To celebrate Women’s History Month, The McGill Tribune has compiled a list of inspiring female alumni to acknowledge the work of our predecessors. While the list is far from complete, all the women included below have left a significant mark within their field and continue to inspire current students in their journeys.
Rosemary Brown (BA ‘55)
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Rosemary Brown immigrated to Canada in 1951 to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in social work at McGill. After completing her undergraduate degree at McGill and her master’s at the University of British Columbia, Brown became involved in activism and helped found the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and Voice of Women. In 1972, Brown became the first Black woman to hold public office as a member of the British Columbia Legislature. Even after her retirement from politics in 1988, she dedicated her career to anti-racism and women’s rights, serving as the CEO of MATCH International Women’s Fund and promoting social, economic, and political advancement for women internationally.
Paula Ann Cox (BA ‘80)
After graduating from McGill with a political science degree in 1980 and returning to her hometown in Bermuda, Paula Ann Cox began an impressive political career. In 2010, after serving in Bermudan Parliament for 14 years and winning the title of “the most effective politician” in the Best of Bermuda Gold Awards three times, Cox became the leader of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party and was eventually appointed premier of Bermuda. After serving as the Premier for two years, she continued her activism as a lawyer. In 2014, Cox was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her years of service.
Sheliah Martin (Bachelor of Common Law ‘81)
Born and raised in Montreal, Supreme Court Justice Sheliah Martin earned a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Bachelor of Common Law from McGill University in 1981. She then attained a Master of Laws and Doctorate of Juridical Science at the University of Alberta and University of Toronto, respectively. When she was called to the bar in Alberta, she used the word “person” instead of “man” in her oath, defying the gendered norm. After an impressive 30-year career in law, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Martin to the Supreme Court of Canada in December 2017.
Dr. Joanne Liu (M.D.,C.M. ‘91, IMHL ‘14)
After earning a M.D.,C.M. (Medicinæ Doctorem et Chirurgiæ Magistrum) degree at McGill, Dr. Joanne Liu completed pediatric specialty training at Université de Montréal, subspecialty training in pediatric emergency care at New York University, and an International Masters for Health Leadership at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management. After spending 20 years in a variety of roles at Médecins Sans Frontière (MSF), she was elected internal president. During her time at MSF, Liu provided medical support to vulnerable communities across the world, including Malian refugees in Mauritania after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, and Haitians during the cholera outbreak. Liu also developed one of the first programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo to offer comprehensive medical care for survivors of sexual violence. In 2015, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People after she spearheaded an effective response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
Mariame Kaba (BA ‘92)
A self-described activist, organizer, and curator, Mariame Kaba has made her mark on the world since she graduated with a sociology degree in 1992. Kaba’s work focusses on ending gender and race-based violence, dismantling the prison-industrial-complex, prioritizing transformative justice, and supporting youth leadership development. She has founded, co-founded, and directed several grassroots organizations in Chicago and New York City including Project NIA, the Chicago Freedom School, and the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women, among others. Since the first ‘Black Grad’ ceremony at McGill in 2019, the Mariame Kaba Prize in Leadership & Community Service, which includes a minimum of $1,000, has recognized a student for their commitment to community service.