Five Women Who Changed the World

1realistutopian By 1realistutopian, 3rd Sep 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Celebrities>Personalities

Paying homage to five women who have contributed to our world in no small measure.

The Contribution of Women in History

Historians have become increasingly interested in the contributions women have made to the world. The roles of women have been largely limited to the domestic sphere, and their achievements outside of the home have been denied any real recognition.

The list of women who have rose above their domestic sphere to bring about cultural change and present new scientific knowledge is extensive and to pay homage to every one, would need an encyclopedia. The five listed below exemplify the brilliance of the female mind, and a determination to change the world in the face of adversity.

Marie Curie (7 November 1867 - 4 July 1934)

Marie Curie is the first woman to have won a Nobel Prize in two separate scientific fields. In 1903 she won the award in physics and in 1911 in chemistry. She coined the term "radioactivity" after Henri Becquerel's discovery in 1896. With her husband, Pierre Curie, Marie went on to discover polonium (named after her country of birth, Poland), and radium. Marie promoted the use of radium for therapeutic purposes, and received a check for $50,000 from US President Hoover in 1929 to help her continue her research.

Marie died at the age of 67, and it is thought she and her daughter, who worked with in the laboratory with her, developed leukemia as a consequence of excessive exposure to radiation. Today, the "curie" is a measurement unit used in radiation studies.

Read More:
Marie Curie:

Marie Cure: Biography

Susan B. Anthony 15 February, 1820 - March 13, 1906)

Susan B. Anthony played a pivotal role in women's suffrage and in the nineteenth century women's rights movement in addition to co-founding the Women's Temperance Movement. Raised in a Quaker family where equal rights were valued, and education was considered important regardless of gender. In fact, her father home-schooled her after finding out one of her teachers refused to teach her long division because she was female.

Armed with a determination for women to be viewed as equal citizens, she devoted her life to campaigning for the right to vote in presidential elections. Her defiance to patriarchy lead to an arrest in 1872 after she successfully placed her vote in the election. She was not permitted to represent herself during her trial, and the predetermined verdict and subsequent sentence left her with a $100 fine. A fine which she never paid.

The trial, however, increased her exposure to the public, and she undertook several public speaking events, citing the unconstitutional exclusions that women experience, rendering their voices obsolete in the political sphere. Anthony did not live to see women finally gain the right to vote on August 26, 1920, by way of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, but she did lay the groundwork and influenced a new generation of women's rights activists.

Read More:
National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House:

Claudette Colvin (5 September 1939 - Present)

Claudette Colvin is the first person to have defied racial segregation laws. On March 2, 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, Colvin sat in defiance when asked to do the same. Colvin was on her way home from school at the age of 15 and, that day, had been discussing the Jim Crow segregation laws and the subsequent injustices. Placed in handcuffs, arrested, and spent some time in jail, her minister arrived to pay her bail. It was a frightening time for the Colvin family who were unsure whether the white citizens would retaliate. In fact, the backlash she received made it impossible for her to continue with her education, and, the fact that she was pregnant prevented he from being the civil rights voice against the segregation laws. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People decided that she would attract too much negative attention for being an unmarried mother.

Colvin's story is now available: "Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice" written by Phil Hoose and is available at

Read More:
Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin:

Claudette Colvin: Biography

Diana, Princess of Wales ( July 1, 1961 - August, 31, 1997)

Princess Diana used her celebrity status to affect change across the globe. Her list of contributions to the betterment of the lives and conditions of others is extensive, with one of her most prominent including the work she conducted on behalf of sufferers of AIDS. Photographed touching individuals afflicted with the disease, she knew her work was controversial. She campaigned at a time where ignorance was more prevalent than the facts, and she changed attitudes and encouraged research into finding ways to help sufferers.

In spite of the widely publicized problems in her personal life, she had no small influence in the creation of the Ottawa Treaty. She sought to prohibit the use of landmines, and again was photographed walking through these hazardous regions to state her point.

August 31st 2012 marked the 15th anniversary of her death, and the impact she has had on the world can still be felt today. In fact, it can easily be argued that she has never left the public consciousness at all. It has been said that her death was the British equivalent of the JFK assassination, in the ways that it affected a mass grieving process for a whole population. Later this year, Diana: The Movie will be released with Naomi Watts playing Diana.

Read More:
Diana: The Movie

Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 - June 1, 1968)

Helen Keller remains an inspiration to women everywhere. She is the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, and became a lifelong advocate for education for people with disabilities. She, with a little help from equally acclaimed educator Anne Sullivan, became world famous for her efforts encouraging schools to be build for deaf and blind students, and the increased use of Braille as a teaching and learning tool.

She founded the Helen Keller International organization, in an attempt to provide nutrition to starving communities across the globe, believing that this was a major reason for many developmental impairments experienced by children.

In addition to her efforts to ensure children have access to education, regardless of disability, she was also an accomplished author. Her first of fourteen books she penned was "The Story of My Life." Published in 1903, one year before she earned her Bachelors degree from Radcliffe College, "The Story of My Life" also became the focus of a 1962 movie, "The Miracle Worker."

Read More:

Helen Keller Kids Museum, Online:
Movie: The Miracle Worker


Marriage, Mental Health, Mother, Scientist, Women, Women Discrimination, Women Who Changed The World, Womens Health, Womens Issues, Womens Rights, Womens Subservience

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author avatar 1realistutopian
Writing poetry, women's issues, education, about being a mom, and opinion.

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author avatar Rathnashikamani
3rd Sep 2012 (#)

This is a fitting homage to the great ladies who changed this world. All of them inspire me with their wisdom, strength and will power.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
17th Sep 2012 (#)

They are pioneers that we are beholden to and positive path-breakers. We need more of both gender now as we are going around in circles, getting at each other's throats without rhyme or reason. A great share - siva

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
2nd Nov 2012 (#)

Excellent. I doff my hat to all the five women.

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author avatar vpaulose
24th Mar 2015 (#)

Great info dear, thanks.

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