Now that summer has finally rolled around, I have found it a bit easier to take time for myself and genuinely enjoy my surroundings. I can sit back, watch a movie, read, and generally just be inspired by those around me. As I am able to enjoy this summer I have found myself feeling inspired by women throughout history, and aim to embody their outgoing and daring spirits in my every day actions.
Here is Sherpani’s list of Women we admire and are inspired by throughout history:
Katharine Graham (1917-2011)
Katharine Graham was one of the most successful recognized women in publishing. She was the second-ever editor of a major newspaper, and the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company, The Washington Post Company. She inherited the family-run publication after the death of her husband in 1963 and continued to run the company for many years to come. Mrs. Graham was integral in the unveiling of the Watergate conspiracy that ultimately leads to the resignation of former President Nixon. Mrs. Graham was a female in a male-dominated profession, and refused to be pushed aside. She made her ideas heard, and always had a seat at the table. In a time where it was already difficult to gain respect, she was admired and will be for generations to come.
Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)
Wangari Maathai is a Kenya born woman who has an extensive list of firsts under her belt. She is considered a social, environmental, and political activist and leader who was the first African American woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. Mrs. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement and was the first East African woman to earn a PhD. She was a champion for democracy and a woman who is the definition of persistence. She continued to fight for a social agenda, despite being one of the few women who dared to do so.
Vigdis Finnbogadottir (1930-Present)
The world’s first democratically elected female president. In 2019, the United States is still unable to pride ourselves on having a force of female elected officials--not even to mention no female President of the United States. But way back in 1980, Vigdis Finnbogadottir was elected as the 4th President of Iceland. IN 1980! Mrs. Finnbogadottir served as president of Iceland from 1980 to 1996. In addition to being the first democratically elected female president, she is also the longest-serving head of state in any country. Try and match that on your resume.
Susan Solomon (1956-Present)
Susan Solomon was the leader of the team that discovered the cause of ozone depletion. She was the woman that put the “wo” in “woman.” She is a leader in a male-dominated field. She was a chemist who saved millions of people from further polluting our ecosystem and saved many from skin cancer. Mrs. Solomon is an inspiration to all girls who want to change the world and save it in the process.
Malala Yousafzai (1997-Present)
At just 21 years old, Malala has been an activist for young women's education since she was 11. When she was 15, she was shot by the Taliban. At 16, she wrote her first book, “I am Malala.” She received the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17. At 18, there was a documentary about her sacrifice and passion.
I grew up in a small town with a huge film festival. Because of this festival, I was extremely fortunate and saw the world premiere of “He Named Me Malala.” After I was blown away by the story I just witnessed, the star of the show satellite called in to answer questions. I felt like I was in the same room as Malala Yousafzai--I was floored. I have never felt so inspired as I did at that moment. I saw that film while sitting in my high school auditorium. I was 16 at the time and knew that if a girl who has faced such inequality, yet had such passion, who was I to complain that I had to be up at 7:00 AM to go to school. I was lucky enough to go to school. She changed my perspective at a very impressionable age, and I still try to embody her spirit in my everyday life.
2019 U.S. Women’s National Team
As the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup comes to an end, and the U.S. team comes out victorious, this is a monumental moment for American history as well as an amazing win for all the girls. These women do not only embody passion, perseverance, drive, grace, and teamwork, but they stand for a larger purpose. They stand for equality. They are role models for all the young girls that have been told that playing professional women’s sports is a waste of time. They are role models for women who are afraid to mention the wage gap for fear of being fired. They are role models for both men and women. If you don’t believe me, just watch this Nike advertisement. These women are not only the best women’s soccer team in the world but the best soccer team in the world.
This list is short--we know. But it is hard to put so many notable people on one blog. It is hard to measure the impact people have on us when they are merely doing their job or fighting for what they believe is right. We cannot weigh how one makes history--or changes it for that matter--but we can take after their actions. All we can do is embody their spirit and hope we can one day be as inspiring as them.