Posts Tagged ‘women’s rights’

Women from History: The Grimke Sisters

November 7, 2013

Angelina and Sarah Grimke

Some of the first advocates of women’s rights and the abolition of slavery were two sisters from Charleston, South Carolina, Sarah Grimke (1792-1873) and Angelina Grimke (1805-1879). The Grimke sisters were “raised in the cradle of slavery” and were the daughters of a wealthy plantation owner, Judge John Fauchereaud Grimke. Even though the girls grew up with the privilege and comfort of their aristocratic life, they grew to despise the institutions they were so much a part of: slavery and patriarchal societies that oppress women. As young girls, the sisters taught their slaves to read, something that was highly punishable not only on the plantations, but by law.

Sarah accompanied her father to Philadelphia in 1819, and it was there that she encountered the Society of Friends, or Quakers. The Quaker’s view on equality of the sexes and antislavery resonated with Sarah, and she eventually converted to Quakerism, and Angelina later on. The Grimke sisters moved to Philadelphia, and that move gave them the motivation and confidence to know, that as women, they could make a difference and have their voices heard.

appeal to the christian women

A copy of Angelina Grimke’s pamphlet, “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South”

Angelina published a pamphlet called “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South”. This document was directed at Southern, white women, and it was a call to arms to help end the institution of slavery. The pamphlet was burned and criticized in many areas of the South in opposition to the Grimke sisters’ message. Sarah and Angelina began a speaking tour of over 67 cities, mostly in the North, which was “unheard of women of the time… Angelina’s last speech of the tour, to the Massachusetts Legislature, made her the first woman in American history to speak in front of a legislative body”. Sarah and Angelina’s involvement and fervor on the subjects of abolition and  women’s right lead to a lot of “condemnation from religious leaders and traditionalists who did not believe that it was a woman’s place to speak in public”.

These groundbreaking women helped pave the way for future abolitionist and women’s rights activism. They broke from their privileged, plantation life and linked the struggles of women and slaves in order to create the hope for an equal and progressive future, free of oppression.


C4W Business Member Profile: Bedie Kinney, Durlach Associates

December 19, 2012

Bedie Holland

What is your profession? Chief Financial Officer for Durlach Associates.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? I love playing with the grandchildren, especially my 4 year old grandson.  I work Sudoku in the evenings to relax (really!).  I enjoy eating out and since I live in the best place on earth, it is easy to find things to do from volunteering to bird watching from my deck.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? Since 1997 .

What inspired you to become a member?  I wanted to associate with women in my community, both professionally and socially.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? In the beginning the Center for Women supported me emotionally in a time of change, as time passed it has been a resource for education, networking, admiring the talents and journeys of other women.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? It is a feeling of empowerment.  I set my mind on my goals and have taken action for what was needed to accomplish those goals.  Even when the goal was not accomplished as soon as I wanted it, I work at it until I complete my mission.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? My advice is to know your strengths, hone your skills, set your course of action, and work it through education, networking, find a mentor, and get involved where you can.  Set a plan to get out of debt.  All of these will empower you to be your own person who wants to raise your family with purpose, help your community, and enjoy the best life you were given.

How can people connect with you?  My email address is You will also find me at Center for Women events.

Women are the solution

March 23, 2012

Guest blogger Center for Women member and SC Women’s Business Center Advisory Council Member, Holly Fisher, recaps columnists talk on women’s rights.

Women hold up half the sky.

– Chinese saying

Among the grim stories of how women and girls around the world face abuse, discrimination and a life as second-class citizens, there are stories of hope. I left with that message after hearing Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Nicholas Kristof speak at a luncheon yesterday put on by the Center for Women here in Charleston.

Kristof is the author of “Half The Sky,” a book about how to turn oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. His talk fell in line with Women’s History Month and this year’s theme of education and empowerment for women.

A long-time reporter for The New York Times, Kristof has spent years reporting on foreign countries and many of the atrocities against women. It’s no secret females in China face an uphill battle. Kristof recounted a story from 1990 in which a young girl had to drop out of school in sixth grade, despite being at the top of her class. The $13 in school fees just weren’t a priority for her parents.

Kristof reported on this girl, and NYT readers responded with donations that were used to subsidize school fees for girls in this small Chinese village – provided the girls maintained good grades.

That sixth grade girl went to get an accounting degree and eventually start her own accounting firm. She was able to share the money she made with family members who went on to start businesses as well. The entire village prospered — all because girls were afforded an education.

Those are stories of hope. But for each story like that, there are countless stories, statistics and sadness that represent what Kristof calls “the central moral challenge of the 21st century: the inequitable treatment of women and girls around the world.”

So what is the answer? Education and empowerment. As Kristof said, “We have to educate girls and bring those women in the work force. Women and girls aren’t the problem but the solution.”

One significant issue facing women around the world — and even here in the United States is sex trafficking. Girls are often kidnapped and forced to work in brothels. In 2004, Kristof “purchased” two girls from brothels and returned them to their villages. The cost for both girls was about $350. But the price wasn’t even most disturbing to Kristof, it was that he received a receipt.

“When you get a receipt in the 21st century for buying another human being that should be a disgrace on the entire world,” he said.

It’s hard to even imagine living your life as a piece of property. I’ve certainly never been sold. I’ve never been denied proper medical treatment or an education because I’m a woman. All of us in that room yesterday are fortunate and because of that, we need to do our part to ensure women here at home and around the globe have the same rights, opportunities and chance to fulfill their dreams as we do.

How can you help?

Check out Kristof’s book “Half the Sky” and his website at for resources and ways to get involved.

The website regularly has advertisements for young girls who are part of this sex trafficking problem. The site is owned by Village Voice Media and you can put pressure on the company to stop running these ads. Encourage their legitimate advertisers to drop their ads, which hits the company where it hurts most – the bottom line. Also, visit to sign the petition against the Village Voice.

Over half the world…

August 25, 2009

The New York Times took on the subject of women’s rights worldwide in the Sunday Magazine. It should be required reading for EVERYONE. Although the emphasis is on women abroad many of the points are well taken for the US. Read it …NOW!!

Time now for women’s equal rights

November 20, 2008

flagshoesmallWhat a day to vote. It was rainy and a little chilly, but the line for my polling place stretched for blocks. We were a mixed group that reflected the diversity of peninsular Charleston.

Astonishingly, everyone was in a good mood, apparently sensing the history being made. I couldn’t help but think of the history that brought me to that line. A history of struggle that began with the writing of the Constitution.

In the 1840s, the first organized movement for women’s suffrage began, and it didn’t end until 1920 when the 19th Amendment passed both Congress and 36 states giving women the right to vote.

Just a few blocks from my polling place is the home of Anita Pollitzer, whose efforts with the National Women’s Party sealed the deal when she successfully lobbied a reluctant Tennessee legislator whose vote ultimately proved to be the one that broke down this barrier for women.

It was a hard-fought battle and I think of those women who bucked the conventional wisdom on my behalf.

While women have the vote in America, there are millions of women on this planet who don’t: The women of Afghanistan who have been so degraded by their culture and for whom the right to vote is the greatest of privileges but a fleeting privilege that will disappear overnight if the Taliban takes power again. The women of Saudi Arabia who not only can’t vote but aren’t allowed to drive or leave the country without a man’s permission.

The women of Swaziland who live in a country where 26 percent of the population has HIV/AIDS.

I vote on their behalf with the hope that the new administration will support efforts to bring respect and human rights to women worldwide.

I also vote for the women in my own country who don’t have access to affordable child care, whose pay is a third less than their male colleagues and for whom health care is a luxury and care giving is not a valued commodity.

In a year when Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin broke through the glass ceiling of politics, when our vote ended up being the deciding factor, it is only right to recognize that we have a long way still to go.

Our current rights are limited to laws and amendments to laws that can be overturned in a legislative session or by executive order.

Our rights are tentative at best and can turn on the dime of public opinion or a state legislature dominated by one ideology.

It is time to bring women to the table with equal rights under the Constitution. It’s time, and that is what I thought about when I voted on Nov. 4. For more information go to

Jennet Robinson Alterman is executive director of the Center for Women in Charleston, S.C.

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