Trailblazing Women (Mar. 2017)

malalaBy: Christina Gavin, Inclusive Instruction Specialist

Thirty years ago, the United States Congress declared the month of March to be Women’s History Month. While this annual recognition is certainly an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women in our world—it is also an opportunity to increase awareness.

Women and girls have fought through history to gain civil rights. On January 21, 2017, women across the globe gathered in their respective cities for the Women’s March. These recent public demonstrations have been a stark reminder; though much progress has been made, there is still work to be done. The ongoing fight for women’s rights is not just a fight to impact laws, policies and equal access.  There is also a deeper and more symbolic fight at the heart of these issues.  Like many groups who have experienced discrimination, women of the world know that authentic change cannot happen until there is a shift in mindsets, attitudes, and beliefs.

Each year, the National Women’s History Project picks a theme to celebrate National Women’s Month. The annual theme for 2017 is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business”.  For each trailblazing woman who makes history, there has been no shortage of obstacles to overcome.

Malala Yousafzai risked her life to go to school and now speaks to people around the world about the right for girls to be educated. Malala was 17 years old when she became the youngest ever person to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sheryl Sandburg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, has written about gender differences that women may feel or experience in the workplace. She encourages women to overcome fears and pursue leadership roles in her book Lean In.

Katherine Johnson was a mathematician and “human computer” who worked at NASA for over 30 years. Her math calculations helped launch shuttles into space, including the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. As an African American woman, she faced and overcame many racial and gender barriers. Her story was told in the award-winning 2017 film Hidden Figures.

Photo: Malala Yousafzai, human rights activist for women's education and the youngest Noble Peace Prize Winner (2014)
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