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March 2021

Women and physical & mental abilities

Dickinson is widely considered to be one of the two leading 19th-century American poets. She freely ignored the usual rules of versification and even of grammar, and in the intellectual content of her work she likewise proved exceptionally bold and original. Her verse is distinguished by its epigrammatic compression, haunting personal voice, enigmatic brilliance, and lack of high polish. Although Autism has first been described in 1933, a large group of academics and medical professionals believe Dickinson showed plenty of signs of being autistic: she wrote poems that were extremely unconventional for her time period, she was reclusive, she got along best with children, she wore white clothing almost exclusively, and had a fascination with scented flowers, among other things. It is being believed that that was the cause of her epilepsy.
While her colleagues were doing molecular biology, McClintock bred one generation of corn plants after another to study their variations. While almost everyone else believed that genes were fixed in the genome, McClintock's experiments proved that jumping genes also exist and that genetic material is influenced by the environment. The implications of her discoveries are enormous: transposons are responsible, among other things, for the antibiotic resistance of bacteria; even evolution can be traced back to them.
She had an extreme fixation on her work and was very particular about what she would and would not wear. Notably reclusive and one who went to great lengths to avoid any attention of limelight, McClintock nearly didn’t accept the 1983 Nobel Prize in Medicine that she was awarded for her excellent and groundbreaking work.
Anna Schaffelhuber has won seven Paralympic gold medals, eleven World Championships, six general and 67 individual World Cup victories. She has been named Para Athlete of the Year five times and also Para Athlete of the decade in 2021. Schaffelhuber was born with incomplete paraplegia and is dependent on a wheelchair. Like many others, she is calling for equality for people with disabilities in sports promotion. The Corona pandemic hits athletes with disabilities particularly hard. In alpine skiing, they have to cope with more restrictions anyway, because by no means all ski resorts are accessible. And then there are the Corona-related measures, which require more help which is complicated with regard to the distance rules.

International Day of Action against Racism

The international day against racism took place on March 21.
The prohibition of discrimination on the basis of alleged racial ascriptions (Art. 3 GG) has been enshrined in the German Constitution since 1949. However, discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin is still part of everyday life for sections of the population.
One example: Roma have been the largest minority in Europe since they fled war and persecution from India, or what is now Pakistan, in about 1400. In Eastern Europe, they still belong to the poorest parts of the population, and up to 500,000 Roma were killed in the Holocaust. A demographically representative study from 2020 shows that every second person in Germany believes in the prejudice that Roma are prone to criminality. One-third say Roma should be banned from inner cities.
Who are Roma actually? How did the prejudice against them come about and what is being done to combat this discrimination? Answers to these questions you can find on the webpages of the Deutsche Welle, the RomArchive (Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma e.V.) and the Federal Agency of Civic Education. On their page you can also find a helpful overview over (anti-)racism in general.

Women in religion

The three world religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism have one thing in common: they discriminate against women. Many believers, however, do not want to accept this and are committed to a reformation of their congregations and churches, free access to church offices regardless of gender, and an end to prejudice against women in religion.

"Mary 2.0," the movement within the Catholic Church, still has the longest way to go: Catholic women are not allowed to hold sacred offices until today. You can find the group's additional demands here, and a report on the movement here.

Seyran Ateş is Germany's first female imam and advocates for an end to gender discrimination both within and outside of religion. Her stance on Islam is constantly the subject of controversy, with conservative Muslims in particular criticizing her for her radical theses. More information can be found on her website and in this article.

Elisabeth Haseloff was not only the first German female Protestant pastor, from 1959 she led the Protestant Women's Ministry in Lübeck and in 1970 the synod of the North Elbian Church elected her as vice president. Together with other women theologians, she edited the magazine "Die Theologin" and the newsletter of the Convention of Protestant Women Theologians in Germany. More information about her work in the Protestant Church can be found here, and you can learn more about the impact of her work by following this link.

Regina Jonas was able to hold her office as a rabbi for just seven years, two of them in the concentration camp in Terezín. Perhaps this is why she was nearly forgotten in Jewish history: in 1972, another woman was ordained as rabbi in Cincinnati, supposedly as the first in the world. It was not until the fall of the Berlin Wall that the General Archives of German Jews was able to access documents relating to the legacy of Regina Jonas. More information about her life and work can be found here, here and here.

International Women's Day

International Women's Day originated in Copenhagen in 1910, introduced by Clara Zetkin as "International Women's Struggle Day" for equality, peace, democracy and socialism. As a german, socialist and feminist, her goal was to create unity in solidarity and at the same time an awareness of the different needs of all women worldwide. Feminism, after all, can only be approached intersectionally: Sexism varies greatly depending on whether women conform to what is commonly considered "normal" in other dimensions.
Therefore, in the next few weeks, we want to introduce you to women who are affected by exactly this intersectionality and who have accomplished exceptional achievements despite these discriminatory experiences.

You can find out more about the International Women's Day and Clara Zetkin on the websites of the Federal Agency for Civic Education.

Digital moral courage

What exactly is hate speech and how can we all combat it? The Landeszentrale für politische Bildung (LzpB) NRW has compiled a lot of information, courses of action and good-practice examples. We would like to highlight the campaigns of Kleiner Fünf e.V. for "Radical Politeness" and the No Hate Speech Movement initiated by the Council of Europe. On the linked websites of both campaigns you can find advice on how to deal with hate speech, information about right-wing populist conversation patterns, and GIFs, memes, and statements to counter hate speech.

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