We’ve heard the names time and again: Marie Curie, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller, Mother Theresa — women who have changed the course of politics, arts and education.
Today is International Women’s Day; a day curated to honor women’s social, political and economic achievements, and one found all the more important in today’s culture. While the aforementioned women have successfully fought not just for women’s rights, but for the greater good of society and the world, there are so many other strong women who have influenced and changed the world in one way or another.
So today, We-Care.com decided to honor some of those women — both past and present, known and unknown — and the contributions they have made to the world.
Sappho was one of the first women to pave the way for intellectual respect. She was born on the Isle of Lesbos and became one of the earliest published poets. Ever. Unfortunately, much of her work has been lost over time, but Plato named her one of the 10 best poets, thus cementing her place in history.
“May I write words more than naked flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve.”
Emmeline Pankhurst was the British counterpart to our Susan B. Anthony — a pioneer and leader for women’s activists. Supported by her husband, Barrister Richard Pankhurst, and her five children, she spent her life championing for the right to vote and advocating for political, economic, and social respect for single and married women alike. Emmeline passed away just three weeks before British Parliament extended the right to vote to all women over the age of 21 in 1928.
“We have to free half of the human race, the women, so that they can help to free the other half.”
We have Mary Quant to thank for closet staples such as the miniskirt and hot pants. A prominent designer and fashion icon of the 1960s, Quant revolutionized the idea of style, granting women the freedom of choice and turning clothing into a form of self-expression. At age 81, Mary refuses to fully exit the workforce, proving that the sentiment “fashions fade, but style is eternal” still rings true.
“Fashion, as we knew it, is over. People wear now exactly what they feel like wearing.”
Indra Nooyi breathes fresh air into the women of today’s century, and offers honest thoughts and insight into the idea of curating both a family and a career. A wife, mother, and career woman, Nooyi has risen straight to the top, yet always candidly speaks about the sacrifices she’s made in regards to truly being able to “have it all.” Nooyi’s frank honesty allows working women everywhere know they aren’t alone in their struggles to balance all aspects of life, and that’s truly okay.
“Train people at work. Train your family to be your extended family… If you don’t develop mechanisms with your secretaries, with the extended office, with everybody around you, it cannot work. You know, stay at home mothering was a full time job. Being a CEO for a company is three full time jobs rolled into one. How can you do justice to all? You can’t.”
Benazir Bhutto wasn’t just the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan; she was the first female Prime Minister of any predominately Muslim country. The daughter of another Pakistani Prime Minister, Bhutto passed her A-Levels to become an Oxford alum and law graduate of Lady Margaret Hall College. She ascended into her position in 1988, and was able to successfully transition Pakistan into a democracy while introducing social reforms that specifically assisted women and impoverished peoples. Although she left the Prime Minister’s chair in 1990, she remained active in politics until her assassination in 2007.
“If a woman is tough, she is pushy. If a man is tough, gosh, he’s a great leader.”
Stephanie Sharlow is a Marketing Coordinator for We-Care.com, building relationships with media professionals to share the incredible stories of the 800+ nonprofits that We-Care.com supports. She has always been dedicated to giving back, even founding a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization for suicide prevention and awareness based out of her alma mater in 2011. Stephanie is a Media Fellow graduate of DePauw University, and lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @StephSharlow.