Search Results for: Women / Women’s Rights

Since our founding in 1831, we have worked tirelessly around the world to advocate for equal opportunities, to speak out against domestic violence and human trafficking, and to address the impact of poverty on women and girls.

90-Year-old Nun ‘Roars’ for Women and Girls

September 24, 2020



By Sister Mary Reilly, as told to Catherine Walsh, Communications Specialist

Sister Mary with one of the girls from Sophia Academy.
The ease between a student and a sister in this photo makes it one of Sister Mary’s favorites. After attending Sophia Academy, the student won a scholarship to St. Mary Academy – Bay View High School. She is now a college sophomore. (Sophia Academy photo)

I am a 90-year-old nun who has spent my life working to empower women and girls, especially those who are poor. The song for my burial will be “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy. Its’ opening line—”I am woman, hear me roar!”—inspires me. For as the song also says, “It’s wisdom born of pain.”

Over my 72 years as a Sister of Mercy, I have been transformed into a feminist. I was one of nine children raised by Irish-born parents in South Providence, Rhode Island. We didn’t have much, but nothing prepared me for the poverty I saw in Central America in the 1960s.

Serving as a teacher and principal for six years in Honduras and Belize developed in me a feminist consciousness. I saw women stand up to abusive husbands in a macho culture. I saw Indigenous girls become more confident as they learned about their bodies; they grew in appreciation for themselves right before your eyes.

When I came back to South Providence and began working at St. Michael’s Parish in 1970, I was shocked by the poverty of the teenage mothers who wanted their babies baptized. I visited them in their homes. Some of these young moms couldn’t read past grade 2. I was angry that a country as rich as ours had created an underclass of people whom no one cared about.

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Monja de 90 años «ruge» en favor de las mujeres y niñas

September 24, 2020



Por la Hermana Mary Reilly, como se lo contó a Catherine Walsh, especialista en comunicaciones

La natural camaradería entre una estudiante y la Hermana Mary hacen de esta fotografía una de las preferidas de Saint Mary. Luego de asistir a Sophia Academy, esta estudiante logró una beca para Saint Mary Academy – Bay View High School. En la actualidad cursa el segundo año de universidad. (Foto de Sophia Academy)

Soy una monja de noventa años que he dedicado mi vida trabajando para empoderar mujeres y niñas, especialmente aquellas que viven en la pobreza. La canción que quiero para mi funeral es «I Am a Woman» (Soy una mujer) de Helen Reddy. Me inspira su primera línea, «I am a woman, hear me roar!» (Soy una mujer, ¡escuchen mi rugido!). La canción dice también «It’s wisdom born of pain», (es la sabiduría nacida del dolor).

Durante mis 72 años como Hermana de la Misericordia me he transformado en feminista. Formé parte de una familia de nueve hijos criada por una pareja de padres irlandeses en South Providence, Rhode Island. No tuvimos mucho, pero nada de eso me preparó para la pobreza que vi en Centroamérica en los años sesenta.

Seis años de servicio como profesora y directora de escuela en Honduras y Belice desarrollaron en mí la conciencia feminista. Vi mujeres enfrentarse a sus abusivos maridos en medio de una cultura machista. Vi niñas indígenas adquirir confianza a medida que aprendían sobre sus propios cuerpos. Se reconocían cada vez más a sí mismas justo al frente de tus ojos.

Cuando regresé a South Providence en 1970 y empecé a trabajar en la Parroquia de St. Michael, me impresionó mucho la pobreza de las madres adolescentes que buscaban bautizar a sus hijos. Las visitaba en sus hogares. Muchas de estas jóvenes madres no llegaban al segundo grado de lectura. Me enfurecía que un país tan opulento como el nuestro hubiera creado una clase baja con personas a las que nadie les prestaba atención.

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Celebrating the 19th Amendment, by Voting

August 17, 2020

By Sister Pat McCann

An image of an old banner about women voting.

On August 18, 1920, the United States Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, recognizing women’s right to vote. That victory did not come easily. It required hard work on the part of many women’s rights advocates and the men who supported them, and it narrowly squeaked through the final vote.

My dad was born in the United States in 1900, but he grew up with stories from grandparents and great grandparents about the days of penal laws in Ireland. Catholics, male or female, had no vote and were restricted from participation in society. They could not attend university, own property or practice their faith publicly. That heritage left him with two strong convictions: as free people, you go to church and you vote. He passed on those principles as moral imperatives to his three daughters from our earliest days.

In my youth, the age of eligibility for voting was 21. The first time I was able to exercise my right to vote was 1960. I was in Mercy novitiate by then, and eager to vote. The Democratic candidate was John F. Kennedy. Daddy’s dream was fulfilled that year—we could cast a ballot for an Irish-American Catholic as president of the United States! I’ve voted in every election since 1960.

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Celebrando la 19ª Enmienda con tu voto

August 17, 2020

Por la Hermana Pat McCann

An image of an old banner about women voting.

El 18 de agosto de 1920, el Congreso de los Estados Unidos ratificó la 19ª Enmienda de la Constitución, reconociendo el derecho de la mujer al voto. Esa victoria no fue fácil. Exigió un duro trabajo por parte de muchos defensores de los derechos de la mujer y de los hombres que los apoyaban, y se aprobó por poco en la votación final. 

Mi padre nació en los Estados Unidos en 1900, pero creció con historias de sus abuelos y bisabuelos sobre los días de las leyes penales en Irlanda. Los católicos, hombres o mujeres, no tenían voto y se les restringía la participación en la sociedad. No podían asistir a la universidad, tener propiedades o practicar su fe públicamente. Esa herencia le dejó dos fuertes convicciones: como persona libre: vas a la iglesia y votas. Transmitió esos principios como imperativos morales a sus tres hijas desde nuestros primeros días.

En mi juventud, la edad de elegibilidad para votar era de 21 años. La primera vez que pude ejercer mi derecho al voto fue en 1960. Estaba en el noviciado de la Misericordia en ese entonces y ansiosa por votar. El candidato demócrata era John F. Kennedy. El sueño de papá se cumplió ese año: ¡podríamos votar por un irlandés-americano católico como presidente de los Estados Unidos! He votado en todas las elecciones desde 1960.

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Walking with the Women on the Other Side of the Wall

February 5, 2020

By Sisters Beth Dempsey and Mary Cleary

A woman from Guatemala abused by her husband walked from Guatemala to Mexico with her two daughters seeking asylum.

Sister Beth Blesses Daisy
Sister Beth Blesses Daisy

Another woman, Daisy, a mother of three, has been living in a tent with her husband and children since August; she has nearly two months to go, since their asylum hearing is not until March.

These are some of the women we met at the border in Matamoros, Mexico, when we spent two weeks volunteering at the Humanitarian Center in McAllen, Texas, a respite center run by Catholic Charities in the diocese of Brownsville.

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Marching Against Violence Against Women

November 24, 2019

By Sister Terry Kimingiri

Recently, I took part in a walk in support of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign in Georgetown, Guyana. It was meant to gear the community up for an international campaign, beginning November 25—International Day Against Violence Against Women in Latin America—to December 10—International Human Rights Day. More than 6,000 organizations in 187 countries will participate in the campaign. We marched to challenge cultural norms that tolerate violence against women and girls.

(left) Sisters Roslyn, Junan and Denise and (right) Sisters Denise, Terry and Elizabeth. Boys in blue are our boys from St. John Bosco Orphanage.
(left) Sisters Roslyn, Junan and Denise and (right) Sisters Denise, Terry and Elizabeth. Boys in blue are our boys from St. John Bosco Orphanage.
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Marchando contra la violencia hacia las mujeres

November 24, 2019

Por Hermana Terry Kimingiri

Recientemente, participé en una caminata de apoyo a la campaña por los 16 días de activismo contra la violencia en base al género en Georgetown, Guyana. La caminata estaba destinada a preparar a la comunidad para una campaña internacional, que inicia el 25 de noviembre —Jornada Mundial contra la violencia hacia las mujeres en Latinoamérica— hasta el 10 de diciembre —Jornada Mundial de los Derechos Humanos—. Participarán en la campaña más de 6.000 organizaciones de 187 países. Marchamos para desafiar las normas culturales que toleran la violencia contra las mujeres y niñas.

(Izquierda) Hermanas Roslyn, Junan y Denise y (derecha) Hermanas Denise, Terry y Elizabeth. Los niños en azul son nuestros niños del orfanato de San Juan Bosco.
(Izquierda) Hermanas Roslyn, Junan y Denise y (derecha) Hermanas Denise, Terry y Elizabeth. Los niños en azul son nuestros niños del orfanato de San Juan Bosco.
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“Sewing” menstrual awareness through the Haiti Hygiene Initiative Project

May 28, 2019

By Ingrid Robinson, Mercy Associate

In the United States, we take “disposable” for granted: coffee cups, diapers, razors, etc. But in impoverished Haiti, where sanitation is a daily challenge, disposable items are unheard-of luxuries. That includes feminine-hygiene products, which must be washed and reused.

“Young girls and women use rags and even leaves every month, and their embarrassment leads to a high dropout rate in schools,” said Sister Jill Weber, who ministers in Haiti.

Dr. Ellen Lawson demonstrates how to use the reusable hygiene kits.
Dr. Ellen Lawson demonstrates how to use the reusable hygiene kits.
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Levantar conciencia menstrual a través del Proyecto Iniciativa de Higiene Personal en Haití

May 28, 2019

Por Ingrid Robinson, Asociada de la Misericordia

En los Estados Unidos, tomamos muy a la ligera lo desechable: tazas de café, pañales, afeitadoras, etc. Sin embargo, en el empobrecido Haití, dónde el saneamiento es un desafío diario, los productos desechables son lujos inexistentes. Eso incluye los productos de higiene femenina, que deben ser lavados y reutilizados.

«Las jóvenes y mujeres usan trapos e incluso hojas mensualmente, y su vergüenza conduce a altas tasas de deserción escolar» dijo la Hermana Jill Weber, que sirve en Haití.

La Dra. Ellen Lawson muestra cómo usar los paquetes reutilizables de higiene personal.
La Dra. Ellen Lawson muestra cómo usar los paquetes reutilizables de higiene personal.
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To which country do you come?

March 28, 2019

By Jeremy Dickey, Communications Manager

If you asked the average person from the United States to point out the country of Honduras on a map, I’m guessing that nine times out of ten, he or she would not be able to locate it. Although Honduras is the second largest country in Central America, after Nicaragua, it could still fit nearly 170 times inside the United States, and many Americans know little about it. Much of what is shared on our news about Honduras is negative and portrays the Honduran people in a terrible light. We hear of gangs. We hear of caravans. But the news never stops to ask why these things are happening, or to ask who are the people most affected by them.

When I signed on to participate in a week-long root causes pilgrimage delegation to Honduras, I did so with little knowledge of the country or the people who call it home.

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