This year is coming to its end and one can safely say it has been a remarkable year in a sense that women from all walks of life came to the foreground to claim their voice, share their stories, and forge a community in their fight for making the world a better place for women (and men). The upsurge of feminism (and women in leadership roles) brings me hope for a better future and also fills me with a bit of sadness when I think of the women who preceded us, who for generations, centuries and thousands of years were compelled to live a life in limitation.
Many of my heroines never had a chance to tell their stories or claim the recognition they deserved. Too busy to provide for their families, they had no time to complain, little sympathy for their concerns, and certainly very little hopes for radical change in the ways in which they were treated, their opportunities limited, their voices ignored.
Reckoning with the past, I wish to pay tribute to the unknown heroines – like my paternal grandmother – whose shoulders we all stand on. My grandmother spent her entire life working as a cleaning lady, raising her two children and an adopted child as a widow, then me, her grandchild, while forever trying to make ends meet despite working all the time. A brilliant woman well into her late 80s, she survived on 6 grades of education because, back in her days, women were expected to devote their lives and labor to their families, and for that role, her level of education was deemed sufficient. All other endeavors, such as a dream of a professional life and personal accomplishments (her dream was to become a special education teacher) never materialized because of her circumstances. With all the hardship that I can only in hindsight guess, she carried herself with utmost grace and strength, which is why she, in my eyes, is a true heroine.