Have you ever wondered why lives of women in history have remained mostly invisible besides very few exceptions?
Why this is a proven fact – despite they had crucial roles and they were as remarkable as male historical figures – and the enormous implications of this invisibility for women’s sense of identity, inspirational role models and a large etcetera is beyond the scope of this post.
I’ve just taught a module of Equal Opportunities for the participants in the project NOA of Barcelona Activa , financed by the European Social Fund. The aim of it is to foster women’s opportunities to work in male dominated sectors – the majority of them better paid and with better conditions than feminised ones of a similar category, thus reducing the gender pay gap. In this particular one, three groups of women were trained to work in IT, logistics and as drivers. While my module was to provide the background of the program, explain the current situation of women and men in society, as well as provide notions of gender perspective, I also created a space for women’s history – herstory – and in this way being the change I want to see in the world.
The exercise was to find out about a relevant woman in history and briefly share the findings with the group, or tell the group the story of an acquainted woman or a relative the life of whom had left a positive imprint in them. As women were coming to the centre of the circle and shared the past of other women, a special energy started to flow into the room, providing intimacy and group consciousness that impregnated us all. The atmosphere became magical as we travelled to Brazil to meet La Redentora, to the Spanish Second Republic times with La Pasionaria, to the ancient times of the Bible with Lilith , to the northern seas with the pirate Mary Read , to the US with the union’s movement with Crystal Lee Sutton and the activism through civil disobedience of Rosa Parks.
The lives of these women were evoked with other anonymous lives. These were the lives of some of the mothers, grandmothers or acquainted of women of the participants. Women that fought bravely against their circumstances and challenged the current gender relations, in order to raise their family, make sure their daughters and sons got an education and/or simply to reclaim their place in the world.