We could have filled volumes with stories about Maine women who inspire, but we are limited to choosing just a handful for this issue. We received dozens of suggestions—you can see many of them listed on page 27—and we set about the task of narrowing down that extraordinary list of women to a handful we found to be incredibly inspirational and dedicate their life’s work to doing great things for the benefit of women, children and the world we all share. As you read their stories, please know that there are dozens more who have equally compelling stories to tell.
We couldn’t have timed the theme of this issue better in that, just a few weeks ago, millions of women from Maine, the U.S. and from around the world joined together in raising their voices because they felt the common thread of inspiration to do so. It is, to be sure, a very interesting time for women. You can learn more about the Women’s March of Jan 21, at www.womensmarch.com. We were lucky to have some of our own Maine Women Magazine team present in Washington, D.C., Boston, Portland and Augusta. We have included photos in this issue and online at www.mainewomenmagazine.com.
The timing may have been coincidental, but the messages about protecting women’s rights, safety, health, family and equality are the same that you will find being written about in this issue of Maine Women Magazine. For example, you will meet Judy Kahrl, an 82-year-old Maine woman who is the founder of Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights. Like many of the women who marched in January, Kahrl’s inspiration was born in anger and fueled by the passion to fight to keep the rights that women have earned and to continue to facilitate change for the better for women’s reproductive rights. Read more on page 18.
In reading the piece on Karen Heck, co-founder of Hardy Girls Healthy Women, I was struck by the sentiment that suddenly women’s rights have drifted from the fringe back into the mainstream and are on everyone’s minds, most every day. Women are feeling threatened and afraid and nervous, yes—but from that, I see women stepping up and gaining power. Heck believes that our “culture doesn’t want to support women’s power because it wants women to be helpmates, rather than equals.” I’ve been thinking about this recently as the news broke about the death of Mary Tyler Moore. Thirty years ago, Moore was a pioneer in bringing the issue of women’s equality to the small screen. Thirty years later we are still talking about the same things.
A woman needs to be empowered to take leadership, says Claudette Ndayininahaze, who is leading change by teaching English to immigrant women who are new to Portland, to help those women become part of the community, grow and be leaders in it. Read her story on page 24.
I have found much inspiration reading this issue of Maine Women Magazine, and I hope you will too. I also draw inspiration every day from the many women I work with or have relationships with. I am inspired by a woman I know who recently donated a kidney to her cousin while at the same time supporting her daughter’s journey to become a cancer survivor. I am inspired by the discipline of a friend who is working to change bad habits. I am inspired by smaller and more random acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that mostly go unnoticed in our day-to-day lives—a thank you or a quick text to let someone know they are thought of. I am inspired in ways that make me want to be better and make me hope that I can, in those same small ways, be an inspiration to someone else. Take some time to notice and think about what inspires you!