2018 Women's History Month Project: a 4-part series by Womankind staff honoring a Resilient Woman in their life.
Fumiko Nakano, like my other grandmother, was an atomic bomb survivor. She was less than 2km from ground zero in her home city of Hiroshima, wading through dead bodies and ashes in the aftermath. Despite this, she never expressed anger or bitterness and only let gentle, steady love guide her life. I stand today on the legacy of unwavering support and encouragement she gave to the three women in her life: my mom, my aunt, and me. This photo is from the one and only time she ever accompanied me on my annual trip to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
-Contribution from Aya Tasaki, Manager, Policy and Advocacy
She said, "Let her define herself and be the woman she wants to be. No man will ever do that for her. Not even in several lifetimes." My Nanu (maternal grandmother in Bangla) has a way with words, especially when she gets passionate and is tired of listening to the ways women still have to maneuver systems and useless patriarchal traditions. She gave birth to warriors after all. She inspires emotions within me that find roots in my ancestral graves in Bangladesh. When she feeds me small handfuls of rice, daal and fish, I feel closer to the earth where she calls home. A Freedom Fighter of Bangladesh, a survivor of war and gender-based violence, and my number one supporter, my Nanu.
-Contribution from Navila Rashid, Manager, Community Education & Outreach
When I think of “resilience,” what comes to mind is the strength of this woman who is my protector. A woman who, since childhood, navigated around a physical condition that made her unique. A woman who experienced a life of serving and servitude—from childhood to marriage to motherhood. This woman is resilient through her words and actions: building up girls, now women, to own the space they take up, to fight and speak out against injustices, and to always offer a helping hand to elevate the larger community. I’ve learned from her to fight for my voice, to speak my peace, to offer space for others who aren’t able to speak, and to always imagine a world that can be better and do better.
-Contribution from Alena Victor, Director, Residential Programs
As a young girl, Dr. PengPeng Pam Tang experienced the red tornado of China’s Cultural Revolution. Along with hundreds of thousands of middle school and high school students, she was sent away to the rural countryside for “re-education,” where she plowed fields and picked cotton from before dawn until after dusk. Under these conditions, she continued to strive for a better life by teaching herself using textbooks she snuck to the countryside. When the school reopened, she became a university student at the age of 19 despite having no formal schooling for the 6 years prior. Her hardships didn’t end there. In America, she used her education (a PhD in physical chemistry) and willpower to overcome discrimination in the workplace to rise to leadership roles such as Senior Scientist and Project Director in the pharmaceutical industry. Now retired, she writes novels and poems under the pen name Fan Cao and sings in a local Chinese choir.
-Contribution from Crystal Tang, STAR Children & Youth Advocate