5 Historical Women Who Pioneered Equality

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Statue of a Historical Woman Who Helped Pioneer Equality

Women’s History Month is recognized in the United States every March and celebrates women’s contributions to society. Since 1987, people in the United States have taken the time to recognize the vital role of the influential individuals who have pioneered positive change and equality in our country.

For parents, instructors and students, this month serves as a great opportunity for online school students to explore our country’s rich history and discover women’s contributions to the present day. To start exploring women’s history month for kids, you should learn about the significance behind the month and some of the changemakers who have made celebrating this month possible.

Why Do We Celebrate?

Throughout American history, women haven’t always had the same opportunities or the rights to do what they can do today—whether that be voting, owning a home, or even having the careers they wanted. We celebrate Women’s History Month to remind ourselves of their accomplishments and to honor the trailblazers of change.

From science to aviation, there are many women who fought for the equality of marginalized groups. Here are five that you and your student can learn about as they complete their women’s month activities!

1. Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony is one of the most influential figures of the 19th century, making her a great person to include in your women’s history month activities. She is best known for co-founding the National Woman Suffrage Association and leading the suffrage movement that influenced the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Throughout the 1800s, she spent her time giving speeches and organizing meetings to fight against the unfair treatment of women in society.

Before her efforts, only men were allowed to vote in elections. Although she dedicated her life’s work to suffrage, she never got to legally vote herself. However, her commitment paved the way for women for years to come, and in the present, women across the country are able to cast their ballots locally and nationally. 

Susan B. Anthony was also a member of the anti-slavery movement and the first woman to be honored with her image on a United States coin.

2. Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is best known as a human rights activist who fought to end the enslavement of African Americans. During her lifespan, she escaped from slavery in Maryland twice and inspired hundreds of enslaved people to seek freedom. Using the Underground Railroad, a secret network of people, places and routes that provided shelter and assistance to enslaved people, she liberated nearly 70 people.

Although it was very dangerous at that time, she traveled back to Maryland as a free woman 13 times until she rescued her family members and friends to guide them to safety. Her work didn’t stop there. She was so passionate about freedom for all people that she served as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.

While the Northern and Southern states fought, Tubman worked alongside soldiers as a secret agent to collect information and participate in rescue missions. Her courageousness and dedication to others should be celebrated this month and every month.

3. Helen Keller

Another historical figure to include in your activities for women’s history month is Helen Keller. Helen Keller was a humanitarian and writer. At a young age, she became deaf and blind, which significantly impacted her life. She went on to attend Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, where she learned to read in Braille, write and even talk.

Though she couldn’t see words, she studied Braille, a special reading system, and began to write about her experiences as a blind-deaf person. As she grew older, she wanted to help people like herself and joined the American Foundation for the Blind. With the organization, she traveled around the country to give speeches and raised money for the cause.

Throughout her life, she was a huge supporter of people with disabilities, especially those who shared her struggles. Due to her work, rehabilitation centers were built for the blind and education was made available as well. Keller also campaigned for women’s suffrage and workers’ rights.

4. Amelia Earhart

Whether or not your K-12 student is fascinated with airplanes, Amelia Earheart is an exciting pioneer to learn about. She was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Her accomplishments improved the acceptance of women who took flight and set the precedent for other women aviators.

Because aviation wasn’t a common career path for women at the time, she made great strides as a pilot. In 1922, she set the women’s altitude record of 14,000 feet. In 1932, Earhart went on to make the first solo, nonstop flight across the United States by a woman. She flew from Los Angeles, California, to Newark, New Jersey, in 19 hours. She also was the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the United States mainland in 1935.

Earhart was an extraordinary figure who set five women’s speed and distance flying records during her lifetime. Her career changed the way people viewed women pilots and their ability to fly.

5. Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells was a journalist and activist who was born into slavery during the Civil War. She wrote a number of articles about the racial injustices in the South and even founded her own newspaper called Free Speech where she told stories of racial segregation and discrimination.

Ida B. Wells is best known for using her writing to help lower the number of lynchings that occurred in the country. Her words were a driving force in repairing racial issues for Black Americans. 

Wells also teamed up with other African-American leaders like Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois to fight unfair discrimination and segregation laws. In addition to that, she believed in a woman’s right to vote and took part in founding the first Black women’s suffrage association which was named the Alpha Suffrage Club. Wells is recognized as one of the original founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization that in present day is still dedicated to ending racism.

Each of these women and countless others have inspired future generations. Their roles were vital as many risked their lives, faced criticism and overcame challenges to fight for civil rights and justice in our country.

If you and your student enjoyed learning about significant women in history and are looking for other women’s history month ideas for school, consider sharing the writing prompts below with your virtual school student:

Women’s History Month Writing Prompts

  1. After learning about these influential women today, why do you think their work was essential to women’s freedom? What do you think life would have been like if they did not fight for equal rights?

  2. List five women in today’s society who you believe are making a positive difference. Or list five women in your life who inspire you. 
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