Women’s History Month has been celebrated in March of every year since 1990. The Women’s National History Organization selects the most notable female figures and spotlights their contributions to society.
The honoree’s are women who have made lifelong commitments to serving those in need, and have inspired others to strive for similar greatness. The honoree’s this year are eight eclectic women whose achievements have not only changed a nation, but have also stirred movements that will change the world. These women have pioneered the movement for excellence in their respective fields. It is the burdens they have borne, their courage and their strength that make this year’s honoree’s so remarkable.
Sarah Buel is a 50-year-old professor of law at the University of Texas. She has founded various organizations for the prevention of domestic violence. In 1996, Buel was profiled by NBC as one of the five most inspiring women in America. Her life however, has not always been as successful as it is today.
Rewind to 30 years ago and Buel was struggling to make ends meet as an underpaid paralegal while going to college and raising her son as a single mother.
Despite the difficulties, Buel’s fierce determination to fight against domestic violence on behalf of the women who were trapped in abusive relationships helped her earn her a law degree from Harvard in 1990.
In 2002, Edna Campbell had everything she could have wished for: a son, a career in the Women’s National Basketball Association, and thousands of adoring fans. Up until February of that year, that is.
It is then that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of giving in to the devastation the news should have brought her, Campbell decided she was going to beat the disease.
She was unable to play basketball for most of the 2002 season, but she did something else that was even more important that year.
As she cheered her teammates on from the bench, Campbell became the most visible advocate for breast cancer awareness in the world. She became a spokesperson for the cause and traveled the country, urging women to perform regular breast exams so that they may be more aware of their bodies.
When she stepped out on to the court again in September 2002, still bald as a result of her chemotherapy treatments, Campbell triumphantly scored a lay up as a stadium full of people stood on its feet and applauded her recovery.
As an Australian immigrant to the United States, Jill Ker Conway’s life seemed destined for hardships. She proved to be tougher than destiny, at a young age.
With a doctorate from Harvard University, Conway began a career as a teacher and writer. In 1975, she became the first female president of Smith College in Massachusetts.
Conway used her position to create the Ada Comstock Scholars program, which allowed women with work and families to earn their bachelor’s degree at a slower pace.
Conway has earned 35 awards from women’s organizations around the United States for her lifetime achievements.
A graduate of Yale Law School in 1963, Marian Wright Edelman became the first black woman to be admitted to the state bar.
She made it her goal to develop organizations that would help poverty stricken families. In 1973, she founded the largest organization for children in need, the Children’s Defense Fund. Edelman has received awards for her work with children and families in need.
Another honoree, Vilma Martinez, holds a degree from Columbia Law School as well as the top position in the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF.)
Maxine Hong Kingston, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, was born in the 1940s and forced to deal with growing up in America while being raised by parents who strictly imposed Chinese cultural views on her.
With her books about self-discovery, Kingston invites her readers to take refuge in the answers she has found through her struggles. Her first two books, “The Woman Warrior,” which is also used in classes on the GCC campus and “China Men.” have both won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Follow-up books “Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book”, “Hawaii One Summer,” “To Be The Poet” and “The Fifth Book Of Peace” have reached acclaim that has landed Kingston a teaching position at Harvard University.
Dr. Susan B. Love is a professor at the Harvard Medical School and a founder of the Faulkner Breast Center and the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
She is determined to educate women about recognizing the signs of possible breast cancer. Only women staff her clinics, and they work together to prevent the dangers of breast cancer by obtaining funds for research.
Love has also written two best selling books: “Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause and Hormone Book: Making Informed Choices, and Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book.
Leslie Marmon Silko is a writer of Anglo, Mexican and Native American heritage. She has dedicated her career to connecting the different cultures that are her heritage by writing stories that convey old messages to a modern world. Silko’s published works: “Laguna Women Poems,” “Storyteller,” “Ceremony, Almanac Of The Dead: A Novel, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit Essays” and “Gardens In The Dunes” are widely recognized and critically acclaimed.
In March, the nation bows down to these extraordinary women with gratitude for their long withstanding influence on the world. It is in this month that these, and all other women are honored for exuding the passion in which the nation thrives. It is not about feminism, as some may fear. It is about the celebration of womanhood and the beauty and grace that it brings to an otherwise stark world.