5 Women to Remember this Women’s History Month
During Women’s History Month, we would like to highlight a few notable women who are making a difference in their communities globally and ultimately fighting for a better world. These five women are breaking boundaries through their work and organizations, thereby creating opportunities for future generations of women.
Amanda Gorman is a 22-year-old poet from California, United States, who most recently spoke at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. She is the youngest inaugural poet in United States history. Amanda graduated cum laude from Harvard University, where she studied Sociology. She has many notable works of poetry, and will soon have three books published with Penguin Random House.
Amanda has written for the New York Times, is the recipient of the Poets & Writers Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers award, is the first National Youth Poet Laureate, and is the youngest board member of 826 National, which is the largest youth writing network in the U.S. She has performed for shows, events, and a variety of esteemed people, including the Obama’s, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Al Gore, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, and more.
Amanda’s Inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb,” speaks of the past, present, and future of the United States and how each generation must learn from the past to and forge a new path for upcoming generations. The poem has an inspiring message acknowledging that there is work to be done, but the future is bright. As the last lines of her poem state, “For there is always light / if only we’re brave enough to see it. / if only we’re brave enough to be it.”
Greta Thunberg is an 18 year old Swedish climate activist. She challenges world leaders to act on climate change immediately, instead of ignoring the problem. Greta began her movement as the lone teenage girl who sat outside the Swedish parliament building, striking for climate change. She has now become one of the most known figures for climate activism and people from various countries join her in the school climate strike. She used to believe that she was too young to make a difference, but has since discovered that in her own way, she can have a huge impact.
When she was an adolescent, she began voicing her concern for the climate crisis to her parents, and eventually realized that speaking and making people aware of the problem could persuade them to act. Greta has a strong will to speak out about climate change and cannot and will not stop until change occurs. She has proven her tenacity throughout the past few years; she has spoken at huge intergovernmental conferences before dozens of world leaders, and through this, has made the world aware of the catastrophic environmental troubles we could face if adjustments are not made in the way we live as a human population.
I believe having someone as young as Greta being this influential on world leaders is proof that nobody is too small to make a difference. Greta has proven that even teenagers are capable of creating worldwide change if they are passionate and willing to do the work required to get things done. Girls even younger than Greta can look to her as a role model and be inspired to speak up in their own communities about topics important to them. All it takes is one person to create an ocean of empowered women.
Ibitihaj Muhammad is 35 year old fencer from New Jersey, United States. She is the first Muslim American woman to compete in and win a medal in the Olympics wearing a hijab. She won a bronze medal for sabre fencing in the 2016 Olympics competing for the United States. Outside of her sport, Ibitihaj has released a memoir and a picture book and is an activist for change. She inspires young women who have been told they do not belong in places because of how they look or what they wear to forge new paths for those after them.
She has also released a clothing line called Louella, named after her grandmother, to create fashionable and modest clothing for women. Ibitihaj has formed a space for women and girls like her to compete in athletics and is making sure that younger girls know they deserve every opportunity others have.
I believe that representation is vital in all industries, and particularly in the athletics world. As an athlete myself, I know that having role models in one's sport can be inspiring and can motivate athletes to stay on track and keep persevering knowing they can find great success. Ibitihaj is that role model for Black and Muslim girls, demonstrating that anyone, regardless of race, religion, and more, can achieve incredible things.
Malala Yousafzai was born in Pakistan. Her parents wanted her to have the same opportunities as boys, although it is not socially accepted there for women to have equal rights. The Taliban took over her town and banned girls from attending school there. Malala spoke out against this and fought for girls to have the right to go to school, which made her a target for the Taliban. One day, a masked gunman came onto her school bus and asked “Who is Malala?” and shot her on the left side of her head. She eventually woke up and recovered after many surgeries where her family now lives in the United Kingdom.
She decided to use her story to continue the fight for girls to go to school and she started the Malala Fund, which works to assist girls to give them the ability to choose their path in life instead of having it be laid out for them. At 23 years old, she has now spoken at events around the world, published various books, and has had movies made about her life.
She is a beacon of hope to girls without the opportunity to go to school, and through this, helps them reach their highest potential. In December of 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work and became the youngest person to become a Nobel laureate.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, widely known as RBG, was a Supreme Court Justice from 1993 to 2020, and she passed away on September 18, 2020. She was always a strong advocate for education, and throughout her academic career, studied at Cornell University, Harvard University, and Columbia University, and ultimately graduated at the top of her class. She was a professor at Rutgers University and Columbia University, and was the first woman professor to earn tenure at Columbia. She was a strong advocate for women’s rights, as well as gender equality in general for males who were discriminated against, such as minority men. She believed that major social changes should come from Congress and other legislatures, not the courts. This allows Congress to maintain power, while the courts give guidance.
Justice Ginsburg was not afraid to use her voice, and dissented in a few cases where gender discrimination was prevalent. RBG displayed in her own life that overcoming adversity and becoming successful can go hand in hand, and that when you enjoy your work and know it is helping others, it can become the top priority in your life.
All of these women have influenced the world in some capacity. Whether it be in their own communities, or on a national or worldwide scale, they have made huge positive impact through their respective work. Each of them represents a different community of women, yet they all work for each and every woman to be equal and to not be discriminated against for any reason. This want for a more inclusive world is the purpose for showcasing these particular women and to educate young girls on the power and ability they can and do have within themselves.