Herstory: Women from the past whose impressions still last

We always talk about women walking miles in their respective fields in the present day — changing the world by standing up for females everywhere. But, what about the women who started it all? Today, let’s celebrate the historical figures who began making waves for us all, the ones who are the role models we need every day.

Hatshepsut

Initially having served as queen alongside her husband, Thutmose II, this Egyptian took over as pharaoh after his death. Successfully leading Egypt through a period of peace and prosperity like no pharaoh of her dynasty ever did, she ensured the country’s economic wellness and restored monuments — some of which still stand today. A symbol of rationality and power, Hatshepsut paved the path for female leadership in our world today.

Ida B. Wells

While most people think of Rosa Parks (an awesome figure in history, undoubtedly) as the forefront of activism for black rights, Ida B. Wells was in the scene long before Parks was even alive. Having actively investigated the unfair lynchings of black men, she published her findings in her journal, revealing the ugly truth to the world. A voice for justice and the truth, Wells stood up for herself no matter how many threats she received, reminding us to stick to our gut and keep going no matter what.

Marie Curie

The only scientist on the list, Marie Curie is the one you think of when you hear the words “physics” or “chemistry.” While Newton and Einstein are great, Curie discovered radioactivity and multiple elements on the periodic table with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel. As the only female winner of two Nobel Prizes to date, Curie made it to where she was despite the difficult circumstances she was born into, showing us that you can end up where you ultimately want to be, no matter where you start.

Rani Padmini

A figure in ancient Indian history, Rani Padmini was queen during a time of war, becoming the calming presence needed in the midst of the panic and fear of death. While her husband was in battle, the queen stayed with the women of her kingdom. When the battle was lost, she led the other women to commit self-immolation with her, preserving their honor and protecting them from more gruesome deaths at the hands of the invaders. Despite the gruesome end, the queen lives on as a symbol of bravery today, inspiring every woman in India to keep their heads up with pride and to continue on.

Emily Dickinson

An American poet, Dickinson is often celebrated as one of the greatest American poets in history, challenging perspectives by using omniscient personas that disagree with the restraints set by society. Comparing the metaphysical and the physical, Dickinson readily highlighted the beauty and atrocities in the same field, often contradicting the societal norm of the time. The poet’s oddities were what made her poems a raring success, as her unreligious and scientific background showed us that fitting in doesn’t correlate with success.

Wu Zetian

Though the Egyptians did occasionally have their female pharaohs, like Hatshepsut, the Chinese have only ever had one female emperor — Wu Zetian. Originally not from royalty, Wu’s rise to the throne consisted of many clever and cunning political machinations, ultimately leading to a reign of peace where women were given higher statures and power than before.

Today, celebrate the women in your life and let them know you care! Happy International Women’s Day!

Contact Chandini Dialani at [email protected].