Celebrating Strong and Resilient Women of the Past and Present
As women, we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Throughout history, female pioneers have used their voices, intellect, and courage to pave the way for equality and opportunity.
For Women’s History Month, we are highlighting five resilient women who made notable advancements for women, fought for the oppressed and downtrodden, and pursued their dreams with tenacity and drive. As you read their stories of grit and stubborn perseverance, we hope you’ll be inspired to live the same!
Harriet Tubman (1820 – 1913) – War Nurse, Spy and Underground Railroad Conductor
I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.
– Harriet Tubman
Harriet was born into slavery but escaped to freedom in 1849. Rather than stay in the North and guarantee her freedom, she returned to the South an astounding nineteen times as an underground railroad conductor. She led more than seventy people to freedom, earning the nickname Moses.
Harriet lived her life for others. She gave away her possessions, served as a war nurse, chose to go undercover as a scout and spy for the Union army, and later became an activist for the women’s suffrage movement. Harriet showed strength in many ways, one of the most stunning being her willingness to forgive her former slave owners and other oppressors.
Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906) – Suffragette, Leader, Orator
“The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball – the further I am rolled, the more I gain.”
– Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony began her life of advocacy as an abolitionist. Inspired by the Quaker belief that everyone is created equal under God, Susan became a force for change. She was well-known for her passionate speeches against slavery (even though it was considered improper for a woman to give speeches in public at the time).
Anthony later became the face of the women’s suffrage movement – petitioning for women’s rights, starting The Revolution (a newspaper devoted to the idea of female equality), co-founding The National Women’s Suffrage Association, and even voting illegally.
Although Anthony died 14 years before congress passed the 15th amendment (giving women the right to vote), the amendment wouldn’t have happened without her passion and perseverance.
Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) – Doctor, Medical Pioneer, and Abolitionist
“None of us can know what we are capable of until we are tested.”
– Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell
Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first female physician in the United States. Elizabeth was taught to value and care for all human life. This belief was her driving force. Although many medical schools rejected her due to her gender, she eventually received entrance to Geneva medical college and rose to the top of her class.
Because there was a stigma attached to receiving care from a female physician, Elizabeth started a clinic in an impoverished area of New York City. There, she was able to provide healthcare to the most vulnerable and in need. Later in life, Elizabeth opened a medical college for women and a hospital with an all-female staff. Dr. Blackwell paved the path for female physicians and changed the culture of medicine forever.
Ida B. Wells (1862 – 1931) – Anti-lynching Activist and Investigative Reporter
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
– Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells was a prominent black journalist and activist during the late 1800s. Outspoken and lively, Wells wrote about racial injustice and later became the first female editor and co-owner of a black newspaper.
After the horrific lynching of a friend, Wells bravely launched a crusade against lynchings in America – investigating murders in the South, writing pamphlets on her findings, and exposing the realities of hate crimes against Blacks. Ida is known for using her pen to arouse the conscience of America. She never let her skin color or gender dictate her future or her pursuits.
Madam C.J. Walker (1867 -1919) – Self-made Businesswoman, Single Mom, and Entrepreneur
“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”
– Madam C.J. Walker
Madam C.J. Walker was the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. With only two dollars and a fierce work ethic, Walker, as a single mother, created wildly successful hair-care products for black women.
She then established Madam C. J. Walker Laboratories, which manufactured cosmetics and trained black women to become beauticians. Walker is known for empowering, educating, and helping black women become economically independent. As Walker’s empire grew, she also gave generously to worthy causes.
We hope the stories of Tubman, Anthony, Wells, Blackwell, and Walker inspire you. Although they are all from a different era, their strength, grit, determination, and resilience is something we can all strive for in our lives.
Many of history’s most notable women accomplished great feats while raising children. Some, like Madam Walker, did as a single mom. For Women’s History Month and always, we celebrate all women but are especially proud of those who overcome difficult circumstances and continue to pursue their dreams.
This can be you too. If you’re facing difficult news or an unexpected pregnancy, we’re here for you. Find support, encouragement, and empowering choices today.