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Celebrating Women’s History Month with Influential Women

In 1987, Congress proclaimed the month of March Women’s History Month. During Women’s History Month, many museums, non-profit organizations and advocacy groups host exhibits and events focused on empowering and celebrating women. In honor of Women’s History Month and our lovely readers, Her Campus American presents a short list of some of the most influential women in history.

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Almost 200 years after her death, Jane Austen remains one of the most popular female authors. Her most well known novels are Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Jane Austen is an influential woman in history because she was one of the very few female writers of her time, creating the pathway for future female writers.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a prominent figure in the early women’s rights movement. She was a first wave feminist and is remembered today as a leader in social activism. With help from Lucretia Coffin Mott (another influential woman in history), Elizabeth Cady Stanton helped to draft the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments, a document asking for women’s suffrage.

Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927)

Vote women! Victoria Woodhull was actually the first woman to run for President of the United States way back in 1872 (here we are 142 years later and we have yet to have a female president…). Victoria Woodhull advocated for women’s freedom to marry, divorce, and bear children as she chooses. She was the first woman to start a weekly newspaper and was seen as an icon for the early women’s rights movements. 

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

Most commonly known as a First Lady of the United States and the wife of President F. D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt spent her life advocating for universal human rights. When she served as the head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission she helped draft the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Betty Friedan (1921-2006)

Betty Friedan was a distinguished feminist during the emergence of the second wave of feminism in the 1960s. She contributed to the women’s rights movement with her best-selling book The Feminine Mystique. The book criticized American society, particularly the 1950s, for forcing women into subordinate roles as housewives. She advocated for women to have power in the workplace and called for an end to sexual discrimination. Fun Fact: Her intention was to publish an article in a magazine, but every magazine editor turned her down because she was a woman, so instead she wrote a book.

Current Day Highlight:

Aleska Ludberg

Aleska Ludberg is a Swedish actress who released at four years old she was meant to be a girl, not a boy. When she turned 17, Aleska Ludberg decided she wanted to legally change her sex. In Sweden, transgender individuals can file with the government to legally change their sex. However, unknown to many Americans, up until 2012 in order to legally change your sex in Sweden you were required to undergo “compulsory sterilization”. Aleska Ludberg was forced to undergo surgery that removed all of her male sex organs and she was not allowed to freeze any of her sperm in order to have biological children in the future. In recent years, Aleska Ludberg has spoken out publically about the law— criticizing it for robbing her of her fundamental right to reproductive justice and to her own body.

 

Photo Credits:

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Emma is a sophomore at American University, majoring in Journalism and minoring in Political Science and Women's Studies. She loves to write, journal, and blog in her free time. Emma is a Communications Intern at the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), a non-profit in DC. She is a social media editor for Her Campus American.
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