Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Shins of an Elephant

"A woman politician has to have the shins of an elephant." 
~Wangari Maathi, Unbowed: A Memoir, p. 254.

I read Wangari Maathi's autobiography a few years ago and kept it because it was such a nourishing read. Women's biographies encourage me because they show how others do "it".   For Kenyan born and raised Wangari, "it" means at least, getting her Bachelors in Science from St. Benedictine's College in Atchison, Kansas, Masters in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh, and PhD in Anatomy at the University of Nairobi.  (Photographer: John McConnico)

"It" also means passionately pursuing her convictions of addressing environmental and women's rights issues even in the face of desertion, jailing and beatings because of her efforts.  She founded the Green Belt Movement to address deforestation, soil erosion and insufficient water.  Tree planting and watering provide income and respect for women while nursery minding and protection provide jobs and self-esteem for men.  

As now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was running for the Democratic Nomination in the Primaries, Wangari's words came to mind and are no less useful for Governor Sarah Palin or even to myself....

...have "the shins of an elephant."

(Photographer: Richard Phibbs)


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