The Pittsburgh community can look forward to hearing from a “Woman of Courage” thanks to the Ellis School and the City of Asylum.
The Woman of Courage is someone who, through her writing, had the courage to confront oppression and injustice in her country and has suffered as a result usually through banishment if not imprisonment.
The organizations have partnered up to bring Moniru Ravanipur, originally from Iran, to read from her books and talk about her experiences.
“The speaker this year has been imprisoned, and the rest of her books have been removed from all of the bookstores, recently, in her country," said Norma Greco, founder of this presentation and dean of faculty at the Ellis School. "So it does show the power of writing to affect others, in particular dictators.”
Ravanipur's 10 books and short stories were removed from the bookshelves because of their political connotations and are now banned in Iran. She was among 17 activists to face trial in Iran for their participation in the 2000 Berlin Conference; the group was accused of taking part in anti-Iran propaganda.
Ravanipur was also honored by Brown University in 2007 as a fellow at the International Writers Project. She is now living in exile at the City of Asylum in Las Vegas.
The Ellis School in particular looks forward to hosting these talks to serve as an example for the students at the all-girls school.
“Our values include citizenship, integrity, diversity, leadership and activism, and these women demonstrate all of that for the girls,” Greco said. “We encourage girls to have a voice and make a difference in the world so, this is an opportunity for them to see a woman who has been doing both … and she also shows the girls that writing has real power in the world. It’s a threat and it does make change.”
This is the third year the Ellis School has chosen to honor a woman in exile. The school and the City of Asylum believe they will keep the Woman of Courage going until there is no one left to honor, as there will hopefully be a day when no woman will have to be exiled because of their writing.
The talks/readings are free and open to the public and will be held on March 6 and 7.