maandag 30 maart 2015

A book worm's view on Sophie Redmond

Films en boeken hebben altijd een rol gespeeld in het vormen, motiveren, en inspireren van opeenvolgende generaties van strijders voor gelijke rechten. In het kader van de Maart van de Vrouw schreef Riane de Haas-Bledoeg voor PROJEKTA over het boek dat haar inspireerde.

Book worms tend to get their hands and eyes on everything that is readable and since my childhood I fitted this profile. Targeting every library that I was allowed to enter - from private collections, school, church to public libraries - and with eyes only capturing presents of which the wrappings indicated that the content could be readable, I explored this interesting world of knowledge and entertainment. It was in perusing my mother’s collection of books and writings that in the early seventies works about female roles and realities caught my attention.

One of the books that triggered my interest in works from female writers and in role models, especially the ones from my home country Suriname, was a publication about Sophie Redmond who lived in Paramaribo from 1907 – 1955 and who became the first black female medical doctor in Suriname. Sophie’s father, who was a teacher, got the shock of his life when she expressed the wish to become a medical doctor. In those colonial times, the highest career for a woman, especially a dark coloured (Creole) woman, was the position of teacher. Notwithstanding all advice, she enrolled in 1925 as a student in the Medical School. Despite all discrimination and resistance she encountered during her studies, Sophie persevered and completed her medical studies in 1935.

Being a twelve year old then and open to influences that may shape a girl’s character, I guess that it must have been this resilience in a woman that intrigued me and nurtured my ‘rebellion’ against social roles that were traditionally predetermined for women. Even though Sophie Redmond pioneered for other Surinamese women to pursue a career other than what was then considered appropriate for women, we know that follow up is a long process.  Also, before the fifties, careers like teachers, secretaries and nurses might have been open to women in Paramaribo, the capital city, but in the rural areas/districts this was not necessarily the same, especially for young women from Indian and Javanese families for whom the traditional role was usually set as a domestic and/or housewife/mother. There have been changes since then but anno 2015, we find ourselves still engaged in sensitizing girls to widen their career options and also pursue careers in traditionally male dominated positions.

Sophie Redmond lived before my time and I am grateful for initiatives from writers like Thea Doelwijt and organisations such as the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), who documented and published in 1972 Sophie Redmond’s work in advancing the position of women in Suriname. The book, that remained in my memory and which I consider a “must read” for next generations is titled “Sophie Redmond – Toneel”[1] It gives a brief background on Sophie Redmond written by S.A.S. Mitrasingh-Sitalsing and an introduction by Thea Doelwijt to the four theater plays written by Sophie Redmond.

Als u hier klikt, kunt u verder lezen. 


[1] English: Sophie Redmond - Theatre

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