Its my Sunday where I can be both prayerful and useful.
I often read both the articles and the comment sections to the articles. At times, I find the comments to be useful and a lot of new information to be gleaned from. Other times, I find majority of the readers disagree from my point of views which can be equally interesting to me.
Let me introduce to you, Mary Edward Walker, if you have not heard of her.
No, shes not a famous scientist, a famous movie actor or singer – she’s just a woman at work. But an extraordinary one.
Who and why Mary Walker?
Born 1832 in Oswego (is that a wordplay of As we go?).
Youngest of seven children. Her parents were determined their one son and six daughters were given equal opportunities. Dissatisfied with the standard approach in schools, they founded their own local school to ensure girls would receive the same education as boys.
I believe whoever her parents were, they had been very instrumental to the life that she had led.
When the [American] Civil War began, Mary volunteered to join the Union Army. Despite her qualifications, she was employed as a nurse as the army did not recognize women as surgeons. As the war progressed, she was able to use her skills and did work as a surgeon but only by doing so as a volunteer. She was on the front lines at some of the most famous Battles including the First Bull Run, Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Chickamauga.
On April 10, 1864, while assisting a surgeon from the Confederate Army who was carrying out an amputation she was captured and imprisoned. The Confederates thought she must be a spy. Mary remained a prisoner in the South for several months before being released as part of a prisoner exchange. She was able to return to her role with the 52nd Ohio.
In 1865 Mary Edwards Walker received the Medal of Honor in recognition of her services.
In 1917 Congress revised the criteria for the Medal of Honor to include only those involved in active combat. This decision resulted in 910 recipients including Mary being asked to hand back their medals. Mary refused and continued to wear it until her death two years later at the age of 86.
In 1977 the decision was reversed. Mary Edwards Walker’s medal was posthumously reinstated meaning that today she remains the only woman to have received this honor.
Part of her life stories can be found here:
The Only Woman Ever To Receive The Medal Of Honor
Now there are some small comments that rightly point out Medal of Honor should go combatants rather than non-combatants, I would bet that even if Mary Walker was offered in exchange for her Medal of Honor with the Presidential Medal of Freedom or the Congressional Gold Medal—the highest civilian award of the United States (if it existed then) – she would flatly rejected it.
A person of her character, would not be wearing a medal (or a trinket to some) for her own sake but for those who were at war with her at that time. Some of these boys who would survive in her hands as a surgeon. Whether she was assisting the enemy surgeon in amputation of a Union or a Confederate soldier was not stated but given that the North won the war, therefore she get the medal and the other surgeon – its open for discussion what would be his just receiving end.
As battle line changes, gender equality at workplace had not changed by much. There were many attempts to have at least 30% to 50% women representing the community at key positions be it in Parliament or in a multi-national corporation.
Many reasons for women not to be elevated in their careers were often provided. More important one would be, women are not up to task to lead in working environment and should remain in support of the men. If ever women are in power, they should receive non-full pay as the men- due to their once a month and maternity leaves.
Like the men, there were of course instances where women in power were very much highlighted and there were the great scandals such as the recent removal of the South Korean woman President Park Geun-hye. Park’s father, dictator Park Chung-hee, was a President.
We cannot constantly talk about meritocracy, gender equal society, open culture and multicultural values if the decision-makers do not practice what they preach.
There are no Parliaments in the world with 50% women. Even so, we have to be careful in choosing are the 50% women chosen qualified for the tasks at hand or they were selected just to fulfill the 50% quota.
These battles – should be fought by the good women themselves – just like Mary Edwards Walker – if they want to be recognised by their common peers. Of course, preferably without so much of poisons, guns and bullets.
I think I might just read up Jane Austen’s books one day when I have the time and pleasure to do so. Heard she’s quite a character as well.
Have a good Sunday.