NEW YORK, (March 1, 2021) – Caroline Barrett, SanovaWorks Vice President of Operations
March is Women’s History Month, which is a time to honor the immeasurable impact women have made on society by celebrating their remarkable achievements throughout history and reflecting on how they did it despite sexism, inequality, and the glass ceiling. It is a time to look back at how far we have come and to look ahead to contemplate the distance we have to go worldwide.
As a women-run business, we look to our female predecessors and contemporaries for inspiration and guidance. In commemoration of Women’s History Month, I am spotlighting a few of my heroines that ignite leadership, feminism, and activism within me.
At SanovaWorks, we encourage and embrace enthusiasm, commitment, integrity, grace, and entrepreneurial spirit in all that we do. I think these women epitomize these attributes through their lives and legacies.
Shirley Chisholm, 1924–2005
American politician, educator, and author, Shirley Chisholm was the first African American congresswoman, the first African American major-party presidential candidate, and the first woman to run for president on the Democratic ticket. She bridged the community and the Democratic Party with her authentic caring and kind nature and unflappable energetic spirit. Notably, she also helped push feminists of all backgrounds to examine intersectionality and privilege.
”Defeat should not be the source of discouragement, but a stimulus to keep plotting.”
Anna Julia Cooper, 1858-1964
Born a slave, Anna Julia Cooper became a prominent scholar, teacher, activist, and fourth African American woman to earn a doctoral degree. She wrote A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, which argued for African American women’s central place in the battle for equal and civil rights. She established and co-founded several organizations to promote black civil rights causes and is often titled “the Mother of Black Feminism.”
“The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class—it is the cause of human kind, the very birthright of humanity.”
Katharine Graham, 1917-2001
Katharine Graham was one of the first female publishers of an American newspaper and the first-ever female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. In a male-dominated industry entrenched with institutional sexism, she struggled with her lack of confidence and distrust in her knowledge – which made her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate story, against the recommendation of male advisors, even more, monumental and courageous.
“The power is to set the agenda. What we print and what we don’t print matter a lot.”
Malala Yousafzais, 1997-
Pakistani activist for female education, Malala Yousafzais, is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She spoke out publicly against the local Pakistani Taliban, advocating for girls’ right to learn – and at the age of 15 she was shot in the head by an assassin in retaliation for her activism. She survived and has dedicated herself to giving every girl education and an opportunity to achieve the future she chooses.
“I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.”
Learn more about Malala and donate to help girls learn around the world.
Madam C. J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, 1867-1919
African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist Madam C. J. Walker is the first female self-made millionaire in America. Her parents, both former slaves and orphaned at a young age, were born into poverty: to say that she built an empire out of nothing is an understatement. She developed and marketed a line of cosmetics and hair care products for African American women and used her wealth for philanthropy and activism.
“I am not satisfied in making money for myself. I endeavor to provide employment to hundreds of women of my race.”
In addition to my heroines, I harness strength and encouragement from the women in my life. The solidarity of our sisterhood, the stories of their womanhood, and their acts of feminism inspire and empower me.
I hope you celebrate this month by listening to and growing from women’s stories – both the women in your personal lives, as well as those that have made history. You may find the stories of your grandmothers, aunts, mothers, and neighbors as enlightening and inspiring as the stories of our feminist icons.
May their voices move you to contribute in your words and actions to a more feminist future and society.
The t-shirts worn in the photo of me and my kids are from Feminist Apparel and The Bee & The Fox.
If you are inspired to support Women’s health, education, rights, and social services, Charity Navigator provides highly-rated charities in this post: Women’s History Month & Nonprofits Focused on Women & Girls,