6 Inspiring Women from History to Motivate You Today

Most of the history books I’ve read barely mentioned women, let alone any impact they left on the world. Instead, they just remain mentioned in photo captions, compared to the essay-long tributes they give to the thousands of men that have dominated the textbooks. So to get you through this week, here are six inspiring women in history who deserve a mention.

  1. 1. Katharine Graham

    While she may only be familiar because you watched The Post when it came out a couple of years ago, you should take some time to learn more about her as the second female publisher of a big American newspaper; even her memoir Personal History won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998. She married Phil Graham who was supposed to take over the Washington Post, however, he suffered from some mental health issues and committed suicide, leaving the fate of the paper in her hands. She led the paper through the publication of the Pentagon Papers and through the Watergate Scandal.

  2. 2. The Mirabal Sisters

    Another name you probably haven’t heard of. These sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa opposed the dictatorship imposed by Rafael Trujillo (El Jefe) in the Dominican Republic in the early and mid-20th century. While there were four sisters, the second oldest, Dede, was not as politically active as her sisters, who were assassinated on the 25th of November 1960. They were known as “Las Mariposas,” for their work. If you want to learn some more about it, In the Time of the Butterflies is a fictional retelling of their story and is, in general, a great read. 

  3. 3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    We already know that RBG is a queen. She has paved the way for women’s rights and has become one of the most well-known and respected Supreme Court Justices. If you want to learn more about her earlier life as a lawyer and the discrimination she faced in both school as well as in the workforce, I recommend watching the movie, On the Basis of Sex. I don’t need to convince you she’s a queen, because you already know.

  4. 4. Wangari Maathai

    Wangari was born in Kenya and was the first woman of East and Central Africa to earn a doctoral degree. She was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, an organization that works to promote environmental conservation and poverty reduction by planting trees. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contributions towards conservation, sustainability, and her work advocating for human rights, particularly women’s rights.

  5. 5. Princess Alice of Battenberg

    I didn’t know much about her until we learn more about her character’s backstory in Season 3 of The Crown. She was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. While she spent most of her life in Greece because of her marriage to Prince Andrew of Greece, they were frequently living in exile. In 1930, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia so she spent some of her adult life in an institution and was treated by Sigmund Freud. Her family fell apart during this so when she was released, she devoted her life to charity work as a nun in Greece, until she was evacuated to spend her remaining years in England with her son.

  6. 6. Nellie Bly

    Another name I didn’t learn until one of my history classes. Nellie was a reporter for Joseph Pulitzer and his paper, The World, and became one of the most famous bylines of the late 1800s.

    At the time, the news media was nearly completely dominated by men, and in order to get her job at The World, she had to act like an insane woman to be admitted to a female insane asylum to expose the treatment of the women inside. She was successful and got her job as a reporter.

I hope these women help inspire you to do something new this week. Just because they aren’t mentioned in our history books, doesn’t mean that we still don’t live with the impact that they made on society and the world.

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