A Guest Blog by Vicki Turpen
Nowhere has the rapid march of women’s place in the world been as visible as in the 2012 Olympics. Opportunity and equality are coming slowly but surely to countries where the female has often been denigrated, abused, and relegated to a subservient status. Several weeks ago The Christian Science Monitor gave the world a peek at how women from around the world are overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to compete in London.
Women were not even allowed to compete in this world-wide event until 1900; since then women’s events have grown in number and complexity. Gladys Tejeda is a marathon runner from Peru. She has been successful even though her family couldn’t afford shoes for her and no one in her home village of Junin had ever heard of the Olympics. Geeta Phogat wrestled for India in London. With the help of her father and coach she has overcome gender taboos and forged ahead with little or no support from her country.
Yamile Aldama a native of Cuba represented Britain in the triple jump. She has overcome hurdles in her personal life much higher, a husband jailed in Cuba, a government that siphoned her cash winnings, and for a while no country to represent her. The same is true for Kayla Harrison who as a child was sexually abused by her coach. She represented the United States in Judo and gives credit to her present coach who helped her refuse to let the past define her. Tahmina Kohistani ran the 100 and 200 meter. She has become an accomplished athlete although there are few athletic facilities, men leer at her when she runs, and her war torn country of Afghanistan supports enough air pollution to cause death to civilians.
For these women, going home with the gold was only icing on the cake. They have worked to prove that strong women with a goal can overcome limiting patriarchal societies and dictatorial governments. Mary Baker Eddy encountered just such limits concerning women in the late 1800’s. She was maligned, slandered, and even sued because as a woman she succeeded in a man’s world. She wrote, “Some time we shall learn how Spirit, the great architect has created men and women in Science. We ought to weary of the fleeting and false and cherish nothing which hinders our highest selfhood”. http://christianscience.com/what-is-christian-science/a-closer-look-at-health/mary-baker-eddy-pioneer-on-health Let us cheer for those women in London who are continuing to push the envelope for all women everywhere. They are brave leaders breaking down barriers and demonstrating how to create a better world.
You can read more complete biographies of the above women in The Christian Science Monitor, Weekly, July’s Dreams of Gold issue, http://csmonitor.com