5 Historical Mothers Who Started a Movement
Updated: Apr 27
What does a homemaker, a Prime Minister, a runaway slave, a trash collector and a social worker have in common? Aside from spearheading a historical movement in their own right--they were also mothers. How did they manage motherhood and change the world? Read on to find out!
Irena Sendler Irena was a Polish employee at the Warsaw Social Welfare department who smuggled around 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. Risking her own life, she gave these children false non-Jewish identification documents so they could be placed in safe orphanages, convents and Christian homes. Irena never divulged the children's whereabouts though she was tortured and sentenced to execution by the Nazis (she only survived because the Gestapo was bribed.) Irena had three children of her own and was awarded Poland's Order of the White Eagle in 2003. For further reading: Click Here.
Sojourner Truth Sojourner was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York in 1797. She escaped to freedom with her infant daughter in 1862 but had to leave four children behind. Truth later discovered that one of her children, Peter, had been illegally sold into slavery. Truth raised money for a lawyer, filed a complaint in court, and successfully got Peter out of slavery—a landmark case in which a black woman successfully sued a white man in court. She later became a Christian preacher in New York City as well as a renowned abolitionist and women's rights activist. For further reading: Click Here.
Lou Xiaoying Lou was an impoverished woman in the Eastern Zhejiang province where she managed to make a living by collecting and recycling trash. The chaos of the Cultural Revolution (and later China’s one-child policy), and extreme poverty, especially in rural areas, meant that some parents abandoned their unwanted babies in the garbage. During the course of her life, she managed to rescue some 30 infants in the streets of Jinhua with her husband. "I realized if we had strength enough to collect garbage how could we not recycle something as important as human lives," she later explained. For further reading: Click Here.
Indira Gandhi Indira is best known for being India's first female Prime Minister. She worked to institute democracy and created jobs to combat food shortages. She also led the way for India's green revolution, which made the country self-sufficient and no longer reliant on imported grains. Indira entrusted the sense of responsibility and leadership to her own sons, who both grew up to become politicians in their own right. When she was assassinated by her own guards in 1984 (allegedly in revenge for Operation Blue Star,) her son Rajiv took over as Prime Minister. For further reading: Click Here.
Ann Jarvis Last but not the least, we have to honor the woman who inspired the movement that eventually made Mother's Day into a National Holiday. After losing most of her babies to diseases, (only 4 out of 13 survived to adulthood) Ann wanted to help other struggling mothers. She organized Mother's Day Work Clubs in what is now West Virginia to help provide medical care, raise money for medicines, and improve sanitary conditions for poor mothers. President Woodrow Wilson eventually made Mother's Day a national holiday in 1914 and is celebrated on the second Sunday of May every year. For further reading: Click Here.