This Women’s Day we turn back the hands of time to look back on ten inspirational women throughout history. These women overcame huge obstacles to get to where they needed to be.
She was a nuclear physicist, and along with doctor Solomon Berson, developed radioimmununoassay (RIA). This is used to measure extremely small concentrations of substances in the body, ie hormones in blood. It was because of this research they were able to prove that Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body’s inefficient use of insulin, not a lack thereof.
She was the first person to claim a Nobel prize honours twice, and became the first women with her first Nobel prize in physics to win such an award. It was through her research that we now know of polonium and radium, as well as further development in the creation of X-rays.
Most famously know for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus, which was part of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Rosa Parks influenced many to civilly disobey the segregation laws in United States. She was subsequently arrested for that altercation, but Parks never let go of her belief in the Civil Rights Movement of the United States which lasted from 1954-1968.
Affectionately known as the Lady of the Lamp, Nightingale helped to reform unsanitary conditions of hospitals during the Crimean War. She gained her nickname during her evening rounds checking patients as she carried around a lamp to illuminate her way. She was also know as “The Angel of the Crimea”, both we dubbed by the soldiers she and her team took care of during the war.
She was a champion of the advancement of women in aviation, who also held several flying records to prove that women aviators are just as good as their male counter parts. It was during her flight to circumnavigate the globe that she disappeared somewhere over the the Pacific in July 1937. It remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the 20th century.
She is a feminist icon and revered self portrait artist after a severe injury from a bus accident. Her works of art are captivating and inspiring. Proving that just because you may be limited in some aspects of your life, it doesn’t mean you can’t excel in others.
She was a leading activist of women’s rights and birth control. She opened the first family planning clinic in London on 17 March 1921. She and her husband financed the clinic and only hired female nurses and doctors to make women more comfortable. The clinic offered free service to married women, gathered information on birth control and provided access to birth control for the poor. Her legacy is seen through the Marie Stropes International organisation, which provides reproductive health services to four million people, with 452 clinics in 35 countries.
In 1978, Sally Ride became the first American woman in Space. She piloted the space shuttler Challenger on 18 June 1938. She later became a role model for generations and champion for science education. She made two shuttle flights in her career.
As the ex-wife to Anti-Apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela certainly held her own in the political struggle for South Africa’s freedom from the separatist Apartheid regime. She became the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, President of the African National Congress Woman’s League (ANCWL) and a member of the NEC (National Executive Committee) of the ANC.
She was the first black musician to leave South Africa because of Apartheid, and it was her departure that prompted many others to follow her. Her songs like The Click Song and Pata Pata gained international renown. She inadvertently created the Afro Look which gained momentum in America, where she had taken refuge after having her passport revoked and denied access back into South Africa by the Apartheid regime. In 1963 she testified about Apartheid at the United Nations, and her South African citizenship was taken away after she testified. Her music will remain a legacy of her love for her culture.
“When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.”
Michelle Obama- Former First Lady United States of America.