Celebrating Independently-Minded Women In America

Fighting For Women’s Rights & Education

From early on, women fought for their rights – whether it was to own land, to give girls the opportunity for a good education, or for equal rights in the workplace. Here are some women who stand out in history:

Margaret Brent: In 1639, Brent became the first female landowner in Maryland. A close friend of Governor Leonard Calvert, he appointed her the executor of his estate. The Provincial Court appointed Brent as Lord Baltimore’s attorney-in-fact in 1648 and, as part of her duties, she made sure soldiers were paid and fed and her actions helped to avoid mutiny in the colony. She was a significant founding settler of both Maryland and Virginia. She was also the first woman in North America to appear before a common law court.

Sarah Josepha Hale: The author of the nursery rhyme “Mary had a little lamb” was a fierce supporter of education for girls. After her husband’s death in 1822, Hale Avalyne launched her writing and magazine editing career to support her five children. She was instrumental in changing minds to allow girls into professions like teaching, and later medicine.

“In this age of innovation perhaps no experiment will have an influence more important on the character and happiness of our society than the granting to females the advantages of a systematic and thorough education.” – Sarah Josepha Hale

Gloria Steinem: In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Steinem became nationally recognized as the spokeswoman for the feminist movement. She is a journalist and social and political activist and is currently speaking about the issues of equality throughout the world.

In 1920, American women got the right to vote – after 70 years of fighting for this right. Over the years, there were many women who helped fight for the right to vote. Here we highlight some of the most prominent:

Lucy Stone: In 1847, Stone became the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree. She was a vocal advocate for women’s rights and the abolishment of slavery at a time when women were discouraged and even prevented to speak in public. Stone kept her maiden name after her marriage – something that was severely frowned upon at the time. She founded the Woman’s Journal, a weekly magazine about women’s rights.

Lucretius Mott: Mott believed that the roles women played in society at the time were due to limited education, not inferiority. She supported equal political rights and economic opportunities.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Stanton helped form the first women’s rights convention in 1848, with Lucretia Mott.

“Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Women In Politics

Not so long ago, women were not allowed to participate in political affairs. Here are some women who helped change the gender gap in politics:

Jeannette Rankin: Elected in 1916, Rankin was the first woman in Congress. Prior to joining Congress, she was a professional lobbyist for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and her efforts helped women in Montana to gain the vote in 1914.

“I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.” – Jeannette Rankin

Eleanor Roosevelt: The wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she dramatically changed the role of the first lady through her active participation in American politics. During her husband’s presidency, Roosevelt wrote a newspaper column, gave press conferences, and spoke about human rights, children’s causes, and women’s issues. After his death, she became the delegate to the United Nations and served from 1945 to 1953. She also served as the chair of the UN’s Human Rights Commission.

“Women are like teabags. You don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Madeleine Albright: In 1993, Albright became the US Ambassador to the United Nations. In 1997, she was appointed as the first female US Secretary of State. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Albright holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, as well as numerous honorary degrees.

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