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5 Inspirational Women Making History You May Not Know About


Sat, March 16

In honor of Women's History Month, here are five inspiring women making waves and breaking the glass ceiling to show that women are capable of anything!

Tarana Burke

Behind the global phenomenon of "Me Too" stands Tara Burke, a feminist activist and advocate for survivors of sexual violence and misconduct. Tarana Burke was born on September 12, 1973, in the Bronx, New York. As a teenager, she began advocating for equal rights, leading protests and campaigns for serious issues, including economic injustice, racial discrimination, and women's rights.

Her fame began in 2006 with a simple phrase- "Me Too"- aimed at empowering survivors of sexual violence to speak out and seek support. Burke's work has not only raised awareness about sexual harassment and assault but has also sparked a much-needed conversation about consent, boundaries, and accountability. Her hashtag, #MeToo, went viral on social media, spreading her powerful message to both men and women.

It was used over 19 million times on X, formerly called Twitter, alone. Her efforts inspire many worldwide to break their silence and demand justice for survivors.

Tadiello from Wikimedia Commons

Amanda Nguyen

Amanda Nguyen is a social justice activist and the founder of Rise. This nonprofit organization advocates for the rights of sexual assault survivors and has passed over 65 laws in the United States. Born on October 10, 1991, to Vietnamese immigrant parents, Nguyen grew up in California with a keen awareness of social injustice issues within the US.

Her passion for activism began after her own experience with sexual assault due to her lack of resources and support following the incident. She wanted to ensure that other survivors worldwide would feel comfortable seeking support and know what to do if they ever faced unwanted advances.

She is best known for her work in passing the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights in the United States, which ensures that survivors have access to their rape kits and are informed of their rights. She was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and named one of the 12 TIME's 2022 Woman of the Year, showing how just one person can make a big impact and help thousands of people.

Her work continues to help millions of people learn about their rights, seek helpful guidance and support, and create a sense of community where people from all sorts of backgrounds can be open and feel safe with others who have shared their experiences.

New America from Wikimedia Commons

Leymah Gbowee

Leymah Gbowee, born February 1, 1972, is a Liberian peace activist, social worker, and women's rights advocate who played a key role in ending the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. She was only 17 years old when the First Liberian Civil War began, ravaging her country and taking countless lives. Her friends, family, and community went through great hardship during the war, and she knew she had to do something to make her country change for the better.

Determined to prevent history from repeating itself, Gbowee organized and became President of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement, which brought together thousands of women from different ethnic and religious backgrounds to protest against the war and achieve peace. Through their organizing, protests, and acts of civil disobedience, Gbowee and her fellow activists demanded an end to the war. Gbowee's courageous leadership and commitment to peace serve as an inspiration and demonstrate the power of taking action to achieve change.

Her hard work inspired many women to get active and fight for justice, paving the way for Africa's first female head of state, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Finally, fourteen years after it all began, the Second Liberian Civil War ended thanks to Gbowee's courage.

Pensamento from Wikimedia Commons

Sarah Gilbert

Amidst the 2020 global pandemic, vaccinologist Sarah Gilbert played a pivotal role in developing the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, a breakthrough that would change the course of the pandemic. Gilbert is a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford and contributed greatly to public health and immunology. She led efforts to design and test the vaccine candidate, working tirelessly to overcome the public health crisis.

Gilbert's contributions to public health and scientific innovation have not gone unnoticed. She has been widely recognized and celebrated for her groundbreaking work, receiving numerous honors for her role in the fight against COVID-19. Her dedication to public health and scientific innovation saved thousands of lives and helped the world fight against the virus.

Thanks to Dr. Sarah Gilbert, the world was able to fight the deadly disease and move on with our everyday lives.

Escv2021 from Wikimedia Commons

Jessica Watkins

Jessica Watkins is reaching the stars as the first black woman to join a space station crew. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Geology and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Selected by NASA to be part of the Astronaut Candidate Class, Watkins is currently training for future space missions. She served as a mission specialist on NASA's SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station, which concluded on October 14, 2022.

During the mission, she spent 170 days in space maintaining the space station and contributing to science experiments to improve life on Earth and allow researchers to learn more about the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. As Watkins ventures towards space, she serves as a powerful reminder to all women that dreaming big and working hard can get you anywhere you want to be, even the stars.

Markowitz from Wikimedia Commons

These five incredible women are pivotal examples of how women can do anything they put their minds to. It is so important for young girls to have these positive role models to look up to, and these women are doing so much to contribute to our society and make the world a better place every day. Happy Women's History Month!

Kaila Hu
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Kaila Hu is a junior in high school from Fairfax, Virginia. She currently holds the position of Editor-in-Chief for her school newspaper, Editor for The Teen Magazine, and Washington Journalism and Media Conference alumni.