March is Women’s History Month, a time that we set aside to celebrate women’s contributions and achievements in all spheres of society. There are so many amazing women we would love to acknowledge that the list is simply too long to count, so we decided to recognize a few special ones through the lens of our themed rooms. Accordingly, we wish to honor some extraordinary women who have left their mark throughout history and offer you a different type of list that you may not find anywhere else. These women come from very different walks of life, and some even found themselves on the wrong side of the law, but their incredible feats remain worthy of awe to this very day.
The Bunker has inspired us to honor Flora Sandes, a brave Irish woman who became an officer of the Royal Serbian Army and the only woman from Great Britain to fight on the front lines in World War I. She initially joined a St. John Ambulance unit and in 1914 left England to provide aid in the humanitarian crises that were happening on the territory of Serbia. After nearly a year of nursing wounded Serbian soldiers who were fighting against the Austro-Hungarian offensive, she joined the Serbian Red Cross and began working in an ambulance for a Serbian Infantry Regiment on the front line. Growing up in rural Suffolk, Flora was a feisty young woman with a tomboy spirit who learned to ride horses and shoot guns at a very early age. So, when the fighting became fierce, she decided to put those skills to use and enlisted in the Serbian Army, which at the time was among few that had allowed women into their ranks. In 1916, during the Serbian advance on Monastir, she was engaged in hand to hand combat and severely wounded by an enemy grenade, but she survived. Flora was a formidable soldier whose courage did not go unnoticed and she retired with the rank of Captain, and was awarded Serbia’s highest military decoration, the Order of the Karadjordje Star. She got married after the war and lived happily in France and in Yugoslavia for many years, and she even has a street named after her in Belgrade. Can you be as courageous as Flora and save the world in our Bunker?
The Bank made us think of Olivera Ćirković, a former professional basketball player from Serbia who played for the Yugoslavian women’s basketball team that won a bronze medal at the European Championship for Junior Women in 1988. She later worked as a sports director for the Red Star basketball club, but this is not actually what she is most known for. She was in fact one of the masterminds behind the notorious international jewel-thief gang called the Pink Panthers! According to Interpol and various law enforcement agencies, the Pink Panthers are responsible for thefts of over $500 million in diamonds, gold and precious jewels in 35 countries across the globe, in some of the most spectacular heists worthy of Hollywood movies. She is believed to have been involved in over 350 robberies, although she personally operated only in Greece where she was first arrested in 2006. After her second arrest in 2012, she made a spectacular escape from prison but was apprehended again 4 months later. She spent a total of 8 years behind bars, and after her release, she published her memoirs detailing the extravagance of her life in crime. Do you have the skills to get your hands on some diamonds that even Olivera would be impressed with?!
The Prison has inspired us to recognize Deborah Gavin, a young woman with a troubled childhood who found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time back in 1972. After a night of partying, she got into a car with a couple of young men whom she had met that night, little to know they would commit an armed robbery of a local gas station with her still in the car. Following a wild police chase they were all arrested, and Deborah was convicted as an accomplice and sent to a women’s prison in Georgia. To make matters worse, she became a victim of continuous sexual abuse at the hands of the male prison guards, as did many other inmates at that prison. This drove her to escape the prison an incredible six times! Five times she was captured, but on the sixth escape she disappeared without a trace. U.S. Marshals finally found her 33 years later, living a quiet life in a small town in Texas as a loving wife and a dedicated nurse at a local hospital. Deborah Gavin’s case along with hundreds of other similar cases across the US have led to prison reform and the adoption of new laws protecting inmates from sexual abuse. Can you be skillful and elusive enough like Deborah to reach freedom?
In our Zodiac room, you must escape from the clutches of a serial killer. It inspired us to celebrate Stacy Galbraith and Edna Hendershot, two amazing detectives who captured a serial rapist who was terrorizing women in Colorado and Washington. Det. Galbraith was investigating the case of a young woman in Golden, Colorado who was assaulted and raped by a man who broke into her apartment while she was sleeping, took photos of her during the gruesome attack, and forced her to take a shower before he left. The case seemed very similar to the case of a young woman in Lynnwood, Washington who went to the police with the same story, but was accused of lying and convicted of filing a false report. That’s when Det. Galbraith decided to get in contact with Det. Edna Hendershot of nearby Westminster, Colorado, because she learned that she was working on a few similar cases. They soon realized that all the cases involved the same mode of operation by the perpetrator and that they were dealing with a serial rapist, and ended up connecting the case with victims in four other cities. Ultimately, with the help of over 100 officers from 6 different agencies, they managed to track down and arrest army veteran Marc O’Leary who confessed to committing all of the horrendous rapes. Can you be as cunning as our brilliant detectives and escape from the Zodiac?
Our Final Exam game inspired us to pay tribute to Elena Lucrezia Corner, a Venetian philosopher who way back in 1678 became the first woman in history to receive an academic degree from a university. Her mother was a peasant, but her father was a member of one of the most powerful noble dynasties of the Republic of Venice which gave her access to distinguished tutors and instructors. Even as a young girl she displayed prodigal academic tendencies which led her family to enroll her in a classical education. She became proficient in Latin, Greek, French and Spanish at a very early age. She later also mastered Hebrew and Arabic, earning her the title of the “Seven-Language Oracle”. Her later studies included mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, music and theology, making her a true polymath. As the fame of her intellectual accomplishments spread across the Venetian Republic, she was invited to join several scholarly societies and in 1670 she became president of the Academy of the Peaceful. In 1678, she also became the first woman in history to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree, which she defended at the Padua Cathedral in front of the University of Padua authorities, professors, Venetian Senators, as well as other prestigious academic guests. Remarkably, Elena was also an expert musician who played the harp, violin, as well as the harpsichord, a predecessor of today’s piano. Elena passed all of her exams with flying colors, but you will have a different kind of test in our Final Exam. Can you guess what it will be?
There are so many other women who could be added to this list who have had a tremendous impact throughout history, but let’s not forget about all the ordinary women who continue to give their contributions to the world every single day. They also deserve our recognition, as well as our respect. Women’s History Month is here to remind us that we must always strive to create a world that values all individuals, a world that offers recognition, justice and equality of opportunity for all.