“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa
Like Mother Teresa, many of the most influential women in history made this statement correct through their accomplishments. Unlike Mother Teresa, not all of these women are famous or even well-known. International Women’s Day is a chance to recognize influential and inspiring women, both past and present.
Susan Solomon, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was one of the key contributors to determining what caused the hole in the ozone layer. Her dedication and work helped place the ban on dangerous chemicals like propellants in aerosol cans.
Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She rallies to plant more trees and simultaneously helps fight deforestation. Wangari was beaten and jailed for leading Kenya’s democracy movement. Her efforts are ongoing and more than 45 million trees have been planted in Africa and America because of her work.
Gertrude Belle Elion was a praised medical researcher whose contributions to the medical world made it possible to transplant organs. Gertrude passed away in 1999 but her Nobel Prize-winning research made it possible for thousands of patients to have a second chance at life.
Virginia Apgar, M.D. was a pioneer in neonatology. Her work led to the creation of the first test for newborns, The Apgar Score. Her work helped determine medical needs of newborns which, in turn, reduced the mortality rate of infants.
These are just a few of the thousands of women in the world who made incredible contributions and changed the lives of women, and the world, forever. Countless independent, strong, and courageous women have devoted their lives to research, activism, sports, politics, and science to become the first of many firsts for women everywhere. They have made it possible for women to work, vote, care for their families, have their voices heard, and be respected as contributing members of society, just like their counterparts.
International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world in different ways. In Russia and Italy, gifts of chocolates and mimosas are given to women. Eastern Europe celebrates women with flowers. Some countries give women half a day off work to celebrate women. In 2017, activists from all across the world joined an International strike in honor of International Women’s Day.
Though we acknowledge and pay tribute to the historical women who have paved way for women today, it is imperative that women across the globe continue to push forward and inspire the next generation as these women have done. Our efforts and contributions will only help remind the future generations of what women are capable of and how much they have to offer. Women should be reminded of who they are and who they can be. International Women’s Day, March 8th, is a great day to celebrate the women before you, the women standing with you, and the woman that you are!
“One is not born a woman, one becomes one.” – Simone De Beauvoir