When Nwabisa Makunga saw a female reporter on television at age 11, she just knew. She wanted to tell stories for a living. Today, Ms. Makunga, editor of one of South Africa’s most-read newspapers, hoped to provide the same inspiration for Ava, an 11-year-old Monitor reader. “I would tell her, her voice matters.”
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of women’s right to vote in the United States, the Monitor held an online video conversation attended by hundreds of readers Tuesday. Ava and her grandmother were listening as Noelle Swan, the Monitor’s deputy Daily editor, hosted Ms. Makunga, University of Colorado Boulder professor Celeste Montoya, and centenarian activist Jane Curtis in a talk about what progress has been made in women’s rights and what lies ahead.
The conversation ranged from the campaign to root out violence against women in South Africa to the importance of sailing to Ms. Curtis’ conviction she could navigate her own life. In a time of political and social turmoil, each panelist saw in the anniversary of the 19th Amendment a sign of hope. “Social movements are inherently hopeful because you have to believe a better future is possible to take a risk,” said Dr. Montoya.
Ms. Curtis’ life has been evidence of that fight and that progress. Paraphrasing Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos, she added: “‘They thought that they had buried us, but we were seeds.’ We are seeds, and by golly, we’re going to sprout.”
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