By CHERYL BAUER
On October 3, 2018, Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf honored six women as Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania, in recognition of their profound contributions to the world in which they live. Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania began in 1948 to honor resident women who have made significant impacts in the commonwealth in either a professional capacity or community service. All nominees are selected from the recommendations of non-profit organizations within Pennsylvania. Among the 2018 honorees is Pittsburgh resident and sixteen-year Thomas Merton Center Member, Edith Bell.
Edith survived the Holocaust, though not without the loss of her parents, and eventually became a citizen of the United States in 1960. Shortly there after, she joined the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Edith came to Pittsburgh in 2002 and, as an established member of WILPF, promptly set to work to plant a local chapter. Since the chapter’s inception, and with Edith’s tireless efforts to advocate, lead public meetings, and meet with city council members, Pittsburgh was named a participant in the Cities for Conventions on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Campaign, which resulted in the passage of the Gender Equity Ordinance. Pittsburgh has since named an Executive Director of Gender Equity, a 15-member volunteer Gender Equity Commission, and funding for a city-wide gender analysis project.
In 2003, Edith co-founded the Pittsburgh chapter of Raging Grannies, an organization of women over 50 who are concerned with peace and justice issues, and who express themselves in song as a way to bring music to the movement. As a member of TMC, Edith has participated in the Merton
Center’s Anti-War Committee and has served on its board of directors. Edith’s other volunteer efforts have included planning and participation in Remembering Hiroshima; Imagining Peace, and contributing letters to the editors of various local news outlets advocating for peace and justice for the marginalized. She can also be found in attendance at local peace actions.
Those who have worked alongside Edith can best attest to her passion for peace and justice issues. “Even in her 90s she can speak with a passion that draws people in. She also did not let us forget the need for inclusion—an important yet often missing ingredient when coalitions rush to get something accomplished. There wasn’t a meeting that went by where Edith didn’t ask the questions ‘Who else should be sitting at this table? Who else should we be talking to?’ And she worked with us to help answer those questions.” –Marcia Bandes, Chair, Pittsburgh for CEDAW Coalition.
Edith herself has remarked, “…I am very aware of what can happen when whole groups of people are declared subhuman, may they be Jews, Arabs, gays, African-Americans or Indians. You can treat them anyway you like, and your conscience won’t bother you, as they are not human. Therefore, I speak out when people are categorized and called names.”
Cheryl Bauer is a member of The New People Editorial Collective.
(TMC newspaper VOL. 48 No. 9 November 2018. All rights reserved)