Women Who Dare: Celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth

by Charlene Flanagan
Perhaps you’re familiar with the saying: “It’s a man’s world”. Many of us have grown up feeling as though the  world around us were male-centric; where humanity itself was invariably referred to as mankind. Everything in life, it can seem, is arranged to the advantage of men. Women have it tough. However, thoughout history, there have been women who pushed boundaries, broke stereotypes, challenged norms, and found their corners.

For most of human history, women had to struggle to gain education, the right to drive or even vote. That, of course, is changing with the advent of a more modern outlook that many parts of the world are adopting, but perhaps we also owe it to those brave women who couldn’t sit idly by while the rules were being written for them. They challenged those preconceived notions, and fought their way into those male-dominated professions—whether they were the humanities, business or even medicine. Regardless of your feelings on her politics, you have to hand it to Ayn Rand when she said, “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.”

Empowerment In A Time Of Discrimination
Most of us have at least a degree of awareness of the historical oppression of women. But still, ambition ran deep even in times when the right to equality wasn’t an option for fear that a woman’s inherent “femininity” would be compromised. But the role of “caregiver” was taken to a whole new level when women began looking to medicine, even back in the early 19th century.

The photo above, courtesy of A Mighty Girl, shows Anandabai Joshee from Seranysore, India; Kei Okami from Tokyo, Japan; and Tabat M Islambooly from Damascus, Syria—who made their way to America, enrolled at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, and went on to graduate and earn their doctorates back in 1885. This remarkable achievment is even more astounding when you consider that this American Women's Medical College was producing women doctors a full 35 years before women's suffrage in the United States.

These three female medical pioneers went home as the first female doctors of their countries. And they weren’t the only ones. Many women since have gone on to break societal norms and change the world, especially in medicine.
 
Take Clara Barton, for example. She is the founder of The American Red Cross, an organization considered a vital player for disaster relief and vital services to millions of people in crisis around the world. Then, there’s Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to earn an MD. If that’s not all, she co-founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857. But, perhaps the most famous of them all was the renowned physicist and chemist Marie Cure, who was the first person to be awarded two Nobel prizes. And while the list of women who have made significant contributions to society—particularly in the male-dominated field of science and medicine—is a rather long one, there’s no denying that women are invaluable members of society and strong personalities that must be lauded and celebrated.

This #WomensHistoryMonth (we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8), we’re here to honor those women who braved adversity, have left their mark on society and proved that women were equally capable of greatness—they merely needed the courage to follow their aspirations.

What historic woman has inspired you? Let us know in the comments.
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