Search Results for: Women / Women’s Rights

Since our founding in 1831, we have worked tirelessly around the world to advocate for equal opportunities, to speak out against domestic violence and human trafficking, and to address the impact of poverty on women and girls.

Celebrating Women’s History through Mother Courage, and Mother Mercy

March 14, 2021

By Sister Maryanne Stevens, President, College of Saint Mary

As we celebrate Women’s History Month this March, we recall the many women who have inspired us through their courage. At College of Saint Mary, the women’s college where I work, our conference rooms are named after Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, Francis Warde and Mother Teresa, and our plan this year is to name an additional one after Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In each room, there are sayings from these giants of social change, along with their pictures. These women and many like them have done amazing things throughout history against significant odds, and they are doing it still despite ongoing, sometimes immense, global gender inequity. Think Angela Merkel, Kamala Harris, Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai, among others.

So it may come as a surprise that the women I want to focus on this month are not necessarily famous, but they, too, have inspired us because of their courage. They accomplished and are accomplishing tremendous things. They are our mothers. Just the sheer act of giving birth takes courage, as does adopting a child into one’s home. For some of us, these relationships have been tender and loving, while for others, fraught and challenging, but it is my hope that there was a women in each of our lives who, with great heart, carried the burden of helping us become the people we are today.

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Celebremos el mes dedicado a las mujeres con la Madre Coraje y la Madre Misericordia

March 14, 2021

Por la Hermana Maryanne Stevens, Presidenta de College of Saint Mary

Al celebrar en marzo el Mes de la Historia de la Mujer, recordamos a muchas de ellas que nos han inspirado por su temple. En College of Saint Mary, la institución para mujeres en la que trabajo, nuestras salas de reunión reciben nombres como los de Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, Francis Warde y Madre Teresa, y nuestro plan para este año es añadir el nombre de Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

En cada salón hemos puesto frases de estas gigantes del cambio social al lado de sus fotografías. Estas mujeres y muchas como ellas han tenido logros colosales a lo largo de la historia enfrentando innumerables dificultades, y siguen haciéndolo a pesar de la continua y a veces inmensa desigualdad de género a nivel mundial. Pensemos por ejemplo en Angela Merkel, Kamala Harris, Greta Thunberg o Malala Yousafzai, entre otras.

Es por eso que puede resultar extraño que las mujeres que quiero resaltar en este mes no son necesariamente famosas, pero ellas, también, nos han inspirado por su valentía. Lograron y logran cosas inmensas. Son nuestras madres. El mero hecho de dar a luz requiere de mucho valor, al igual que la adopción de un niño. Para algunas personas, esta relación ha sido tierna y cariñosa, mientras que para otras, tensa y desafiante, pero tengo la esperanza de que siempre habrá una mujer en nuestras vidas que con gran corazón llevó la carga de ayudarnos a convertirnos en las personas que somos hoy.

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A Filipina Woman Reflects on the Gospel of Mark

March 5, 2021

By Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, assistant to the president for mission integration at University of Detroit Mercy

Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mk 12:31; Lev 19:18)

As I have been newly reflecting on what I read with attention through the lens of my identity as a woman, I found myself struck by the line from Mark’s Gospel regarding love of neighbor and self. I have always found that passage a bit disconcerting and have had to undertake some major mental gymnastics to make it fit both what I understood to be Jesus’s teachings and my own experience.

For much of my life, if I took the verse literally, it would have been all the worse for my neighbor. As a Filipina woman, I had long been conditioned to put the needs of others first, something that I have come to understand as the conditioning of most women around the globe. Yet, a quick perusal of literature that touches upon the experiences of Filipinas today—take, for example, literature about Filipina labor migration—underscores the fact that Filipinas continue to be strongly culturally conditioned to self-sacrifice at the expense of their own flourishing. Such conditioning has been aided by preaching in churches as much as it has been shaped by familial expectations. So, to love my neighbor as myself is to be largely inattentive to their needs. Surely this is not what Jesus meant.

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Una mujer filipina reflexiona sobre el Evangelio de Marcos

March 5, 2021

Por Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, asistenta del presidente para la integración de la misión de la Universidad de la Misericordia de Detroit

Amarás al prójimo como a ti mismo. (Mc 12, 31; Lev 19, 18)

Mientras reflexionaba una vez más en lo que había leído atentamente a través de la lente de mi identidad como mujer, me sorprendí en la línea del Evangelio de Marcos sobre el amor al prójimo y a mí misma. Siempre he encontrado ese pasaje algo desconcertante y he tenido que realizar algunas gimnasias mentales importantes para encajar lo que yo entendía, las enseñanzas de Jesús y mi propia experiencia.

En gran parte de mi vida, si hubiera tomado el versículo literalmente, habría sido de lo peor con mi prójimo. Como filipina, por mucho tiempo yo había sido programada a anteponer las necesidades de los demás, algo que he llegado a entender como el condicionamiento de la mayoría de las mujeres en todo el mundo. Sin embargo, una lectura rápida de la literatura sobre las experiencias actuales de las filipinas —por ejemplo, la literatura sobre la migración laboral filipina— subraya que las filipinas siguen muy programadas culturalmente al autosacrificio a expensas de su propio florecimiento. Tal condicionamiento se debe tanto a la predicación en las iglesias como a las expectativas familiares. Por ello, amar a mi prójimo como a mí misma sería en gran medida desatender sus necesidades. Seguramente esto no es lo que Jesús quiso decir.

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90-Year-old Nun ‘Roars’ for Women and Girls

September 24, 2020



By Sister Mary Reilly, as told to Catherine Walsh, Communications Specialist

Sister Mary with one of the girls from Sophia Academy.
The ease between a student and a sister in this photo makes it one of Sister Mary’s favorites. After attending Sophia Academy, the student won a scholarship to St. Mary Academy – Bay View High School. She is now a college sophomore. (Sophia Academy photo)

I am a 90-year-old nun who has spent my life working to empower women and girls, especially those who are poor. The song for my burial will be “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy. Its’ opening line—”I am woman, hear me roar!”—inspires me. For as the song also says, “It’s wisdom born of pain.”

Over my 72 years as a Sister of Mercy, I have been transformed into a feminist. I was one of nine children raised by Irish-born parents in South Providence, Rhode Island. We didn’t have much, but nothing prepared me for the poverty I saw in Central America in the 1960s.

Serving as a teacher and principal for six years in Honduras and Belize developed in me a feminist consciousness. I saw women stand up to abusive husbands in a macho culture. I saw Indigenous girls become more confident as they learned about their bodies; they grew in appreciation for themselves right before your eyes.

When I came back to South Providence and began working at St. Michael’s Parish in 1970, I was shocked by the poverty of the teenage mothers who wanted their babies baptized. I visited them in their homes. Some of these young moms couldn’t read past grade 2. I was angry that a country as rich as ours had created an underclass of people whom no one cared about.

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Monja de 90 años «ruge» en favor de las mujeres y niñas

September 24, 2020



Por la Hermana Mary Reilly, como se lo contó a Catherine Walsh, especialista en comunicaciones

La natural camaradería entre una estudiante y la Hermana Mary hacen de esta fotografía una de las preferidas de Saint Mary. Luego de asistir a Sophia Academy, esta estudiante logró una beca para Saint Mary Academy – Bay View High School. En la actualidad cursa el segundo año de universidad. (Foto de Sophia Academy)

Soy una monja de noventa años que he dedicado mi vida trabajando para empoderar mujeres y niñas, especialmente aquellas que viven en la pobreza. La canción que quiero para mi funeral es «I Am a Woman» (Soy una mujer) de Helen Reddy. Me inspira su primera línea, «I am a woman, hear me roar!» (Soy una mujer, ¡escuchen mi rugido!). La canción dice también «It’s wisdom born of pain», (es la sabiduría nacida del dolor).

Durante mis 72 años como Hermana de la Misericordia me he transformado en feminista. Formé parte de una familia de nueve hijos criada por una pareja de padres irlandeses en South Providence, Rhode Island. No tuvimos mucho, pero nada de eso me preparó para la pobreza que vi en Centroamérica en los años sesenta.

Seis años de servicio como profesora y directora de escuela en Honduras y Belice desarrollaron en mí la conciencia feminista. Vi mujeres enfrentarse a sus abusivos maridos en medio de una cultura machista. Vi niñas indígenas adquirir confianza a medida que aprendían sobre sus propios cuerpos. Se reconocían cada vez más a sí mismas justo al frente de tus ojos.

Cuando regresé a South Providence en 1970 y empecé a trabajar en la Parroquia de St. Michael, me impresionó mucho la pobreza de las madres adolescentes que buscaban bautizar a sus hijos. Las visitaba en sus hogares. Muchas de estas jóvenes madres no llegaban al segundo grado de lectura. Me enfurecía que un país tan opulento como el nuestro hubiera creado una clase baja con personas a las que nadie les prestaba atención.

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Celebrating the 19th Amendment, by Voting

August 17, 2020

By Sister Pat McCann

An image of an old banner about women voting.

On August 18, 1920, the United States Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, recognizing women’s right to vote. That victory did not come easily. It required hard work on the part of many women’s rights advocates and the men who supported them, and it narrowly squeaked through the final vote.

My dad was born in the United States in 1900, but he grew up with stories from grandparents and great grandparents about the days of penal laws in Ireland. Catholics, male or female, had no vote and were restricted from participation in society. They could not attend university, own property or practice their faith publicly. That heritage left him with two strong convictions: as free people, you go to church and you vote. He passed on those principles as moral imperatives to his three daughters from our earliest days.

In my youth, the age of eligibility for voting was 21. The first time I was able to exercise my right to vote was 1960. I was in Mercy novitiate by then, and eager to vote. The Democratic candidate was John F. Kennedy. Daddy’s dream was fulfilled that year—we could cast a ballot for an Irish-American Catholic as president of the United States! I’ve voted in every election since 1960.

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Celebrando la 19ª Enmienda con tu voto

August 17, 2020

Por la Hermana Pat McCann

An image of an old banner about women voting.

El 18 de agosto de 1920, el Congreso de los Estados Unidos ratificó la 19ª Enmienda de la Constitución, reconociendo el derecho de la mujer al voto. Esa victoria no fue fácil. Exigió un duro trabajo por parte de muchos defensores de los derechos de la mujer y de los hombres que los apoyaban, y se aprobó por poco en la votación final. 

Mi padre nació en los Estados Unidos en 1900, pero creció con historias de sus abuelos y bisabuelos sobre los días de las leyes penales en Irlanda. Los católicos, hombres o mujeres, no tenían voto y se les restringía la participación en la sociedad. No podían asistir a la universidad, tener propiedades o practicar su fe públicamente. Esa herencia le dejó dos fuertes convicciones: como persona libre: vas a la iglesia y votas. Transmitió esos principios como imperativos morales a sus tres hijas desde nuestros primeros días.

En mi juventud, la edad de elegibilidad para votar era de 21 años. La primera vez que pude ejercer mi derecho al voto fue en 1960. Estaba en el noviciado de la Misericordia en ese entonces y ansiosa por votar. El candidato demócrata era John F. Kennedy. El sueño de papá se cumplió ese año: ¡podríamos votar por un irlandés-americano católico como presidente de los Estados Unidos! He votado en todas las elecciones desde 1960.

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Walking with the Women on the Other Side of the Wall

February 5, 2020

By Sisters Beth Dempsey and Mary Cleary

A woman from Guatemala abused by her husband walked from Guatemala to Mexico with her two daughters seeking asylum.

Sister Beth Blesses Daisy
Sister Beth Blesses Daisy

Another woman, Daisy, a mother of three, has been living in a tent with her husband and children since August; she has nearly two months to go, since their asylum hearing is not until March.

These are some of the women we met at the border in Matamoros, Mexico, when we spent two weeks volunteering at the Humanitarian Center in McAllen, Texas, a respite center run by Catholic Charities in the diocese of Brownsville.

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Marching Against Violence Against Women

November 24, 2019

By Sister Terry Kimingiri

Recently, I took part in a walk in support of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign in Georgetown, Guyana. It was meant to gear the community up for an international campaign, beginning November 25—International Day Against Violence Against Women in Latin America—to December 10—International Human Rights Day. More than 6,000 organizations in 187 countries will participate in the campaign. We marched to challenge cultural norms that tolerate violence against women and girls.

(left) Sisters Roslyn, Junan and Denise and (right) Sisters Denise, Terry and Elizabeth. Boys in blue are our boys from St. John Bosco Orphanage.
(left) Sisters Roslyn, Junan and Denise and (right) Sisters Denise, Terry and Elizabeth. Boys in blue are our boys from St. John Bosco Orphanage.
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