We never miss the chance to celebrate women at 8THIRTYFOUR, which may have to do with the fact we are 80% women or that women, in general, make up 50% of the overall population.
With March being Women’s History Month and March 8th International Women’s Day, it gave us the perfect opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate those that have paved the way for all of us today – regardless of your gender.
“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” ―Eleanor Roosevelt
Every one of us comes from a different background, but what unites us all are the women who have come before us and those who influence us today.
I was raised in a small town, by parents who made it clear to me that I could do whatever I wanted – that being a girl didn’t mean that doors are closed. As I grew up, I realized that not everyone shared this view, and I found that pretty shocking. Cue college. I was so inspired by the many women who fought for something so fundamentally important: the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton made history that we all benefit from, every day.
“I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.” ―Susan B. Anthony
I idolize Harriet Tubman; she was so willing to overcome her fears for the sake of others. She was born into slavery and saw the cruelty of slave owners first hand when she suffered a major head injury at a young age. Even after she escaped, she went back into the South to help others, all while suffering from powerful headaches and seizures due to her injury. When I am facing fear, I think of her to help me through it. There is no one more worthy to be on the new twenty dollar bill.
“I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.” – Harriet Tubman
I grew up being taught that it is important to stick with your values and opinions and to never change who you are to please those around you. Standing up for what you feel is the “right thing” can sometimes be intimidating and unpopular, but that is how people change the world for the better. I was always in awe of Rosa Parks, someone who stood her ground all while knowing that it may cost her her life. Having that amount of unwavering courage and conviction is so impressive.
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” ―Rosa Parks
Aside from the amazing women that I surround myself with– Mother, grandmothers, aunts, friends, and coworkers, I am very much inspired by Indra Devi, who is considered the “first lady of yoga”. Ironically, modern female-dominated yoga that we are accustomed to today historically began as an all-male practice. She became the first woman to study yoga, and is credited for its expansion to the west. My personal yoga practice, as well as the vast majority of students’, would not be where it is today if it weren’t for Indra Devi’s persistence and assertiveness.
“We must keep both our femininity and our strength.” – Indra Devi
Last spring, I stepped inside the Stonewall Inn for the first time and immediately felt goosebumps. A friend of mine turned to me and said, “if it weren’t for the events that took place on this very floor, you and I wouldn’t be here right now.” As a member of the LGBTQ community, the courage and tenacity of those who participated in the Stonewall and other riots has made it possible for us to walk with our heads held high today.
Sylvia Rivera was one of the first women to jump into the riot, and continued her activism work long afterwards. Her less-than-ideal childhood motivated her to fight for the rights of other women, LGB- and trans-identifying individuals, people of color, and anyone who was being taken advantage of by cisgender, heterosexual, white men. After the Stonewall riots, she went on to co-found STAR, an organization that offered services and advocacy for homeless queer youth. I admire the courage of her and all of her cammerades.
“Our armies are rising and we are only getting stronger.” – Sylvia Rivera
I have always been inspired by the role women have played in our country’s wars. Most of these women never received recognition and most certainly are not written about in our history books. Women were involved in combat and secret missions long before it was ‘okayed’ by our government, they served as spies, strategists, snipers, commanders and fighters. I only wish their contributions were celebrated, from being the Gestapo’s most wanted, to smuggling intelligence out of Poland on skis to killing men with their bare hands, to surviving torture – these women did not shy away from danger or death. They embraced it and most went to their graves with only their immediate families understanding the vital roles they played.
Thank you Nancy Wake, Pearl Cornioley, Virginia Hall, Krystyna Skarbek, Vera Atkins, Noor Inayat Khan and the many more we will never know.
“Freedom is the only thing worth living for. While I was doing that work, I used to think it didn’t matter if I died, because without freedom there was no point in living” – Nancy Wake, aka “The White Mouse”
Who in history inspires you? Share your thoughts below, and we’ll share on our social networks the entire month of March.