Visible Women

From politics to Shakespeare: the women making waves this week

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Moya Crockett
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Dropping every Friday, Women Making Waves is a series highlighting the women who rocked the boat, pushed for change and made history around the world this week.  

Woman plays Shakespeare at Globe for first time

This week, actor Charity Wakefield became the first woman to play William Shakespeare in a production at his namesake theatre in London.

Wakefield is currently playing The Bard in an all-female production of Emilia, a new play by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, at Shakespeare’s Globe. The play tells the story of Emilia Bassano, England’s first female published poet, who is thought to have inspired almost 30 of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Many scholars believe that Shakespeare was in love with Bassano, and that she is the “Dark Lady” who appears in his sonnet sequence of the same name. Emilia is also the women’s name that appears most often in his plays.

“I’ve been coming into rehearsals wearing trousers and T-shirts and no make-up,” Wakefield told the Evening Standard. “I don’t have to display my femininity, I don’t need to display it. Getting into the character and confidence of a man makes you think, why do I actually do that? Why do I want to wear heels?”

Women political candidates in the US make history

Christine Hallquist, Vermont’s new Democratic gubernatorial candidate

There were celebrations in the US this week, as Democrats elected a transgender woman and a Muslim woman as candidates in the midterm primary elections.

On Tuesday (14 August), Democrats in Vermont elected Christine Hallquist as their candidate for the state governorship. A former energy executive, Hallquist could now become the first transgender state governor in US history if she wins at the midterm elections in November.

“I think Vermont is a beacon of hope for the rest of the country,” said Hallquist after her victory. “This is what I call expanding our moral compass and that is what I think it represents.”

In Minnesota, state lawmaker and Somali-American former refugee Ilhan Omar won her district’s primary election on Tuesday – and is now expected to be elected to Congress at the midterms. Omar follows in the footsteps of Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib, who won a primary election in Detroit last week and will face no Republican challengers at the elections in November. Together, Omar and Tlaib are poised to be the first Muslim women ever to reach Congress.

Writing on Twitter, Omar told Tlaib: “I can’t wait to walk onto the floor of United States Congress hand in hand with you. So incredibly proud of you.”

Annie Segarra raises awareness of the diversity of disability

On Sunday (12 August), YouTuber and disabled activist Annie Segarra started a widely-shared hashtag challenging the idea that all wheelchair users are confined to a wheelchair at all times.

In a thread on Twitter, Segarra responded to Fox News article that praised a young boy for getting out of his wheelchair to stand for the US national anthem. The story presented 10-year-old Avery Prince as being so determined “to show his patriotism” that he overcame his disability – but, as Segarra noted, plenty of wheelchair users are able to stand or walk for periods of time with the help of other mobility aids.

“Some wheelchair users can walk,” wrote Segarra. “I need my wheelchair for anything longer than a minute or so, my ability to walk is on a timer with/without my cane.”

In another tweet, she encouraged her followers to use the hashtag #AmbulatoryWheelchairUsersExist to “post their stories, photos & videos to show that there are so many diverse disabilities that require the use of a wheelchair/powerchair, and that ability to move, walk, dance, run, etc does not negate physical disability.”

As Segarra’s tweets highlight, it’s important to be aware that disability takes many forms - not all of which conform to stereotypical ideas of what a disabled person ‘looks like’.

Women Making Waves is part of Stylist’s Visible Women campaign to raise awareness of women who’ve made a difference. See more Visible Women stories here.  

Images: Getty Images