As Women’s History Month draws to a close, let’s take a look at some of the women who are in the best position to spark change and progress, and those who have taken advantage of their spotlight to help make key changes.
To be the first lady of the United States (FLOTUS) means that you have the whole nation, and even the world, looking at you. Many of our beloved first ladies have used this spotlight to bring imporant issues to the attention of the public. Here are just a few examples of what some of our great first ladies have achieved during their time in the White House:
Abigail Smith Adams, our second first lady, advocated for married women to finally have the ability to obtain property rights of their own land. She also worked towards getting women more opportunities in the field of education. She believed that if a law was not made in a women’s interest than she should not follow it, and that they should reject the role of just merely being a wife to their husband. She found value in the education of women so that they could become more self-reliant.
Caroline Harrison helped gain funds for John Hopkins University Medical school under the condition that the university start admitting women to the program. She also helped fund the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Lou Henry Hoover served as the president of the Girl Scouts of America.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was an avid advocate for the civil rights movement. Through her inspection of her husbands New Deal program, she determined that it was discriminating against African Americans and advocated strongly in the White House for equal distribution of relief money to all Americans. She also was the first hostess of the White House to invite African American guests to the events.
Claudia Taylor Johnson conducted the first solo tour for a first lady in order to promote the Civil Rights Act in Southern states. She also played an active role in the Head Start Program for low income families of preschool aged children.
Nancy Davis Reagan helped in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse of young people. She made many visits to prevention and rehabilitation centers and held a conference with first ladies of other countries to address the issue jointly and help it become more internationally prevalent.
Hillary Rodham Clinton was an advocate for expanding health insurance coverage to all Americans, especially to young children to ensure that they are able to receive proper immunizations. She continues to advocate for these issues. She also recieved a Grammy Award for the voice recording of her book It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us, which despite it’s controversy, was a best seller. Hillary Clinton is the first women to be elected as Senator from New York.
Michelle Obama has launched the Let’s Move! campaign to help fight childhood obesity. This program works to bring teachers, doctors, nurses, families, and people in community leadership roles to help in the fight of childhood obesity. The program’s goal is to stop childhood obesity within a generation. Through this program they hope to get healthier foods in schools and make healthier food choices more affordable and attainable for all families.
For each president we have had, there has been a strong first lady standing beside him. There is no arguing that to be first lady is a powerful position, and as we have seen through our many first ladies over the years, women have the power to influence change not just in the United States, but in the world.