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March is Women’s History Month, making it a special time to honor women who have worked tirelessly and fearlessly to advance generations to come. The fight for equal pay and more employment opportunities is still necessary in today’s world, so it’s inspiring to look back at those who started change in history.
The history of this holiday dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, when women working in New York factories organized a protest against poor working conditions. However, it was not until 1987 that Congress decided to celebrate this long-standing tradition with an official proclamation. While there are countless women who have achieved success over the decades that deserve recognition, here are five powerhouses that have inspired the masses. From Rosa Parks to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, identifying strength encourages modern women to be torchbearers and persevere.
1. Rosa Parks
Civil rights activist Rosa Parks became the face of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. Her resistance to bus segregation was not unprecedented, although she has been recognized as a cult source of inspiration for the black community as she continued her work with other civil rights leaders of the time, including Martin Luther King Jr. In 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery’s segregation laws were unconstitutional, and she used the ruling to continue her lifelong activist activities. A forever icon of the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks held fast 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 for being the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean. Prior to her historic flight, Earhart served as a Red Cross nurse’s aid and studied medicine at Columbia University before taking flying lessons in 1921 with flight instructor Neta Snook. Only a year later, she set her 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 not deterred by time constraints, but instead responded to them with relentless ambition.
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3. Susan B. Anthony
One of the first campaigners for equal pay and equal work for women was Susan B. Anthony. She became one of the leading faces of the women’s suffrage movement that began in 1848. For 50 years, she and fellow suffragette, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, fought for women’s rights, traveling around the country giving speeches, particularly on giving women the right to vote. Her perseverance paved the way for other women to join the movement and eventually get the 19th Amendment passed in 1920. Although she did not live to make that goal a reality, she courageously and selflessly passed on the torch to improve the future for a woman.
4. Mother Teresa
If there is anyone who has wholeheartedly dedicated his life to achieving his goal, it is Mother Teresa. She spent her life caring for and providing spiritual healing to the dying in Calcutta. She founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity to care for abandoned children as well as the poor and suffering. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and canonized the saint after her death. Her actions were never guided by these accolades or nominations, but rather by her call to serve others. Mother Teresa perfected her true nature and was focused on the task at hand. While her selfless journey is unique, her love and guidance serve as inspiration and fortitude for today’s people.
5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Tackling adversity on the legal front is a legacy that Ruth Bader Ginsburg left behind as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1993-2020. When she was appointed to the Supreme Court, she was only the second female judge, often speaking and ruling in favor of gender equality and labor rights. In 1972, she co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project to challenge laws that treated different sexes and to establish precedence on issues decided today. Steadfast in her mission and endearing in her approach, Ruth Bader Ginsburg used her intelligence, power, and steadfastness to create lasting change. Her tenacity served as a beacon to encourage other women to speak up and use their own power.
Related: 5 Lessons From the Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
These five women were born pioneers of change and left their mark around the world. Reflection on their achievements, character and enthusiasm is a source of motivation for those who continue to fight for change. Whatever the month, honoring the brave and courageous women in your life can and should be done often.
Consider taking the time this month to send a thank you letter to those who have inspired you, or read more about the women in history who can help guide you on your path – and don’t be surprised to learn that you have been a source inspiration for someone else. Lifting others contributes to a greater whole and constantly improves the way we live and present ourselves to the world.