Women’s History Month began in the late 1980s, after five years of joint resolutions implementing a week in March as “Women’s History Week”. In 1987, the Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to pass Pub. L. 100-9, which made March Women’s History Month. In the years 1988-1994 Congress put in requests for the President to continue authorization and each President since 1995 has made individual proclamations to continue the tradition.
This celebration of the many important advancements made by women socially, culturally and intellectually allows women and those in women’s lives to come together and reflect. This reflection inspires many to follow in the footsteps of not only well-known names but also those who have gotten lost in the shadows or those who make an appearance in our every day lives.
In this article, I will provide a synopsis of some influential women you may not have heard of, but have shaped our history and paved the way for societal progression.
Ada Lovelace (December 10, 1815- November 27, 1852) is credited as one of the first to recognize the potential of machines, beyond math calculations. She created one of the first algorithms to support her beliefs.
Amna Al Haddad, born October 21, 1988, is a journalist turned professional weightlifter who challenges gender roles. She is from an area that discourages women from participating in sports. She began working with Nike while she trained for the 2016 Summer Olympics on an “Inner Strength” campaign series, which influenced the company to create a sports hijab, so she and many other Muslim women would not have to sacrifice comfort when wearing hijabs and participating in athletic activities.
Eufrosina Cruz, born January 1, 1979, was inspired at a young age to defy the stereotypical roles of women in society. Her father told her she would cook and take care of the family at home in Mexico. She was elected Regional Deputy in 2010 and became the first indigenous woman to chair the State Congress of Oaxaca. She is known to advocate for gender equality and the rights of indigenous women in Mexico.
Xian Zhang, born 1973 lived in a country where pianos were forbidden. She learned to play on a jumbled, hand-constructed piano that her father created. She became the first female titleholder of the BBC orchestra. She has been associated with many major cities in the United States for her work.
The Brontë Sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, began writing in youth during their free time. They used male pseudonyms in order to get their works published. Their stories still hold important places in literature, including Anne’s Agnes Gray, Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, and Emily’s Wuthering Heights. Sadly, it was not uncommon for women to disguise as men in order to be taken seriously as writers.
Olivia Proops, founder of UNC’s Wonder Women group, with the main goal of bringing attention to and preventing sexual violence, was inspired to create the group from her own personal experience, and a self defense class she took from the UNC police department. Before she transferred to UNC, she felt unsafe as one of the few women in her engineering program at her school in Philadelphia.
“I knew that I wanted to do something to help women,” Proops said in an article done in The Daily Tar Heel. “I think it’s ridiculous that people should feel scared when they’re trying to get their education.”
In addition to holding workshops, the group has started a petition to make Rape Aggression Defense an official UNC course, in order to make it more accessible for students.
Strong, inspiring women can be found everywhere. March is dedicated to remembering and celebrating women. It is important to learn about those who have influenced our world to be the way that it is today.