March 26, 2010

Celebrating Women's History Month

In the U.S., March is Women's History Month. It grew out of a weeklong celebration of women's contributions and achievements started by the school district of Sonoma, California in 1979. How cool is that?

For Women's History Month this year I wanted to celebrate by highlighting some of my favorite women in history- teachers, activists, writers, and leaders who not only have helped to shape what I think of when I think of a strong, intelligent, and independent woman, but who I think are women who little girls should admire. Thanks to these women, and women like them, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to school, to go to college, to earn my own money, to vote, to voice my opinion, to dream with the hope of actually making my dreams come true and so can girls and women all over this country. Here's to women everywhere- you rock!

30 Women I think little girls should admire instead of symbols of stupidity and weakness

1. Picabo Street

Olympian medalist in snow skiing and the first American to ever win a season title in a speed event.

2. Shakira

Colombian singer who founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation, a charity that helps poor children all over Colombia get an education. She is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

3. Maya Angelou

She overcame a troubled past and became a famous poet and memoirist who has inspired countless others. Her six-part autobiography chronicles how she got from where she was to where she is now.

4. Jane Addams

In 1931, she became the first woman to win the Noble Peace Prize for her work with the poor in Chicago.

5. Aung Sau Suu Kyi

Has dedicated her life to freeing Burma from repressive dictatorship and to creating democracy without violence.

6. Chief Wilma Mankiller

Became the first woman to serve as Principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

7. Gertrude B. Elion

She developed the AIDS drug, AZT.

8. Erin Gruwell

Teacher who founded the program Freedom Writers.

9. Adi Roche

Founded an organization that helps orphans of nuclear disaster.

10. Rosa Parks

International icon of resistance to racial segregation.

11. Helen Keller

First person who was both deaf and blind to graduate from college.

12. Audrey Hepburn

Actress and humanitarian, she was a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work.

13. Elizabeth Blackwell

The first female doctor and she opened the first medical school for women.

14. Katharine Hepburn

Defied conventions set for females of the time and was a symbol of women’s independence and autonomy.

15. Rachel Carson

Her writings advanced the global environmental movement and a nationwide ban on DDT.

16. Princess Diana

Not because she married a prince! She also brought worldwide attention and awareness to AIDS and landmines.

17. Sadako Sasaki

At 2 years old, Sadako became a victim of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. She died of complications from it in 1955. Sadako inspired an international peace movement and became a symbol of the impact of nuclear war. Sadako reminds us that even victims can be heroes.

18. Eleanor Roosevelt

First Lady and champion of women’s causes, including chairing the committee that drafted & approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

19. Amy Biehl

So dedicated to ending apartheid in South Africa, that she lost her life to the cause.

20. Frida Kahlo

Mexican painter and political activist who lived with chronic pain her whole life. As a woman who lives with chronic pain, I can say that I admire her perseverance to live a quality life at all times, even when she was resigned to extended bed rest, which is challenging to do.

21. Corrie Ten Boom

A Dutch Holocaust survivor who helped many Jews escape the Nazis in World War II.

22. Lisa Ling

Investigative reporter for the Oprah Winfrey show, CNN and for National Geographic Explorer, where she investigates hands-on such stories and crises as China’s one-child policy, the Colombian drug war, bride burning in India, and gang-rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

23. Dana Torres

Olympic medalist in 2008 at 40 years old. You are never too old to realize your dreams.

24. Diane Sawyer

Television reporter and interviewer of such notable people as Manuel Noriega, Fidel Castro, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

25. Maria Montessori

Italian physician, educator, and humanitarian who is best known for her philosophy and the Montessori method of education.

26. Luz Maria Rodriguez-Fernandez

Conducts cancer research to help understand the disease process.

27. Clara Barton

Organized and established the American Red Cross in 1881.

28. Anne Frank

A victim of the holocaust whose writings during hiding have given insight into the atrocities of the Nazis, the hardship of hiding, and to the bravery and soul of a teenage girl.

29. Ruby Bridges

In 1960, at 6 years old, Ruby became the 1st African-American child to attend an all-white school in the South.

30. Sylvia Earle

American oceanographer who founded Deep Ocean Exploration and Research in 1992 to further advance marine engineering. She was Time magazine’s first “Hero of the Planet” in 1998.

So what women do you look up to? Who inspires you? Who do you hope your children will look up to?


  1. A very informative post. I did not know a few of these women even existed. Thanks for sharing this :)

  2. Excellent post!

    I'd add Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Infidel for her work to free Muslim women of the abuses of Islam.

  3. Fantastic post! I would add Hillary Clinton to the list.

  4. Harriet Tubman is a tremendous hero of mine. I cannot even imagine how much courage it must have taken to make it out of the South to freedom and immediately turn around and go back for her parents, and then go back TWELVE MORE TIMES. And she was essentially narcoleptic as well, due to a head injury she received as a kid. I admire Harriet Tubman so, so much. I wish they would take Andrew Jackson off the $20 and put on Harriet Tubman instead.

  5. Beautiful post! Thanks for putting that together for everyone!

  6. Amazing post. This made my Friday.

  7. What an incredibly inspiring post! I agree with all of these and I am trying to rack my brain for more but can't think of anyone else at the moment!

  8. Awesome, awesome post, Becca! I don't think I've heard of half these women, but I do think they're wonderful people to look up to.

  9. Awesome post! I am embarrassed by how many of these women I've never heard of. By the way, did you know that Rosa Parks had a predecessor? Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a bus 9 months before Rosa Parks did it. She was an unwed pregnant teen, so civil rights leaders decided to stay quiet about it and wait for someone who would be less controversial.

  10. I would definitely add Jane Goodall and Madeleine Albright to the list. Both have stepped into male-dominated realms and risen to the top. And Jane's work with both animals AND children is inspirational to say the least.

  11. What a great post! I love Frida Kahlo! I've left something for you on my blog, come by to pick it up. :D

  12. Ooh. Thanks for compiling such a fabulous post.

  13. Hi,
    I have an award for you at my place. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  14. I love the diversity of this list! well done!

  15. This is a fantastic I should post for student web search! I also really respect Julia Butterfly Hill and Michelle Obama.

  16. I love that the diversity of your list; every one on it is the antithesis of "stupidity and weakness." Brava!

    I look up to my mother - a very sweet, unassuming woman who has accomplished much: raised four children while holding down two jobs and going to school. Whenever I face something difficult, I think of my mom and realize that it's not impossible.

  17. You've introduced me to some new women to admire and reminded me of many others. The more I learn about the real Rosa Parks, the more I admire her!

  18. This is a fantastic list. I will be searching for biographies for some of these women for sure.

  19. Great post!I have just started reading a biography of Gertrude Bell - another amazing woman whom history has nearly forgotten.

    thanks for sharing this excellent post



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