Women’s History Month 2020 began in the United States on Sunday, March 1 and will continue until Tuesday, March 31. It commemorates and encourages the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history, according to Women’s History Month.
A vast number and variety of amazing women throughout history have broken barriers and soared to new heights. You’ve probably heard a lot about famous historical figures, such as Sacagawea, Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony.
Here are some of the many women making an impact today to remind you that anything and everything is possible.
Aly Raisman is a 25-year-old retired American gymnast known who is a two-time Olympian. Both gymnastic teams that she served as captain for–“The Fierce Five” and “The Final Five”–won their competitions.
However, you might also know Raisman (along with others) for speaking up about being sexually assaulted by her doctor–resulting in his being sentenced to 40-175 years in prison on criminal sexual conduct charges. Raisman was interviewed by TIME and has written a book called “Fierce.”
“Over the years, I’ve gradually realized that confidence must come from within, not from others’ opinions, and that it’s impossible to feel satisfied with yourself if you’re constantly worrying about what other people think,” said Raisman in her book, “Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything”
Jennifer Doudna, an American biochemist, has many illustrious titles, including Li Ka Shing Chancellor Chair Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Whew. That title could be an article all by itself.
So, what did Doudna do? Well, she and Emmanuelle Charpentier were the first to say that CRISPR-Cas9 (enzymes that can control microbial immunity) could be used to be programmed to edit genes. Many consider this to be one of the most impactful discoveries in biology history.
“The power to control our species’ genetic future is awesome and terrifying. Deciding how to handle it may be the biggest challenge we have ever faced,” said Doudna in her book, “A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution.”
Chances are you’ve heard the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whether it be on thew news, in history class or elsewhere. Regardless of whether you’re for or against Ginsburg, she’s made history as the second woman ever to be appointed as a justice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Issues she focuses on include women’s rights, such as abortion.
She’s also a major pop culture icon, having been nicknamed “The Notorious R.B.G.” after her movie of the same name came out.
“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent,” said Ginsburg in an interview with National Public Radio.
Serena Williams is also a well-known name. Williams is an American tennis player who has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles. That’s more than any other man or woman during the open era. Between 2002 and 2017, the Women’s Tennis Association ranked her world No. 1 in singles on eight separate occasions. Pregnancy didn’t even stop Williams from breaking records, as she won her 23rd Grand Slam at eight weeks and at the age of 35. It’s safe to say she’s left an impact in the sports world.
You can find her numerous tennis feats listed here.
Her sister, Venus, also a tennis player, is no slouch, either: she became the first unseeded U.S. Open women’s finalist during the open era in 1997.
“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall,” said Williams said in an interview with The National
Emma Gonzalez’s story is a heart-wrenching one. She survived the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. At the time, she was only a senior. Today, she advocates for gun control and speaks out against gun violence. Currently, she is studying at the New College of Florida.
Notably, along with her classmates, Gonzalez helped organize the March for Our Lives protest, which occurred in March of 2018.
“So we are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it just yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.”
Gonzalez wrote in an opinion piece for Harper’s Bazaar
Haitian American Ludmya “Mia” Love was the first black female Republican elected to Congress. In 2010, she was elected mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah. Then, from 2015-019, she served as the Utah’s U.S. Representative. Love also joined CNN as a political commentator in early 2019.
“Regardless of the difficulties we may face individually, in our families, in our communities and in our nation, the old adage is still true – you can make excuses or you can make progress, but you cannot make both!” Love said in an opinion feature for The Daily Caller
Iranian-born Maryam Mirzakhani was a Harvard graduate and a professor at Stanford University who broke ground in the field of geometry. Her research topics varied from geometry to physics–including such specific areas as ergodic theory, symplectic geometry and the Teichmüller theory, to name a few. However, her most prominent contribution was to the theory of moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces.
In 2005, “Popular Science” honored her in their fourth annual “Brilliant 10.” Nine years later, as a result of her work with Riemann surfaces, she received the most prestigious award for mathematics: the Fields Medal.
Sadly, Mirzakhani passed away due to breast cancer on July 14, 2017 at the age of 40.
“I like crossing the imaginary boundaries people set up between different fields–it’s very refreshing,” Mirzakhani said, according to Aljazeera
Before she was the First Lady, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama worked as an associate at a law firm, where she focused on marketing and intellectual property law after graduating from both Princeton and Harvard. This law firm was where she met her husband, Barack Obama. In addition to being a lawyer and a university administrator, Obama also authored the memoir “Becoming.”
As first lady, Obama worked to raise awareness for poverty and to improve education and nutrition.
“Don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own,” Michelle Obama said in a keynote address to a Young African Women Leaders Forum
Rewind to 2006. Civil rights activist Tarana Burke coins the phrase “Me Too,” using the phrase in order to raise awareness of sexual abuse and assault in society.
Fast forward to 2017. Actress Alyssa Milano stumbles across the phrase and starts #MeToo, urging survivors of sexual assault to reply to her tweet with “Me Too.”
Thus, these two women worked toward raising awareness of sexual assault, freeing women to share their stories. Now, the #MeToo movement has exposed sexual predators in very high places, infamously including Hollywood mogul Harvery Weinstein.
“Me Too is a global community of survivors. It’s a mechanism for action, for empowerment through empathy. It’s about gaining power from knowing there is someone who gets you.”
Tarana Burke said in a speech at Colton Chapel
“I want you to know that also I’m working very hard, a lot of women are working very hard, to make sure that silence is not the norm for your generation…My biggest hope for you is that you never have to say ‘me too.’ But if you do, God forbid, if you do have to ever say ‘me too,’ I want you to know that you will be heard,” said Milano to her daughter in a video shared on Twitter
Barbadian-born Robyn Rihanna Fenty is a household name. Whether you know her as the businesswoman behind her fashion brand Fenty or for her Grammy-award-winning music, she has left an impression on popular culture. In 2006, she founded the Believe Foundation, which helps terminally ill children. No wonder Time magazine included Rihanna as one of its “100 Most Influential People in the World” in both 2012 and 2018.
“The minute you learn to love yourself you won’t want to be anyone else,” said Rihanna as quoted in this article by Your Tango
These are only a few of the many women making an impact on America today. There’s no telling what amazing feats the women of the future will accomplish!