championship at Wimbledon 36 years ago, in 1977.
Actually, there have been four British women who have won Wimbledon since 1936: Dorothy Round Little in 1937, Angela Mortimer in 1961, Ann Hayden-Jones in 1969, and Wade in 1977.
As Chloe Angyal put it in a tweet, “Murray is indeed the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years unless you think women are people.”
2. Chiaki Mukai
Chiaki Mukai is Japan’s first female astronaut, having made her first flight in July, 1994. For this feat she has received numerous awards, although her original training was as a doctor.
Born in Tatebayashi, in the Gunma Prefecture on May 6th, 1952, she moved to Toyko for school and eventually studied medicine at Keio University. She received her doctorate degree in medicine in 1977 and, after two residencies, returned to school to specialize in cardiovascular surgery.
Combining her passions for medicine and science, Mukai participated in several physiological experiments in zero gravity, which eventually led to her becoming the first Japanese woman in space.
She has received a plethora of awards, including: “Outstanding Service Award” from the Society of Japanese Women Scientists (1996), “Special Congressional Recognition” from the U.S. Congress (1995), “Prime Minister’s Special Citation for Contributions to Gender Equality” (1995), and “Outstanding Service Award” from the National Space Development Agency of Japan (1994 & 1992).
3. Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Photo Credit: Edgar Zuniga Jr.
An indigenous Guatemalan woman, of the K’iche’ ethnic group, Rigoberta Menchú Tum has dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples during and after the Guatemalan Civil War (1960–1996), and to promoting indigenous rights in the country.
Born in 1959, she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.”
Rigoberta Menchú grew up in a country marked by extreme violence. Several members of her own family, including her father and brother, were killed by the army, which was hunting down opponents of the regime.
She fled to Mexico in the early 1980s, where she came into contact with European groups that were working for human rights in Latin America. A peace agreement was signed in 1996, although Guatemala remains a country with a troubling human rights record. A UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, she ran for President of Guatemala in 2007 and 2011.
Find out my two final choices over on the next page:
Photo Credit: lewishamdreamer
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