Women who made a Difference

History of International Women’s Day (IWD) 

Let’s take a stroll back in time. The day is the 8th of March, 1909, when the Social Party of America celebrated around 15,000 American women who took to the streets protesting poor work conditions and disfranchisement of voting. The day is the 8th of March, 1917, when tens of thousands of Russian women protested the shortage of food and living circumstances that they had to endure due to WWI. The day is the 8th of March, 1975, when the United Nations officially announced it International Women’s Day. 

On the 8th of March, 2020 and women are being celebrated all over the world for their resilience, ambition, and achievements. We have compiled a shortlist of impactful women throughout History whom we want to celebrate.

Throughout the years, countless women made history; From fighting for equality, education, and freedom into thriving in the worlds of science, arts, and literature.

These women have inspired us and have helped in making the world a better place.

1.Maya Angelou:

An author, poet, dancer, screenwriter, actress and civil rights activist, famously known for her memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” made history as the first non-fiction best-seller by an African American woman. 

As an African American woman, Angelou has witnessed firsthand the hardships and the discrimination at that time.

“I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing”, as well as many of her works, have covered many important topics such as rape, racism, and literacy. Angelou was the voice of many victims of discrimination and trauma.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

― Maya Angelou

2.Safiya Zaghloul:

Daughter of the former prime minister of Egypt and wife to Saad Zaghloul, Egyptian revolutionary and the former prime minister himself, Safiya was immersed in politics all her life. 

Many deem Saad Zaghloul as the leader of the Egyptian revolution of 1919; however, his wife was just as integral as he was in that revolution. 

As Saad Zaghloul was in exile, Safiya took to gathering people and making announcements through their secretary. She not only led the people but was highly esteemed by them, earning herself the title of Uum ElMasryeen, Mother of Egyptians. 

She opened her house for protestors and was ready to sacrifice herself for the struggle of the people. 

3.Rosa Parks:

Parks, born in 1913, moved to Alabama at the age of 12 and she attended a laboratory school until she had to leave in the 11th grade to take care of her ill grandmother. 

In Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, Rosa Parks was on a bus when the bus driver asked her to stand up and give her seat to a white man, Parks refused and after that incident, she was a part of the beginning of an entire civil rights movement in America. Parks’ actions sparked a wave of protests across America.

“The first lady of civil rights” and “The mother of the freedom movement” were names given to her by The United States Congress.

“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.” 

—Rosa Park

4. Hoda Shaarawi:

The first Arab woman to present the ideas of feminism, Hoda wrote and published The Harem Years in 1987. She spoke about how women were treated in the Harem system—being veiled, separated from men and guarded by eunuchs. As for breaking records, Hoda was the first to establish a philanthropic society run by women in Egypt. She helped in the gathering of the largest women’s anti-British protest in 1919. She also founded the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1923 which is a nonprofit organization that discusses women’s rights in Egypt covering topics like suffrage, education, freedom of movement and self-expression—which were all central parts in Harem. She wanted to challenge the idea that women are creatures made for men’s pleasure and in need of constant protection.  

5. Lotfia El Nady:

Born into Egypt in a time when women were only expected to marry and become housewives, Lotfia saw no reason why she could not pursue her interests based solely on her gender. 

Against all social norms at the time and her family’s objections, Lotfia signed up for flight lessons in a newly opened flying school at the time. 

She worked as a secretary in that school in order to afford her education. Lotfia graduated to be not only the first Egyptian woman to earn a pilot’s license, but also the first Arab and African woman to do so—truly unprecedented! 

Here is to celebrating all these women, and many more. 

Discover more about the impact of women and their ideas through TEDWomen—an annual three-day conference that gives women a platform for the world to see: https://www.ted.com/attend/conferences/special-events/tedwomen 

And also, here is a playlist of TedTalks that were given by women that we believe you should not miss: https://www.ted.com/playlists/192/10_talks_by_women_that_everyon

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