Month Teacher Guide to Women's History

Human history is full of instances of great actions by men and women and yet for years, the achievements of women have not always been celebrated. Women were given a limited role in the social structure and so very often history reads like a long list of triumphant actions by men. There have been, however, women throughout history who have managed to break down the barriers imposed on them. These are the women who have made history a more balanced narrative.

Women have made contributions in varied fields, at different times in history and in many different countries. Here is a list that is indicative of some of the major areas of women's contribution in history:

Jane Addams - An American human rights activist, founder of the Hull House, who went on to win the Nobel Peace prize at a time when women were still slowly making their presence felt in public life.

Madeline Albright - The first woman Secretary of State in the United States and a path-breaker in terms of women's role in government in the US.

Emmeline Pankhurst and Susan B Anthony - These are the two women who are associated strongly with women's suffrage. Pankhurst in the United Kingdom and Anthony in the US emphasized that democracy is meaningless if half the population does not have the right to vote.

Jane Austen - A quiet Victorian author whose gentle observances about the life around her have stood the test of time and place and proven the universality of the language of good literature.

Marie Curie - The first woman to win two Nobel prizes, Curie won them in Physics and Chemistry. She worked with her husband to discover Polonium and Radium.

Hatshepsut - This Egyptian Pharaoh stands as a representative of all the female monarchs across the centuries who used their power to be fair and thoughtful leaders.

Margaret Mead - An American anthropologist who helped people take a fresh look at world cultures and popularized a whole new field of study.

Florence Nightingale - Also known as the Lady with the Lamp, she was a pioneer in establishing the principles of modern nursing. Known for her compassion, she was also unwavering in her commitment to improving the hygiene levels at hospitals.

Rosa Parks - An African-American woman who stands as a giant in terms of how her quiet but determined refusal to follow the laws of discrimination set the course of Civil Rights history in the United States.

Margaret Thatcher - England's first female Prime Minister and a world leader of unquestioned stature who removed all doubts about the seriousness of women politicians.

Mother Theresa - She was moved by her faith to take on the Herculean task of serving the ill, the poor, and the ignored in her adopted hometown of Kolkata, India and showed that will power and determination can truly make a huge difference.

Billie Jean King - The American tennis player who played a significant part in making women athletes serious contenders in the eyes of the public.

As is obvious, there are women leaders, scientists, artists, athletes, activists and philosophers who have played critical roles through the history of time. This list of a dozen women is a good starting point for an exploration of all the significant contributions that women have made throughout history.

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