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Empowering Voices: Celebrating Women Leaders Who Shape Our World

March 8, 2024

Empowering Voices: Celebrating Women Leaders Who Shape Our World

Teach about these inspiring women leaders whose vision and leadership changed the world, fostering opportunity, inclusivity, and justice.

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Early in my childhood, my grandmother's observations began to shape how I see the world. "Oh, he has such big eyes," she told my mother just after I was born, hinting at a lifetime of lessons about life's diversity and richness. My grandmother and the women in my family taught me to view the world with wonder and to embrace its endless possibilities, urging me to look deeper, beyond the surface. I learned that the world is like a mosaic, each piece a story, a culture, a perspective, waiting to be seen and understood.

This wisdom has been my guide, revealing the potential in us all to make a mark. As we celebrate Women's History Month, this lesson feels especially poignant. We uplift the women who have looked at the world not just to see it as it is but also to envision what it could become—a place of opportunity and inclusivity for everyone. Their leadership has transformed our societies, economies and politics, proving that true leadership lies in empowerment and vision, not merely in holding power.

I encourage you to explore the resources below about influential women leaders in history uploaded by the Share My Lesson member community. Learn the stories of these remarkable women whose legacies show students that the world is indeed for everyone. Together, let's spark a lasting interest in women's history among your students, ensuring that the inspiring tales of women's contributions resonate throughout the year.

Maggie Lena Walker

Maggie Lena Walker distinguished herself in American history by becoming the first African American woman to charter a bank in the U.S., overcoming significant racial and gender obstacles in the early 20th century. As president of the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Va., she fostered financial independence and entrepreneurship within the Black community. Beyond her accomplishments in banking, Walker's dedication to civil rights and community leadership left a lasting impact, as she worked relentlessly to uplift African Americans and advocate for equality and social justice.

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson stand as pivotal figures in LGBTQIA+ history; their actions during the Stonewall Inn rebellions and contributions to the Gay Liberation Movement have left an indelible mark. The lessons below explore how these two courageous individuals, coming from marginalized Black and Latinx backgrounds, spearheaded the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights. Their enduring legacy is a testament to their relentless advocacy and deep commitment to ensuring a more inclusive future. Through their efforts, Rivera and Johnson not only challenged societal norms but also laid the groundwork for ongoing initiatives to recognize and honor the contributions of Black and Latinx trans individuals within the broader narrative of LGBTQIA+ activism.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt's legacy as a leader is marked by her unwavering commitment to human rights, which reshaped the global conversation on dignity and equality. As the driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she championed the idea that rights and freedoms are inherent to all, laying a foundational stone for international human rights standards. Her visionary leadership extended beyond her time as first lady, embodying the principles of empathy, resilience, and advocacy that continue to inspire generations in the fight for justice and equity.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai emerged as a global symbol of the fight for girls' education after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban for her activism in Pakistan. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, she became the youngest-ever laureate, recognized for her courageous advocacy of education for all children, regardless of gender. Through the Malala Fund, she continues to inspire change and break down barriers to education for girls around the world, embodying the power of resilience and the belief that one voice can indeed make a world of difference.

Grace Lee Boggs  

Grace Lee Boggs was an influential American activist, philosopher, and writer whose work spanned over seven decades, advocating for civil rights, labor rights, and social justice. Of Chinese descent, Boggs dedicated her life to political and social activism in Detroit, collaborating closely with African American communities to foster social change and community empowerment. Her intellectual contributions and grassroots organizing efforts have left a profound legacy, emphasizing the importance of community-based solutions to societal problems and the transformative power of collective action.

Susan La Flesche Picotte

Susan La Flesche Picotte emerged as a major figure in American medicine as the first Native American woman to earn a medical degree, achieving this milestone in 1889. Throughout her life, she dedicated herself to improving the health and welfare of the Omaha people in Nebraska, tirelessly working to bridge the gap between traditional practices and Western medicine. Her legacy includes the establishment of a hospital on the Omaha Reservation, marking a significant step forward in the provision of healthcare to Native American communities and embodying her lifelong commitment to service and advocacy.

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm broke new ground as the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1968, where she served seven terms, representing New York's 12th Congressional District. Renowned for her outspoken advocacy on issues of racial and gender equality, education and social justice, Chisholm's political career was marked by her mantra, "unbought and unbossed." In 1972, she made history again as the first African American woman to seek a major party's nomination for president of the U.S., charting a path for future generations of leaders and continuing to inspire activists and politicians with her fearless dedication to change and equality. In a testament to her legacy, her life and political career will be celebrated in an upcoming film, promising to bring her remarkable story of courage and perseverance to a new generation.

Women's History Month Lesson Plans & Resources

Use these timely preK-12 lesson plans and class activities to incorporate key figures and historical events in your Women’s History Month lesson planning. This Share My Lesson collection spans topics like women’s suffrage and women’s rights and features influential women in science, social justice and rock-and-roll. 

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Andy Kratochvil
Andy Kratochvil is an SML team member who loves hiking, video games, scary books, Mexican food, and finding great content for the Share My Lesson community. He studied political science and French at California State University, Fullerton and received his Master’s in International Affairs from... See More
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