Malala Yousafzai is living proof that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and ages. We usually think of history being made by people with some years on them, but this courageous young woman demonstrates that anyone of any age can be a history maker.

In 2009, Yousafzai began sharing her stories under a pseudonym for the BBC. Yousafzai documented the drop in attendance of girls at her school after an increased concern over safety. Just after her blog ended, the Taliban temporarily banned women from going to jobs and to the market. In Pakistan her and her father received death threats in person, in newspapers, and online.

Despite the dangers associated with reaching out to press, Yousafzai continued to talk to media to advocate equal education. She could be the poster child for No Excuses Power Tool #8: employ every medium [link].

In 2012, the young activist was shot by members of the Taliban in the Swat district of Pakistan, while returning home from school. Yousafzai was targeted after being recognized in Pakistan for advocating education for all girls. Even though Yousafzai was shot at point blank range, she lived to tell the tale.

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The UN Commission on the Status of Women has New York hopping with powerful and, yes, ambitious female leaders from around the world this week. Each is making women’s history in her own way.

Today, I share just a few images of events I’m attending.

Are you attending? If so, please share your impressions.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="374"] Television anchor and entrepreneur Joya Dass and I celebrated the launch of IMPACT 21 Leadership with its founder Janet Salazar. Joy and I both participated in a lively panel discussion of women’s emerging power globally and locally.[/caption]

 

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It’s March—Women’s History Month. I look forward to highlighting outstanding women each year. I was especially eager to profile Marissa Mayer this year. Mayer made history in July 2012 when she became the first woman CEO of Yahoo! and the first woman chosen to head a Fortune 500 company while pregnant.

But unfortunately, lately she’s made history in the negative. The strides she made in her own career could soon be overshadowed by steps backward she’s made for other women—and men too, as it turns out.

The first sign trouble was brewing in paradise came even as Mayer was being lauded for bursting through the silicone barrier while demonstrating women have both brains and uteri. Apparently she forgot a few chapters of her own history when she said in the recent PBS “Makers” interview:

“I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist…I don’t I think have sort of the militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that…There are amazing opportunities all over the world for women.”

Umm, how does a female a CEO of a Fortune 500 company think she became one? And even if she doesn’t want to throw a nod to the feminist movement that opened doors for her, is she completely oblivious to any female “first’s” responsibility to help other women advance?

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alicepaul

“I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.” – Alice Paul, suffragist and author of the still-not-ratified Equal Rights Amendment.

Alice Paul had a singular mission, from which she never strayed: women’s full and unequivocal equality.

Today, on what would be her 128th birthday, I sing her praises and birthday wishes for at least three reasons.

First, She lived her principles—“wore the shirt” as in Power Tool #6. Interestingly, though today most of the opposition to women’s equality comes from the fundamentalist denominations of many major religions, Paul credits her religious upbringing for her deep convictions about the righteousness of women’s suffrage and women’s equality in general.

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Amy-Willard Cross knew her historic mission and found her power to achieve it was right there, within her. She tells 9 Ways how and she founded the media company Vitamin W, “100% Kardashian-free.”

Knowing her personal history enabled Amy-Willard to create the future of her choice. How’s that for using the old Power Tool #1?

Read and be energized…then sign up right here for Vitamin W’s free newsletter and they’ll donate $1 to one of five fabulous women’s charities. Here’s Amy-Willard:

Gloria Feldt: When did you know you had the power to start a woman-owned media company? What did it feel like? 

Amy-Willard Cross: I tried to start a magazine—a Pariscope kind of guide for LA. I was just out of college and had never worked at a magazine, so I got a partner. Soon, though, I gave up and took a regular starter job which turned into decades of working in magazines.

Fast forward to the mid-aughts. I started a site of women’s oped—thinking that, like Dooce, I’d put something up and the world and advertisers would flock to me…but I missed that boat by a few years.

After a few years of watching the not-for-profit feminist blogosphere, I determined that the world needed a woman-owned media property that would promote women in every respect—our businesses, our nonprofits, ALL our stories—and gather together the 11 million women who support women’s organizations into a powerful audience.

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Double bonus of Sister Courage today! This is a guest post by a woman leader I admire about a woman leader I admire.

Both have made many contributions to women’s reproductive rights, health, and justice. But neither Carole Joffe—author, researcher, and professor at the UCSF Bixby Center—who wrote this piece, nor its subject, filmmaker extraordinaire Dorothy Fadiman, is about to slow down her quest for women’s full equality. It’s my honor to feature them on Heartfeldt.

They raise profound questions voters must consider when they go to the polls. For those who say so-called ‘women’s issues’ are peripheral to the political debate, I say our daughters’ futures hang in the balance. What could be more important?

Watching the haunting images in Dorothy Fadiman’s new compilation, “Choice at Risk,” drawn from her award-winning PBS abortion rights trilogy, is even more unsettling than it was before.

For years, I have shown Fadiman’s films about abortion to students, finding her work the most effective way to communicate to young people both the horrors of the pre-Roe v Wade era—as shown in her Oscar-nominated film, When Abortion was Illegal—and the continual threats to abortion rights since legalization. The third film in the trilogy, The Fragile Promise of Choice, offers a searing portrayal of the violence and harassment that abortion providers undergo as they struggle to meet the needs of their patients.

But now, writing these words, I feel that this talented filmmaker, by editing her 2 ½ hour body of work into clips and mini-docs, is showing us in chilling detail, not only our past, but our possible future. A future, moreover, that may be even worse, in some respects, than the pre-Roe era she has so ably documented.

How could anything be worse than the era of the back-alley butchers and women attempting to self-abort in dangerous ways?

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Happy birthday, Margaret Sanger!

This column is in honor of either the 133rd or the 130th birthday of the founder and best known leader of the American birth control movement. Ever vain, she lopped three years off her age in the family Bible.

But her strengths far outweighed her foibles. Last night, I went to a screening of “Half the Sky”, a documentary film made from Nick Krisof and Sheryl WuDunn’s blockbuster book. While Kristof and WuDunn are lauded for saying women’s rights are the great moral imperative of the 21st century in their new book, Margaret Sanger said the essentially same thing 100 years ago.

Yet the same battles over women’s bodies and lives are still being fought today.

I wrote the column below (originally published in the New York Times in 2006 ) to mark the 90th anniversary of her first birth clinic. It seems a worthy tribute to Margaret Sanger today, regardless of how many candles should be on her cake.

By the way, the Times gave the column its title, and I hated it. I added the question mark today. Let me know what you think, about that and about the rest of the story.

 

When you tour the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s restoration at 97 Orchard Street, you walk through the experience of the immigrants who arrived in waves at the turn of the 20th century, often to live five or six to a tiny room. According to the 1900 census, the 18 wives in the Orchard Street building had given birth to 111 children altogether, of whom 67 were then alive.

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Martha Burke has balls. And thanks to her leadership, now at least two women will have the privilege of chasing golf balls around the Augusta National Golf Club’s manicured course.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier and former banker Darla Moore have become the first female members in the club’s 80-year history.

Burk, who for the last nine years persisted in organizing to gain membership for women in the club that represents the pinnacle of power and influence, can finally, deservedly, celebrate success.

Burk explained the history in Women’s eNews last April when the august male-only golf club once again refused to let a woman wear its vaunted green members’ jacket at its annual Masters Tournament:

Well, the big day for the big boys at Augusta National Golf Club came and went without a woman showing up in the green jacket that denotes membership. The particular woman in question was Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, the leading corporate sponsor of Augusta’s Masters Golf Tournament.

For those who don’t follow news of puffed-up men chasing little balls around a green course, the club has always been male-only, and resisted extreme pressure nine years ago from women’s groups, led by the National Council of Women’s Organizations, to open up to female members.

The debate raged for nearly a year, complete with death threats to the NCWO chair, yours truly.

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Earlier this year, I reviewed baseball historian Dorothy Seymour Mills’ book, First in the Field, a book that offers readers insight into the history behind gender-based affirmative action policies.

Today, Mills returns to 9 Ways to discuss her new book. A work of fiction, Drawing Card is steeped in Mills. trademark historical-fact-made-relevant-today.

According to Amazon reviewer Joan M. Thomas, “Mills’ extensive knowledge of history and ethnic cultures makes the fast paced story all the more real. Moreover, while the events occur during earlier times, inequities that persist today become crystal clear.”

Today’s guest blogger, Dorothy Seymour Mills, is the personification of what it means to embrace Power tool #1, Know Your History.

In researching women’s baseball history, I discovered that at least two female baseball players had been signed to minor-league contracts but didn’t play. That’s because the Commissioner of Baseball, Kenesaw M. Landis, canceled their contracts as soon as he learned that they were women. Landis scoffed at the idea that women could play baseball, just as some baseball men do today.

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When did you first see Ms. Magazine?

I can’t recall exactly the first time I saw it, but I do remember subscribing to it soon after it launched in 1972. I lived in Odessa TX, not exactly the bastion of feminism. But within the pages of Ms., I found women from all over the country saying what I’d been thinking. And I realized I wasn’t alone in feeling that something was terribly unfair about the way women were treated in society.

I also learned about the National Organization for Women from Ms. I joined as an at-large member and located the other five or six at-large members within a 100-mile radius.

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