Women’s History Month arrives again this March. If you are interested in having a discussion about important women with your family or friends, or if you would just like to learn more about women’s history for your own knowledge, here are five important stories worth telling.
Author Edith Wharton is responsible for such classic works as “The House of Mirth” and “The Age of Innocence,” which seek to illuminate the problematic condition of upper class society in New York during the turn of the century as well as to shed light on the difficulties of being a woman in a man’s world at that time and place.
Not only do her fictional stories teach women important life lessons, her own accomplishments make her an inspiring figure. She has the distinction of being the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1921 for “The Age of Innocence.”
“The book has inspired several stage and screen adaptations, and the writer Cecily Von Ziegesar has said that it was the model for her popular Gossip Girl series of books,” according to History.com.
It is important to learn about activists who have been central to the women’s rights movement, and Alice Paul is certainly one to know. Paul was an activist who worked tirelessly with her colleagues to pass an equal rights amendment for nearly 50 years.
In March 1972, they were successful in convincing Congress to propose for ratification the amendment that stated, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Although 22 out of 38 required states immediately ratified it, an anti-ratification campaign was successful in working against it. Unfortunately, the ratification deadline expired in 1982, and the amendment was never passed.
Sandra Day O’Connor
Stanford Law School graduate Sandra Day O’Connor was the first women appointed to the United States Supreme Court. President Ronald Reagan nominated her in 1981, despite her judicial experience being only a few years long. She was sworn in after being confirmed by the Senate in a decisive 99-0 vote.
By the time she retired in 2006, she developed a lasting reputation as an important and thoughtful judge.
“She also made it clear that the high court's role in American society was to interpret the law, not to legislate,” according to WomensHistoryMonth.gov.
Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony was raised in a Quaker household that instilled in her a sense of the importance of activism and human rights. She was a teacher for 15 years before she began taking part in the temperance movement. She spoke publicly for the Daughters of Temperance in 1849 and later went on to be an integral part of the formation of one of the first temperance organizations: the Woman’s State Temperance Society of New York.
Anthony worked with fellow activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to publish the journal “The Revolution” in 1868, which not only focused on women’s rights but also African Americans’ rights. She helped lead a group of women to try to vote at the polls in Rochester, New York in 1872 and was arrested for her efforts. This didn’t stop her from campaigning for suffrage, and she even published three books about the movement.
When she died, four states gave women the right to vote, and the movement gained success in the subsequent years until all women had the right to vote when Congress adopted the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Amelia Earhart has captivated the imaginations and hearts of people across the globe since she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane in 1928. That trip took over 20 hours, and when she landed, she was an instant celebrity. She became a best-selling author with her book about the famed flight, was an editor at Cosmopolitan magazine and won numerous awards. When Earhart tried to become the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe in 1937, she tragically disappeared after her plane left New Guinea. Her plane was never found.
There are important women who made history in the arts, sciences, sports, politics and every other field, and a month isn’t long enough to discuss them all. These five stories each represent a unique moment to give a wide scope of women’s history.
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