Women’s History Month: Influential women you should remember
March celebrates Women’s History Month, which has been recognized by the United Nations since 1975. International Women’s Day is March 8 and is recognized by women across the United States and the world. One of the most monumental moments for women was the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote in elections. Influential celebrities like Lucille Ball and humanitarian workers like Malala Yousafzai have paved the way for other women to be successful in fields that were traditionally led by men.
Lucille Ball was a singer, model, and film star. She is most known from starring in “I Love Lucy,” “The Lucy Show,” and “Here’s Lucy.” During her childhood, Ball faced the death of her father, moving across states, and hardly having enough money to buy basic school supplies like pencils. Her sitcom shows put topics like marital issues, women having jobs, and suburban living on display, inspiring later shows to do the same. “I Love Lucy” was also the most high profile showing of a pregnant woman on TV. Ball won several awards during her career including four Emmys, induction into the Television Hall of Fame, and recognition from Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She was also the first woman to receive a gold medal from the International Radio and Television Society in 1971. Ball was an inspiration to upcoming female comedians and promoted self love saying, “Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
Women have made advances in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields who have changed the way the world works and learns. Marie Curie was a French physicist who is most known for her discoveries of radioactivity and x-rays. She is also credited for discovering the elements of polonium and radium. Curie is also the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in two fields: chemistry and physics. Sally Ride was a physicist and astronaut and remains the youngest American astronaut to travel to space at the age of 32. She flew on the Challenger twice before leaving NASA in 1987. Before soaring into space, she faced discrimination for being a woman by being asked questions like “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?,” “Do you weep when things go wrong?,” or “Will you ever become a mother?.” She faced these unnecessary questions with calmness saying, “It may be too bad our society isn’t further along and that this is such a big deal.”
Women have also become a more political influence in the past few years. Most recently in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be the presidential nominee from a major political party. Clinton was also secretary of state for the Obama administration. Despite her loss at the end, Clinton still showed young girls that they can hold high positions in companies and government. Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the first two women appointed to the Supreme Court. O’Connor was nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1981. She was considered a moderate Republican, but supported the woman’s right to have an abortion. In 2009, O’Connor was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. Ginsburg was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1993. She supports women’s rights and was the first supreme court justice to officiate a same sex marriage.
Malala Yousafzai is a student from Pakistan advocating for the women’s right to an education. Yousafzai survived a gunshot from a member of the Taliban after her criticism of the terrorist group. She became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at age 17. She began writing for an anonymous blog in 2009 to share her views on education and life under the power of the Taliban. Later, her identity was revealed, and she was shot on her school bus. In her book, she writes, “My only regret was that I hadn’t had a chance to speak to them before they shot me. Now they’d never hear what I had to say. I didn’t even think a single bad thought about the man who shot me – I had no thoughts of revenge...I wanted to go home.” Yousafzai inspires all women to value their education and to face every situation with grace and dignity.
Overall, women have had countless contributions to society, science, arts, and politics. All women, especially young girls, should be raised to know that they are capable of anything they set their mind to.