Celebrated in the United States and in countries around the world, March is Women's History Month. Honoring women of the past while illuminating injustices women still face and raise awareness about gender inequality, the first “National Women's Day” was established on February 28, 1909.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared that Women’s History Week would be recognized during the week of March 8.
In this post, you'll discover seven influential women who’ve left their mark in various frontiers.
On July 16, 1962 aboard Vosktok 6, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to travel to space. In 1961, she and four other women were chosen for cosmonaut training by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The Soviet Union (Russia) wouldn’t send another woman into space until 19 years later.
Born in Vienna, Austria, Lise Meitner was the first woman admitted to the physics lectures and laboratories at the University of Vienna. One of the major discoveries in her career was the co-discovery of nuclear fission—the splitting of the atom—in 1939. This led her to being called "the mother of the atomic bomb."
At 10-years-old Amelia Mary Earhart saw her first plane while attending the Iowa State Fair in 1908. She was the first woman to graduate from the Curtiss School of Aviation. In 1922, she received her pilot’s license, making her one of about a dozen licensed women fliers in the world. On July 24, 1936 she would take possession of the airplane she’d use to make a round-the-world flight which would turn out to be her last.
During her lifetime, Helen Keller worked on behalf of the blind, campaigning that the major cause of blindness in infants was a condition called ophthalma neonatarum, which passed to children by mothers infected with certain venereal disease. She spoke at the annual convention of the American Association of Workers for the Blind and was appointed a member of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind in 1906. She wrote books, articles, traveled the world giving lectures, and visiting schools to promote the cause. Following a trip to Hiroshima, she became determined to fight for world peace.
Cleopatra was the first Ptolemaic queen with her head and name minted on coins. She became queen in 51 BC with her brother Ptolemy XIII as co-monarch. While various accusations have been made against her and at times taken as facts—notably that the predominant element in her character was sexuality—there's no evidence that she took any other lovers aside from Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.
Nefertiti holds the position as the Egyptian queen with the most surviving appearances on monuments and other artistic mediums. She ruled alongside Amenhotep IV, who later changed his name to Akhenaten. Together, they introduced monotheism, the belief that there is only one deity with the worship of the sun god Aten. No record has been found to detail her own death, her mummy has yet to be found, her end remains a mystery.
The Frida Kahlo that we identify with was probably in large part a result of the accident which took place on September 27, 1925. Eighteen years old, sitting in the back with Alejandro, the bus they rode on was rammed by a streetcar in Mexico City. She was impaled on a metal bar in the wreckage, her spine was fractured, her pelvis crushed, and one foot broken. She's one of the highest-selling women in art.
“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.
— President Jimmy Carter
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