Woman of the Month is a feature on my blog where each month I highlight a woman in the world who I think garners recognition. I started this mainly to increase Girl Power and empowerment, and because there’s a lot of women I feel are overlooked and I wanted to bring attention to them.
This month, I’m highlighting Bella Abzug.
Bella Abzug was a Jewish-American lawyer, US representative, and social activist. As a teenager, after her father passed away, she was told by her synagogue that women were not allowed to say the mourners’ Kaddish as since that rite was reserved for sons of the deceased. However, she went to the synagogue every morning for a year to recite the prayer.
As a lawyer, Abzug advocated for several civil rights, including racial issues, labour laws, and the Vietnam war. She was a participant in the Women’s Strike for Peace. She beat two popular men for her position in the House of Representatives. She was one of the first members of congress to support LGBTQ+ rights and introduced the first Federal gay rights bill. She was voted by her colleagues the third most influential member of the House. She was part of a delegation sent to Saigon to assess the situation in South Vietnam near the end of the war, and was the only member of the delegation to oppose America’s involvement in the war.
Abzug co-founded the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), which is a “a global women’s advocacy organization working towards a just world that promotes and protects human rights, gender equality, and the integrity of the environment.” She was an influential leader at the UN and other international events. She also developed the Women’s Caucus, which used new methods to get women involved in every phase of planning and development for UN conferences.
She was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame and is the recipient of numerous prestigious national and international awards. She also received the highest civilian recognition and honour at the U.N., the Blue Beret Peacekeepers Award. After her death, her daughter started the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute (BALI) to mentor and train high school and college women to become effective leaders in civic, political, corporate and community life. And in 2017, she was named one of Time magazine’s 50 Women Who Made American Political History.
I’ve been described as a tough and noisy woman, a prizefighter, a man-hater, you name it. They call me Battling Bella.
August 26th was Women’s Equality Day, which was started by Abzug when she was a Representative. Again, I had never heard of Abzug until I started reading up for this post. It’s so interesting to see how she had such a long-lasting impact.
Thanks for reading! xx