It’s Women’s History Month here in the US! As our government put it, all month long we “join in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.”
So why dedicate an entire month to recognizing women in our nation’s history? Why not?!
Really though, women should be celebrated all year long. We’ve been a part of history for-ever, but for centuries women’s stories and contributions were left out by historians (who were mostly men), and even when I was in middle and high school women were rarely mentioned in history books.
But all this time women have been there:
- changemakers and challengers
- pioneers and problem-solvers
- leaders and launchers
- icons and influencers
- truthseekers and trailblazers
- fighters and forces
- discoverers and defenders
- campaigners and champions
- inventors and investigators
- firsts and founders
- revolutionaries and rule-breakers
- visionaries and voices
- powerhouses and peacemakers
- mothers and marchers
- activists and advocates
- upstanders and storytellers
- builders and barrier-breakers
If I told you about all of the influential women from US history alone, this episode would be hundreds of hours long, it would take you days to listen to it. Add to that all of the women from world history – really it would go on for weeks, months even.
I thought about featuring a few women, but I had such a hard time choosing. And there are already so many awesome lists and resources out there, which I will share, and I encourage you to seek them out. Instead I want to focus on what women in history have in common.
They didn’t sit around and wait for change to happen. They got it done themselves. For too long women were viewed as behind the scenes characters, not main actors; kept on the sidelines and not key players. That’s where they were expected to be. I mean, for the first 150 years of our country‘s history, women didn’t have the right to vote (and non-white women waited even longer). Women did not have respect, opportunities, platforms or power to share their voices or use their talents. Their perspective didn’t matter because they were female. But instead of sitting around, doing what they were told by tradition/society/culture aka men upholding patriarchy, women in history made change happen. When they saw a problem, a need, an injustice, they didn’t wait for someone else to fix it. Women spoke up and stood out, they gathered and got to work, they planned and petitioned and problem-solved. Though they were underestimated, they already had enough knowledge, skills, and numbers. Women knew they could do it, and so they did.
They accomplished remarkable things and nothing came easy. Every one of them experienced struggles, resistance, or even failure. Each fought an uphill battle, and I’m certain they got discouraged along the way and may have even considered giving up. But women in history had passion for what they were doing and were determined to make a difference. Their dedication kept them going. Women in history firmly believed in their cause and BTW they didn’t care about being liked – plenty of people didn’t like them or what they were doing. But what other people thought didn’t matter to women in history. Time and time again women were told no, women were left out, women were criticized about what they were doing. The odds were never in their favor and yet women did it anyway. They had ridiculous grit, they were resilient. Women persisted because they were dedicated.
There are countless examples of courage from women in history who:
- challenged traditions and systems
- got arrested and went to jail
- refused to be excluded
- were the only female in the room
- became the first woman, or even person, to discover or achieve something
- faced prejudice and racism
- made a fuss and ruffled feathers
- would not sit down
- when others tried to ignore or interrupt her, she kept speaking
By recognizing and celebrating women in history, we strengthen ourselves collectively. There is power in this sisterhood, past and present. Knowing all the phenomenal progress women in history have made, and how they were able to persevere and succeed gives us a foundation to build a better future. We have a pattern to follow as we pursue our own passions because women in history were Doers, they were Dedicated, and they were Daring.
I want to share some inspiration from women in history. See which quote speaks to you.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”Anne Frank, teen girl, German diarist, and Jewish victim of the Holocaust
“Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.”Katherine Johnson, mathematician/“computer” and one of the first Black women at NASA:
“Technique and ability alone do not get you to the top; it is the willpower that is most important.”Junko Tabei, first woman to reach the top of Mount Everest
“If one girl with an education can change the world, just imagine what 130 million can do.”Malala Yousafzai (yoo-zahf-SAI), Pakistani education activist and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”Ruth Bader Ginsburg, second female justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court
To help you remember all of this, I created a “Be Doers, Dedicated, Daring” poster that you can print out, personalize, and post on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part.
There are SO many books and resources out there featuring Women in History! We have some books from
- Rebel Girls series: Good Night Stories books featuring multiple women, Chapter Book Collection focusing on individual women, and Rebel Girls Minis with multiple tales of women and girls. Rebel Girls also has a podcast!
- She Persisted series by Chelsea Clinton: picture books featuring multiple women and also chapter books focusing on individual women.
If you’re more into chapter books, I really enjoyed:
The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai (yoo-zahf-SAI)
Also: AMightyGirl.com – “The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.” You can search for books by topic/theme, like women in history, or even by recommended age.
If you have favorites to add to this list, or have a topic suggestion, I’d love to hear from you! Send an email (tweens get the OK from your parents) email hello@EmpowerfulGirls.com .
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