Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / February 27, 2017
History usually tend to overlook the contributions of Revolutionary Women that have sacrificed their time and effort to work for a better world. And there are a lot of women who have participated in the historic revolutions and that played a vital role. They may be women of a different political sphere, some of them armed with guns and other armed with just a pen, but they all fought hard for something in which they believed.
A lot of people know Nadezhda Krupskaya as the wife of Vladimir Lenin, but Nadezhda was a revolutionary Bolshevik and a combative politic. She was very involved in a wide variety of political activities, including being named Vice Minister of Education of the Soviet Union from 1929 until her death in 1939. After the revolution she dedicated her life to improve the education possibilities for the workers and farmers, for example, in achieving that the libraries were open for everybody.
Constanza Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) was a revolutionary, suffragette and socialist Anglo-Irish countess. She participated in the Irish independent efforts, like the Easter Uprising of 1916, in where she had a leading role. After the episode, she was condemned to the death sentence, but was pardoned shortly after.
Constanza was one of the first women in the world to have a political office (Work Minister of Irish Republic, from 1919 to 1922), and also was the first woman ever to be elected to the British House of Commons (December, 1918) – a position she rejected due to the abstentionist policies of the Sinn Féin.
During the Mexican Revolution, the women soldiers known as soldaderas went into battle along men despite facing abuse really often. One of the most known soldaderas was Petra Herrera, who, when dressed as a man, was also known as “Pedro Herrera”. Her leadership was exemplary, she participated in the Torreón’s second battle, alongside 400 women. Unfortunately, Pancho Villa was not willing to give credit to a woman and never got promoted to General. As a response, Petra left Pancho’s forces and formed her own women brigade.
Nwanyeruwa, an Igbo woman of Nigeria, unleashed a short war, that is thought to be the first great challenge to the British authority at Western Africa during the colonial age. In November 19 of 1929, after a discussion about taxes between Nwanyeruwa and a census authority called Mark Emereuwa, the Women’s War was unleashed. Around 25.000 women from all around the region participated in the protests until they forced the British to abandon their tax plans, along with many forced resignations of Warrant Chiefs.
Lakshmi Sahgal, commonly known as “Captain Lakshmi”, was a revolutionary of the independent movement of India, an officer of India’s National Army, and later, Women’s Issues Minister for the Azad Hind government. In the 40s, she was part of women only brigade that pretended to overthrow the British Raj of the colonial India. The brigade was one of the few women conformed brigades of World War II. She was named after Rani Lakshmibai, another famous revolutionary Indian woman and one of the main figures of the Indian rebellion of 1857.
German revolutionary Sophie Scholl was a founding member of the non-violent anti-nazi resistance group The White Rose, which resisted Hitler’s regime through anonymous pamphlets and graffitis. In February 1943, she and other members of her organization were arrested for distributing leaflets at the Munich University and sentenced to death by beheading.
Blanca Canales was a Puerto Rican nationalist that helped organize the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. She led a rebellion, known as the Jayuya Uprising, and entered history ass one of the few female revolutionary leaders to rise against the United States.
In October 30, 1950, Blanca and others took up the arms they had stored in her house and went to the city of Jayuya, where she and her comrades occupied the police station, burned down the post office, cut the telephone cables and rose the Puerto Rican Flag in defiance to the Gag Law imposed by the US. She and the other nationalists were detained and sentenced to life in prison.
Most people know who Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are, but few have heard about Celia Sánchez, a fundamental militant in the Cuban Revolution. After the coup d’État made on March 10, 1942, Celia joined the struggle against Batista’s government. She was one of the founders of the 26 of July Movement and the leader of combat squads throughout the revolution, she controlled the resources of the group and even arranged the disembarking of the Granma, which transported 82 combatants from Mexico to Cuba to defeat Batista. After the Revolution triumphed, Celia stayed loyal to it and had a close friendship with Fidel Castro until her death in 1980.
Kathleen Cleaver Neal
Kathleen Cleaver Neal was a member of the Black Panther Party and the first woman to take part at the highest decision-making level of the organization. She was a spokeswoman and press secretary and organized the national campaign to free the minister of the Defense Party, Huey Newton, who had been imprisoned. She and other female Black Panthers such as Angela Davis were exemplary fighters of the revolution.
This Egyptian women unleashed the 2011 uprising in her country through a blog, encouraging others to join her to protest at the Tahrir square. She’s one of the leaders of the Egyptian revolution and a prominent member of the Youth Coalition of the Egyptian Revolution.