For families across America, March 2022 has brought so many milestones. It marked two years since the start of the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders — a time that tested parents in new ways but also reinforced the power of family (and creativity)! March also marks the 35th anniversary of Women’s History Month. As the month draws to a close and we look toward the warmer times ahead, we’re shining a spotlight on nine diverse women who have shown courage in times of adversity. They empower us, and we hope they’ll empower your family, too.
If you’re looking to inspire your child, consider sharing the stories of these powerful women during Women’s History Month (and every month).
Ruth Asawa was known as an artist, activist and educator. Her early years at her family’s farm inspired her grand, nature-inspired sculptures. A passionate supporter of arts education, Ruth co-created the Alvarado School Arts Workshop, which is now a model for art programs throughout the U.S. As a child of Japanese immigrants, her time in internment camps during World War II convinced her that the healing power of art should be accessible to everyone.
Why we love Ruth: She inspires us to meet challenges with tenacity and find solace in creativity.
A member of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation, Joy Harjo is the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States. The first Native American to hold that honor, she was reappointed to a third term in 2020. Joy overcame a difficult childhood to become not only a renowned author but also an award-winning musician. Just like Joy, we can turn adversity into art that heals the world.
Why we love Joy: Learning about Joy reminds us to tell our stories through art.
A woman of many firsts, Kamala Harris is the first woman, Black American, and South-Asian American to be elected Vice President. Before becoming the 49th vice president, she served as a U.S. Senator from California and as California’s Attorney General. The child of two immigrants, Kamala Harris embodies the American dream. As she has stated many times, she may be the nation’s “first” in many ways — but she hopes that she won’t be the last.
Why we love Kamala: This powerhouse inspires us to achieve what no one has before.
For more than 60 years, Dolores Huerta has been a leader in grassroots organizing. As co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, she helped give farmworkers the right to organize for better wages and working conditions. Her groundbreaking work with farmworkers pushed her to champion civil rights and women’s rights. Even now, in her 90s, she’s tirelessly training a new generation of activists!
Why we love Dolores: She reminds us to find power in our voice and say “Si se puede,” or “Yes we can!”
Mathematician Katherine Johnson excelled at school from a young age, so it’s no wonder that she was one of three black students handpicked to integrate West Virginia University’s graduate program. She went on to an impressive 33-year career with NASA’s Flight Research Division. She and her female colleagues were so skilled that they were considered “human computers” at NASA! Her mathematical computations were critical in the first human spaceflight, mission Freedom 7, and, most famously, in John Glenn’s orbital mission. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her achievements despite facing so many hurdles due to her race and gender.
Why we love Katherine: If we push ourselves, we can take flight just like her.
After a childhood illness left her deaf and blind, Helen Keller was the first deafblind person to graduate from college and went on to become an author and activist. Helen overcame so many difficulties to become a champion for the deafblind community and women’s suffrage.
Why we love Helen: Her legacy inspires us all to rise above obstacles and achieve great things.
After two unsuccessful attempts to join NASA, Dr. Ellen Ochoa was accepted on her third try. Her persistence paid off, as she was the first Latina to travel into space in 1993 — and the first Latina and second woman to become deputy director of Mission Control, otherwise known as Johnson Space Center.
Why we love Dr. Ellen: Like her, we can reach for the stars if we don’t give up on our dreams.
Considered America’s first major prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief began dancing at the age of three. A ballerina with the New York City Ballet, she achieved extraordinary success as the highest-paid dancer and the first Native American prima ballerina. Maria Tallchief was even the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet and at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. And she achieved this success while staying true to herself. While many American dancers of the time adopted Russian stage names, Maria Tallchief honored her Osage heritage by proudly keeping her name.
Why we love Maria: She inspires us to have pride in our culture and never forget who we are.
Born in 1822 — which would make her 200 this year — Harriet Tubman was enslaved for more than 25 years. After escaping to Philadelphia, she returned to her native Maryland to help family and friends escape their bonds of slavery. This nurse, spy, suffragist and lifelong humanitarian risked her life more than a dozen times and helped about 70 people gain their freedom. It’s no wonder that this “conductor” of the Underground Railroad never lost a “passenger.”
Why we love Harriet: This conductor challenges us to be brave and courageous.
However you choose to celebrate the final days of Women’s History Month, we hope you’ll join us in giving thanks for these powerful women — and all the women in your life.