SPINNING THE RECORD – FALL 2016
Nineteenth-century abolitionist, author, and social activist Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896) said, “Women are the real architects of society”—quite a statement coming from someone who lived in an era where women in this country could not even vote, much less hold public office. And yet Stowe, whom President Abraham Lincoln allegedly addressed as “the little woman who wrote the book* that started [the Civil War],” was an international luminary whose words still carry influence 120 years after her death.
Whether Stowe incited our country to war is questionable; however, there is increasing evidence that women are effective in bringing about peace. This past June, in her Todd Lecture delivered during this year’s CGCS Residency Conference, renowned humanitarian and peace-builder Nancy Lindborg said, “… when women and youth are included in processes and are given rights and opportunities, there is much greater opportunity for peace and stability.” In a follow-up interview with NU Peace and War Center Applied Research Fellow Sarwar Kashmeri, Lindborg summed up the challenge she faces as president of the United States Institute of Peace: “How do you make your activities, your actions, add up to a difference?”
Making a difference by way of your actions is the de facto definition of what it means to lead, and any person who wields influence over another to bring about positive change is a leader.
When I think of women leaders throughout history, I think of Harriet Tubman, Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks, Madame Curie, Susan B. Anthony, Rachel Carson, Anne Frank, Mother Teresa, Margaret Mead, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, and many other courageous, principled, or pioneering women. Not one held a position of real power or authority, yet each brought about positive change and inspired others through their actions.
World-renowned feminist Gloria Steinem said, “Clearly no one knows what leadership has gone undiscovered in women of all races…” Meanwhile, current and future women leaders are all around us—both discovered and undiscovered. Within our own ranks, I think of the four female former NUCC regimental commanders you will read about in this issue. Nazanin Afshin-Jam M’11, a former Miss World Canada and human-rights activist who is leading the fight against child executions in Iran, is also featured, along with NU’s first female professor tenured in mathematics and science, Mary Hoppe, and the award-winning Elizabeth Gurian, a criminal justice professor whose pioneering research is changing the stereotype of the serial killer
Whether you lead from the front, behind the scenes, or by example, every single one of us has the opportunity to bring about positive change in the lives of our fellow human beings. Don’t squander yours.
For the Record,
Diana L. Weggler
*The anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852.