You Have to Do You

Continuing to celebrate Women’s History month, this week’s subject is an activist. She challenges stereotypes about Muslims, in particular Muslim women. And she not only says, you have to do you, she lives it. She is a Somalian-American, a poet, a rapper, a feminist, and so much more. She is Mona Haydar.

Photo of Mona Haydar in her hjabi, a strong woman who lives by the phrase you just have to do you
By Y3t4r5 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Women our future is winnable 

We gotta be indivisible.

Mona Haydar from  her song “Barbarian”

Early Life & Education

In 1971, her parents immigrated from Damascus, Syria to the United States. She was born in Flint, Michigan, in 1988, one of seven siblings.

She graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint. Then in 2011, Haydar went to Damascus, Syria. She studied Islamic spirituality at Jami’ Abu-Noor. When the Syrian conflict erupted, she returned to the U.S.

In 2012, Haydar lost a close friend to suicide. This made Haydar question how she lived her own life. She left Flint where she had been working as a substitute teacher and moved to the Lama Foundation  in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. 

The Lama Foundation is an off grid, inter-spiritual community and retreat center. There she met her husband. They married and had their first child there.

She also lived in the Redwood forest of Northern California. Then she went to New York City, where she completed her Masters in Christian Ethics at Union Theological Theological Seminary in 2018. 

Developing Her Voice

Haydar started writing poetry as soon as she was old enough to write. According to her website, “I am mood. I am dude. I am Mona.” is from one of her first poems recorded in a kindergarten journal.

At 14, she performed spoken word poetry at open mikes and poetry shows in downtown Flint. She credits African-American women in the Flint hip-hop community who mentored for helping her to develop her sound. They taught her to use her voice to oppose white supremacy and Western culture. Her sound “is deeply rooted in her intersectional identity and sensibilities.” She transitioned to rap in 2015.

You can’t be afraid of breaking out. You just have to do you and people will catch up.

Mona Haydar,

Early Career

Her first flirt with fame happened in 2015. She didn’t understand why people didn’t ask Muslims about their religion. Haydar and her husband, Sebastian, set up a stand in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They invited people to “Talk to a Muslim.” They offered coffee, donuts, and flowers and answers to “replace trauma with love.” Her social media post about that project went viral, and their efforts reached an international audience.

She stood with the indigenous peoples of the U.S. In 2016 at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. She was 6 months pregnant with her second child. That year she also appeared in the 2016 Microsoft holiday campaign “#SpreadHarmony”, shot by Jake Scott. She and her work have appeared in diverse places like Glamour and BBC, and Psychology Today and People Magazine.

Debut Song 

In 2017, Haydar’s debut song went viral.Billboard named “Hjabi (Wrap My Hijab)” one of “The 20 Best Protest Songs of 2017” and one of the “Top 25 Feminist Anthems.” Her debut song dispels myths and stereotypes about women who choose to wear a hjabi. Haydar sees her practice of wearing a hijab as an expression of feminism and independence.

Her Music

Suicide Doors

Haydar doesn’t shy from tough topics in her music. Her single, “Suicide Doors,” opens discussions of mental health. The song is a tribute to the friend she lost to suicide and an expression of her grief. It acknowledges that suicide and mental health issues aren’t just a “white” problem.


When I was sitting in the class, we were studying what it is to be barbaric, a barbarian … and at the same time, I’m studying The New Testament, I’m studying the words of Paul, I’m studying what it is to be ‘other’ inside of the Roman Empire…Doing all that work while the current sitting president was making comments about Mexicans, comments about Muslims, comments about trans people, I felt like if there was ever a moment to speak love into the universe, it was here.”

Mona Haydar from

 in 2018, Mona and her family moved to Marrakech, Morocco.

Strong Women

Mona Haydar is a strong woman. So are real life women: Molly Brant, Dr. Ellen Ochoa, and Dr. Patricia Bath. There are strong fictional women too. Like Miranda and Beryl in My Soul to Keep. Please celebrate women’s history month with me. Leave a comment below about a strong woman you know or know about. Fictional or Real-Life doesn’t matter. It takes all kinds of role-models to help us develop our own version of strong.

You Have to Do You

In the current fear-heavy world of corona virus self-isolation, Hadar’s messages are especially relevant. We can be afraid and be strong women. As she said, “our future is winnable.” Believe that.

Hadar’s music and life exemplifies a strong Muslim woman. She raps about complex issues with respect and love. She is a role model and mentor for us all. You just have to do you.

An Inspiring Woman In Space And On The Ground

From last week’s strong Mohawk woman of the revolutionary war era we’re coming forward hundreds of years. This week’s Women’s History Month spotlight is on an inspiring woman in space and on the ground, Ellen Ochoa. Ms. Ochoa, a Hispanic-American Woman, made history in our lifetime. Engineer, inventor, astronaut, and administrator, she is a champion of and for women.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa, Director of Johnson Space Center and an inspiring woman
Official portrait of JSC Center Director Ellen Ochoa. Photographer: Bill Stafford
Public Domain

“We do a disservice to society as a whole, if we are not providing the same kinds of encouragement to women to contribute as we do to men.”

– Ellen Ochoa

Early Life

Ochoa’s paternal grandparents immigrated from Sonora, Mexico to Arizona. They later moved to California where Ochoa’s father, Joseph, was born. Ellen Ochoa was born May 10, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, U.S. Her parents were Joseph and Rosanne (née Deardorf) Ochoa.

She loved math and science in school, even if other kids looked down on her for that. She played the flute and wanted to be a musician.

Like many of us, she watched the moon landing. She was eleven. It never occurred to her to want to be an astronaut. There were no female astronauts then.

Astronaut descending ladder for Apollo 11 moon landing
Photo credit: NASA


Ochoa’s parents divorced while she attended  Grossmont High School in El Cajon. She graduated from San Diego State University, Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor of science degree in physics in 1980. She earned a master’s degree in science in 1981 at  Stanford Department of Electrical Engineering. And in 1985, she achieved her doctorate at Stanford.

“I know myself how important it is to see somebody else doing that someone that maybe you have something in common with or can relate to in some way.”

Ellen Ochoa


Ochoa was 25 when she saw NASA’s first female astronaut in space, Sally Ride. Ms. Ride was an engineer. And she’d studied at Stanford. Ochoa decided she wanted to be an astronaut, too. They rejected her first application. So she got another job and kept working toward her goal.

Inherently, women and men are of equal worth, have equal amounts to contribute and we absolutely need to make sure that we are getting those contributions from women.

Ellen Ochoa


Ochoa joined NASA in 1988 as a research engineer at Ames Research Center At Ames, she led a research group. They worked on optical systems for automated space exploration. She patented an optical system to detect defects in a repeating pattern. And she is a co-inventor on three additional patents.

First Hispanic Woman In Space

Image of Astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa, an inspiring woman

Selected by NASA in January 1991, Ochoa became an astronaut in July of that year. She served on a nine-day mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1993 and became the first Hispanic woman in space.

Astronaut Ochoa playing the flute in space

A mission specialist on STS-56 (1993), she was also a payload commander on STS-66. Then she was a mission specialist and flight engineer on STS-96 and STS-110 in 2002.

A member of the Presidential Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History, Ochoa carried a special item on STS-96. Above, mission specialists (l.-r.) Ellen Ochoa, Julie Payette and Tamara Jernigan float together in the International Space Station with the gold, white and purple suffrage banner from the National Woman’s Party. This actual banner was used early in the century (around 1916-1920) as women fought for the right to vote. 

Ochoa logged more than 950 hours in space. And if that’s not an inspiring woman…

Another First

Ochoa retired from spacecraft operations and became Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center. On January 1, 2013, Ochoa became the first Hispanic and second female director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Awards and Recognitions

Ochoa has won many awards. She’s received NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Outstanding Leadership Medal, and four Space Flight Medals.

Ochoa’s Advice

“You don’t have to wait until you’re older to make an impact on other people’s lives.” Ellen Ochoa

“If you are interested in something, you still need to learn other things,” she said. “Try hard if you want to do it.”

Ochoa to the Scholastic Kids Press Corps

More About Ochoa

Ochoa retired from federal service as Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in 2018. She became vice chair of the National Science Board, which runs the National Science Foundation.  

Besides being an astronaut, researcher, and engineer, Ochoa is a classical flutist.

She lives in Texas with her husband, Coe Fulmer Miles, and their two children. 


I hope you enjoyed this brief look at an inspiring woman in space and on the ground, Dr. Ellen Ochoa. You might want to read about 30 other inspiring women or a spy who may not have been one. Or sign up for my newsletter for information on my next novel featuring strong women characters.

Spy, Loyalist, and Diplomat

Next on our list of extraordinary women of history is Molly Brant. Brant was an influential Mohawk woman in the American Revolution. Spy, loyalist, and diplomat, and a clan matron, Brant straddled two worlds. But she kept her native heritage in her speech and dress throughout her entire life.

Map of Iroquois Nations in northeast U.S. shows where Molly lived as a spy loyalist and diplomat

R. A. Nonenmacher / Public domain

Early Life

Brant’s native name was Konwatsi’tsiaienni (also spelled Gonwatsijayenni) which means “someone lends her a flower.“ The daughter of a sachem (chief), she was probably born in Canajoharie, a barricaded long house village on the south bank of the Mohawk river, in about 1736. Her mother was Margaret Sahetagearat Onagsakearat. The man assumed to be her father was Peter Tehonwaghkwangeraghkwa. Both of them were Mohawks of the Wolf clan.

The Mohawks

The Mohawks were members of the Iroquois Confederacy (native name: Haudenosaunee Confederacy), a political union of six different Indian nations in the northeast. The Iroquois were a matrilineal society. They passed property and responsibility from mother to daughter. Iroquois women controlled land and wealth and had influence over policy issues. Learn more about the Mohawks.

A Surname

Peter died in the 1740s, leaving Margaret destitute. She had a brief second marriage to a War Chief who was killed in a raid. She married for the third time in September 1753. Most sources say she married Brant Kanagaradunka, a wealthy Mohawk sachem from the Turtle Clan. Molly’ and her brother used their stepfather’s name as their surname.


We know little about Molly’s childhood through her teens. Brought up as an Anglican, she was likely educated in an English mission school. She spoke and wrote English well. 

Love and Politics

As a teenager in 1754, Molly accompanied a delegation of Mohawk elders to Philadelphia. This was probably part of her training to become a clan matron. The elders discussed fraudulent land transactions. 

About this time, Molly met Sir William Johnson, hero of Crown Point in the French and Indian War and superintendent of Indian affairs for the northern colonies. Mohawks respected Johnson for his honest dealing with them and his mastery of their language. Johnson was a successful colonial trader and one of the richest men in the colonies.

Image of Sir William Johnson, Molly's common law husband. There are no known photos of Molly, Spy, Loyalist, and Diplomat
Sir William Johnson,
Internet Archive Book Images / No restrictions


Molly became Johnson’s common-law wife. Some records claim there is no record of a marriage. Others claim they were married in a traditional Mohawk ceremony. Molly was about 23 years old. Johnson was 44. Each of them gained something through their marriage. Molly’s prestige among both settlers and her own people grew. Soon she was a clan mother, responsible for the welfare of her clan. Eventually she became the leader of the group of clan mothers. 

Despite being a clan matron, spy, Loyalist, and diplomat and the wife of a prestigous war hero, there are no known photographs of Molly at any age. This may a reflection of the societal attitudes of that period. They saw her, a Native American, as inferior.

The couple had at least nine children. Eight of their children, two sons and six daughters, survived. Molly managed his household, which included a cook, a gardener, a secretary, and several slaves. She and Sir William entertained constantly. They entertained many distinguished Native American,  colonial guests, political, military, and businessmen.


Sir William died at the outbreak of hostilities in July 1774. Molly relinquished control of Johnson’s estate to his eldest son and heir from  his previous marriage. She, her children, and four slaves moved back to Canajoharie and her own people.

She lived near her mother and her brother Joseph and ran a store that sold supplies to the villagers. And she became a vital political link between the British and Iroquois Confederacy. Molly provided food and ammunition to the Loyalists and hid them in her house. 


The American Revolution brought an end to the thousand year old Iroquois Confederacy.

The Mohawks sided with King George III. Molly spied on rebel activities from her home in Canahoharie. In October 1777 she warned the British of the approach of an American force. The Patriots discovered she’d sent the Loyalists information about their troop movements. Twice they came in the night to search her home.

She and her children fled to Onondaga, the Iroquois capital. Her people had lost warriors and possessions. Many doubted the wisdom of fighting. Molly reminded them that the King deserved their loyalty because he had tried to protect their land.

Clan Matron

In late 1777, Colonel Butler of Fort Niagara needed Molly’s help. Thousands of homeless Iroquois had been arriving at the fort. Molly and her children moved to Niagara where she lobbied for their welfare and encouraged the Iroquois continue to support the King.

In 1778, the British built a house for her on Carleton Island. After that, they expected her to use her influence over the Mohawk warriors. She used the colonial administration to increase her own political power and to promote the interests of her people, and they used her as an instrument of political control. Throughout the war, she steadied the warriors, boost their morale, and strengthen their loyalty to the King.

The winter of 1779-1780 was one of the most severe on record. But the war raged on. Native, loyalists, and patriot settlements were attacked and burned.

Thousands more starving and ill Iroquois fled to Fort Niagara.

Broken Promises

After the war, the British reneged on their promise to address native grievances in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The British still saw Molly as an indispensable native leader. The Iroquois, who had lost their ancestral homeland, received Canadian land grants and financial compensation. But to her people, Molly was a pariah.

Carleton Island, Molly’s home, was now located on the American side of the new border.

A New Town

In 1783, Molly decided that the site of the old French fort at Cataraqui, near Kingston, Ontario, would be a good place for herself and the other Loyalists to settle.

The government built a large house for her. She also received 100 pounds per year and a supplement of twelve hundred pounds for her property losses in the war. She’d lost more than property in the war. Her eldest child, Peter, died in the fighting.

She and the other loyalists refugees founded the town of Kingston. Spy, Loyalist, and diplomat Molly lived there for the rest of her life. Five of Molly’s daughters married Canadians. Her surviving son, George, worked for the Indian department. She died in 1796 at the age of 60. They buried her in the burial ground of St. George’s Church. A plaque in her memory stands nearby; another is on an interior wall of St. George’s Cathedral.


Molly Brant was an extraordinary woman—a Mohawk clan matron, spy, Loyalist, and diplomat. She persuaded most of the Iroquois nations to fight for the King. Poised, persuasive, she was a strong woman. As an American, I had never heard of Molly Brant before. Had you? If you like stories of strong women, you’ll want to read my past posts commemorating women of history, another spy, and an extraordinary doctor who helped the blind see. And read about strong fictional women in my novel, My Soul to Keep.

Dr. Patricia Bath Helped the Blind to See

It’s March. That means it is Women’s History Month in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. For one month each year, we recognize and salute the contributions of extraordinary and ordinary women, so that someday, someday soon, history lessons everywhere will include these women’s contributions. Today, this blog salutes Dr. Patricia E. Bath the amazing woman who helped the blind to see.

Image of Dr. Patricia E Bath, the amazing woman who helped the blind to see
National Library of Medicine / Public domain

My love of humanity and passion for helping others inspired me to become a physician.

Dr. Patricia Bath

Early Life

Patricia Bath was born in Harlem on November 4, 1942.Her father, Rupert Bath, was a Trinidadian immigrant. Notably, he was the first black motorman to work for the New York City subway system. Her mother, Gladys, was a housewife and domestic worker. Gladys’s ancestry included African slaves and Cherokee Native Americans. Her parents worked hard to provide for their children. They instilled in her a love of travel, a desire to learn about new cultures, and a scientific curiosity.

Merit Award

Inspired by Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s service to lepers in the Congo and her family physician, she wanted to be a medical doctor. She excelled in school.

When she was sixteen, she applied for and received a National Science Foundation Scholarship. With the scholarship, she did a research project at Yeshiva University and Harlem Hospital Center. She studied connections between cancer, nutrition, and stress. Her discoveries during the program impressed Dr. Robert Bernard, the program head. He published her findings in a scientific paper. In 1960, she earned Mademoiselle magazine’s Merit Award for her discoveries.


She attended Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Then she served an internship at Harlem Hospital from 1968 to 1969. From 1969 to 1970, she completed a fellowship in ophthalmology at Columbia University. Dr. Bath completed her training at New York University between 1970 and 1973, where she was the first African American resident in ophthalmology.

During this time, she got married and had a daughter. While concentrating on motherhood, she also completed a fellowship in corneal transplantation and keratoprosthesis (replacing the human cornea with an artificial one).

Community Ophthalmology

image of a blue eye

Working at both Columbia University and Harlem, she observed that there were twice as many patients at Harlem Hospital who suffer blindness or visual impairment than at Columbia. She did a retrospective epidemiological study, which documented that blindness among blacks was double that among whites. She concluded that this was because of the lack of access to ophthalmic care. Dr. Bath proposed a new discipline called Community Ophthalmology. 

“Community ophthalmology combines aspects of public health, community medicine, and clinical ophthalmology to offer primary care to under-served populations. Volunteers trained as eye workers visit senior centers and daycare programs to test vision and screen for cataracts, glaucoma, and other threatening eye conditions. This outreach has saved the sight of thousands whose problems would otherwise have gone undiagnosed and untreated.”
old woman with her eyes closed

Harlem Hospital’s Eye Clinic did not perform eye surgery in 1968. She persuaded her professors at Columbia to operate on blind patients for free. She volunteered as an assistant surgeon. Thanks to Dr. Bath, they performed the first major eye operation at Harlem Hospital in 1970.

Believe in the power of truth… Do not allow your mind to be imprisoned by majority thinking. Remember that the limits of science are not the limits of imagination. 

Dr. Patricia E. Bath

Many Firsts 

In 1973, Bath became the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology.

In 1974 Bath became the first African American woman surgeon at UCLA Medical Center. And Charles R. Drew University appointed her an assistant professor of surgery. The next year she became the first woman faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. 

They offered her an office “in the basement next to the lab animals.” She refused the spot. “I didn’t say it was racist or sexist. I said it was inappropriate and succeeded in getting acceptable office space. I decided I was just going to do my work.” 

In 1983 she developed and chaired an ophthalmology residency training program. From 1983 to 1986, she was the first woman chair and first female program director of a postgraduate training program in the United States.

Taking it Abroad

After many incidents of racism and sexism at both UCLA and Drew, Dr Bath took her research abroad to Europe. Laser Medical Center of Berlin, West Germany, the Rothschild Eye Institute of Paris, France, and the Loughborough Institute of Technology, England accepted her work based on its merits.


In 1977, she and three other colleagues founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. AiPB’s mission is to protect, preserve, and restore the gift of sight. The organization’s guiding principle is that eyesight is a basic human right and that primary eye care must be available to all people everywhere regardless of their economic status.


In 1981, Dr. Bath had an idea for a new device and method to remove cataracts. It took nearly five years for her to complete the research, testing, and apply for a patent. The first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical invention, she received her first patent for her invention on May 17, 1988.

The laserphaco probe (1986) is use worldwide today. With this device, Dr. Bath performed surgery that recovered the sight of several individuals who had been blind for over 30 years.

Dr. Bath received five patents. She had two on her laserphaco probe. The others were: Video & sound quality isn’t great

Dr Patricia Bath retired from the UCLA Medical Center in 1993. She died May 30, 2019.

A Remarkable Life

From a young girl growing up in Harlem, she dealt with relative poverty, sexism, racism, and a lack of role models. She didn’t know of any women physicians. Surgery was a male-dominated profession. Many medical schools and medical societies excluded all blacks. Yet, she persevered.

They inducted her into the International Women in Medicine Hall of Fame in 2001.

An Amazing Woman

Driven to help people, Dr. Patricia Bath accomplished many more things than I could cover in this brief article. See Wikipedia or   An activist, a humanitarian, an inventor, a surgeon, she spent her life applying the principle that eyesight is a basic human right.

If you are interested in strong, extraordinary and ordinary women, check out these blog posts: 30 Amazing Women You Never Heard Of and Hoofing it for the Love of Books.

Dr. Patricia Bath was an amazing woman who helped the blind to see. Both literally and by her invention. Did you know about Dr. Bath before you read this article? Is there a woman you’d suggest I include in my exploration of extraordinary and ordinary women’s contributions to the world?

The Mad Mothers Refuse to be Silent

In 1977, fourteen mothers held a peaceful protest. The military junta called them las locas, the mad women. But they couldn’t be silent. It cost some of the women their lives. The mad mothers refuse to be silent to this day. 

Image of Plaza de Mayo's brick walkway with a white scarf painted on the bricks. The Mad Women Refused to be Silent wore white scarves.
Images of white scarves are painted on the Plaza de Mayo’s walkways
Artico2 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (] walk of scarves

The Dirty War

From 1976 to 1983, Argentina experienced the Dirty War. The military government abducted, tortured, and killed any one they identified as subversive. Anyone thought to be Peronists or part of the Montoneros movement “disappeared.” The United States supplied financial and military support for the Dirty War.  (more information)


 The junta imprisoned many people they identified as subversive.  Young people, less than 35 years of age to as young as high school students, disappeared. Disappeared meant kidnapped, tortured, and killed. Pregnant prisoners had their babies stolen and adopted. The military obliterated all records.

Mothers didn’t know if their adult or high school children were dead or alive. They didn’t know they had grandchildren.

The Mothers

In 1977, fourteen mothers, or Madres, met to protest the disappearances. 

People were scared,” recalls Haydée Gastelú, now 88. “If I talked about my kidnapped son at the hairdresser or supermarket they would run away. Even listening was dangerous.”

“But I couldn’t keep quiet. We needed everyone to know, even if nobody believed us. That’s probably why they called us the Mad Mothers at first…”

Haydée Gastelú, one of the original fourteen Madres, from The Guardian

Each Thursday, they met at the Plaza de Mayo, in Buenos Aires. The Plaza sits in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace. Defying the dictator’s law against mass assembly, they walked in pairs and chanted. They chanted about wanting their children back, wanting to know where their children were, and wanting to see their children. 

The Steep Cost 

Three of the early founders: Azucena Villaflor De Vincenti, Esther Careaga, and María Eugenia Bianco, “disappeared.” Seven other helpers and two French nuns who supported the movement also disappeared. 

Still, more adult children disappeared and more mothers joined the movement. Some of the demonstrators carried pictures of their missing children. Later they wore white scarves with their children’s names and date of birth embroidered on them. The scarves, according to different sources, symbolized either the white dove of peace, which “can unite all women” or the diapers of their children. They became known as Madres de Plaza de Mayo.

1985 March
By Archivo Hasenberg-Quaretti – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Becoming aware of all the terrible things the young people were enduring made us see the ferociousness of the enemy clearly. The ferocity of the enemy gives us the strength to face him. I mean, how are you going to allow him to go on?”

Hebe Mascia from Women in World

Government Reaction

Police harassed the marchers, the las locas. But the Madres were a powerful symbol. They drew international attention. Human Rights groups arrived to help them. They helped the mothers organize, opened offices, and publish speeches. 

The attention made it more and more difficult for the government to ignore them.

So in 1983, the military government attempted to regain popularity by occupying the Falkland Islands. But they lost to Britain. And Britain forced them to step aside and to hold free elections. 

1982 Image of the Plaza de May in Buenos Aires filled with women, the Mad Women Who Refuse to be silent.
1982 By Archivo Hasenberg-Quaretti – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Democracy Restored

Raúl Alfonsin was elected President of Argentina in late 1983. He organized the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons. The Commission reported about 11,000 unresolved disappearances in Argentina. The military leaders confessed to 9,000. The mothers estimate the number of disappeared to be 30,000.


The new government prosecuted nearly 300 people for crimes committed during the Dirty War. Many of the leading officers received sentences. The Argentinian armed forces grew concerned at the number of prosecutions. They threatened another coup if the trials continued.

In 1986, the Full Stop Law ended prosecutions. It said that the military personnel involved in torture were doing their jobs. 

The Madres held silent vigils protesting the immunity given to former military leaders. 

In 2003, the Argentinian Congress repealed the Stop Law. Prosecutions for crimes against humanity restarted. Most members of the junta received prison time.

One of the things that I simply will not do now is shut up. The women of my generation in Latin America have been taught that the man is always in charge and the woman is silent even in the face of injustice…Now I know that we have to speak out about the injustices publicly. If not, we are accomplices. I am going to denounce them publicly without fear. This is what I learned.”

María del Rosario de Cerruti from Women in World

Mass Graves 

Searchers found mass graves and exhumed human remains. Beginning in 1984, DNA testing identified many of the remains.

In 2005, they found another unmarked grave. Among the bodies, they identified the remains of  Azucena Villaflor, Esther Careaga and María Eugenia Bianco. They buried Azucena’s ashes in the Plaza de Mayo.

The Mothers Today

In 1986, the Mothers split into two factions. The Mothers of the Plaza De Mayo-Founding Line focused on legislation, the recovery of the remains of their children, and bringing ex-officials to justice. And the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association continued their children’s political work. The same agenda that led to the disappearance of their children.

In 2006, members of the Founding Line said they had their final annual March of Resistance. Final because the enemy wasn’t in the Government House any longer.

Today, the Mothers continue their struggle. They advocate for political, civil, and human rights in South America and around the world. Every Thursday they still meet and march around the Plaza. They march for other causes now. Some of them now need wheelchairs.

The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo – aware that their watch is drawing to a close – are deeply concerned by efforts to whitewash history – in Argentina and around the world. 

The Guardian

Among us there are mothers who escaped from the Nazi Holocaust, only to lose their Argentinian-born children to another dictatorship – so we know for a fact that these tragedies can repeat themselves.”

Haydée Gastelú, one of the original fourteen Madres, from The Guardian


The Plaza de Mayo appeared in my novel, My Soul to Keep. Do you remember which character(s) sat in the Plaza? 

This is the final post on women who strove for nonviolence and peace. If you missed the previous posts you may wish to read: “Nonviolent, She Made a Difference,” “The First Female Nobel Peace Prize Winner,” and “With Words, She made a Difference.”

Did reading about these Madres inspire you? If you’d been in Buenos Aires in 1977, would have joined the Mad Mothers? The Mad Mothers Refuse to be silent even today. What do you think of their nonviolent resistance?