Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

Women in History: Jane Addams


  • founded the Hull House, which was the first (and best known) settlement house in the US.
  • was a sociologist.
  • was a philosopher.
  • was an author.
  • was a suffragist and a pacifist.
  • was the first woman from America (second woman overall) to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • traveled to Europe.
  • was a Christian.
  • helped start the Progressive Party.
  • was the first vice-president for the Playground Association of America.
  • was a charter member (and the most well-known woman member at the time) of the American Sociological Society.
  • was the national chairman of the Woman’s Peace Party.
  • was president of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (after serving, she would remain honorary president for her whole life).
  • worked for labor reform.
  • was a charter member for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
  • was vice-president for the National American Women Suffrage Association.
  • helped found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
  • served on Chicago’s Board of Education and within that chaired the School Management Committee.
  • helped found the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy.
  • was the first woman president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections.
  • was the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Yale.
  • read every book in her village library.
  • helped to form courts for juveniles.
  • was pro-life!
  • helped found the National Child Labor Committee.

Others said

  • “Miss Addams shines, so respectful of everyone’s views, so eager to understand and sympathize, so patient of anarchy and even ego, yet always there, strong, wise and in the lead. No ‘managing’, no keeping dark and bringing things subtly to pass, just a radiating wisdom and power of judgement.” – Emily Balch
  • “Jane Addams has been able to do more probably than any other living woman to popularize pacifism and to introduce radicalism into colleges, settlements, and respectable circles. The influence of her radical proteges, who consider Hull House their home center, reaches out all over the world.” – Elizabeth Dilling (and actually meant to be a criticism)
  • “Jane Addams is a woman of indomitable energy and persistence, of enthusiasm and adaptability; intellectually she is strong and possesses a keen sense of a humour. She is a slender, delicate, pink-cheeked woman with a face as fine as a cameo and a manner unassuming and attractive.” The Indianapolis Journal
  • “Miss Addams has been called “the greatest woman in the world,” the “mother of social service,” “the greatest woman internationalist” and the ‘first citizen of Chicago.'” – The New York Times
  • “In honoring Miss Addams we also pay homage to the work which women can do for the cause of peace and fraternity among nations. Miss Addams does not speak much, but her quiet, kind-hearted personality creates an atmosphere of good-will, which instinctively calls forth the best in all.” – Halfdan Kort
  • “I do not base her greatness on Hull House, important as that contribution is. Far more remarkable is the human trait of sticking to that project all her life. She made it a success. She stuck through when it was a success. That is a rare thing to do–to stick to a success.” – Carrie Chapman Catt

She said

  • “I am not one of those who believe – broadly speaking – that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.”
  • “It is good for a social worker to be an artist too.”
  • “We have all accepted bread from someone, at least until we were fourteen.”
  • “Talk of reprisal and aggression can only increase the spirit of bitterness.”

“As women we are the custodians of the life of the ages and we will no longer consent to its reckless destruction. We are particularly charged with the future of childhood, the care of the helpless and the unfortunate, and we will no longer endure without protest that added burden of maimed and invalid men and poverty-stricken women and orphans which war places on us.”

“Hundreds of poor laboring men and women are being thrown into jails and police stations because of their political beliefs. In fact, an attempt is being made to deport an entire political party.

These men and women, who in some respects are more American in ideals than the agents of the government who are tracking them down, are thrust into cells so crowded they cannot lie down.

And what is it these radicals seek? It is the right of free speech and free thought; nothing more than is guaranteed to them under the Constitution of the United States, but repudiated because of the war.

It is a dangerous situation we face at the present time, with the rule of the few overcoming the voice of the many. It is doubly dangerous because we are trying to suppress something upon which our very country was founded – liberty.

The cure for the spirit of unrest in this country is conciliation and education – not hysteria. Free speech is the greatest safety valve of our United States. Let us give these people a chance to explain their beliefs and desires. Let us end this suppression and spirit of intolerance which is making of America another autocracy.”


  • Nobel Peace Prize
  • Honorary Degree from Yale
  • Took second in a poll by Independent (a magazine) titled “Who Was the Most Useful American”
  • M. Carey Thomas Prize

There is the Jane Addams Hull House Association.

There is the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards.

There is the Jane Addams Hull-House  Museum.

There is the Jane Addams College of Social Work.

There is the Jane Addams Resource Corporation.

There is the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.

There is the Jane Addams Book Shop.

There is the Jane Addams School for Democracy.

There is the Jane Addams Recreation Trail.

There is a Jane Addams Memorial Park.

There are also elementary, middle, and high schools named after her.



Shirin Ebadi


  • was born in Iran
  • used to be a judge and an attorney there.
  • works to better the lives of children and women in the Middle East.
  • has been imprisoned and tortured.
  • doesn’t let any of this stop her from doing what’s right.
  • was the 11th woman and the first person from Iran and the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • did not have her acceptance speech broadcast in Iran (supposedly for not wearing a headscarf, but I think most people can figure out the real reason).
  • had her Nobel Peace Prize stolen by the government.
  • lives in exile.
  • was the first woman judge in Iran. (And then was removed, as women judges were later banned.)
  • established the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child, which promotes the principles in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • established the Defenders of Human Rights Center, which provides defense for people accused of political crimes, educates Iranians about human rights, and reports on the condition of human rights in Iran, despite constant struggles against the Iranian government.
  • has been critical of the US government.
  • is a wife.
  • is a mother to two daughters.
  • evaded at least two attempts on her life.
  • has written books.
  • helped draft a law against child abuse that was later passed.
  • helped found the Nobel Women’s Initiative.
  • started the Million Signatures Campaign to end legal discrimination against women in Iran.

Others have said

  • “As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, and far beyond its borders. She has stood up as a sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threats to her own safety.” – Nobel Peace Prize Committee
  • “Both in her research and as an activist, she is known for promoting peaceful, democratic solutions to serious problems in society. She takes an active part in the public debate and is well-known and admired by the general public in her country for her defence in court of victims of the conservative faction’s attack on freedom of speech and political freedom.” -Nobel Committee Profile
  • “the worst nightmare of Iran’s hardline clerics” (From an Article in The Guardian)

She said

  • They should ask for their rights, but they should do it peacefully. Obviously the regime wants people to be violent because it gives them an excuse to crack down. People must not give them that excuse.”
  • “A human being divested of all dignity, a human being deprived of human rights, a human being gripped by starvation, a human being beaten by famine, war and illness, a humiliated human being and a plundered human being is not in any position or state to recover the rights he or she has lost.”
  • “The worst solution is a military attack. Democracy is not merchandise to be exported to a country, democracy cannot be purchased and sent to another country.”
  • “The best thing that a student can do is study well — and then go back to Iran.”
  • “Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death, but I have learned to overcome my fear.”
  • “I compare my situation to a person on board a ship. When there is a shipwreck the passenger then falls in the ocean and has no choice but to keep swimming. What happened in our society was that the laws overturned every right that women had. I had no choice. I could not get tired, I could not lose hope. I cannot afford to do that.”
  • “Democracy is like a flower. You must water it daily and check the light if you want to keep it alive. You can’t pour a bucket of water in your flower pot and go back to it a month later.”
  • “If no one speaks out when a government violates human rights and uses oppression, this oppression continues. But when people are informed, they gradually become aware, and when they become aware, they begin to object. No change happens in society unless people become aware.”
  • “That’s when I felt that human rights were being neglected. … Undemocratic countries are more dangerous than a nuclear bomb. It’s undemocratic countries that jeopardise international peace.”
  • “I maintain that nothing useful and lasting can emerge from violence.”
  • “When there is injustice to one people and there is no way of receiving justice and when several generations live under the poverty line and there is no hope for the improvement of their lives, they may forget their sanity because of hopelessness. And thus they may resort to violence.”

“Undoubtedly, my selection will be an inspiration to the masses of women who are striving to realize their rights, not only in Iran but throughout the region – rights taken away from them through the passage of history. This selection will make women in Iran, and much further afield, believe in themselves. Women constitute half of the population of every country. To disregard women and bar them from active participation in political, social, economic and cultural life would in fact be tantamount to depriving the entire population of every society of half its capability. The patriarchal culture and the discrimination against women, particularly in the Islamic countries, cannot continue for ever.”

“Whenever women protest and ask for their rights, they are silenced with the argument that the laws are justified under Islam. It is an unfounded argument. It is not Islam at fault, but rather the patriarchal culture that uses its own interpretations to justify whatever it wants. It utilizes psychology to say that women are emotional. It utilizes medical science to say that men’s brains are formed in such a way that they are better able to understand concepts. These are all hypotheses. None of this has been proven. Needless to say, the dominant culture is going to insist on an interpretation of religion that happens to favor men. Before the revolution, there were the first 100 female judges in Iran. I was one of them. After the 1979 revolution, they argued that women cannot be judges, and they made us all into peons in the ministry of justice. But women resisted. We wrote essays, held protests, and organized conferences to insist that women being judges was not incompatible with Islam. After twenty years, they finally accepted the argument and said, OK, women can be judges. So, as you can see, one day they interpret Islam in such a way that women cannot be judges and the next day they manage to reverse themselves.”

“How can you defy fear? Fear is a human instinct, just like hunger. Whether you like it or not, you become hungry. Similarly with fear. But I have learned to train myself to live with this fear. Every time I am fearful I think to myself, the reason they do this is to discourage me from doing what I do. Hence, if I discontinue my work I will have succumbed to my fears.”

“In my memoir, I wanted to introduce American women to Iranian women and our lives. I’m not from the highest echelons of society, nor the lowest. I’m a women who is a lawyer, who is a professor at a university, who won the Nobel Peace Prize. At the same time, I cook. And even when I’m about to go to prison, one of the first things I do is to make enough food and put it in the fridge for my family.”


  • 2003 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Rafto prize
  • Voted 12th leading public intellectual in 2005
  • Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Award
  • International Democracy Award
  • UCI Citizen Peacebuilding Award

Books about her (Note, I haven’t read any of these, these are just some of the books I’ve found):

I think that anyone who is willing to stand up for the rights of women and children in the face of such an oppressive regime should be hailed someone to look up to. It takes a lot of courage and bravery to stand up in a place like Iran, where you will face possible imprisonment and even potentially death.



Women in History: Jeannette Rankin

Let me introduce you to another woman. Jeannette Rankin. It’s a name I had never heard before a few days ago.


  • lived from 1880 – 1973.
  • graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology.
  • was the first woman to speak in front of Montana’s legislature.
  • was the first woman in U.S. Congress.
  • was the first woman elected in a Western democracy to a national government body.
  • was a Republican
  • represented Montana – twice (once from 1917-1919, then again from 1941-1943).
  • lobbied Congress in between her two terms.
  • ran as an independent once in between to prove that she wasn’t being bribed to step down, even though she knew she would lose.
  • is the only woman to have ever represented Montana in Congress.
  • was a pacifist.
  • voted against entering both World War I, living out her pacifist beliefs.
  • was hated by the press for these votes and it lost her some support.
  • still supported the war effort anyway through Liberty Bonds.
  • was the only Congress member voting against entering World War II.
  • needed a police escort after that vote.
  • killed her own political career by standing so firm to her pacifist beliefs, but she stood her ground.
  • opposed the Korean War.
  • opposed the Vietnam War and let a march of the Jeannette Rankin Brigade on Washington to this effect.
  • almost ran again to work against the Vietnam War, but died before she had the chance.
  • introduced a bill to give women their own citizenship, apart from their husbands.
  • helped to get a Committee on Woman Suffrage started in Congress and was then made a part of it.
  • worked as a school teacher for a little while.
  • entered social work after she saw how people lived in the slums of Boston.
  • argued that by not allowing women to vote that they were being taxed without representation (sound familiar?).
  • wrote a weekly newspaper column.
  • worked, at one point, for the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
  • was involved in the passage of women’s suffrage in Montana.
  • was elected before the 19th amendment passed.
  • attempted to get funding for health clinics, midwife education (awesome!), and visiting nurse programs.
  • wanted to reduce infant mortality, reduce maternal mortality, see prohibition enacted, and end child labor.
  • campaigned for and helped to get the following bills passed the Child Labour Amendment, Independent Citizenship, and the Maternity and Infancy Protection Act.
  • was the first person who introduced the GI Bill.
  • was a founding member of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
  • was accused of being a communist.
  • founded the Georgia Peace Society.
  • travelled to India seven times.
  • subscribed to Ghandi’s philosophy of non-violence.
  • was awarded the The World’s Outstanding Living Feminist.
  • formed the Jeannette Rankin Foundation, a non-profit that gives scholarships to low-income women to further their education, with the money from her property after her death.
  • has a statue in the United State’s Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

Others’ remarks

She said

I knew that we were asked to vote for a commercial war, that none of the idealistic hopes would be carried out, and I was aware of the falseness of much of the propaganda. It was easy to stand against the pressure of the militarists, but very difficult to go against the friends and dear ones who felt that I was making a needless sacrifice by voting against the war, since my vote would not be a decisive one…. I said I would listen to those who wanted war and would not vote until the last opportunity and if I could see any reason for going to war I would change it. (Gale – Free Resources – Women’s History – Biographies – Jeannette Rankin)

The peace problem is a woman’s problem. Disarmament will not be won without their aid. So long as they shirk…something will be radically wanting in the peace activities of the public and the state…I am aware that men are disposed to look down on the temperamental pacifism of women (which in spite of all the exceptions is a psychological fact) as something that the manly man would scorn to imitate. However, there is no other way that I can see in which peace can be realized except through forbearance from fighting on the part of men as well as women…Therefore peace is a woman’s job. (Peace is a Woman’s Job: Who Was Jeanette Rankin, History and Bio)

American mothers’ sons have died on foreign battlefields to support profiteers in their luxury living. All the businesses that engage in war profiteering should be made to pay each employee, owner, director, trustee or what have you, the minimum soldier’s wage. And everyone should be given a tin cup and a bread card and subsist on the same food the soldier does. The same goes for the President and all the representatives in Congress, and they should also be given the honor of carrying the flag in battle so they can feel they’re doing their bit. (Jeannette Rankin, Suffragist and Pacifist: She Speaks for Me by Jeanmarie Simpson)

You can learn more about the Jeannette Rankin Foundation and the scholarships they offer at this website.

If you believe in peace and want to continue to work, the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center was founded in her honor and memory.

The United States Institute for Peace also has a Jeannette Rankin Library Program.

I think what she did is very important because without her, it’s likely that many of the elected women we see today would not be in office. As it is, Congress doesn’t have enough women, but they had to start somewhere. I think Jeannette did a fine job for being the first.


P.S. if you read this and like this, won’t you please be my fan on Facebook?

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