Celebrated annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day was recognized in 1975 by the United Nations. The holiday is dedicated to celebrating the various achievements of women across history, including–– but not limited to–– the following:
- Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai (July 12, 1997 – present) is a Pakistani activist for female education. She has been passionate about women’s rights to education since the age of 11. Her and two other Pakistani girls were shot in 2012 as a retaliation to her activism. She survived the assassintation attempt by the Taliban and continued her work and activism. She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and was awarded it in 2014 at the age of 17.
In 2013, she and her father founded the Malala Fund, an international non-profit organization that advocates for girls’ education.
- Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg (January 3, 2003 – present) is a Swedish environmental activist. At age 15, Thunberg won a climate change essay competition in a local newspaper. Three months after this, in August 2018, she began protesting in front of the Swedish parliament building, promising to continue until the Swedish government met the carbon emissions target agreed by world leaders in Paris, in 2015. She started “School Strike for Climate” on Fridays, regularly missing school lessons to raise awareness about climate change and urging students around the world to join her.
By December 2018, more than 20,000 students around the world, including countries such as Japan, the US, and Australia had joined her. She joined strikes across Europe, traveling by train to limit her carbon footprints.
She led the largest climate strike in history on September 20, 2019, and was recognized in TIME’s Person of the Year in 2019.
- Rosalind Franklin
Rosalind Franklin (July 25, 1920 – April 16, 1958) was a British chemist best known for her contribution to the discovery of DNA’s double helix. She utilized the X-ray crystallography technique to produce/photograph her fifty-first X-ray diffraction pattern of DNA on May 6, 1952.
Fellow researcher Maurice Wilkins showed the photographs to scientist James Watson, who relied on Franklin’s fifty-first photograph to develop a model of DNA’s chemical structure. Watson and his research partner, Francis Crick, published their work in 1953. Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Watson and Crick. Despite Franklin’s lab producing the photograph that several scientists relied on, she received no recognition for her role until after her death and was not awarded a Nobel Prize for her efforts.
Her story is taught in several science classrooms worldwide and serves as a reminder of how women in STEM were–– and still are–– treated.
- Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Ruth Bader Ginsberg (March 15, 1993 – September 18, 2020), commonly referred to as “RBG,” was the former associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. She was a lifelong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and equality for all. Her experiences, such as being one of only nine women at Harvard Law School in 1956, fueled her aspirations of ensuring marginalized groups receive the justice they deserve.
She became director of the Women’s Rights Project in the 1970s and helped pass five laws to achieve gender equality in the United States. These laws included employers not being able to discriminate against employees based on gender or reproductive choices, making it mandatory for state-funded schools to admit women, women having the right to financial independence and equal benefits, men being entitled to the same caregiving and social security rights as women, and making it mandatory for juries to include women.
In addition to advancing laws for gender equality, RBG also joined the majority on every decision in support of LGBTQ+ rights.
- Dr. Alexa Canady
Dr. Alexa Canady (November 7, 1950 – present) was the first African American woman in the United States to become a neurosurgeon in 1981. She is also one of the most prominent pediatric neurosurgeons in the country. She was known as a “patient-focused” surgeon who treated all of her patients with respect and compassion, and especially focused on serving the underprivileged.
Canady was named Woman of the Year by the American Women’s Medical Association in 1993. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame as well. She mentors young people by speaking at several high schools in the Pensacola area.
- Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle (August 4, 1981 – present) is an American member of the British royal family. She married Prince Harry in May 2018 and is the first person to hold the title Duchess of Sussex. Throughout her time as a princess, Markel has received several comments about her identity as a biracial woman.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced on January 8, 2020 that they would step back as “senior” members of the British royal family, and become financially independent, splitting their time between the United Kingdom and North America.
On March 7, 2021, the two revealed during an interview with Oprah Winfrey of the unfair treatment Markle received during her time in the royal family. This included revealing how Markle had constant suicidal thoughts, while receiving no help or assistance from anyone in the palace. She and Harry also revealed that a royal family member expressed concern about how dark their first born child’s skin color might be (prior to the son’s birth).
Since before marrying Prince Harry and after leaving the royal palace, Markle prides herself as a feminist and humanitarian, actively supporting the #MeToo Movement and traveling the world advocating for women’s rights.
- Dr. Lori White
Dr. Lori White is DePauw University’s first woman and person of color president. As of July 1, 2020, she is the 21st president of DePauw and also the only Black woman leading a university in Indiana.
Dr. White has over 30 years of experience in both student-focused leadership and academic roles. She is committed to listening to the student-experience when making executive decisions.
The DePauw University community welcomes her with open arms.