It’s worth the cost
For the feet of those who follow you

For the last twelve months Kyria has been highlighting some of the most significant leaders we’ve never heard of. These women represent just a sprinkling of the millions of female leaders who have changed their worlds for the better and then faded into the vast expanse of oblivion that history reserves for the stories of female heroes.

It’s been such a privilege to oversight this weighty project. Not weighty because it was onerous, but weighty with great value, because investigating women who were responsible for transforming their communities, changing laws about women in business, in education, in politics, in church, and in medicine is a massive privilege. Hidden Figures has given us all a wonderful opportunity to be challenged and inspired by the lives of women we previously never knew existed.

Some of our sisters in these stories were illiterate, some were abused or trafficked or enslaved. Many were poor, marginalised, and all suffered humiliation by the prejudice of patriarchy. All these women had one thing in common – an indomitable spirit that could not be drowned, crushed or suppressed – each of them found a way to rise above every effort to keep her in her place. Unbeknown to us, they went before us to carve out a path, and we walk more freely and have greater opportunities because of them.

I wonder what it would look like to honour these women as the Olympic Games have honoured the athletes of each nation. Imagine them walking proudly into a heavenly arena, some holding up the flags of causes for which they gave their lives:

  • Pandita Ramabai – Key Indian Christian leader in 19th and 20th centuries, social activist and educator in a time when women were despised.
  • Daisy Bindi – Illiterate Aboriginal woman who led her people off the cattle station to strike to be paid money as wages, like the white workers, rather than sugar, flour and alcohol.
  • Alimotu Pelewura – Leader of the Lagos Market Women’s Association who, despite being illiterate, changed the laws for businesswomen under the oppressive English regime.
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – First female black democratically elected President in the world. Abused wife, mother of four, economist, and President of Liberia for two terms. She believed that ‘suffering brings courage’.
  • Minouche Shafik – First female President of the World Bank and current Director of the London School of Economics.

Rather than give an overview of each one, I’ll leave you to read about all the amazing women who overcame phenomenal obstacles in order to be the difference in their worlds.

We so easily underrate ourselves and overrate the obstacles ahead of us. That’s a mistake. Leadership requires bravery and wisdom, both of which God is willing to give in abundance. The world needs courageous leaders now more than ever. Kyria celebrates that God is raising daring women all over the world and we are committed to do whatever we can to support your journey.

Below is one of the most impacting quotes of my life. If it affects you the way it does me, you will know that whatever you go through, however overwhelming it may seem at times, it’s all worth it. Our set of Hidden Figures is a tiny glimpse into what God can do with a woman of valour who will rise to His call. That’s you. And me.

The woman wanderer goes forth to seek the Land of Freedom.
‘How am I to get there?’
Reason answered ~
‘Here is one way, and one only. Down the banks of labour,
Through the waters of suffering. There is no other.’
The woman cries out:
‘For what do I go to this far land which no one has ever reached?’
Oh, I am alone! I am utterly alone!’
But soon
She hears the sounds of feet
A thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands,
And they beat this way.
They are the feet of those who shall follow you.

By Olive Schreiner