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Celebrating Women's History Month: 5 Powerful Women Who Paved the Way

With fights for equal pay and increased job opportunities still necessary in today's world, it's inspiring to look back on those in history who've sparked change.

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March is Women’s History Month, making it a special time to honor women who have worked tirelessly and fearlessly to advance future generations. With fights for equal pay and increased job opportunities still necessary in today’s world, it’s inspiring to look back on those in history who’ve sparked change.

The history of this celebration can be traced back to the mid-1800s when women working in NYC factories staged a protest over poor working conditions. However, it wasn’t until 1987 that Congress decided to commemorate this long-honored tradition with an official proclamation. Though there are countless women throughout decades of achievements that deserve recognition, here are five powerhouses that have inspired the masses. From Rosa Parks to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, identifying power encourages women of today to carry the torch and persevere.

1. Rosa Parks

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks became the face of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. Her resistance to bus segregation was not unprecedented, although she was deemed an iconic source of inspiration for the Black community as she continued her work with other civil rights leaders of the time, including Martin Luther King Jr. In 1956, the Supreme Court ruled Montgomery’s segregation laws as unconstitutional, and she used this ruling to continue her activist work throughout her lifetime. A forever icon of the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks held firmly to her resolve and strength of character for the greater good.

Related: Do All Superheroes Wear Capes? No, But Anyone Can Still Be a Hero.

2. Amelia Earhart

American aviator Amelia Earhart is best known for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Prior to her historic flight, Earhart served as a Red Cross nurses’ aid and studied pre-med at Columbia University before she began flying lessons in 1921 from female flight instructor Neta Snook. Just one year later, she set her first of many aviation records by becoming the first woman to fly solo above 14,000 feet. Earhart transcended traditional gender roles at the time to excel in a field dominated by men. She was not deterred by limitations of the time, but instead responded to them with relentless ambition. 

Related: The 6 Internal Motivations of Pure, Unadulterated Ambition

3. Susan B. Anthony

One of the earliest activists for equal pay and equal work for women was Susan B. Anthony. She became one of the leading faces of the women’s suffrage movement beginning in 1848. For 50 years, she and fellow suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought for women’s rights by traveling throughout the country and giving speeches, particularly focused on giving women the right to vote. Her tenacity paved a clear path for other women to join the movement and eventually reach the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Though she was not alive to see this goal come to fruition, she passed the torch courageously and selflessly to better the future for women.

4. Mother Teresa

If there’s anyone who’s wholeheartedly dedicated her life to following through on her purpose, it’s Mother Teresa. She spent her life caring for and providing spiritual healing for those dying in Calcutta. She founded The Missionaries of Charity to provide for abandoned babies, as well as the poor and suffering. In 1979, she was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and canonized a saint following her death. Her actions were never guided by these accolades or designations but rather her call to be of service to others. Mother Teresa honed in her own true nature and was laser-focued on the task at hand. Though her selfless journey is a unique one, her love and guidance serve as inspiration and fortitude for people today.

5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Tackling adversity on the legal front is the legacy Ruth Bader Ginsburg left behind, thanks to her service as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice from 1993 to 2020. When appointed to the high court, she was only the second female justice and spoke and ruled frequently in favor of gender equality and the rights of workers. In 1972, she co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project to challenge laws that treated sexes differently and establish precedence for cases ruled on today. Steadfast in her mission and personable in her approach, Ruth Bader Ginsburg used her intelligence, power and steadfastness to spark lasting change. Her tenacity has served as a beacon of light to encourage other women to speak up and step into their own power.

Related: 5 Lessons From Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

These five women were born changemakers and left an imprint on the world at large. Reflecting on their accomplishments, character and drive serves a source of motivation for those continuing to fight for change today. Regardless of the month, honoring the bold and brave women in your life can and should be done frequently.

Consider taking time this month to send a note of thanks to those who have inspired you or read more about women in history who can help guide you on your path — and don’t be surprised if you find out you’ve been a source of inspiration for someone else. Lifting up others contributes to the greater whole and continuously improves the way we live and show up in the world.

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