Women’s History Month: 5 Women Who Changed the World

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March is Women’s History Month, making it a special time to honor the women who have worked tirelessly and fearlessly to advance future generations. As the struggles for equal pay and increased job opportunities are still necessary in today’s world, it is encouraging to look back at those in history who have sparked change.

The history of this celebration can be traced back to the mid-1800s, when women working in New York factories organized a protest against poor working conditions. However, it was not until 1987 that Congress decided to honor this long-standing tradition with an official proclamation. While there are countless women over the decades of achievement who deserve recognition, here are five powerhouses who have inspired the masses. From Rosa Parks to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recognition of strength encourages today’s women to carry the torch and persevere.

1. Rosa Parks

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks became the face of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. Her resistance to bus segregation was not unprecedented, though she was seen as an iconic source of inspiration for the black community as she continued her work with other political leaders rights of her time, including Martin Luther King Jr. In 1956, the Supreme Court ruled Montgomery’s segregation laws unconstitutional, and she used that decision to continue her activist work throughout her life. An enduring icon of the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks held steadfast to her determination and strength of character for the greater good.

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2. Amelia Earhart

American aviator Amelia Earhart is best known as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Before her historic flight, Earhart served as a Red Cross nurse’s aide and studied preventive medicine at Columbia University before taking flight lessons in 1921 from female flight instructor Netta Snook. Just a year later, she set the first of many aviation records, becoming the first woman to fly solo above 14,000 feet. Earhart transcended traditional gender roles at the time to excel in a male-dominated field. She was undaunted by the limitations of the time, but responded to them with relentless ambition.

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3. Susan B. Anthony

One of the first activists for equal pay and equal work for women was Susan B. Anthony. She became one of the leading figures in the women’s suffrage movement that began in 1848. For 50 years, she and fellow suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought for women’s rights by traveling around the country giving speeches, particularly focusing on women were given the right to vote. Her persistence paved a clear path for other women to join the movement and eventually lead to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Although she did not live to see this goal accomplished, she courageously and selflessly passed the torch to improve the future of women.

4. Mother Teresa

If there is anyone who has devoted her life wholeheartedly to achieving her purpose, it is Mother Teresa. She spent her life caring for and providing spiritual healing to the dying in Calcutta. She founded The Missionaries of Charity to care for abandoned babies, as well as the poor and suffering. In 1979, she received the Nobel Peace Prize and was posthumously canonized. Her actions were never guided by these accolades or titles, but rather by her calling to be of service to others. Mother Teresa tapped into her true nature and was laser focused on the task at hand. Although her selfless journey is unique, her love and guidance serve as an inspiration and strength to people today.

5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Facing adversity on the legal front is Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy, thanks to her service as a US Supreme Court justice from 1993 to 2020. When she was appointed to the high court, she was only the second female justice and she often spoke and ruled in favor of gender equality and workers’ rights. In 1972, she co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Program to challenge laws that treated the sexes differently and establish precedent for cases that are litigated today. Steadfast in her mission and articulate in her approach, Ruth Bader Ginsburg used her intelligence, strength, and tenacity to effect lasting change. Her tenacity has served as a beacon of light to encourage other women to speak up and step into their own power.

Related: 5 Lessons From the Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

These five women were born changers and left a mark on the world at large. Reflecting on their achievements, character and drive serves as a source of motivation for those who continue to fight for change today. Regardless of the month, honoring the bold and brave women in your life can and should be done often.

Consider taking time this month to send a thank-you note to those who have inspired you, or read more about the women in history who can help guide you on your way — and don’t be surprised to learn that someone has been an inspiration another. Elevating others contributes to the greater whole and continually improves the way we live and appear in the world.

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