Today’s Dame of the Day is Atena Farghadani (January 29, 1987-). This artist and political activist always combined illustration with critique, but one of her cartoonist offended the Iranian government and landed her in jail for three months. After her release, she posted a video explaining the cruel treatment she received in the Iranian prison system. In January 2015, Farghadani was arrested again and sentenced to roughly 12 years in prison. While Amnesty International took up her case, the Iranian government continues to charge her with further infractions.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Grace Lee Boggs (June 27, 1915 – October 5, 2015). After earning her Ph.D from Barnard College, Boggs opted against the exclusionary politics of professorship and took a job at the University of Chicago’s Philosophy Library. There, she met her collaborators C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya, joined the Worker’s Party, and refocused her energy into the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. After marrying her husband, James Boggs, the couple relocated to Detroit and continued to found youth programs, community-based projects, and grassroots organizations. Boggs died last month at the age of 100.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Sylvia Mendez (1936-). As a child in segregated California, Mendez’s parents tried to enroll her in a “whites-only” school and failed. Instead of accepting defeat, they sued the system and the case, Mendez v. Westminster, became a landmark benchmark for ending segregated education. In 2011, Mendez received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her efforts.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Nasta Palazhanka. At age 14, Palazhanka became an active member of Belarus’s youth opposition movement. In spite of imprisonment and threats, she advocates for human rights and freedom in the face of injustice. Palazhanka was a 2011 of the International Women of Courage award.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Iana Matei (April 30, 1960-). Matei married young and had a son, but later divorced her husband when he became a violent alcoholic. During the revolution, Matei fled from Romania to Serbia with her son. She was captured at the border and imprisoned, but Matei invoked a hunger strike until the United Nations acknowledged her situation. Following her release, she spent time in Australia before returning to Romania and founding Reaching Out Romania, a non-profit dedicated to rehabilitating sex workers and breaking the cycle of human trafficking.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Olivia Choong (February 13, 1979). Inspired by her interest in environmentalism, Choong founded Green Drinks, a global networking event where likeminded environmentalists gather to discuss issues over drinks. She also founded Green PR, an agency catering to small and medium sized environmentally-focused businesses. In 2013, Singapore honored her efforts by giving her the EcoFriend Award.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Joênia Wapixana. As a staff attorney for Brazil’s Roraima Indigenous Council, she is the first indigenous woman to become a lawyer in the country. Through her position, Wapixana fights for indigenous land rights and against pervasive racism against indigenous peoples.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Lakshmi Sahgal (October 24, 1914 – July 23, 2012). After obtaining her medical degree, Sahgal left her native India for Singapore, where she established a free clinic for migrant laborers. During her time abroad, Sahgal became involved with the India Independence League. She established a women’s regiment, marched to Burma, and was arrested by the British army. (She was released after one year.) After India’s independence in 1947, Captain Lakshmi continued to see patients at her medical practice until she was 92 years old.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Fawzia Koofi (1976-). As a child, Koofi’s parents were not pleased to have a daughter; she fought for the right to go to school and became the only girl in her family to obtain an education. Koofi attended college in her native Afghanistan, studied political science and worked closely with UNICEF. After the fall of the Taliban, Koofi became the first woman to be elected Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament. In spite of numerous assassination attempts, she continues her fight for women’s rights.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Ariana Miyamoto (May 12, 1994-). Born and raised in Sasebo, Japan, Miyamoto became the first biracial woman to win the Miss Japan Pageant in 2015. But being half black in a homogeneously Asian country led to an onslaught of criticism arguing that Miyamoto was not “Japanese enough.” Through her position, Miyamoto hopes to change the conversation about race in Japan.