25 Women in History We Love

On the last day of Women’s History Month, Every Mother Counts honors some of the women who’ve made the biggest impact on the lives of all.

Women have always played an essential role in history, but their stories rarely made it into history books. Still, some women’s contributions were so important their stories could not be edited out. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve created a timeline of women we simply couldn’t live without.

1) Abigail Adams’ (1744–1818) words demonstrate that while we’ve come a long way, in some ways, very little has changed. As her husband, President John Adams helped draft the Declaration of Independence, Abigail reminded him, “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

2) Sojourner Truth (around 1797–1883) was born into slavery in New York. Upon discovering one of her children was sold into slavery after emancipation, she sued for his freedom and won. She became an important voice for all women’s rights with her speech, Ain’t I a Woman.

3) Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) and 4) Susan B Anthony (1820–1906) were team-leaders of the women’s rights movement, working for suffrage, women’s parental, property, employment, divorce and income rights.

5) Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1920) was the first woman doctor. We love the spirit of her quote: “It is not easy to be a pioneer — but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.”

6) Clara Barton (1821–1912) was a Civil War nurse, educator and humanitarian who founded the American Red Cross and continues to represent the essential medical care provided by nurses.

7) Ida Tarbell (1857–1944), among the first female journalists, wrote exposes about corporate America. While she didn’t profess to be pro-suffrage, her journalistic prestige opened up publishing opportunities for women.

8) Margaret Sanger (1879–1966) Her nursing career made her painfully aware of the tragic consequences of too many unplanned pregnancies, inspiring her to become the mother of modern contraception and women’s health.

9) Jeannette Rankin (1880–1973) the first woman elected to Congress said: “Men and women are like right and left hands; it doesn’t make sense not to use both.” And, “We’re half the people; we should be half the Congress,”- a statement that continues to ring true today.

10) Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) dedicated her life to social equality. Her connection with people in all walks of life made her one of the most influential First Ladies. Among the first delegates to the United Nations, she helped write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

11) Amelia Earhart (1897–1937) broke aviatrix records and gave women wings. Amelia’s quote “Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail their failure must be but a challenge to others,” was a powerful statement about women’s rights to try, regardless of whether success is guaranteed.

12) Virgina Apgar (1909–1974) was an obstetrician who developed the Apgar Score, a five-item assessment tool used at births all over the world that helps nurses and physicians determine if a newborn requires emergency care.

13) Mother Teresa’s (1910–1997) impact on poverty eradication and her views that poverty isn’t just a matter of money, but also one of social isolation are modeled throughout the world today.

14) Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921–2011) was an American medical physicist and co-winner of the 1977 Nobel Prize for helping develop a technique to measure minute quantities of insulin in the blood.

15) Betty Freidan (1921–2006) wrote, The Feminine Mystique, permanently changed women’s conversations about whether their place really was in the home. Credited for sparking the second wave of feminism, Freidan became the first president for the National Organization of Women.

16) Ruth Bader Ginzberg — (1933) was the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court and remains a strong advocate for women’s rights and civil rights in general.

17) Gloria Steinem (1934) is recognized as the media spokesperson for women’s liberation and co-founder of Ms Magazine. Her statement, “Most women are one man away from welfare,” woke a generation of women to their own economic vulnerability.

18) Billy Jean King (1943) won 20 titles at Wimbledon and created the Women’s Sports Foundation, which helped create Title IX, guaranteeing equal opportunities for boys and girls in all educational activities including sports.

19) Sally Ride (1951–2012) became the first woman in Space. She is on the record saying “I did not come to NASA to make history,” but she did it anyway.

20) Beverly Johnson (1952) was the first African American model on the cover of Vogue magazine, which led to wider acceptance of African American women in all media spotlights.

21) Oprah Winfrey (1954) is the first African American to have a syndicated talk show host. Her words, “For everyone of us that succeeds, it’s because there’s somebody there to show you the way out,” speak for all women looking for a better life.

22–25) Sandra Day O’Connor became America’s first female Supreme Court Justice, who paved the way for Madeleine Albright (first female Secretary of State), and Condoleezza Rice (first African American Secretary of State) and arguably the most powerful woman in politics today — Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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