by Victoria McIntosh | Featured Contributor
Do you carry a sword and shield to work? Are their days when meeting with clients feel like hostage negotiations, when walking to the office is like stepping into the battlefield, when you need to hold your head up high despite wanting to retreat? We all have tough times, some against obstacles more difficult than others. Unfortunately, no matter what odds you face, the tough times are a part of life: without risk there is little reward, and it’s the bad times that shape the good ones to come. It can help, however, to know you’re not alone standing up to your challenges: history is full of wise, determined women who knew how to keep marching forward.
If you’re putting on your war paint to for the day, here are five quotes from ladies who knew how to bring it:
I am not afraid… I was born to do this.” ~Joan of Arc
Arguably one of the most famous ‘woman warriors’ in history, few have never heard the basic story of the Maid of Orleans. A peasant girl from who believed she had been chosen by God, Joan to lead the France army to victory during the Siege of Orleans in 1421, a turning point in the Hundred Years’ War and France’s first major military victory. Joan was an inspiration to all that followed her, and thanks to her efforts, France regained major territory from the English, with the war ending in 1453. Although, sadly, Joan died after being condemned as a witch by English enemies, she was canonized as a saint in 1920.
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~ Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman started out with larger hurdles than most: born a black slave in Maryland, Harriet was determined in her quest for freedom: escaping in 1949 only to later return thirteen times later, one of the most successful ‘conductors’ of the Underground Railroad and freeing over seventy friends and family members. When the Civil War broke out, Harriet was recruited by the Union Army as spy, and later became the the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war during the Combahee River Raid, rescuing another 750 slaves. Even after the war, she continued to look after elderly relations, and press for women’s suffrage, until falling to pneumonia in 1914. She remains an icon of courage, humanitarianism and freedom.
We had an enemy in front of us, and we had to prove we were stronger and more prepared.” ~ Nadezhda Popova
The year is 1941: you’re absolutely freezing, flying in the dark, sitting in an out of date wooden biplane and carrying a load of four to six bombs towards German forces, all without the safety net of a parachute. Somehow, you’ve got to stay in flight, avoid being seen, bomb enemy, avoid getting shot in retaliation, and return all the way back to base and Soviet territory, to prepare for your next mission. This was the job of the 88th Night Bomber Regiment, known by the enemy as Nachthexen, the Night Witches, a company of female volunteers during the Second World War. While Night Witches made no strategic wins on the battlefield, their efforts caused massive psychological terror on their enemies, who would award an Iron Cross of bravery to any soldier who shot one down. One of the earliest members and flyer of 852 missions, Captain Nadezda Popova was awarded high donors, including the Gold Star Medal, the Order of Lenin, three Orders of the Red Star, and the title “Hero of the Soviet Union”. She lived in Shabanovka, Russia, working as a pilot instructor after the war, until her death in 2013 at the age of 91.
I was determined to fight, for I have the skills and knowledge, which I was going to put to use.” ~ Nakano Takeko
There was plenty of fighting during the Boshin War in Japan, when the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate clashed with Imperial supporters, and revolutionaries whom would eventually come into power and start the Meiji Period. Siding with the Shogunate Loyalists, Nakano Takeko fought during the Battle of Aizu; and when retainers refused to allow women to join their ranks, formed an unofficial unit with twenty other woman, and attempted to break the siege. Nakano’s determination speaks volumes: in a time when women were excluded from education, politics and business, she was still determined to make an impact. “I am proud of what I am and what I do which is fight for my country.” Shot in battle, Nakano is buried at Hōkai-ji Temple with a monument in her honour, and a procession of girls representing the actions of her and her troops is held each year as part of the Aizu Autumn Festival.
We must not sit idle when innocent lives are being bricked alive.” ~ Mai Bhago
It’s never easy standing up against an invading army to protect the leader of your people, let alone surviving against significant odds from an enemy that wants you and all others of your religion gone. Yet that’s exactly what Mai Bhago did, her perseverance ensuring what could have been the end of the Sikh religion at the Mughal Empire (also known as the Gurkani)’s hands. Living in Jhabal, of what is now northern India, Mai Bhago joined the forces of Sikh leader Guru Gobind Singh Ji against Mughal aggressors, going so far in her determination as to track and bring back forty Sikh whom abandon Guru Ji during the conflict. Her return with the forty was well-timed, returning to Guru Ji’s side just as a massive Mughal attack was raining down on the guru’s stronghold. Severely outnumbered but determined, Mai Bhago and the former deserters fought back, driving away the enemy advancement, with only Mai as a survivor. Mai Bhago went on to become a bodyguard of Guru Ji, before retiring to a life of meditation and passing away of old age.